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San Francisco Trip Advice


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My wife and I have planed a trip to San Francisco in early June.

On previous trips we’ve eaten at a few high end places of note. Danko, French Laundry, Rubicon, Masa's, Aqua, etc

This trip I have planned as follows.

Thursday Lunch Slanted Door

Thursday Dinner Chez Panisse

Friday Lunch Canteen

Friday Dinner Quince

Saturday Lunch Zuni Cafe

Saturday Dinner A-16

Sunday Dim Sum Yank Sing

My wife and I felt we'd like to do some great restaurants that have a real feel for SF food culture. I kind of want to stay away from a Danko or Michael Mina type place. I have been to the Laundry, Danko, and a dozen other such places and right now I am in a place where that caliber of restaurant just seems contrived and a bit ridiculous if you will. Not to say I don’t believe those places are not the very best but I'd like to eat somewhere that provides something of a real food passion experience. Also, I have eaten at so many of those type of places that I tend to be a bit numb to the experience.

I am ashamed to say I have never been to Chez Panisse. I have also heard wonderful things about Quince as well.

I have never eaten at Zuni Cafe in all my travels to SF and feel that I should.

However, I have seen many recent reviews that were less than glowing. I understand what the food at Zuni is all about and don’t expect anything other than a great Bistro type experience. But if the service and quality has gone down I'd like to avoid the let down after Panisse and Quince.

I have heard many good things about A-16 and it seems to fit into the theme of our desired food destination.

All that said, I think the meals on Saturday's are probably flexible if I can find something better. Something that has that Quince/Panisse thing of quality of product prepared and presented simply and with intense care.

If anyone has any reviews, advice or suggestions Id love to hear about them.

I'll take photos of all the meals too.

Shaun

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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I was in SF earlier this week and had a chance to eat at A16 (open on Monday nights!). It was a great meal. We started with a beet salad and the 'Verde' pizza to share. The pizza is cooked in a wood fired oven (I sat right across from the kitchen facing the oven) and was great. Even more fun to watch the guy managing the pizza oven and pies and stone, etc. He was hopping all night. For mains I had the grilled quail, two birds split and cooked perfectly. Well seasoned (hint of anise?) and crisp, but not overcooked. I love quail.

Tuesday night I dined at Coi, Daniel Patterson's new restaurant. Disclaimer: the front of the house manager (Paul Costigan) is a very good friend of mine. I tried the nine course tasting menu and found it to be innovative but not over the top, everything done super well. I'm jet-lagged in NY right now so my memory escapes me on the complete menu--highlights were the scallops (sliced thin, served raw with shaved avocado and a vinagrette) and lamb cooked two ways (braised shoulder and roasted loin). The space is small (26 seats) but there's also a lounge out front. They do take reservations.

I've eaten at Zuni a couple of years ago, haven't been back since the bad press started rolling in.

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If anyone has any reviews, advice or suggestions Id love to hear about them.

Have you considered Tadich Grill? It is such a San Francisco type place - I love to eat at the counter where you can watch the kitchen staff fly around and the waiters and bar keepers as well.. I love the sand dabs and they also fix a killer lobster bisque. They don't take reservatons, however - one drawback. I like Yank Sing and I've eaten at Zuni many times, but not in the past three years or so (since I moved from the area). I always try to get over to the little restaurants i the Belden Place alley - Cafe Bastille is an always favorite but I also like the mussles at Plouf, too. Have a great trip!

Sara

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Good ideas.

After going onto yelp.com and taking a look at the Coi reviews I think I have to make that a must do.

So maybe a-16 for lunch Friday then Canteen for lunch Saturday.

Zuni I will pass. I am really excited about eating at a place that is only a month into its life. I am sure the chef will have all the food kinks worked out.

Very excited now. I am going to need to fast for a week after the weekend for sure.

Anyone else eaten at Coi and have a review?

So heres the revised schedule...

Thursday Lunch Slanted Door

Thursday Dinner Chez Panisse

Friday Lunch A-16

Friday Dinner Quince

Saturday Lunch Canteen

Saturday Dinner Coi

Sunday Dim Sum Yank Sing

Shaun

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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I've been researching restaurants for a similar trip in mid-May and have drawn up a similar list. From what I've gathered, Koi Palace is considered superior to Yank Sing for dim sum among those who know.

"Yo, I want one of those!"

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I've been researching restaurants for a similar trip in mid-May and have drawn up a similar list. From what I've gathered, Koi Palace is considered superior to Yank Sing for dim sum among those who know.

Yeah Ive heard that as well. I have been to yank sing a few times and it is my wifes favorites. really neat place good food and nice atmosphere. Daly City is a bit farther then I would like to venture out.

We are footing it and doing the taxi thing in SF.

Shaun

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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Some randon thoughts...

When you go to Chez Pannise get there early and go to Cesar next door for a cocktail and a snack (a light snack) first. It is a wonderful place, interesting drinks and very good tapas. I hope you enjoy Chez, it is one of my favorite places, both for the food and the vibe, and upstairs and down both ahve their own charms.

I've heard that there is a new food-related complex next door as well but I haven't been.

Also when you go the Slanted Door go check out Boulette's Larder at the other end of the ferry plaza. beautiful space, food is always interesting. They sell mise-en-place as well as spices, herbs, etc and also take out. There's a big communal table where they have sit down service. A real SF place, IMO.

One comment I'd make about your list is that A16 and Quince have somewhat similar foods, both cal/ital/med kind of palette of flavors. Quince is more elegant, though in a low-key way. Not sure I have any suggestions about how to change the line-up though.

One last thing, to me the Mission has many iteresting restaurants and cafes, and none are on your list. Delfina, Bar Tartine, Tartine bakery (for breakfast, pick a weekday!!), these are some first rate places. Also a great mission taco (La Tacueria on Mission/25th for carne asada) is not to be missed. Might be worth adding to your itinerary if you've not been to that area.

Enjoy!

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Also when you go the Slanted Door go check out Boulette's Larder at the other end of the ferry plaza.  beautiful space, food is always interesting.  They sell mise-en-place as well as spices, herbs, etc and also take out.  There's a big communal table where they have sit down service.  A real SF place,Enjoy!

Good ideas.

We have an 8:30 reservation at Chez Panisse so swinging by Cesar is easy.

We are also staying at The Hotel Vitale across from the ferry building so we'll check out Boulette's. Maybe even have breakfast there or just load up on room snacks.

Thanks for the leads...

Shaun

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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So heres the revised schedule...

Thursday Lunch Slanted Door

Thursday Dinner Chez Panisse

For the price that you'll be paying at Slanted Door, I think you'll have a better experience and in my opinion, better food by eating your way through the many food places there. Here are a few thoughts in addition to Boulette's Larder:

- cavier tasting at Tsar Nicoulai Caviar

- house-made potatoe chips at Lulu Petite

- bread from Acme and cheese from Cowgirl Creamery

- Parisian macarons at Miette

- chocolate at Recchiuti Confections

Have a great time eating through the city! :raz:

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A couple quick notes... a quick peruse through the latest California posts might disuade you from Slanted Door -- overrated. Simple noshing through the Ferry Building for lunch could fill you up very nicely.

Second, Koi Palace over Yank Sing any day of the week. Amen. Hallelujah.

Third: Your entire progression seems a bit over-wrought with haute cuisine. Give yourself a little room for serendipity. I've dined at the restaurant within the Vitale and had a wonderful meal. Consider wandering Chinatown for fabulous, authentic Chinese or Little Italy for Cioppino.

I've lived here a whopping three months now (after moving from Napa). I'd take mussels at Plouf with a great bottle of Muscat anyday over the contrived menu at Danko... But I'm getting tired of haute and enjoy everyday, great plain cooking with perfect ingredients.

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[...]

Second, Koi Palace over Yank Sing any day of the week. Amen. Hallelujah.

[...]

I agree with that. Beware that it is VERY crowded on Sundays. The trick is to get there early. If you can't be there before 11:00 am, get ready for a long wait. Could be over an hour easily. I think they open at 10:00 am in the weekends but am not sure. Their website tells you many things... except hours.

Koi Palace

Serramonte Plaza

365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City CA 94015

Tel: (650) 992-9000

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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A couple quick notes... a quick peruse through the latest California posts might disuade you from Slanted Door -- overrated. Simple noshing through the Ferry Building for lunch could fill you up very nicely.

Second, Koi Palace over Yank Sing any day of the week. Amen. Hallelujah.

Third: Your entire progression seems a bit over-wrought with haute cuisine. Give yourself a little room for serendipity. I've dined at the restaurant within the Vitale and had a wonderful meal. Consider wandering Chinatown for fabulous, authentic Chinese or Little Italy for Cioppino.

I've lived here a whopping three months now (after moving from Napa). I'd take mussels at Plouf with a great bottle of Muscat anyday over the contrived menu at Danko... But I'm getting tired of haute and enjoy everyday, great plain cooking with perfect ingredients.

Thanks for the notes.

I probably should say that we have 3 boys at and under 3 years old at home.

That said, when we arrive, I am sure a period of decompression would be welcomed.

I picked the slanted door to stay close to the hotel. We get in at 11am and figured we'd probably just like to grab a bite and park it with a view for a few hours. I figure the view for leisurely noshing and getting a few drinks in us can’t be beat there. I'd say I chose the slanted door for it ambiance/leisure/closeness ratio. I am sure we will stroll through the ferry building but initially we will probably just want to park it and get a little afternoon buzz on.

As far as the Haute overload, I consider Coi the closest, maybe only, restaurant of the bunch to Haute. At least my interpretation of Haute and its "Hautieness".

My wife and I tend to spend our entire trips in San Francisco leisurely strolling through the city.

It usually goes meals then hoofing it all over the city for hours on end. Doing so tends to lend the ability to go full throttle on the eating and drinking.

Our flight leaves at 1:30 on Sunday so Yank Sings proximity and our timeline make it tough to venture out to Daly City.

Shaun

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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Our flight leaves at 1:30 on Sunday so Yank Sings proximity and our timeline makes it tough to venture out to Daly City. 

Shaun

If you are flying from SFO Daly City is a lot closer than Yank Sing would be, for what its worth... There is also (still? haven't been in the bay area for a year, sigh...) the Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae which is pretty good and extremely extremely near the airport.

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If you are flying from SFO Daly City is a lot closer than Yank Sing would be, for what its worth... There is also (still? haven't been in the bay area for a year, sigh...) the Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae which is pretty good and extremely extremely near the airport.

There are a few very good Chinese restaurants in Millbrae and it is just across the I-101 freeway from SFO airport. I am very disappointed at Hong Kong Flower Lounge from a recent visit. Their quality has declined. You can tell from their patronage. I arrived there extra early 10:30 am on a Sunday anticipating a long time if I arrive any later, only to see that there was no line at all at noon and there were still vacant tables in the dining room. (This was about a year ago.) Their dim sum now is just so-so.

I like Fook Yuen and Zen Peninsula, both of which are along El Camino Real within a mile of HK Flower Lounge. Very good food.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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If you are flying from SFO Daly City is a lot closer than Yank Sing would be, for what its worth... There is also (still? haven't been in the bay area for a year, sigh...) the Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae which is pretty good and extremely extremely near the airport.

There are a few very good Chinese restaurants in Millbrae and it is just across the I-101 freeway from SFO airport. I am very disappointed at Hong Kong Flower Lounge from a recent visit. Their quality has declined. You can tell from their patronage. I arrived there extra early 10:30 am on a Sunday anticipating a long time if I arrive any later, only to see that there was no line at all at noon and there were still vacant tables in the dining room. (This was about a year ago.) Their dim sum now is just so-so.

I like Fook Yuen and Zen Peninsula, both of which are along El Camino Real within a mile of HK Flower Lounge. Very good food.

I am flying out of Oakland.

Shaun

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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Also when you go the Slanted Door go check out Boulette's Larder at the other end of the ferry plaza.  beautiful space, food is always interesting.  They sell mise-en-place as well as spices, herbs, etc and also take out.  There's a big communal table where they have sit down service.  A real SF place,Enjoy!

Good ideas.

We have an 8:30 reservation at Chez Panisse so swinging by Cesar is easy.

We are also staying at The Hotel Vitale across from the ferry building so we'll check out Boulette's. Maybe even have breakfast there or just load up on room snacks.

Thanks for the leads...

Shaun

Sounds like a great line up to me; it includes some of my favorite restaurants. You may well enjoy Slanted Door and the space in the Ferry Building has a great view, but personally I would go to Hog Island Oyster if you enjoy fresh briny bivalves. The wine shop in the Ferry Building often has an interesting selection of wines by the glass; I always drop by to see what they're pouring and usually try something.

There are many great drink options as Cesar; a great suggestion by mixmaster b. If you want something lighter before dinner, consider their champagne or non-alcoholic bubbly drink spiked with Austrian Elderberryflower syrup. It is very delicious.

I wouldn't pass up dim sum at Yank Sing, but if I had wheels and the ability to get there early in your situation, I would go to Koi Palace.

This last comment is not to influence your new schedule which looks great--but I've been to Zuni many times in the last three years and still always have a wonderful experience.

Look forward to hearing of your impressions, especially for Coi. There hasn't been much comment yet on the restaurant on eGullet. Have a great time.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Thanks for the notes.

I probably should say that we have 3 boys at and under 3 years old at home.

That said, when we arrive, I am sure a period of decompression would be welcomed.

I picked the slanted door to stay close to the hotel.  We get in at 11am and figured we'd probably just like to grab a bite and park it with a view for a few hours.  I figure the view for leisurely noshing and getting a few drinks in us can’t be beat there.  I'd say I chose the slanted door for it ambiance/leisure/closeness ratio.  I am sure we will stroll through the ferry building but initially we will probably just want to park it and get a little afternoon buzz on.

Just another note about Slanted Door. It was named as one of the top 10 noisiest restaurant in SF. It may not be the best place to "decompress" based on the noise level....

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I think you choices are good and make much sense for ease and convenience. I'm sure you won't walk away disappointed at Slanted Door or Yank Sing. I eat at both regularly and the proximity to your hotel will make for a relaxed visit (I work right there.)

A16 is probably a better choice for lunch than dinner as dinner it is a madhouse. Try the proscuitto and burata appetizer, that burata is amazing!

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I think you choices are good and make much sense for ease and convenience. I'm sure you won't walk away disappointed at Slanted Door or Yank Sing. I eat at both regularly and the proximity to your hotel will make for a relaxed visit (I work right there.)

A16 is probably a better choice for lunch than dinner as dinner it is a madhouse. Try the proscuitto and burata appetizer, that burata is amazing!

Thanks for the advice.

At this point its kind of a toss up between CAnteen and a-16 for lunch Friday.

I am going to skip Canteen Saturday for lunch and just stroll and binge at the Ferry Building.

I have a really good friend who just ate there and he said it was just okay.

I wish A-16 had a more extensive menu for lunch though.

Looks like they have a really stripped down menu for the mid day service.

I guess I will just load up on Burata.

Of all the places I am eating on my trip I am really geeked about eating at Quince and even more so Coi.

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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We were at Canteen on Friday afternoon for lunch. The dining room is lovely and cozy. Five small booths plus a green formica counter that seats another 7 or so guests. Most of the saute and cooking is done right behind the bar at a very small kitchen to the left. The wine list was nice and simple. The menu only had 5 or 6 items to choose from, no appetizers. Very approachable food.

Holly ordered the sauteed sea bass with pureed corn and orange sauce and I had the lamb with chickpeas, lamb sausage, and okra. My big complaint was that I found two tooth-shattering and/or mouth-cutting pieces of bone in my chickpeas. That was a major bummer indeed. Plus, the lamb loin was overcooked. The fish dish was great though and I am partial to the relaxed atmosphere. If I had to choose over again though, I'd probably look elsewhere. Canteen wasn't horrible, but eating in San Francisco is precious and it is always such a shame when a meal doesn't shine. Have you checked out Foreign Cinema?

We went to Bouchon on Saturday and that was, as usual, beyond. They're cooking at such a high level I can't even really comprehend it. How they make singular flavors sing with such clarity is something I'll continually chase until I can capture just a fraction of the food success they're acheiving in Yountville. Bless the Keller organization.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I'm probably weighing in a little too late (and I've never dined in SF with kids) but my thoughts...

1. I want to third or 4th Cesar before Chez Panisse. Its perfect.

2. Love A 16, I like if for dinner though b/c I really enjoy the Sommelier and the wine list.

3. Delfina is wonderful, wonderful. The Mission is also a great neighborhood - check out Dave Eggers shop on Valencia, geered to kids and written up on this Sunday's New York Times. Or for BFast/dessert Tartine Bakery is great but insanely crowded.

4. Sorry everybody, I still love Zuni.

Have a great time!

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