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jsfreed

5 meals in San Francisco...

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My wife and I will be in SF for her 30th birthday and want this to be the complete food experience. I'm looking for suggestions for:

1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably),

2) a fantastic and interesting dinner place (nothing stuffy or traditional French please) in the $100/per person range,

3) a good Italian joint

4) the best place for Dim Sum.

5) And if anyone knows a great bakery for breakfast and coffee, we wouldn't mind the suggestion.

Wow, am I demanding? I'd be happy to suggest the same for anyone visiting the under-rated restaurants of DC.

Josh

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My brother lives in the Mission, but I haven't been there for, um, I think 3 years (maybe it was 2?). I've always liked Taqueria El Toro, though, and people I know who are in SF and have been there recently tell me it's as good as ever. Mainly, though, I'll be eager to hear from eGulleteers with more recent experience on this subject.

My impression is that restaurant prices are cheaper in SF than in NYC or DC, so I wonder whether it's even that easy to find a $100/person place for dinner in town. Again, I'll be interested to read remarks by more knowledgeable people on this score (though it's extremely unlikely I'll ever eat in any SF restaurant that's that expensive).


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Yank Sing is supposedly the best Dim Sum joint in SF, but was closed when I visited between lunch and dinner :angry: so I can't testify first hand.

I had a truly memorable dinner at The Slanted Door that was far less than $100/person. Really cool Vietnamese menu, very interesting wine list packed with lots of German, Austrian and Alsatian wines that complimented the menu (by the glass as well as the bottle!), and very professional and helpful staff. Reservations are an absolute must, as the place seems to always be packed.

I also had a great lunch at Swan Oyster Depot. A retail fish monger with a short counter and a few seats. Worth the wait for tremendously fresh seafood in a very casual atmosphere.

I also highly recommend having a "proper" cocktail at Top of the Mark, the penthouse restaurant/bar at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Go at sunset and see the entire city through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Views of both bridges and Alcatraz. Very romantic. Piano bar and a very grown-up attitude. :cool:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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My wife and I will be in SF for her 30th birthday and want this to be the complete food experience. I'm looking for suggestions for:

1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably),

2) a fantastic and interesting dinner place (nothing stuffy or traditional French please) in the $100/per person range,

3) a good Italian joint

4) the best place for Dim Sum.

5) And if anyone knows a great bakery for breakfast and coffee, we wouldn't mind the suggestion. 

Wow, am I demanding?  I'd be happy to suggest the same for anyone visiting the under-rated restaurants of DC.

Josh

We were in SF for my other half's 30th birthday - we went to Gary Danko for her actual birthday and later in the week we were in the city again and went to Fleur de Lys.

--------

Danko was amazing, second only to the French Laundry (where we were for my birthday two months earlier). We brought a 1973 Tokaji Azsu to go with dessert - this seemed to cause quite a stir among the staff. I don't know if it was that, or the fact that it was her birthday, or that it was already late into the evening, but the service was impeccable: very friendly but not overly so, professional, knowledgeable, and thoughtful. On her dessert plate was a personalized birthday greeting in chocolate syrup. Oh, right, the food. The food was exquisite.

Appetizers:

Beet, leek, and carrot terrine

Warm quail salad

Riesling Spätlese, Grunlack, Schloss Johannisberger, Rheingau 1971

Fish:

Seared red snapper (crisply seared with moist flesh) with fennel puree, saffron, and orange.

Guinea hen breast with phyllo wrapped braised leg and pistachios. Not exactly fish, but damned good, especially the braised leg, which was essentially a confit.

Chablis, Grand Cru, Les Preuses, René & Vincent Dauvissat 1997

Meat:

Moroccan squab with chermoula and orange-cumin carrots, a house specialty, and for good reason.

Beef medallion with wild nettle risotto.

Jones Family Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

Dessert:

Roasted pineapple tart

Trio of creme brulees, pistachio, vanilla, and caramel.

Tokaji Azsu 5 Puttonyos, 1973

--------

Fleur de Lys was less remarkable, in stark contrast to the clean bright lines at Gary Danko, FdL is overly formal and somewhat stuffy. We were seated in a small room off the main dining room with 6 or 8 other tables all occupied by others age 35 and under; the main dining room on the other hand had noone under age 35. With a visit from the condescending sommelier our FdL experience continued downhill. The food, however, was quite good, although I can't recall a single course from the meal and it was not significantly better than what is available at the countless wine country restaurants near home; I'd sooner go to Bistro Don Giovanni, La Toque, Gordon’s, or Terra than return to FdL.

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1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably)

I'd suggest El Toro (17th and Valencia), El Farolito (23d and Mission?) or El Taqueria (24th & Mission?)

2) a fantastic and interesting dinner place (nothing stuffy or traditional French please) in the $100/per person range

In this order, and descending prices:

Fifth Floor (doubt you'll get out for under $100 per)

Danko (Maybe you'll get out for under $100)

Zuni (more casual, but excellent)

Limon (great tapas, well under $100, but not fancy)

3) a good Italian joint

Same:

Go over the Bay Bridge, stay on Route 80, East, for about 3,000 miles . . . .

Delfina (upscale Italian 18th and Guererro)

Rose Pistola (never been there, but here it's pretty good)

Milano (great neighborhood joint, Pacific & Hyde)

4) the best place for Dim Sum.

I second Yank Sing -- but they're only open weekday lunches.

Ton Kiang (22nd and Geary) is supposed to be great.

5) And if anyone knows a great bakery for breakfast and coffee, we wouldn't mind the suggestion. 

Tartine (18th & Guerrero)

Keith & James' place (not the real name) (18th and Eureka)

Boulangerie (Polk and Green)


Edited by Stone (log)

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1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably)

I'd suggest El Toro (17th and Valencia), El Farolito (23d and Mission?) or El Taqueria (24th & Mission?)

Hey! You agree with me on Taqueria El Toro! I remember liking El Farolito, too, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering the place correctly or confusing it with another. Remind me: Isn't that the Salvadoran place, or am I thinking of another place? If I'm remembering correctly, El Farolito opened something around 3 or 4 years ago and was a bright new space that had a long counter and room in the back. Is that the one?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably)

I'd suggest El Toro (17th and Valencia), El Farolito (23d and Mission?) or El Taqueria (24th & Mission?)

Hey! You agree with me on Taqueria El Toro! I remember liking El Farolito, too, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering the place correctly or confusing it with another. Remind me: Isn't that the Salvadoran place, or am I thinking of another place? If I'm remembering correctly, El Farolito opened something around 3 or 4 years ago and was a bright new space that had a long counter and room in the back. Is that the one?

I think the El Salvadoran place you're thinking of is on 16th, just East of Valencia. It's not really a burrito joint, more of a restaurant.

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Since you're in SF, I want to ask you something else. I really liked the Thai place on Market St. near the Safeway the times I was in SF. Although it was really just a good neighborhood Thai place for SF, it was probably better than any New York Thai place with the possible (and by no means definite) exception of Sripraphai. Are you familiar with the place, and is it still good?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Burrito Place- El Taqueria

Fantastic Dinner- Gary Danko, Masa's, Fifth Floor, or Elisabeth Daniel

Good Italian- Defina (not really a "joint", but excellent -- must have panne cotta :wub: ), Buca

Giovanni or Bocce (for more of North Beach joint type place).

Best Dim Sum- Yank Sing (at Rincon Center is open during the week and on Saturdays not sure about Sundays), Ton Kiang (very good, but always packed), Harbor Villiage (only on weekends), and if you want to venture to China Town either Four Seas or China Village.

Great Bakery- Tartine!

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- 1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably),

Taqueria Cancun on Mission, La Taqueria on Mission or El Farolita on Folsom

- 2) a fantastic and interesting dinner place (nothing stuffy or traditional French please) in the $100/per person range,

Masa's (get the 9 course chef's tasting menu)

- 3) a good Italian joint

Delfina (mmmm.... chianti braised short ribs, pappardelle with rabbit sugo...)

- 4) the best place for Dim Sum.

Yank Sing or Harbour Village (lunch only if you want the good stuff)

- 5) And if anyone knows a great bakery for breakfast and coffee, we wouldn't mind the suggestion.

Tartine or Citizen Cake


Edited by malachi (log)

fanatic...

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1.Pancho Villa (16th and Valencia)

2.Fifth Floor, another possible :Farallon (food is good but atmosphere will wow her)

3.Ideale (Grant St @Vallejo) not a joint in the east coast sense of the word. those places don't exist in the West...think trattoria.

4.Ton Kiang or Yank Sing

5.Dottie's True Blue for a kick

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I've had nothing but absolute wow's at Fleur de Lys (about 7 times). The sommelier is great to us, and we always BYO. It is an older, more formal crowd, but the main room is stunning. Do a search for several posts.

Haven't been to fifth floor or Danko, heard great things about them. Fifth floor would be much more that $100/head unless you didn't have wine.

Farrollon is great fun, see if you can't fit a lunch in there.

Swan Oyster Depot is another great lunch place. Oysters and a glass of wine/beer at the counter. Definitely quintissential SF.

Ton Kiang was very good, but I'm not a dim sum maven.

Delfina is excellent, but not a joint as mentioned before. At the opposite end is Osteria del Forno, an SF insider spot, only a few tables, limited menu cheap and excellent.


beachfan

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I've had nothing but absolute wow's at Fleur de Lys (about 7 times).  The sommelier is great to us, and we always BYO.  It is an older, more formal crowd, but the main room is stunning.  Do a search for several posts.

Haven't been to fifth floor or Danko, heard great things about them.  Fifth floor would be much more that $100/head unless you didn't have wine.

Farrollon is great fun, see if you can't fit a lunch in there.

The service at Fleur de Lys was reason enough not to return, the food was very good but not at the level I expected. incidentally our tab including wine at Fleur de Lys was somewhere around $350 for the two of us, Gary Danko was closer to $450.

I've been to Farallon twice now, once for business and once for pleasure. I thought it a better place to have a meeting than a romantic meal; again their food is good but nothing extraordinary.

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Also, Fleur de Lys is certainly stuffy and traditional French.

Has anyone tried Woodward's Garden? It's hidden under the highway overpass and behind a faded brick facade. Everyone tells me that they're told it's great, but no one's actually been there.

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I've had nothing but absolute wow's at Fleur de Lys (about 7 times).  The sommelier is great to us, and we always BYO.  It is an older, more formal crowd, but the main room is stunning.  Do a search for several posts.

The service at Fleur de Lys was reason enough not to return, the food was very good but not at the level I expected.

Ah, yes, just like you said 10 posts up.

You win :biggrin:


beachfan

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1) a real California burrito place (in the Mission, preferably)

Most of the burrito places in the Mission are pretty good, hard to go really wrong. I personally like El Toro, which has been mentioned a couple of times already, but it mostly comes down to individual preferences.

2) a fantastic and interesting dinner place (nothing stuffy or traditional French please) in the $100/per person range

I really liked Gary Danko (where a three course meal is $55 before tax/tip/wine), but it is very French influenced, so I'm not sure if it would qualify for your request of no "traditional French". I haven't been to Fifth Floor but it's at the top of my list of high end restaurants to try. I would not recommend Fleur de Lys personally. Nothing wrong with it, I just think there's better places for the money (including GD). Keep in mind that GD and FF will run you over $100/person if you have wine.

A few very good Nuevo Latino restaurants have opened in San Francisco recently. They'd be my top pick for an interesting meal that's quite unique to the area, and they'll all be comfortably under $100/person. My favorites (all in the Mission) in order of preference are Alma (pan-Latin American), Limon (Peruvian) and Platanos (Central American). The ceviches are wonderful at all three restaurants, definitely a must-order item. I've also heard good things about Destino in the Castro but I haven't been yet.

We also have very good high end Vietnamese restaurants, the most notable being Slanted Door near Embarcadero and Ana Mandara in Ghirardelli Square. They'll run you around $100/person with wine. Slanted Door would probably have the edge in food, but Ana Mandara has one of the most beautiful spaces of San Francisco restaurants.

3) a good Italian joint

I second the Delfina recommendation. It's a modern Italian restaurant in the Mission with Californian influences, I've always enjoyed my meals there. In the more traditional Italian style, I had an excellent meal at Bacco in Noe Valley a couple of weeks ago, highly recommended. Olivetto in Oakland gets very good reviews, I did like it the one time I ate there but was not overly impressed. A couple more trattorias that I like are Pazzia (Tuscan restaurant near Moscone Centre) and Pane e Vino (in Cow Hollow).

4) the best place for Dim Sum.

I usually have Dim Sum in the Peninsula, so I don't have any recommendations in San Francisco proper.

5) And if anyone knows a great bakery for breakfast and coffee, we wouldn't mind the suggestion.

The Pascal Rigo bakeries (Bay Bread on Fillmore, Boulangerie de Cole in Cole Valley, Boulangerie de Polk in Russian Hill and Marinette in the Marina) are very good, as is Tartine in the Mission. If you go to Tartine, make sure to order the hot chocolate, I think it's the best in the city, and is best accompanied by a plain croissant.

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I know it's actually in Berkeley and some don't like it, but does Chez Panisse not merit any mention? :shock: Still, from what I know and as many have said Fifth Floor and Danko are the two to look at for the best meal in San Francisco.

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I think El Toro is terrible and bland. Try Cancun or La Taqueria for authentic. El Cumbre on Valencia is my fave, but it can be very inconsistent. They do the best carne asada, though.

Delfina isn't really Italian food. It can be good, but its small and loud and very full. My favorite Italian, nay, favorite restaurant in all the world is Oliveto in Oakland. Paul Bertolli was chef du cuisine at CP for 10 years. Easy to get to, a half block from BART. I cant recommend it enough.

Acquarello is also fantastic. It was rated top 10 Italian restaurants in the country a few years back. The room is magical.

Dim sum is Yank Sing, hands down.

For great seafood, SF style, go to Tadich or Sam's Grill. Wicked old fashioned and cool. Sam's has booths with curtains. Get the sand dabs or grilled petrale sole. Swan's is also worth a visit for lunch.

Enjoy.

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I think El Toro is terrible and bland.  Try Cancun or La Taqueria for authentic.  El Cumbre on Valencia is my fave, but it can be very inconsistent.  They do the best carne asada, though.

Delfina isn't really Italian food.  It can be good, but its small and loud and very full.  My favorite Italian, nay, favorite restaurant in all the world is Oliveto in Oakland.  Paul Bertolli was chef du cuisine at CP for 10 years.  Easy to get to, a half block from BART.  I cant recommend it enough. 

Acquarello is also fantastic.  It was rated top 10 Italian restaurants in the country a few years back.  The room is magical. 

Dim sum is Yank Sing, hands down.

For great seafood, SF style, go to Tadich or Sam's Grill.  Wicked old fashioned and cool.  Sam's has booths with curtains.  Get the sand dabs or grilled petrale sole.  Swan's is also worth a visit for lunch. 

Enjoy.

Totally concur on El Toro, but... "Delfina isn't really Italian food"? While there are a handful of menu items at any one time that are not "authentic" most of the food is nearly identical to the dishes prepared at Da Delfina outside Firenze (and similar to a half-dozen other restaurants from that region that I can think of). Try the tripe, for example, or the Chianti-braised shortribs, or the Ribolitta da Delfina or the Pappardelle with Rabbit Sugo. I can understand some folks not liking the experience (it is quite small, quite loud and quite full). But it truly is food of a style prepared in Italy.


fanatic...

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malachi, I used to live around the corner from there, and a few years ago, at any rate, it sported almost as much French influence as Italian, with significant Cali sensibilities as well. Sounds like things have changed.

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Cool - I used to live on Cumberland at Guerrero. Ate at Delfina with far too much regularity as a result.


fanatic...

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Has anyone tried Woodward's Garden?  It's hidden under the highway overpass and behind a faded brick facade.  Everyone tells me that they're told it's great, but no one's actually been there.

Count me in as another who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone else who's been to Woodward's Garden and spoke very highly of it.

I've long wanted to go . . .

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My last trip there, I had Danko for Lunch, Slanted Door for dinner.

Danko is fantastic, and I got out for around 85 dollars, but that was only because he opened the restaurant exclusively for the group of 40 students that I was with. Nice guy, too.

Slanted Door is quite popular, but they have fantastic teas, and a flash seared tuna on an 800 degree wood fired grill that absolutely kicks your ass with how awesome it is. Perfect food, one dish after the other, and a great meal for around 65 bucks a person. (I think. Katie, Sound right?)


Edited by T. Brooks (log)

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