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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 [Closed in 2010; now retail only] - 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

---

Olivetto (TSE)

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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?
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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I had a tasty, hearty inexpensive lunch at the bar at Umbria on 2nd Street today. The service was friendly and prompt; when I said I had a meeting in an hour, they paced my meal accordingly. I had the rigatoni amatriciana and it was delicious. When the pasta was gone, I asked for an extra roll with which to sop up the ragu of pancetta, onions, tomatoes and white wine. :P Nothing to knock your socks off, but pretty darn good just the same.

The pizzas looked good, as did the panini and an antipasti of soppresata, salami, etc., etc.

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Mamacita = the best Mexican food I have had in many years. Marina.

Although my two friends and I were offered a table by virtue of dining early, we opted to eat at the bar. Over the course of the meal, the restaurant went from about 60% full and relatively calm and quiet, to overcapacity and LOUD.

Still, the food was great and reasonably priced. We had good cocktails and wine, and friendly shockingly efficient service for how crowded the place was.

While we waited for our other friend to arrive, first friend and I shared delcious guacamole ($7). For me, pretty much any guacamole makes me happy, even when it is just this side of sucking. But this guac most definitely didn't suck. Given the season, it was tomato-less (a good thing!), but did feature a red jalapenos and a light dusting of queso fresco. Unlike some guacamoles I have had, it was light on the onion too, instead coming with a side of salsa fresca. The chips were warm and fresh. When we got through the first batch of chips, the bartender brought us more without us having to ask. Nice.

For drinks, my friend had a glass of wine and I started off with a prickly pear caipirinha. Tasty, but I couldn't have dealt with a second rather sweet drink, and switched to wine.

When our #3 arrived, we ordered entrees including bistek del guero/skirt steak with chorizo-yukon gold gratin (mine), shrimp tacos and chicken enchiladas. Although my steak was great and quickly polished off between the three of us, the real winner were the enchiladas. I have a bad mental image of enchiladas as gloppy, sloppy cheesy messiness. At Mamacita, the dish was served in a cute crock and although there was an adobo sauce and sour cream involved, the enchiladas were oven-crisp and pretty damn fantastic tasting. I would order that on a repeat visit, for sure.

I can't say enough about the service we received either. The two women working the bar somehow managed to balance a crowd two or three deep getting drinks while also serving people like us dining. Our total pre-tip bill was just $105 with two drinks each.

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We will be in SF on Xmas Eve (arriving in the afternoon) and staying through the 26th. After making half-hearted attempts to call a few places to see if they were both open on a Sunday and on Xmas Eve, and had availability, I have come up empty so far. I would appreciate any suggestions for those who are familiar with the SF scene. I am thinking ethnic (Mexican, Chinese) or hotel restaurants will be our best bets. We don't celebrate xmas, so it doesn't need to be particularly fancy or special. At the same time, we don't get out to SF every day, so I want to make the most of every meal (as with any vacation, of course).

Thanks!

ETA: I just got a reservation at Gary Danko on Xmas eve at 9:30pm. We will be totally beat with the time difference and flying in that day (on a ridiculous route designed to maximize FFM for gold/elite status). Will it be worth it? I don't know if Xmas is like V-day or NYE in terms of days to avoid eating out.

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We will be in SF on Xmas Eve (arriving in the afternoon) and staying through the 26th. After making half-hearted attempts to call a few places to see if they were both open on a Sunday and on Xmas Eve, and had availability, I have come up empty so far. I would appreciate any suggestions for those who are familiar with the SF scene. I am thinking ethnic (Mexican, Chinese) or hotel restaurants will be our best bets. We don't celebrate xmas, so it doesn't need to be particularly fancy or special. At the same time, we don't get out to SF every day, so I want to make the most of every meal (as with any vacation, of course).

Thanks!

ETA: I just got a reservation at Gary Danko on Xmas eve at 9:30pm. We will be totally beat with the time difference and flying in that day (on a ridiculous route designed to maximize FFM for gold/elite status). Will it be worth it? I don't know if Xmas is like V-day NYE of days to avoid eating out.

You got into Danko? And you are asking if it is worth it? Are you serious? For most, including myself, this is the best restaurant in the Bay Area and I am including the FL in this statement.

GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A post of mine about Danko from several years ago: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/165051?que...&user_name=

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You got into Danko? And you are asking if it is worth it? Are you serious? For most, including myself, this is the best restaurant in the Bay Area and I am including the FL in this statement.

GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A post of mine about Danko from several years ago: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/165051?que...&user_name=

JoeH you are too funny! I suppose I have outed myself as a rube (I hadn't realized it was THAT difficult to get a reservation)! :P I told my husband that we'll take a nap before we go...

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Mrs. dcdavidm had a business trip to SF last weekend and I was able to tag along for some good eats. We started with an early evening dinner at the old-fashioned Tadich Grill, which I guess has been around in some form since the middle of the 19th century. The place has a reputation for surly waiters and indifference toward non-regulars, but we did not experience that. It is large enough and the turnover is frequent enough that the non-reservation policy did not result in too long a wait for a table. It was nice having a decent $5 cocktail rather than the double-figure drinks that seem to characterize many DC places. My cioppino was intensely flavored with a good selection of seafood; Mrs dcdavidm's shrimp and avocado Diablo, however, was merely okay. The sort of place I would try once if I was in the neighborhood, but probably not return.

The next night, we braved a deluge and made our way to Berkeley for dinner at the Café portion of Chez Panisse, which we had not been to for a few years. It still had a comfortable hominess and friendliness that made up for our damp clothes. The menu had a predominately Italian theme. We started with a glass of prosecco and a glass of carpano antico, a recreation of an 18th century flavored vermouth that was a new taste sensation for me. The first course was a half-dozen local oysters that tasted of the sea - excellent - and a terrific thin-crust pizzette topped with thinly sliced roast potatoes dabbed with an arugula pesto. I could live on both dishes. Next came grilled squid accompanied by grilled artichokes and potato, and a plate of cod and crab (Dungeness) cakes with beets and a celery remoulade. Both dishes pointed up the notion that excellent fresh ingredients simply but carefully cooked creates a worthwhile eating experience. For desert we shared a dish of quince and pear sorbet with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, which made for perfect seasonal flavors.

The last evening we had dinner at Quince, which Mrs dcdavidm had been to but I had not. It is a small, elegant, Italian-themed restaurant with perfect professional service. After prosecco, we started with a wild nettle sformata, which had the most intense green color and the freshest green flavor that smooth texture that I have tasted in a cooked vegetable dish, and a Dungeness crab salad with satsuma mandarin and radicchio, which also was excellent. Quince is known for its pastas, so we made our main course out of four of the ten or so pasta dishes on the menu. Agnolotti del plin were unbelievably delicate thumbnail-sized pastas filled with a veal, pork, and rabbit mixture; papparadelle with olives and a rabbit ragu was a savory contrast. Gnocchi with castelmango cheese melted in the mouth; casamelle (small, ravioli-like shapes) filled with celery root and dressed with balsamic vinegar made for a nice counterpoint. A "terrine" of gelati finished the meal. We judged that Quince's reputation for pasta was well-deserved. Each was impeccably formed, perfectly cooked, and with flavors and textures that were really satisfying.

Ferry Terminal is a good place for lunch munchies and to wile away the time at the wine bar. Try the Saigon Roast Pork Sandwich at Open Door (the Slanted Door Restaurant's take-out facility).

Oh, and on a whim one afternoon we took a tour of the Scharffen-Berger chocolate factory, which was fun. Wish we could have bottled up the smell of the factory and taken it back with us!

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Dinner at Lime in the Castro was fun. The food? Not so impressive. I like the hyper modern interior, and as a venue, it was great for the group of people with whom I gathered. There were six of us, including two people who had only met one of the others. Drinking caipirinhas, mojitos and wine before dinner might have helped us bond. :P

We sampled the majority of the menu including miniburgers (fine, but nowhere near as good as others I have had including Matchbox's), shrimp skewers, grilled cheese sandwiches with a tiny tureen of tomato soup for dipping (good sandwiches, weird "soup"), tuna tartare (probably the best dish we had), pork quesadilla (a messy, gloppy iteration; we didn't finish it), lamb chops (the one dish I didn't get to taste). Desserts truly disappointed me, but my non-food crazy friends thought they were great: chocolate cake, and bananas foster.

Overall, just kind of eh. At least it was inexpensive - I believe the bill with tip worked out to $35 per person.

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The last evening we had dinner at Quince, which Mrs dcdavidm had been to but I had not. It is a small, elegant, Italian-themed restaurant with perfect professional service. After prosecco, we started with a wild nettle sformata, which had the most intense green color and the freshest green flavor that smooth texture that I have tasted in a cooked vegetable dish, and a Dungeness crab salad with satsuma mandarin and radicchio, which also was excellent. Quince is known for its pastas, so we made our main course out of four of the ten or so pasta dishes on the menu. Agnolotti del plin were unbelievably delicate thumbnail-sized pastas filled with a veal, pork, and rabbit mixture; papparadelle with olives and a rabbit ragu was a savory contrast. Gnocchi with castelmango cheese melted in the mouth; casamelle (small, ravioli-like shapes) filled with celery root and dressed with balsamic vinegar made for a nice counterpoint. A "terrine" of gelati finished the meal. We judged that Quince's reputation for pasta was well-deserved. Each was impeccably formed, perfectly cooked, and with flavors and textures that were really satisfying.


Mrs mhberk and I ate at Quince when we were in S.F. in August and we were VERY impressed with everything from the service and astmosphere to the creativity and preperation of each dish! We ordered the tasting menu (which was a bargain at $75) and were amazed with each dish we were served. Mrs mhberk even said that she would rate it higher than Eve ohmy.gif . I wish that I could remember each dish that we were served, but I do remember that the pasta creations were spectacular and the showcasing of the fresh local ingredients made us wish that we were at home, where we could lick our plates.

The food was, IMO, on the level of EVE or Palena and the service was equaly impressive. We had told our server that we were from the D.C. area and that we'd heard a lot about the restaurant (I read several posts on eG). I then assured her that everything lived up to our expectations. As we were leaving, our server told us that the chef would like to meet us and then she led us back to the small kitchen were the chef (I can't remember his name) and his kitchen staff greeted us.

Because of the size of the restaurant (perhaps the size of Palena's back room), it took us a few weeks to get the reservation for a weekday. I would HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend the restaurant to anyone traveling to S.F.
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I'll be in San Francisco for work next week. Might anyone recommend a good spot for a solo diner for dinner? I'm not averse to making a reservation for one via OpenTable and sitting at a table, but I'd prefer to sit at the bar somewhere. I'll be staying close to the Embarcadero. Thoughts?

Already on the agenda for the trip are Ame (Friday night) and Cyrus in Healdsburg (Sunday night).

Thanks,

Michael

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I neglected to post about my brunch at Home. It's funny: I didn't love what I personally ordered, but overall I just really liked the place. Before I forget, we dined at the Union Street location (Marina).

I just wasn't crazy about my French toast; thick slices of brioche were coated with tiny bits of something very crunchy (semolina? I didn't ask). YMMV but I didn't like it. But our server was great, the setting (we were seated in a glass-enclosed front room with a view of the street) was comfortable, I had a good latte, and the mac & cheese we ordered to share among the three of us was fan-freakin-tastic.

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Went to Cav next door to Zuni on Saturday. I know-- we could have trekked the five feet to the institution. But we had been eating too much all day at the Ferry Building and wanted just a charcuterie and wine. Needless to say, Cav was really great. The chef cures her own meats and served boar pate, honey poached quince with foie gras, and pig trotters with garlic confit, pickled shallots, and creamy mustard. I never thought I'd eat pigs' feet and love them, but these were phenomenal. Maybe it has to do with the fact that they're braised for 9 hours.

We also went to Whisky THieves in the Tenderloin. Since its is a co op, the bar can skirt the smoking law. If you don't mind grit and smoke, the selection of scotches and bourbons were amazing (and really cheap). Sort of has the feel of the punk-ish beer bar, Toronado, but not as divey and some references to Austin-- musician posters of Austin bands, etc.

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If all goes as planned, I'll be in the bay area (staying in Berkeley) the first week of May. Right now, based on what i've read in this thread and the napa valley thread, i've got reservations at Aziza and Cyrus, and i'm on the waitlist at the French Laundry. Here's my question. What do I do if a miracle happens and I get into FL? Should I cancel my other reservations and go to FL, or should I stick with what i've got, and try to do FL some other time. Yes, I could do all three, but i'm not trying to blow my budget (not to mention the fit for summer challenge), and i'll be having many other meals on this trip and maybe a glass of wine or two :blink: . What say you?

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If all goes as planned, I'll be in the bay area (staying in Berkeley) the first week of May. Right now, based on what i've read in this thread and the napa valley thread, i've got reservations at Aziza and Cyrus, and i'm on the waitlist at the French Laundry. Here's my question. What do I do if a miracle happens and I get into FL? Should I cancel my other reservations and go to FL, or should I stick with what i've got, and try to do FL some other time. Yes, I could do all three, but i'm not trying to blow my budget (not to mention the fit for summer challenge), and i'll be having many other meals on this trip and maybe a glass of wine or two :blink: . What say you?
No one ever asks me an question and expects a rational answer. I think you should improvise at decision making time,and expect something wonderful to happen. Above all, do not give in to "great restaurant stress". I'm sure you will have an unbelievably good time.
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If all goes as planned, I'll be in the bay area (staying in Berkeley) the first week of May. Right now, based on what I've read in this thread and the napa valley thread, I've got reservations at Aziza and Cyrus, and I'm on the waitlist at the French Laundry. Here's my question. What do I do if a miracle happens and I get into FL? Should I cancel my other reservations and go to FL, or should I stick with what I've got, and try to do FL some other time. Yes, I could do all three, but I'm not trying to blow my budget (not to mention the fit for summer challenge), and I'll be having many other meals on this trip and maybe a glass of wine or two ;) . What say you?

If given the opportunity I would not pass on the French Laundry. Everybody should experience it at least once in their lifetime. With that said if given the chance I would also never pass on Manresa. :blink:

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Boy, do I envy you! While I haven't been to the French Laundry, Cyrus is absolutely not to be missed too. Check out Michael Bauer's review here, in which he says, "It's a totally different experience than the French Laundry, but it deserves to exist in the same star-studded stratosphere."

I also just noticed that SF Chron just posted its top 100 restaurants for 2007. Find it here.

And going to San Francisco and not expecting to gain weight is a disappointment waiting to happen. Walk yourself up some of those insane hills a few times a day to ensure that your clothes continue to fit throughout your trip, but otherwise, enjoy, and repent with celery and water on your return home. :blink:

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The San Francisco Chronicle has published its yearly list of the top 100 restaurants:

http://sfgate.com/food/top100/2007/

I haven 't lived in the Bay Area for seven years and was in school when I was there, so I don't have too much to say. I love both the Chows for informal, cheap and good food. Also, I went to high school in New Jersey with the Chef/Owner of Dopo in Oakland. Haven't tried it yet, but my parents and sisters claim that it's excellent, and reasonably priced, Italian.

For what it's worth, the wife and I had a great time at Gary Danko. The food was great, but it was the absolutely flawless service that really put it over the top.

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Anyone been to Hog Island Oysters? Tom's postcard from SF touted it, but its gone unmentioned here. I'm making my maiden voyage to N.Cali at the end of May and welcome any tips. FL is already booked (and price prohibitive even for the occassion this will be), so I think Cyrus will be the big splurge meal (also hitting Sonoma). Also if anyone has tips on decent cheap spots to stay in SF, Sonoma or in between, please PM. Thanks!

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Anyone been to Hog Island Oysters? Tom's postcard from SF touted it, but its gone unmentioned here. I'm making my maiden voyage to N.Cali at the end of May and welcome any tips. FL is already booked (and price prohibitive even for the occassion this will be), so I think Cyrus will be the big splurge meal (also hitting Sonoma). Also if anyone has tips on decent cheap spots to stay in SF, Sonoma or in between, please PM. Thanks!

My wife and I have made a tradition of spending a night or two in Sonoma when visiting my parents in the East Bay over the holidays. Each time, we've stayed at The Sonoma Valley Inn. Yes, it's a Best Western, but we've paid around $100 each time and rooms have been large and feature a fireplace. Plus, it's only a block or two from the town square and Mission. For dinner, I can't reccomend the Girl and the Fig enough. It's sort of upscale comfort food with a fantastic selection of rhone and rhone inspired wines. Plus, the bar is great.

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Anyone been to Hog Island Oysters? Tom's postcard from SF touted it, but its gone unmentioned here.
Hog Island is great. It's not formal at all though, in the Terminal building. I really enjoyed getting the mixed plate, which allows you to sample three different types of raw oysters. They were really nice to me, gave me an extra type since I was a noob. They really took care of me, and the oysters were really great. But I don't know what the recommendation is since you're going in May, unless you're going for cooked. I think the rule is only have raw in months with the letter 'r'.
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Like dcdavidm, went to Tadich Grill, since it was the closest place open for lunch at 2pm. Service was actually pretty nice. Although I have to wonder if he thought I was my boss' young paramour. We had fried calamari, which was a bit on the flavorless end. Then I had a grilled branzino lunch special. It was cooked rather nicely, and was moist. However, it too was lacking in flavor, and seemed to be missing the "lemon drizzle" promised in the description.

This morning headed to the Ferry Terminal Building. Tuesdays and Saturdays they have the outdoor farmers market. Fresh, organic strawberries. The best is the nut lady, who was giving me handful upon handful of samples. One of the really yummy things was dry roasted almonds in the shell. She also gave me some almond butter for my apple sample from the apple guy. I wish I could have had more time to stick around for burgers and some of the other good stuff. Inside, Miette has their excellent macarons, and hopefully soon will have their fleur de sel caramels, which they have allegedly been selling out of like crazy.

More to report back later...

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Went to Ame last night. Allegedly this place is supposed to be pretty good. I suppose it has to do with the only ordering stuff from the sashimi bar. The first was hamachi with ponzu and wasabi tobiko. This was decent, but watching it getting prepped at the bar made me nervous. I know that a lot of stuff needs to be preprepared, but I saw them take it out of the mold that had been sitting in the fridge. This stuff had already been seared. Something about that just seems a little bit wrong. Still, it tasted pretty good, but the other ingredients overpowered the yellowtail itself. The second was avocado and tuna tartare with some kind of foie gras shavings. A little overegging the custard there. And all of it was too salty. When I complained the server pretty much didn't care. Oh well... you've been warned.

Zuni Cafe this afternoon. The atmosphere is gorgeous, despite it being in a slightly odd, slightly scary area. Wished I could have found another person to come along, so I could have ordered the roast chicken, which smelled amazing. I ended up getting a hamburger with grilled onions. Very yummy with aioli, although the ciabatta could have been slightly heartier to stand up to the juicy burger. Nice pickles and pickled onions. Shoestring fries or potatoes, I can't remember what they were called, but they were closer to potatoes than fries, since most of them were fried til they were entirely crisp.

There's a pretty cool newsstand on Market St., Fog City News. They sell over 250 types of chocolate bars - a number of them I've never seen before. Worth a visit if you're at Ferry Terminal Building, since it's about two or three blocks away.

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youngfood said:
Anyone been to Hog Island Oysters? Tom's postcard from SF touted it, but its gone unmentioned here. I'm making my maiden voyage to N.Cali at the end of May and welcome any tips. FL is already booked (and price prohibitive even for the occassion this will be), so I think Cyrus will be the big splurge meal (also hitting Sonoma). Also if anyone has tips on decent cheap spots to stay in SF, Sonoma or in between, please PM. Thanks!

Forget the Ferry Building! That's just for folks who can't get to the source. Drive from Sonoma out to the Marin coast and get the oysters right out of the water at Hog Island Oyster Company ---> click here

You reserve a picnic table, bring some charcoal and have an oyster roast right there (they'll give you the shucking tools) or take them to a beach at Pt. Reyes and have your picnic there. It's also very near Pt. Reyes Station and the original Cowgirl Creamery. And if you have a chance, think about going to one of the most amazing farmers' markets in the country, the Marin County Farmer's Market at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed San Rafael Civic Center, twice a week ---> click here.

Can't really help with cheap accomodation recommendtions - I stay with my family and it doesn't get any cheaper than that.

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Culinary highlights of a recently completed week in SF/Napa/Sonoma. We ended up enjoying some of the cheap eats more than the highly touted and more expensive spots. The real highlight of the week was Cyrus, which I will post about in the Sonoma thread.

Dim Sum at Yank Sing. Their special shang hai ginger pork dumplings are amazing. These are full of juices and are properly eaten on a chinese soup spoon and dipped in ginger sauce with little pieces of pickled ginger placed atop them. I'd never had them before, but was talked into trying them as they seem to be the house speciality. Wow! Also, probably the best and most interesting shu mai I've ever had. Pork rice noddles were quite good too and came with cilantro bits, which was an interesting delight.

Super Burrito at El Farolito in the Mission District. Super cheap, enormous, flavorful hunks of carne asada, with all the fixins including a half avocado that you watch them slice with a spoon directly onto your burrito.

Fresh made individual cup of coffee at Philz in the Mission District. I'm a murky coffee enthusiast, but this was really something else. They take your order from about 20 different types of coffee (tasting notes posted on a board to help you select), put several scoops of the beans into a milk shake can, grind them into the can, and then pour them into a little individual drip canister into which they pour the hot water to brew your individual cup. Ok I admit I'm partial to the name and this is basically how all coffee is made, but it was pretty neat seeing my individual cup prepared for me. They also mix in cream and / or sugar for you. I had the ambrosia and was blown away. http://www.philzcoffee.com/

Breakfast at Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Ok this is in a kinda sketchy part of town, but its not too far from the better parts and the food is worth it. Fresh baked goods, tons of daily specials, fresh squeezed OJ, amazing french toast, and interesting fresh ingredients to go in your omlette, frittata, or strata. Picture a place the size and ambience of Jimmy T's (or your local tiny dive) serving really awesome, gourmet breakfasts.

We were somewhat less enthusiastic about our experiences at: Chez Panisse Cafe (I think I wanted to be wowed and that doesn't seem to be their style. Also sitting next to extremely loud classless individuals can be distracting and unfun); Zuni Cafe (admittedly didn't try the chicken and the burger was unavailable - limited to lunch or late night menu); and Hog Island in the Ferry Building (they were out of a couple of types of oysters, no longer run happy hour all week long, and I should have taken Crackers advice and tried their farm on the seacoast).

Cyrus, on the other hand, was simply amazing.

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Fresh made individual cup of coffee at Philz in the Mission District. I'm a murky coffee enthusiast, but this was really something else. They take your order from about 20 different types of coffee (tasting notes posted on a board to help you select), put several scoops of the beans into a milk shake can, grind them into the can, and then pour them into a little individual drip canister into which they pour the hot water to brew your individual cup. Ok I admit I'm partial to the name and this is basically how all coffee is made, but it was pretty neat seeing my individual cup prepared for me. They also mix in cream and / or sugar for you. I had the ambrosia and was blown away. http://www.philzcoffee.com/

We stumbled upon this place while we were staying with friends in The Mission. It could, quite possibly, be the best cup of coffee I've ever had! The individual canisters were a nice touch and really proved to be the difference. But from what I remember, it wasn't just coffee grinds in that cheesecloth (or whatever it was that they used to strain the coffee). I could've sworn I saw Phil's son put in cardamon pods and mint leaves. Whatever it was, It was the best I've ever had and I wish there was something like this closer to me.

Incidentally, his son told me that his father was looking to franchise the business. I would LOVE to see one of these pop up around here!

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Check out this blog on restaurants and bargains in and around San Francisco, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Berkeley, etc.

VirgoBlue Blog

I went with VirgoBlue and Mr. VirgoBlue to Tamarine last week in Palo Alto (VB reviewed this restaurant earlier in her blog) and had the clay pot cod, hamachi tartare, lunar duck (duck in pomegranate sauce, yum!) and the buttermilk panna cotta in a strawberry/mint sauce. The cod had a generous sprinkling of spices and was so moist. At the bottom of the pot were tiny, tasty bits of pork that matched incredibly well with the cod. Sounds simple, but this was one of the most thoughtfully executed dishes I've had in a while. In all, a very satisfying and sensory experience that I highly recommend.

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My husband is arriving in SF for a couple of days and looking for restaurant recommendations for tomorrow and Saturday near the Embarcadero. I do not know SF geography, though I guess this is where the ferry building is. In addition to breakfast spots, he needs a casual lunch place and finer dining but not super upscale places for dinner. He's been on a month-long bike trip and doesn't have dressy clothes with him. (Saturday is his birthday, so recommendations for a good birthday dinner spot would be appreciated.) Thanks for any suggestions I can pass along, as well as apologies for his late request :angry: .

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Pat said:
I guess this is where the ferry building is. In addition to breakfast spots, he needs a casual lunch place and finer dining but not super upscale places for dinner.

In June, a Saturday in SF at the Terminal Ferry Building included: a nice cup of Peet's Coffee and shopping through the Farmer's Market. It's on the side and in the Plaza behind the building facing the Bay. There are 4+ prepared food vendors and I had a great Mexican meal (tamales & beans) on a shared picnic table looking out on the water. Inside are several carryout options. Luckily I had a kitchen, so I purchased farm fresh produce, visited Cowgirl Creamery and took my bounty up Nob Hill via cablecar.

On a weekday I walked into Slanted Door at 11:15 and had lunch solo at the not-yet-crowded bar. My +1 and I went back the same evening and couldn't get near the place because it was so full - the walls throbbed. Dim Sum is always a good idea - Yank Sing for lunch today (Friday) might be considered finer dining.

If DH has an interest in the back alleys of Chinatown, I greatly enjoyed this tour and the splinter group that went restaurant hopping afterwards. The community service group charges double the $18 fee for "last minute" reservations, but the tourguides are their scholarship students and the funds go to maintaining the alleys.

Another nice option for a walk & Little Italy dining would be to send your DH on a coffee purchasing errand for you at Graffeo (yes, Tom S's fav) in North Beach. I got both the dark & light roast (your only choices), but preferred the dark. It's just a walkup counter (no prepared coffee) manned by the roasters -- so the experience was definitely not chain-like and the guidance was spot on. I'd never had occasion to stroll Columbus and there were several eateries open to the sidewalk that looked appetizing.

If your DH likes Sam Spade/Dashiell Hammet, he might enjoy this.

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Zuni Cafe is a straight shot down Market St. You can easily take the BART or a bus to Van Ness from the Embarcadero. If he has a friend with him... roast chicken is the way to go. I went during early lunch time and it was pretty empty, and seems relatively casual. I'm not sure what the dress is in the evening. If you look upthread MeMc also recommended a place next to Zuni that sounded pretty good.

If you're in North Beach, I'd visit Tosca. It's an Italian bar/coffee bar. And while their coffee is pretty blah, the atmosphere is amazing. High ceilings. Older-style red leather booths. Opera, and Rat Pack standards on the jukebox.

There's also Vinopolis which is near Moscone Convention Center, if you want wine tastings. That's also a short bus ride on the BART or depending on where in the Embarcadero about 7 or 8 blocks from Ferry Terminal. It's next to the SF MOMA as well.

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