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San Francisco - Must Go / Must Avoid


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Well, after doing as much research as I could and stretching our budget, I ended up with a reservation at Coi. It seems some people aren't impressed, but for the most part the restaurant does impress. I was hoping to find a restaurant that was more slanted towards modernist styled cuisine, and from what I can tell most say Coi does it best in the area.

Thanks for the suggestions.

I reiterate that I think Attelier Crenn would be a much better choice than Coi considering you are looking for modernist-styled cuisine. Much more and consistent use of molecular techniques and far superior flavor combinations....

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Sons & Daughters also appears to dabble in the MC vein. We've made reservations at both (Sons & Daughters and Atelier Crenn) and can't wait to give them a try.

One interesting thing I'm noticing is that a fair amount of these talked about places (e.g. Commonweatlth, S & D, AC, Prospect) are not open for lunch; Cotogna is and that's one of our lunch choices. But that also leaves lunch open for potential Burmese, burritos, Swan, etc.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Sons & Daughters also appears to dabble in the MC vein. We've made reservations at both (Sons & Daughters and Atelier Crenn) and can't wait to give them a try.

One interesting thing I'm noticing is that a fair amount of these talked about places (e.g. Commonweatlth, S & D, AC, Prospect) are not open for lunch; Cotogna is and that's one of our lunch choices. But that also leaves lunch open for potential Burmese, burritos, Swan, etc.

Depending on how you feel about Mexican food, Regalito might be worth a look; the dishes were intelligently and carefully prepared, and it made for a great, relaxed lunch.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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If you are hanging about in the Mission, Delfino's is across the street from Bi-Rite Creamery, both good. I developed an instant crush on one of the guys at the creamery, so I remember the experience almost more than the ice cream. If I was 25 again I would be there all the time. I had the salted caramel, which is awfully good. And don't forget Tartine. I can't speak for the croissants in NY, since I've never looked for one there, but Tartine's are amazing. And so is the bread pudding with fruit, and the coffee is excellent. And it's usually very crowded. I like late morning on a weekday: lots of baby strollers, dogs etc. It's been so long since I lived in the Mission (or in SF) that I feel like a tourist when I'm there. Never been to Mission Chinese, mentioned by eje, but I've heard interesting things about it.

Ditto all these recommendations. I have been to Mission Chinese, and it was outstanding, even though for most it's not a "destination" restaurant. I guess, though, that coming from NYC, Chinese might not be high on your priority list in SF. That said, it's very good.

And just as a tiny point of correction for ease of searching, it's "Delfina". It's a side-by-side pair of restaurants. I haven't been to the more formal of the pair, but Pizzeria Delfina was a ton of fun, and the food was very tasty.

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Reading this thread is making me homesick for San Francisco in a big way. Now, I've never been lucky enough to reside there; I've only visited - but San Francisco is one of those places that has that affect on you - just draws you there, and you long for it while you're gone.

We travel on a serious budget when we're lucky enough to get out and about, so my suggestions are in the super affordable sphere, but really great food, and they're all in the North Beach/Chinatown area.

Hunan Home's - best Chinese food I've ever had. Their xiao long bao is to die for.

Italian French Bakery - amazing chocolate croissants (for the perfect strolling-about-town breakfast with a coffee or tea) and delicious tomato focaccia (great to pick up for a picnic - we had a memorable lunch of it with a bag of olives, sausage and a bottle of California wine on a beach at Angel Island once). And my husband loves their biscotti.

Pasta Pomodoro - a California Italian restaurant chain. Their portions are pretty generous, and the bread the put on the table at the beginning of the meal is so tasty you have to be careful not to fill up on it. I remember the Spaghetti Polpette being really good and they have wine in three different sizes of carafe so you can try different ones if you want to, without breaking the bank.

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Pasta Pomodoro - a California Italian restaurant chain. Their portions are pretty generous, and the bread the put on the table at the beginning of the meal is so tasty you have to be careful not to fill up on it. I remember the Spaghetti Polpette being really good and they have wine in three different sizes of carafe so you can try different ones if you want to, without breaking the bank.

Hate to tell you this, but Pasta Pomodoro is fairly reviled by the snobby San Franciscans (I'll only admit to having dined there once or twice because it was the only place with open tables in my neighborhood). To the extent that the chain has had to close several of them and only two or three are left within the city. Most of the extant members of the chain are now outside the city; Novato, Redwood City, San Ramon etc...

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Hate to tell you this, but Pasta Pomodoro is fairly reviled by the snobby San Franciscans (I'll only admit to having dined there once or twice because it was the only place with open tables in my neighborhood). To the extent that the chain has had to close several of them and only two or three are left within the city. Most of the extant members of the chain are now outside the city; Novato, Redwood City, San Ramon etc...

Go figure. But for decent, cheap food in an otherwise pricey neighborhood I think it's still worth recommending. I'd eat there again if I were in the area and on the same budget.

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I was just at Boccalone last week, the meat cone is a thing of beauty.

Boccalone meat cone.jpg

We did hit the Slanted Door for lunch that day, great food as you would expect. Service was slow, especially since we were there at the end of lunch and the place was starting to clear out. Regardless the food was stellar.

We also ate at Saison for dinner, which I count as the most amazing dining experience of my life. I don't generally like the places that are so overly formal but this was just the right amount of high end service and laid back atmosphere. We sat out by the wood fired oven chatting with the grill chef in between courses. Warning, it's expensive. Two people with tasting was around $500 before tip.

Lastly we ate at Zuni Cafe which rocked the house down. They also have a wood fired oven which is the star of the kitchen.

Zuni WFO.jpg

The Oven Chef was really cool, he let me poke my head in there and ask a few questions in the middle of a banging service. The food and service was exceptional as well. We had to rush through dinner to get to the airport and we had apps and main course with ten minutes to spare. Love them, the only place I'll repeat next time I'm in the area.

Edited by Big Mike (log)


I have simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best - Oscar Wilde

The Easy Bohemian

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Hate to tell you this, but Pasta Pomodoro is fairly reviled by the snobby San Franciscans (I'll only admit to having dined there once or twice because it was the only place with open tables in my neighborhood). To the extent that the chain has had to close several of them and only two or three are left within the city. Most of the extant members of the chain are now outside the city; Novato, Redwood City, San Ramon etc...

Go figure. But for decent, cheap food in an otherwise pricey neighborhood I think it's still worth recommending. I'd eat there again if I were in the area and on the same budget.

Actually, I never found Pasta Pomodoro (I think it's been renamed to just Pomodoro now) to be cheap, especially for the quality of food. You can find better food cheaper elsewhere in SF. Thinking of the different Pomodoro locations, I'm quite sure you can get better food at the same or lower price range close by. SF may be an expensive city, but it has a lot of good, cheap eats options.

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Manresa in Los Gatos is my favorite place in the bay area. I think Chefs Kinch and JP are at the top of their game.

No doubt. But we're not going to be doing the schlep to Los Gatos.

In that case, in the city, I'd go for:

Sons & Daughters: Guys without the "pedigree" that makes for great PR, but none the less are pushing themselves to create their own cuisine.

Frances: Melissa's food is delicious, and the restaurant might be considered the "favored daughter" of San Francisco right now...the "favored son" analog would be Flour + Water, but since you're coming from NYC, I'd likely avoid the popular (though often quite good) Cal-Ital options (e.g. Cotogna, Perbacco)

Benu: simply Corey's food...definitely cooks with precision and a unique voice. you'll know if its for you or not..

if Oakland's not too much of a hike: Commis (full disclosure, these are friends of mine)...or the newly opened Hawker Fare

Definitely seek out Scream Sorbet...as far as I know still nothing like it in NYC.

MHO of course, but I'm not a fan of many of the other new hotspots....if you insist on getting my "avoid and why" list, it is available to you.

For inexpensive options, there's always Old Mandarin Islamic (hot pot and unique noodle options), Kingdom of Dumpling, Kasa, Riverside for dim sum, Lime Tree (Southeast Asian neighborhood spot), Halu, Hog Island Oyster Co. (oysters, chowder, grilled cheese & pickles)

Edited by Renn (log)
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Two I'll throw out there as well, from my trip earlier this month:

Dynamo Donuts (review here). While getting a lot of online mention for their bacon apple donut, I was really, really impressed with their caramel de sel and chocolate rose donuts. Seriously one of the best donut shops I've been to.

5675898687_6d49ed4fea.jpg

Mission Cheese (review here). Fairly new place in the Mission focusing on American-produced cheeses, with good sandwiches, cheese plates, and raclette.

5671997251_5e3fb40f77.jpg

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Manresa in Los Gatos is my favorite place in the bay area. I think Chefs Kinch and JP are at the top of their game.

No doubt. But we're not going to be doing the schlep to Los Gatos.

In that case, in the city, I'd go for:

Sons & Daughters: Guys without the "pedigree" that makes for great PR, but none the less are pushing themselves to create their own cuisine.

Frances: Melissa's food is delicious, and the restaurant might be considered the "favored daughter" of San Francisco right now...the "favored son" analog would be Flour + Water, but since you're coming from NYC, I'd likely avoid the popular (though often quite good) Cal-Ital options (e.g. Cotogna, Perbacco)

Sons & Daughters is reserved. The Frances menu doesn't move me that much. Thanks for the reco on Hawker Fare; that sounds pretty interesting. Have you been to Mission Chinese? That menu also looks pretty cool, if somewhat Momo inspired.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I've eaten once at Mission Chinese...and I'm in no rush to go back. Honestly, while I can appreciate the approach, effort and contribution that Mission Chinese makes, in the end I'm more satisfied by and a regular at China First (just a regular greasy spoon cantonese place vs a new perspective in chinese food) in the inner richmond.

That being said, another friend of mine, whose palate and tastes I definitely trust, loves MCF to death and is excited by what they're doing.

Edited by Renn (log)
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Manresa in Los Gatos is my favorite place in the bay area. I think Chefs Kinch and JP are at the top of their game.

No doubt. But we're not going to be doing the schlep to Los Gatos.

Are you willing to shlep to the East Bay? For a Nepalese lunch? Taste of the Himalayas restaurant: http://tasteofthehimalayas.com/chef.htm

A friend persuaded me to go with her for dinner, along with another friend, and she endured our cracks about yak butter and lichens beforehand. The food wasn't like that at all, of course. It's a delicious cuisine, with a sophisticated side from Northern Indian and Persian influences. This place is popular with the locals. If you have extra time, you can browse some Himalayan shops nearby.

Or, you could travel a few blocks further and reacquaint yourself with the sourdough-crust pizza at the Cheese Board.

BART and a short taxi ride will get you there from SF.

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Or, you could travel a few blocks further and reacquaint yourself with the sourdough-crust pizza at the Cheese Board.

There's no need to travel to Berkeley for that as he can get the same thing at Arizmendi (sister bakery) in SF....

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Or, you could travel a few blocks further and reacquaint yourself with the sourdough-crust pizza at the Cheese Board.

There's no need to travel to Berkeley for that as he can get the same thing at Arizmendi (sister bakery) in SF....

I've never eaten the pizza at Arizmendi because it looks like it's been hanging around awhile & then reheated.

As per this blog: http://www.thesecondlunch.com/2010/02/cheeseboard-vs-arizmendi/ I've noticed that the crust at Arizmendi is thicker, too. Though I'm sure Arizmendi makes a tasty pizza compared to most other pizza joints.

Sometimes a live jazz band plays while you wait in line at the Cheese Board. Then you can go picnic on the street median until the police tell you to move, an authentic local experience. http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/uvCBQevs26owAL7KW2_VIA?select=FzHh3QB0n9i_3N68EKoWlw After that, assuming you are not booked for unruly behavior, you can then spend $30 or more for splendid cheeses at the Cheese Board. How can you beat that?

:biggrin:

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

On our recent trip, two wonderful breakfast discoveries included Plow, on Potrero Hill and Bar Tartine.

Bar Tartine offers brunch on the weekends, whereas Plow offers breakfast and lunch every day except Mondays.

Mo's, at 1322 Grant Avenue in North Beach, is another of our favorite local breakfast joints.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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On our recent trip, two wonderful breakfast discoveries included Plow, on Potrero Hill

Wow, I was going to post a link to a review of Plow I did, and I realized I never finished writing it up... I agree, Plow was one seriously good breakfast.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just got back from a trip to SF. We ended up not doing any high end fine dining, but ate very well.

Boccalone in the Ferry building for lunch is a great place for a hot sandwich or to grab a cold one for the plane ride home.

Miette in the Ferry has some fun desserts as well.

Incanto was very pleasant. Great service, good sized portions and everything was well prepared.

farm:table is a nice small joint for breakfast. Simple, but done well.

Katanaya Ramen had some very good ramen. We ended up going here twice because it was right next to our hotel.

Red Blossom Tea Company had a wonderful tea selection and very knowledgeable staff.

Tartine is well known and for a reason. Good bread and pastries, but a little pricey. I still think it is worth it, they had one of the best croissants I have ever eaten.

Burma Super Star was a real surprise and seemed to be a local hot spot. I needed to find a meal near Golden Gate Park and came across this little restaurant. There was a 40 minute wait in the cold and it was worth every second. Great food, remarkable service.

Cotogna was the only let down of the week. We had 9:45 pm (kitchen closes at 11) reservations on a Wednesday and the place was very full and loud. The service was pretty good, but none of the dishes we had were salted properly. The vinaigrette salad had little to no seasoning while everything else was under salted significantly, as if the cooks in the kitchen and whoever was at the pass were not tasting as they worked.

For the record I have no affiliation with any of these establishments and went to each one only once unless otherwise noted. If anyone wants further elaboration on the meals or places discussed above just ask.

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

Host, eG Forums

avaserfirer@egstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

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Burma Super Star was a real surprise and seemed to be a local hot spot. I needed to find a meal near Golden Gate Park and came across this little restaurant. There was a 40 minute wait in the cold and it was worth every second. Great food, remarkable service.

Burmese food in general is very popular in the bay area and mostly a rare commodity to many visitors so we locals tend to recommend it a lot. Burma Superstar is the most trendy and expensive of the lot (having received some Food Network coverage), but there are many other excellent, less-expensive options; Mandalay, Larkin Express Deli, Pagan, and more.

Now that I live in Napa, my sojourns into the city usually always involve getting Burmese food as it is the one ethnic cuisine I really miss eating a lot of...

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I'd be remiss in not mentioning Ryan Farr's 4505 Meats lunch at the Ferry Building CUESA Farmers' Market on Thursdays and Saturdays.

La Ciccia is a neighborhood gem run by a Sardinian couple and I know a few Italians that won't go anywhere else for dinner. Quite an incredible wine list there too.

If you enjoy espresso, do not even think of missing Ma'velous. Phillip Ma has a custom Strada-based machine, a full set of Roburs, and it isn't for show. He pulls "guest coffee" from a variety of roasters with a level of expertise that is unbelievable.

Ad Hoc also serves arguably the best fried chicken in the world and now they have it available at a take-away lunch (with picnic tables available) as well. The orange "Popsicle" was a great finish to the meal.

Burma Superstar isn't "true" Burmese food, but man, it is good grub. Call ahead (as you're driving there) and you can get your name on the waiting list for dinner.

Edited by jeffsf (log)
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