Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Best Restaurants in SF


Stone
 Share

Recommended Posts

Many SF threads are started by visitors asking for recommendations. When it comes to the "best" place in town, it seems to me that the list is fairly consistent:

Fifth Floor

Danko

Fleur d' Lys.

There seems to be more waiving for Fleur d' Lys, and the order gets switched around, of course, due to personal idiosyncrasies, but these seems to be the ones that the vast majority put on the list. (Note -- this is not necessarily my list, but more my observation of what we all post -- although I'd certainly say that I haven't had any meals in SF better than Danko or FF.) Ches Panisse is added with the "it's in Berkely caveat". And some people like to pull in the Napa Valley stalwarts. And then there are the "also rans" that regularly pop up:

Masa (edit -- What's Mesa? I don't know.)

Aqua

Farallon

Postrio

La Folie (sometimes).

And then there are the excellent restaurants in the next tier, including among many others:

Delfina

Alma

Boulevard (not my personal fave)

Various "Chez's" that have popped up everywhere.

But are we in agreement? Are there any restaurants that consistently challenge Danko, Fifth Floor and Fleur d' Lys, or are they the Top of the Mark?

Edited by Stone (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

But are we in agreement?  Are there any restaurants that consistently challenge Danko, Fifth Floor and Fleur d' Lys, or are they the Top of the Mark?

I hate to disagree, but since Ron Siegel took over at Masa's it has been (purely in my humble opinion) the best restaurant in San Francisco (and arguably the second best in the Bay Area).

In addition - I would tend to argue that there is a noticable drop-off from it to the three mentioned here. At Gary Danko there are periodic menu items that are merely average (the crab salad with avocado for example). Fifth Floor lacks the balance and subtlety of Masa's (most of the dishes would make great appetizers, but end up being overwhelming or out of wack as entrees). Fleur de Lys is coasting. Gorgeous room, professional service (though sometimes a bit condescending) and solid, well executed food - but nothing that opens your eyes.

If one were to talk about the Bay Area as a whole and haute cuisine as a type then I'd tend to say that it would go (in order) French Laundry, Masa's (by a nose over), Chez Panisse.

Just my $0.02 worth.

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't see any reason to not include Berkely and the Napa Valley in a serious discussion of San Francisco restaurants. Those areas contribute to the local mindset of what is possible and what should be expected of a top quality dining experience. In comparison, Los Angeles discussions regularly include restaurants in Santa Monica (which at least is still in Los Angeles County) and Orange County (which clearly isn't in Los Angeles County). It's the proximity that counts.

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't see any reason to not include Berkely and the Napa Valley in a serious discussion of San Francisco restaurants.  Those areas contribute to the local mindset of what is possible and what should be expected of a top quality dining experience.  In comparison, Los Angeles discussions regularly include restaurants in Santa Monica (which at least is still in Los Angeles County) and Orange County (which clearly isn't in Los Angeles County).  It's the proximity that counts.

Measuring by Los Angeleno standards, you'd include Philadelphia and Boston with NYC.

beachfan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Measuring by Los Angeleno standards, you'd include Philadelphia and Boston with NYC.

Not at all. Distances are measured differently on the left coast. I haven't been to Boston yet, but on my trips to the other two cities I've seen that people can live quite well in NYC and Philly's City Center without cars of their own. (The rest of Philadelphia can require driving.) In SoCal, life without personal transportation is nearly impossible, public transportation is next to nonexistant, and no one lives in downtown LA, unlike the cited East Coast counterparts.

San Francisco is borderline when it comes to car access; some in the City can live without them, but others cannot. But also keep in mind the geography of SF: the City and San Francisco County are one and the same, on a very tight nip of the penninsula, which automatically forces any Bay Area suburb into another county. People who work in SF don't automatically live there; that pushes the metropolitan area of San Francisco well beyond it's official borders.

Another way of reckoning how large a metropolitan area is, when it comes to distance, is to consider media outlets. New York City's newspapers and radio and television stations aren't expected to cover Boston or Philadelphia news, since those cities have their own papers and stations. On the other hand, San Francisco's media is expected to cover the outlaying counties; the next media sphere is Sacramento, to the east. Los Angeles is so large in it's range that Orange County, to the south, doesn't have it's own television stations; nor for that matter does Ventura County, if you head northward. And the second largest city in the county, Long Beach, is completely reliant upon Los Angeles for it's media coverage, strictly because of it's proximity to the larger city and in spite of it's having a population larger than that of Atlanta.

As I say, distances are measured differently on the left coast.

Edited by SWoodyWhite (log)

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I live in Oakland, and I consider the Napa Valley to be part of the Bay Area. I guess I define it by driving time. Napa is a little over an hour away from my house. Downtown San Francisco may only be ten miles away, but I've spent longer than an hour getting across that bridge on a Saturday night!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fifth Floor

Danko

Fleur d' Lys.

Masa 

Aqua

Farallon

Postrio

La Folie (sometimes).

Delfina

Alma

Boulevard (not my personal fave)

Various "Chez's" that have popped up everywhere.

What about PlumpJack? My meals there have been consistently better than at many on this list.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To add my own li'l opinion, I think Fifth Floor was ok - certainly an excellent meal, but I wasn't bowled over by it, nor was it particularly memorable (except for the check). Aqua will always have a place in my heart, and they've done well by keeping the tuna tartare on the menu, but the latest changes have made me start to look elsewhere for my #1 favorite.

I had a fabulous dinner at Delfina a month or so ago, but I'm not sure if I'd say it's the best. The food was well executed, but no real "wow!" moment.

A dinner I had at Bix back in April did surprise me with how wonderfully the chef has improved the quality of the ingredients, the presentation and the dishes themselves.

I feel like I have to keep searching to figure out what I think is really "the best" here. I haven't been to Danko (horrors!) or Plumpjack yet, though, so perhaps this will become my new mission, and I'll give them a try. Such sacrifices I must make in the name of science! ;-)

Mr. Pibb + Red Vine = Crazy Delicious
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is the "best"?

The food network's "best of"?

Im not sure the "best" is the best of anything in its category.

I have a problem with a restaurant reviewing system that compares restaurants with check averages above 20 bucks, with those below 20. Perhaps we need a new system.

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Acquerello, plain and simple.  Beats Danko and Fleur de Lys by miles, does a different thing from FF.

Never been there, but I was recently told that Acquerello was for old people. Sorry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is the "best"?

The food network's "best of"?

Im not sure the "best" is the best of anything in its category.

I have a problem with a restaurant reviewing system that compares restaurants with check averages above 20 bucks, with those below 20. Perhaps we need a new system.

Actually, I wasn't trying to compare expensive places with cheaper places. I only listed the Delfinas, Almas, Chez's as example of what I consider to the "next tier" down from FF, Masa, Danko. When I say "best restaurant in SF", I'm not trying to say that one can't get a great meal for a lot less. But as much as I love Suppenkuche, Sunflower, Limon, I don't think they or their ilk can rightly be called the best place in town.

So, yes, I'm only trying to compare the top-end places that purport to be putting out the best food/service/wine/experience in town.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I live in Oakland, and I consider the Napa Valley to be part of the Bay Area. I guess I define it by driving time. Napa is a little over an hour away from my house. Downtown San Francisco may only be ten miles away, but I've spent longer than an hour getting across that bridge on a Saturday night!

Did you or any of your fellow Oaklanders (or SFranciscans) go to Napa Valley for dinner (without spending the daytime up there?).

I think that's the test. People in LA will go anywhere in LA to go to dinner. To have a county that's not contiguous with either Oakland or SF as part of the SF area is stretching it.

Spoken by someone who lived 18 years in Queens county, 15 years in Marin County and 5 years in Ventura County.

beachfan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did you or any of your fellow Oaklanders (or SFranciscans) go to Napa Valley for dinner (without spending the daytime up there?).

Umm... yes.

Then again, I don't think I would be considered as part of a "normal" sampling given that I've recently driven 9 hours round trip (in one day) to have some good Korean food and pick up 12 bottles of beer.

fanatic...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then again, I don't think I would be considered as part of a "normal" sampling given that I've recently driven 9 hours round trip (in one day) to have some good Korean food and pick up 12 bottles of beer.

Belgian beer, I'll bet . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...