ustreetguy

Dining in San Francisco

307 posts in this topic

Heading to San Francisco next weekend for a friend's b-day. Dinners are already set at the Cortez [Purchased by Ron Silberstein in 2008, Closed Aug 10, 2009], at the Hotel Adagio and at Lemongrass. Can anyone recommend anything I need to order at these places? I'll also have Sunday evening to myself so is there a not miss restaurant open on Sunday night for someone who just plans on ordering at the bar?

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On 8/20/2005 at 1:28 PM, ustreetguy said:

Heading to San Francisco next weekend for a friend's b-day. Dinners are already set at the Cortez [Purchased by Ron Silberstein in 2008, Closed Aug 10, 2009], at the Hotel Adagio and at Lemongrass. Can anyone recommend anything I need to order at these places? I'll also have Sunday evening to myself so is there a not miss restaurant open on Sunday night for someone who just plans on ordering at the bar?

Forget the cookbook-chicken; I don't know that I've ever had better oysters than at Zuni Cafe. Sit at the raw bar and get a dozen, six pairs from the Pacific Northwest - an expensive little primer, and worth it, too. Absent that, I'd go to Delfina and squeeze into the tiny bar area for a full meal. Except for the raw bar at Zuni Cafe, I'm not sure I've ever experienced two more similar menus back-to-back than my consecutive meals at Zuni Cafe and Delfina last month (I had a slight preference for the cooking at Delfina). As giuinha noted, Slanted Door is a great family lunch place in the Ferry Building, but the warehouse-like bustle and crank-em-out kitchen would leave me a bit cold were I to dine solo at night, despite the outstanding wine list. (It serves many hundreds of covers per day, and the slapdash food is not carefully executed or controlled).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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In the "for what it's worth category" Zagat gives Gary Danko a food rating of 29 and the French Laundry 28 in its 2005 guide reversing the food ratings from earlier years. This is the link:

"Gary Danko" on zagat.com

Danko is a great restaurant, but the likelihood of getting in at this short a notice is nil. When I was in San Francisco in June, I had an amazing meal at Frisson [Closed in 2008]. I would not begin to tell you what is good on the current menu since it changes with the season, but if they have the horseradish mashed potatoes, I would not miss this dish. I became a big fan of Chef Daniel Patterson when I ate the best meal I have ever had in the United States there, it is just too bad it closed. Frisson has a laid back, loungy feel to it. There is a large selection of small plates to share, or for easy foraging. The wine by the glass selection is long extensive, but very well thought out, and the only place I have seen that offers Grande Dame Champagne by the glass.

I would also recommend having at least one drink in the bar at the top of the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel. The promo shots for this bar were made by Ansel Adams, and the view is unrivaled in the city.

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crazeegirl said:
I will be in San Fran later this week...any recommendations for solo dinners?    Must go places?

What is your budget, what are your tastes, and how open are you to low-end and high-end things?

My #1 recommendation, as ever, is DO NOT MISS the Ferry Plaza Marketplace. It is a Mecca for foodies.

Will you have a car? What are your dates? Where are you staying? (Need a rec on that? :lol: )

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tanabutler said:
What is your budget, what are your tastes, and how open are you to low-end and high-end things?

My #1 recommendation, as ever, is DO NOT MISS the Ferry Plaza Marketplace. It is a Mecca for foodies.

Will you have a car? What are your dates? Where are you staying? (Need a rec on that? smile.gif )

Money is not an issue...cheap or expensive...good food is all I care about.

No car. This weekend starting Thursday. Union Square.

Thanks.

I called Gary Danko yesterday to see if there were any last minute cancellations...no luck. I am thinking about dining at the bar.

---

Ana Mandara (dcpolicywonk)

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DonRocks said:
I don't know that I've ever had better oysters than at Zuni Cafe. Sit at the raw bar and get a dozen, six pairs from the Pacific Northwest - an expensive little primer, and worth it, too.

I echo DonRocks' comments about Zuni Cafe. I tried a dozen pairs from the Pacific Northwest and each bite was heavenly. I would definitely recommend this place for solo dinners: very conducive to conversations with strangers...or not so strangers.
smile.gif

My sister and I tried Michael Mina They had a table for two w/o a wait!! By that time, with all the crap work I had to do all day long, I went ahead and took it with a heart beat! (I realized I came to the wrong place--not Gary Danko's--once we sat down...!!???!!! I couldn't remember the name so I asked the taxi driver whether he knew a nice popular restaurant with a male chef's name...michael mina was the first one mentioned, and it somehow seemed right wacko.gif ).

To our pleasant surprise each dish was very well executed. End of the meal, I felt like I didn't miss out on Gary Danko's. After all, a girl needs an excuse to go back to san fran.

Seared Diver Scallops ~ Chilled Ceviche
Meyer Lemon, Osetra Caviar
Yellow Corn, Black Truffle
Scarlet Beet, Maine Lobster

Butter Poached Maine Lobster
Corn Crepe, Citrus Jalapeno Reduction

Six Hour Butter Poached Prime Rib (for two)
Seasonal Creamed Vegetables, Trio of Potatoes

Root Beer Float
Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies

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So has anyone else been to San Francisco lately? I'll be going in March for 3 days (in San Jose before then) and have been trolling Chowhound, here and elesewhere to see where to eat. I'll be eating alone, I don't eat shellfish and am not looking to go home broke :lol: But I am staying at a hostel for a reason.

That said, I'm plotting my sightseeing around- Gary Danko (at the bar), Zuni Cafe, Aziza [Closed May 22, 2016 "for two months of renovations"], Coco500 [Closed Jul 9, 2014], the Tartine Bakery, possibly the coffee place Tom mentioned in his chat today (Graffeo), and maybe Dottie's True Blue Cafe for breakfast.

If anyone has any other notes, comments, what have you, I'd love to hear it :huh:

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Skysplitter said:

So has anyone else been to San Francisco lately? I'll be going in March for 3 days (in San Jose before then) and have been trolling Chowhound, here and elesewhere to see where to eat. I'll be eating alone, I don't eat shellfish and am not looking to go home broke :lol: But I am staying at a hostel for a reason.

That said, I'm plotting my sightseeing around- Gary Danko (at the bar), Zuni Cafe, Aziza, Coco500 [Closed Jul 9, 2014], the Tartine Bakery, possibly the coffee place Tom mentioned in his chat today (Graffeo), and maybe Dottie's True Blue Cafe for breakfast.

If anyone has any other notes, comments, what have you, I'd love to hear it :huh:

the coffee place in north beach is strictly for beans is my recollection, and dark and light roast is the choice. it's well worth carrying some home.

you can easily take the bart to berkeley and visit chez panisse, which always is a mandatory stop for us even though the food isn't exactly cutting edge these days. the cafe upstairs is a good alternative if you can't get a reservation and you want to select things from a wider menu. however, i have succeeded in landing a table downstairs at the last minute, and i don't know how easy it is to get into the cafe now that they accept reservations, which is something they didn't used to do.

i would be interested in finding out what quince is like these days. it's on octavia street heading into pacific heights. we had a memorably delicious italian-ish meal there a couple of years ago, and found the place based on one of tom sietsema's postcard recommendations, which have always panned out for us.

i am also interested in the restaurant that is being opened by the chef who wrote the recipe on cooking eggs in water that appeared in the new york times magazine the first or second weekend in january. i can look him up if you're interested, but am not sure that the restaurant is yet in business.

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giant shrimp said:
you can easily take the bart to berkeley and visit chez panisse, which always is a mandatory stop for us even though the food isn't exactly cutting edge these days. the cafe upstairs is a good alternative if you can't get a reservation and you want to select things from a wider menu. however, i have succeeded in landing a table downstairs at the last minute, and i don't know how easy it is to get into the cafe now that they accept reservations, which is something they didn't used to do.

i would be interested in finding out what quince is like these days. it's on octavia street heading into pacific heights. we had a memorably delicious italian-ish meal there a couple of years ago, and found the place based on one of tom sietsema's postcard recommendations, which have always panned out for us.

I thought about going to Chez Panisse, but my time in San Francisco is very limited. It's more like 2.5 days (driving up from San Jose Monday morning) so I'm trying my best to stay in the city (I don't have car access after that ride up from SJ). The more I read about the city and the food, etc, the more I'm sure I'll be back, so I'd like to save it for another trip when I have more time.

From the SF Chowhounds, Quince seems to be doing well. I saw that in Tom's postcard as well, and not to be rude to Quince, but with Notti and Dino [Closed Jan 12, 2014] in DC, I don't feel the need to travel across the country to get Italian :lol: I'm sure they're using local ingredients in interesting ways, but Aziza's Moroccan I believe, Coco500 [Closed Jan 9, 2014] has an interesting menu (formerly Bizou), etc, etc, and for me, that's more of a draw.

I'll be sure to report back wherever I go... too bad I have to wait another few weeks :huh:

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from what i have read about quince; it cannot be even put in the same sentence as dino or notti when talking about its food quality. i am looking forward to going there when i head to sf.

as for chez panisse, i believe the cafe upstairs is not as difficult to get into.

and thirdly, campton place's chef of two or so years (daniel humm) has left and is in nyc at 11 madison park. the new chef is melissa perillo, i think.

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Well I just got back from San Francisco and thought I would offer up my .02.

I did not make it to Danko since I blew threw alot of money in San Jose. I did however end up at Dottie's True Blue Cafe in the Union Square area and Aziza in the Richmond district.

Dottie's was a place I had started to read about- greasy spoon diner place with alot of character and great food. There were words of caution about it being in the Tenderloin, but balderdash I say. Easy walk from Union Square. As with most popular breakfast places, Dottie's was a little pricey, but damn it was worth it. For $11 you can get 2 big pancakes (I got the blueberry cornmeal), 2 eggs, bacon, potatoes and fresh squeezed OJ. THe coffee's also pretty damned good. I've eaten at alot of diners and breakfast joints in my time (I LOVE breakfast foods) and this was clearly in the top 5 places I've eaten at. Bintiff's [now Bayside American Cafe] in Portland, ME also comes to mind as does a place in Waterville, ME that I can't recall the name of right now.

Anyway, they also bake muffins, cinnamon rolls, several breads, all available there or to go. I left with one of their legendary cinnamon rolls, which was a sugar shock experience, but quite good all the same. Lots of walnuts and brown sugar = yum.

Onto Aziza, which is very popular over on the Chowhound board (reserve comments for the *other* CH thread <_<). Aziza serves Moroccan food, which I'd never had, but made a reservation for 1 and trekked on out to the Richmond area. Easily accessible via bus and on the main drag, the outward appearance is deceiving. I wondered what I was walking into (dive?!) and was treated to one of the most beautiful interiors I've ever dined in. Dark blue walls, candles all around, alcoves with plastered arches, red glass chandeliers- stunning really. But what really impressed me is that I was just a 1 top, got a prime seat in an alcove clearly meant for 3 or 4 people, and the service was outstanding. I started off with a lemon-basil martini which set the evening off just right. I found out after the fact that Aziza is becoming well known for their mixed drinks, and the martini was just proof in the glass. I ordered the lentil soup and the guinea hen. The soup was quite good, but when I got the guinea hen dish, the first words out of my mouth were in fact "holy shit!". It's served with a saffron, lemon and I think red pepper sauce, along with a purple potato mash. The last time I'd had such a reaction I was at Corduroy. A deceptively simple dish, all the flavors meshed well together. I had to tell myself to eat slowly. Dessert was a simple malted milk ice cream with chocolate chips and 2 cookies. Difficult to finish, but quite good.

Damage for 1 drink, soup, hen and dessert with tip was about $60. I would definitely go back. And if you're in town, you have to try and get there. (I would actually order you to RUN not walk, but to each his own.) This restaurant is doing everything right. Not a single misstep the entire evening. I'm already looking forward to the next time I can eat there.

I want a Chef Power and Chef Lahlou face off now ;)

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just got back from gorging in the bay area.

quick words, not one for long posts....

boulevard---over-priced and average.

quince---cheaper, tastier, better. very cute restaurant, with a interesting menu doing the local, seasonal, italian thing. great pastas.

zuni---great space, very small lunch menu, just setttled on a simple plate of house-made salami with olive oil dressed green beans and a glass of rose. it was a nice dish, that would make me want to go back for diinner. but unless you want the burger or chicken, dont go for lunch.

best deal in town: 50 cent pork buns in chinatown at the bakeries. DELICIOUS.

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Just got back from SF recently.

Miette in Ferry Terminal Building - macaroons (not the coconut type), particularly pistachio and rose geranium - hazelnut was okay, small jar of sea salt caramels at the cashier

Ciao Bella - great blood orange and campari granitas

Chez Panisse Cafe - got in just by walking upstairs and asking if there were openings - though I have to say high-quality ingredients, well-prepared, but flavors weren't memorable

Beard Papa - Mission St. across from Yerba Buena Gardens near Convention Center - YUM! Awesome cream puffs

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I know little about Michelin stars, but I thought I'd pass this along:

Only 1 restaurant (French Laundry) got 3 stars

Only 4 restaurants = 2 stars

23 restaurants = 1 star

328 other restaurants made the guide. See below for star ratings.

MICHELIN RESTAURANT STAR RATINGS

ONE STAR () (by neighborhood)

ESTABLISHMENT CITY NEIGHBORHOOD

Fleur de Lys San Francisco Financial District

Rubicon San Francisco Financial District

Bushi-Tei San Francisco Marina District

Quince San Francisco Marina District

Range San Francisco Mission District

Acquerello San Francisco Nob Hill

La Folie San Francisco Nob Hill

Masa's San Francisco Nob Hill

Ritz-Carlton Dining Room San Francisco Nob Hill

Gary Danko San Francisco North Beach

Boulevard San Francisco South of Market

Fifth Floor San Francisco South of Market

Chez Panisse Berkeley East of San Francisco

Sushi-Ran Sausalito North of San Francisco

Chez TJ Mountain View South of San Francisco

Auberge du Soleil Rutherford Napa Valley

Bistro Jeanty Yountville Napa Valley

Bouchon Yountville Napa Valley

La Toque Rutherford Napa Valley

Terra St. Helena Napa Valley

Dry Creek Kitchen Healdsburg Russian River Valley

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant Forestville Russian River Valley

K & L Bistro Sebastopol Russian River Valley

TWO STARS () (by neighborhood)

ESTABLISHMENT CITY NEIGHBORHOOD

Aqua San Francisco Financial District

Michael Mina San Francisco Financial District

Manresa Los Gatos South of San Francisco

Cyrus Healdsburg Russian River Valley

THREE STARS ()

ESTABLISHMENT CITY NEIGHBORHOOD

The French Laundry Yountville Napa Valley

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I know little about Michelin stars, but I thought I'd pass this along:

Only 4 restaurants = 2 stars

TWO STARS () (by neighborhood)

ESTABLISHMENT CITY NEIGHBORHOOD

Cyrus Healdsburg Russian River Valley

I had the great pleasure of dining at Cyrus last week. Based on my experience, I'd say this is a well-deserved recognition, as is Chef Keane's place on Food and Wine's 2006 Best New Chef's list.

(will post details about the meal and others in the Napa, or maybe a new Russian River Valley, thread soon.)

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Although this sort of thing can be debated endlessly, I was truly disappointed to see that Oliveto, one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, was not deemed worthy of a star. :)

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Highlights of a recent visit:

1550 Hyde Cafe and Wine Bar - I remembered seeing a mention on this thread as I caught a glimpse of this place while riding by on a cable car. They came up with an opening for 2 that night, so we took it and I'm really glad we did. I loved that the menu read like a directory of the vendors from the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Terminal Building that morning.

I started with the panzanella with salsa coniglio (rabbit liver sauce) - the local tomatoes and bread were topped with a chopped rabbit liver sauce. I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was a wonderful, light, decidedly un-liverlike flavor, firm but slightly soft texture set off by a touch of oil and balsamic. My main was a lamb moussaka accompanied by a small Greek salad. He got panko-crusted sardines and the suckling pig - both were very tasty and nicely prepared. Affogatto - espresso-drenched vanilla ice cream - was a perfect shared ending. A really nice meal in a cozy space (a bit too cozy when adjoining table's conversation veers toward marriage counseling :) ). A fantastic wine list; we shared a gewurtztraminer flight while waiting for our table and shared a (forgotten name) half-bottle, of which there was a large selection, for dinner.

A16 - in the Marina district. Great pizza in a wood-fired oven, a ricotta gnocchi that was like an Italian matzo ball soup - clouds of gnocchi in a wonderful chicken broth with all the usual chicken soup components. House-cured salmon - yum. Nice wine selection - a little slow getting to us, but the place was slammed and it was 9pm on a Sunday!! Not something I've ever seen in DC. Dessert - Chocolate budino tart with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil - ultra rich shell, but the olive oil and salt tempered some of that richness. [Thanks for the recommendation Todd!]

Citizen Thai - Tasty Thai food in North Beach (yeah, I know that's the Italian area - we had a cappucino at Caffe Trieste). 2 levels, 2 menus - one more formal dining, the other more of a street food, small-plate concept. Grilled sirloin with green curry and the (warm) Fresh Garden Roll were both really good. Serene setting and not at all crowded later (9:30ish) on a Friday night.

The Favorite - Swan Oyster Depot - we went there twice. Getting one of those 18 coveted seats at the counter is worth the wait. A cold Stella, a crab (Dungeness) cocktail, or a combo cocktail - what a treat. Sicilian sashimi - fresh sardines, fileted and thinly sliced, topped with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, capers and finely chopped red onion. I don't like canned sardines, but I'm a new convert to raw ones! We also had fresh scallop sashimi, their unbelievable house-smoked salmon, clam chowder.... it was a seafood orgy (I feel like StephenB :) ). [celebrity sighting - Scott Ian from Anthrax was in picking up something from the seafood counter - I wouldn't have had a clue but some nice locals we'd chatted with in line pointed him out.]

The Ferry Terminal Market is a wonderful market - we also went there twice. It provided picnic fixins and healthy snacks - cherry tomatoes, grapes, apples, etc. etc. And the permanent, indoor vendors are pretty amazing too, as I think has been mentioned previously.

Lowlights: New King Tin and Great Eastern - both in Chinatown, both fairly mediocre. New King Tin was cheap* and open late (*except for the Chinese greens - why are these always twice the price of anything else??) and packed with locals. We probably could have ordered better - one of those places with lots of specials posted on the wall in Chinese and tables of Chinese people with all sorts of great-looking dishes. Great Eastern dim sum was pretty boring - mostly dumplings - I found the selection kind of limited. My Peking duck-loving +1 didn't find any that he liked very much at the few places we tried.

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Has anyone been to Town Hall? Experiences to share?

As part of my farewell tour, I'll be going there, Cyrus, and Zuni in a couple of weeks. No other questions. Just bragging. :)

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Has anyone been to Town Hall? Experiences to share?
My mom went there right after they opened and thought is was a bit scene-y and the food was passable but forgetable. She said that a couple of friends have been since and raved about it, so bascially I have nothing notable to say. :)

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I'm looking to get a gift certificate for my friend and her husband at a restaurant that offers a top-notch vegetarian tasting menu.

From having looked around on the other boards, my understanding is that Greens is horribly overrated. But I've read some good things here and there about Fleur de Lys and Millennium. Anyone have thoughts between these two, or is there an even better option out there?

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I'm looking to get a gift certificate for my friend and her husband at a restaurant that offers a top-notch vegetarian tasting menu.

From having looked around on the other boards, my understanding is that Greens is horribly overrated. But I've read some good things here and there about Fleur de Lys and Millennium. Anyone have thoughts between these two, or is there an even better option out there?

I have eaten the food of Millennium chef Eric Tucker at an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner: it was ]the worst food of any of the more than three dozen such dinners I've attended/photographed. I wouldn't go to Millennium with a gun to my head. The staff (and several guests) were obnoxiously, toxically preachy and holier-than-thou about the vegan menu. They were really not pleasant, and really not fun.

When I did my own research on high-end vegetarian tasting menus, the suggestions I got favored: the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Fleur de Lys, and Masa's. I would pick one of the first two, from having read the menus.

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While I didn't make it to either Zuni or Town Hall when I was in San Francisco, I batted nearly 1.000 at the places we did get to. I [heart] San Francisco.

Frascati: Russian Hill, Italian. Warm, cozy setting. Lovely wine list, tight food menu. Stars included pork chop, chocolate bread pudding, bread salad (hooray for a lightly dressed yet flavorful salad!) and--man, oh man--the black truffle gnocchi, a dish I'd happily fly all the way back there just to eat again.

Bong Su: SOMA, Vietnamese. Oh-so chic decor and oh-so useless service. (A tip: if I have to pour my own wine because my glass has been empty for five minutes, don't fly over to the table and deride me for doing your job.) (I could go on.) By and large very good food, though, and a terrific drink list (kaffir cocktail!). Menu items are marked by region (north, central, south), and go heavy on the fish. I can't recommend the pork noodles more highly. Yum.

Absinthe: Civic Center, American/California. Been there three times now (brunch on this visit) and never get sick of the place. Best. Cocktail List. Ever. The polenta (with maple syrup, mascarpone, bananas, and walnuts) may be the pinnacle of brunch concoctions.

Zushi Puzzle: Marina, Sushi. Best sushi I've had in a long time. The nigiri is, basically, perfect, and the rolls have interesting and delicious flavor and texture combinations. Efficient service.

Annabelle's: Union Square, American/California. Full disclosure: my brother's the GM. Widely assumed to be a tourist joint (and widely patronized by tourists), it's now home to the former Rose Pistola chef, who put together an amazing 9-course dinner of regular menu items for we special guests. Clean cooking, very product-based. The scallop carpaccio with almonds and the bacon-wrapped dates were my faves. Delicious wine list.

We also got to Cyrus in Healdsburg, which I'll post a review of in the Wine Country thread as soon as my brain can think of something more intelligent to say than "wow." In short: maybe the best restaurant in America.

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Absinthe: Civic Center, American/California. Been there three times now (brunch on this visit) and never get sick of the place. Best. Cocktail List. Ever. The polenta (with maple syrup, mascarpone, bananas, and walnuts) may be the pinnacle of brunch concoctions.

I accidentally lit the napkin in the bread basket on fire with the table candle the first week this place was open. The strange thing was our waiter said that this was the third time it had happened.

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