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Visiting San Francisco for the first time

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dancingqueen

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My husband and I are traveling to San Francisco in a couple weeks. We are staying at the Hilton on O''Farrell and not planning to rent a car. Can you make some restaurant suggestions for the surrounding areas? We will be there for the whole week so lunch and dinner ideas would be greatly appreciated.


My husband is traveling for business so the majority of his meals will be on an expense account. We are looking for "reasonably" priced restaurants, but we still want to enjoy the wonderful restaurants of the city!

Thanks for any ideas!
 

lisaC

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You might like to look at SFGate.com the food and dining section
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lisaC

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ThirstyBear on 3rd and Howard is a reasonable little place serving Beer and Spanish tapas. You''ll be pretty close to Powell St and there was a writeup about the selection of new restaurants where Bloomingdales is located...
 

Mara

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there are so many fab places in SF, it really just depends on what you want to eat. i wouldn't stick to just the area you are staying in as you can easily cab it almost anywhere you want to go in SF and it's a way to get out and look around other areas besides the hotel area.

i'd look at citysearch.com too for suggestions on the area you will be in and also to find things like rating, pricing etc. we do love fog city diner if you are going to be over near embarcadero at all, it's not in fishermans wharf, it's over near where lombard joins embarcadero and it's this cool kitschy kind of upscale 'diner' (it's not even a diner!! it's just a name) where they serve things like roasted clay pot mussels (LOVE THEM), brown bag fries with lemon aoili...they used to have an amazing tuna burger i loved. they have gouda mac and cheese and meatloaf for kind of more 'traditional' fares but they also usually have a great oyster bar and they have fresh fish every night and great salads and breads. we love it there...because it doesn't fit in any one particular 'type' of food, it's just all yummy. and you can always find something you want to eat on the menu. and it's a fun ambiance. you can book online at opentable.com i think as well. for fun and trendy i liked butterfly, not the one on embarcadero..the other one but i think the embarcadero one is more trendy now. they have the best vodka mojitos there. also enricos is kind of fun since they play live music most weekends i think, and good food. betelnut on union street (not union square) has really yummy small dishes...i could go on forever. if you feel touristy, visit the wharf and get clam chowder in a bowl or a fresh cracked crab, yum. but there are usually so many tourists down there, it's always too crowded for me. if you want to do a fancier night, we love Jardiniere which is over near the performing arts building, it's where we go after the ballet for dinner, they have live music and the ambiance and layout is cool and the food is really good. expensive but worth it.

also recently on a plane i read an article about SF and this reviewer guy went to all the old places that have been around since the 1800s...some of them are still operating in SF. here is the list of the ones i wrote down that he highly recommended and sounded interesting if you feel like trying them.

Tadich Grill on california street
Sam's Grill and Seafood Restaurant on bush street
H'stops(? i can't read my writing super well!) Coffee Shop on market
John's Grill on ellis street
Tommaso's North Beach on kearny (apparently this was the absolutely first italian restaurant to open in SF but it has moved around a few times due to fires i think)
for dessert: Mitchell's Ice Cream (YUM the flavors sounded divine and unique)
 

dancingqueen

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Thanks for all the suggestions, Mara. I searched the boards as well and noted that you recommend Fog City Diner. I''m interested to try it!

While my husband is attending his conference during the days, I plan to explore and scope out restaurant choices for the evening (in addition to shopping). I''m also interested in finding some excellent seafood places. I live in Iowa now, but I''m originally from Maryland and I miss the fresh seafood!
 

hlmr

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Gosh, I am feeling so nostalgic right now after reading your post Mara! We went to SF for our 10th anniversary and had such a great time! We walked and walked everywhere while we were there but really didn''t know any great restaurants to go to. It''s making me want to go back again............perhaps I''ll have to plan to return for our 20th!
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I hope you have a great visit there dancingqueen! If you get the chance, take the tour of Alcatraz...very touristy but we really enjoyed it a lot.
 

codex57

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I still think House of Prime Rib has the best prime rib I''ve ever eaten. You can ask for seconds and thirds too. Mortons, Ruth''s Chris, Lawry''s... all inferior IMO.

For Chinese, I was really impressed by South Sea Village in the Sunset District on Irving and around 14th. Might be a bit far if you don''t have a car tho.
 

flopkins

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oh my gosh, how to begin?? I actually do not recommend citysearch reviews for restaurants, there are too my fake posts to boost the ratings. yelp.com, or chowhound has much more reliable stuff IMO.

Around that area there are a ton of great restuarants. I recommend Boudin for a fast lunch, its a SF chain, they have great soups and it''s cheap. And it all depends what you mean by average prices... some of my favs are (in no particular order) Slanted Door (vietnamese fusion), Gordeon Biersch (sp?!) for trendy microbrewery happy hour hangout near the Embarcadero (food isn''t fantastic but it''s a fun place) or Thirsty Bear is similar, w/decent tapas... Roy''s is a pretty decent chain also, hawaiian fusion food. Check out the farmers market at the Ferry Building, visit Chinatown and try some of the restaurants there... R&G Lounge is always reliable, reasonably priced and has great lunch specials. and if you can splurge a little, I would definitely try to get a reservation at Aqua (seafood), Boulevard (french), or Gary Danko... hm.... and Ana Mandara is pretty good also... and you must have dessert at Ghirardhelli''s. Oh and North Beach for Italian. Hm... take your pick there of any restaurant down COlumbus! Michaelangelo''s is lots of fun, free ''singing'' by the owner.... Cheesecake Factory on the top of Macy''s if you want to wait forever for a table and eat mediocre food but have a great view!! Also the Neiman Marcus Rotunda has good tea I hear, but I have never been myself.
 

Mara

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yeah I'm not loving the Cheesecake factory and also Gordon Biersch, both places have horrible food and can be found elsewhere. i would try a bunch of unique to SF kinda places.

We just had Greg's sister and her BF come visit us...they wanted to go to Fishermans Wharf! and eat at a touristy place! I was like GOSH there are so many other fabulous places to go to that is not overpriced okay food and too many tourists. But that is what her BF wanted to do, it was his first time in SF...hehe. I am such a foodie, that when I travel I love to eat at good places even if it means we DO less and EAT more...hahaha.

Oh and Boudin sourdough is MMMMMmmm good. When we went to FW with them, they stayed up in SF one night so we brought home 2 crabs and I got a sourdough loaf and toasted it, and that was our dinner, it was simple and divine!!!

flopkins, Slanted Door sounds yummy, i LOVE vietnamese fusion! have you been to Tamarine in Palo Alto? They have the best food there as well.

oh and citysearch...i don't often use the ratings as gospel though i have found if it's right near 10 then it's typically pretty good, but i like reading about what people have to say and also i like the search by area kinda thing. i will have to try those other websites too!
 

innerkitten

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I love the Indian Oven on Fillmore near Haight. Clement street( around 4th through 7th) ave has all types of Asian food. One of my favorites is Angkor Wat the Cambodian restaurant near 7th ave.
http://ae.mercurynews.com/entertainment/ui/mercurynews/restaurant.html?id=241&reviewId=275
 

lisaC

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Husband and brother-in-law ate at Fog city diner and my husband was so disappointed. For an appetiser, they shared, a beer and an entree their bill came up to about $100 and the food sucked- his words...
 

innerkitten

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Anyone ever been to House of Nanking? It''s near the transamerica building and I think they have some of the best chinese food in the area. I like the way it''s arranged.
http://www.gabeanderson.com/food/000446.php
 

bookworm21

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Definitely cab it around the city to try the foods in different neighborhoods. I second Tommaso''s in North Beach, they make great thin crust pizzas, and if you go during the weekend, be prepared for a pretty long wait.

One of my favorites is So Noodles, located in the Outer Sunset district. It''s considered a cheap it, with most of their dishes under $7 and the portions are huge. If you make it there, try the So Wings, that''s the most popular thing on their menu.

One of my favorite burger places is Joe''s Cable Car on Silver and Mission Avenues. They grind the beef chuck in house, and you can order your burger the way you like your steak cooked, I always order mine medium rare. A bit pricey for burgers (about $10 for a plain burger with no cheese), but well worth it in my book. Mmmm....getting a craving for burgers now.

If you want to go all out one night, I recommend the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton. Service is top notch, and I believe they won some kind of coveted award for several years running. I LOVED the three course menu they offered. So yummy and so filling. Another fine dining place is Fleur de Lys, and it''s supposed to be extremely good. Haven''t been there myself, but friends who have say it''s excellent.

Oh, and definitely try the Sunday brunch at the Ritz Carlton too. It''s about $75 per person, I think, but also worth it. They have caviar and other specialty dishes served buffet style; and make omelettes, waffles, and pancakes to order. A mimosa or champagne is also included with the meal. If it happens to be a nice day, request outdoor seating when you make your reservation.

And last place, PPQ Dungeness Island on Clement and 25th ave. Yummy crab and garlic noodles. I actually prefer this place over Crustacean, even though the latter is more famous. The flavors, in my opinion, just work better at PPQ, and the crabs are always fresh. I''ve been to Crustacean several times, and for some reason, I never really liked their crab. Didn''t taste fresh to me. HTH and have fun!
 

bookworm21

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Oh, and as for Chinese food, I agree, R&G Lounge is pretty good. AVOID the rest of the restaurants in Chinatown. They are tourist traps. The food''s awful. My family and I generally stay away from the restaurants in Chinatown other than R&G. Another good one is Mayflower Restaurant on Geary and 27th ave, I think. And for dim sum, I recommend Koi Palace in Daly City, but that is about 15 minutes out of the city, so it may be a bit far for you.
 

Mara

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Lisa that is so random! Did he get some really expensive oysters or something? We go there all the time and our bill is typically never more than $100 and we typically both eat entrees and Greg has a few drinks and we have dessert and we always have jalapeno cornbread to start! They have the best sweet jelly they serve with it. Last time we were there we got a cornbread, a salad, 3 appetizers to share, two drinks, and coffee and the bill was only $60. We were stoked since typically it's about $90. haha. We introduced my parents to it and now they go there anytime they are in the city.

Oh and another place we like is Beach Chalet over on the Great Highway...it has a beautiful view of the ocean if you go during the day...it's kind of out of the way as it's not downtown or anything near, but it's a fun afternoon trip if you want to take a cab over and then have lunch and spend the afternoon walking around. The Cliff House is over there too and it's near the site of the old Sutro Baths from the early 1900's, the big public swimming areas!!

Oooh Cinderella, crab and garlic noodles sound DIVINE. I have heard that Crustacean is not that good actually, a few people who have gone were not impressed at all. We may have to try that Dungeness place..mmmm.
 

lisaC

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Mara- all I know is that hubby had fish, b-in-law had meat. My husband who used to work near Pacbell park suggested they eat there and he came home saying it was oh so not worth it...You would''ve thought the beer would have helped
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Of course I got to stay home with the kids
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Mara

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My most fave thing at FCD is their clay pot roasted mussels...it is like a thai curry kind of thing and it''s DIVINE. I have tried to replicate it at home and it is close but no cigar!!! So we still go to get the ''real thing'' hehehe. And their brown bag fries are yummy. Greg loves their mac n'' cheese...it''s SUPER cheesy...a little too cheesy for me but he loves it.

Mmmm food. I could talk about it FOREVER. hehee.
 

PaulaW

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Feb 26, 2003
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My hubby and I were in SF back in August for the first time and LOVED it!! I grilled my boss who is a SF native for all of the restaurants she could think of and 2 relatively inexpensive places stand out - one is La Taqueria in the Mission District and has fabulous Mexican. I hear that Taqueria Cancun also has a mean burrito in the Mission District as well so they might be worth the hike for you. She also recommended a bakery in North Beach called Stella''s. They are famous for this dessert called Sacripantina (I probably butchered the spelling) but it''s a lemon/sponge/whipped cream dessert that is TO DIE FOR. Mara... that is totally up your alley with the lemon!!
2 other places we tried and were not that impressed with was Tomasso''s in North Beach (someone mentioned them above) and Bob''s Steahouse in the Financial District. We had pizza at Tomasso''s and it was ok. We are from the east coast and New York pizza can not be beat so we weren''t that impressed. Don''t get me wrong, it was good, but not outstanding. Bob''s was also pretty good, but expensive. I would put them on par with a Ruth''s Chris although the major difference is Ruth''s Chris is a la carte and Bob''s is not. The service there is exceptional and we went there as our one splurge night where the rest of the time we were more conservative.
A great book you may want to pick up is the Lonely Planet guide to SF. We used that and it did not steer us wrong once! One other thing I should mention is if you want to visit Alcatraz, get your tickets online as soon as possible. It sells out quickly and we were not able to get out there. You can get tickets via http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/. The Blue and Gold Fleet used to provide ferry service, but Alcatraz Cruises has since taken over.
Have fun! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
 

sumbride

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My last trip out to SF was my FI''s first trip, so we hit some of the "must-do" touristy places... here''s what we both liked:

1) Boudin at FW for happy hour at the bar. Anchor steam on tap, mussels and sour dough... YUM!

2) We met some friends for dessert at Max''s Opera Cafe... great desserts and lots of fun!

3) North Beach for pizza and gelato... we went to some tiny little cafe with maybe 5 tables, it was awesome. I looked it up and I think it was this place: L''Osteria del Forno

4) Litte pancakes at Sears Fine Food in Union Square. I think they''re called silver dollar pancakes. FI had a reuben and said it was really good.

5) The Cliff House. Whether you eat in the cafe or the restaurant, it''s worth it just for the view and the history. They have a new owner and chef and our dinner was on par with with the price.

and however you can get to Muir Woods, go!
 

dancingqueen

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Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I''m really looking forward to the trip!

I also have a question about visiting Napa, but I''ll start another thread about that. You all are so helpful, I really appreciate the tips!
 

KristyDarling

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I don''t know if it''s been mentioned yet, but please go to First Crush Wine Bar and Restaurant. It''s right near your hotel and is reasonably priced yet VERY hip and cool. I go there a lot.
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If you feel like splurging a bit, check out Le Colonial, also in your neighborhood. Delicious French-Vietnamese cuisine in a beautiful setting.
 

codex57

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Date: 10/2/2006 11:01:38 PM
Author: Mara

I haven't been to the Crustacean in SF, but the one in Beverly Hills is pretty good. Pricy, but it at least is good. Crab is my favorite food and I've tried a lot. The stuff at Crustacean met my approval. I've had better for much cheaper tho, but it is a nice atmosphere. Maybe you'll see celebrities too? You often do in the Beverly Hills one.

I think Koi Palace in Daly City is worth a trek if you can spare the time. Being Cantonese, I've been to a ton of dim sum places all over the world. I'd rank Koi Palace right up there among the best in the world. I don't think I've been in the R&G Lounge (doesn't sound like a typical chinese restaurant), but I agree that most of the Chinese food in Chinatown is utter crap. SF has a lot of good Chinese food, they just aren't in Chinatown. It's bizarre. At least there are Chinese people in the SF Chinatown. The Chinese have all left the LA Chinatown.
 

Mara

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Oooh Koi Palace in DC sounds intriguing, whereabouts is it? I love good Dim Sum. So far my fave is the Mayflower place in Milpitas, aka South Bay.
 

luckyhonu

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I agree with sumbride, L'Osteria Del Forno is a really good Italian restaurant for their pizza. I ate there last weekend and had the pumpkin ravioli and my mom had the pizza - artichokes and ham. Right across the street from L'Osteria is Naia which has some delicious gelato - Nutella, Scharffen Berger chocoloate, young Thai coconut, prickly pear, green tea, fig, mango,Thai Iced Tea, Cardamom, Anise, Merlot Grape sorbetti, to name a few. They even had Gunniess gelato! I had the Nutella gelato and it was TDF!!! If you want pasta, Panta Rei (1/2 block away) has really great pasta.

The Ferry Buildling has some great restaurants - Flopkins - don't you just love their Shaking Beef?!
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IMO I think that PPQ Dungeness Island on Clement and 25th ave is better than Crustacean any day! I also love the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton.

I second R&G Lounge in Chinatown if you want Chinese food. It's the only place that I'll even consider in Chinatown.

I don't know if you're into the Michelin ratings but they just released the names of the restaurants that Michelin rated.

There are some 1 star restaurants near Union Square that are good - Dining Room at Ritz Carlton, Fleur de Lys, Acquerello, La Folie, Masa, Gary Danko, Fifth Floor, etc. Maybe you and your husband can have a romantic night out at one of these restaurants!

ONE STAR
(by 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)
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


The French Laundry
Yountville
Napa Valley



 

luckyhonu

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Mara, Koi Palace has some really great Chinese food but it''s a madhouse on weekends! It''s so crowded that you have to get there before 11am (or is it 10am?) and there''s a line before the restaurant opens! I remember going there at 11:30am one time and I had to wait 1 1/2 hours to get a table! It''s on Gellert Blvd in Daly City, up the street from Serramonte Mall.
 

sumbride

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Date: 10/3/2006 1:20:40 PM
Author: luckyhonu


I agree with sumbride, L'Osteria Del Forno is a really good Italian restaurant for their pizza. I ate there last weekend and had the pumpkin ravioli and my mom had the pizza - artichokes and ham. Right across the street from L'Osteria is Naia which has some delicious gelato - Nutella, Scharffen Berger chocoloate, young Thai coconut, prickly pear, green tea, fig, mango,Thai Iced Tea, Cardamom, Anise, Merlot Grape sorbetti, to name a few. They even had Gunniess gelato! I had the Nutella gelato and it was TDF!!! If you want pasta, Panta Rei (1/2 block away) has really great pasta.

That's where we went for gelato! I'd been staring at it during lunch and practically sprinted across the street after we paid the bill. I had the Nutella and it WAS amazing!!! I think I also had the scharfenberger... they put three flavors in my little cup... it was heaven! Plus the guy let me try about 10 flavors before I made up my mind.
 

codex57

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Date: 10/3/2006 1:25:35 PM
Author: luckyhonu
Mara, Koi Palace has some really great Chinese food but it''s a madhouse on weekends! It''s so crowded that you have to get there before 11am (or is it 10am?) and there''s a line before the restaurant opens! I remember going there at 11:30am one time and I had to wait 1 1/2 hours to get a table! It''s on Gellert Blvd in Daly City, up the street from Serramonte Mall.

You just have to call in to get a number. Call in early, and your wait isn''t too bad. I always call in now. And look for parking in the back. I also find it easier to just grab a waiter, and give him our order instead of waiting around for the girls to come by with the trays.
 

dancingqueen

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Sep 19, 2006
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My husband''s friend recommended an Italian place called Ristorante Milano. Does anyone have any feedback on this place?

I also have Trattoria Contadina and Ristorante Ideale on my list of potential Italian places... Does anyone know if these are worth visiting?

Thanks again...
 
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