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Dining in San Francisco

Old Feb 14th, 2002, 09:11 AM
  #1  
winegeek
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Dining in San Francisco

Can anyone tell me where really to dine in San Fran. SO many spots but so many seem overly trendy (Aqua) or resting on laurels (postrio) that its hard to tell. I compare what Zagats says about SF dining to the Atlanta guide and realize that they are often misguided. Please help. We like upscale creative american cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Any Atlanta savvy diners, we like Aria, Joel, Pricci, Baccanalia, Toulouse and the like. Thanks
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 09:27 AM
  #2  
Susan
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Winegeek, my *favorite* restaurant in SF is Delfina. Not stuffy and pretentious, but the best food and wonderful service. It is more contemporary Italian cuisine, if that's the right phrase. It's in the Mission district and very popular so you have to make reservations a few weeks in advance.

Check out the reviews of restaurants at sfgate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle website. There is also a new "top 100 restaurants" list on that website with more indepth reviews than you'll find at zagats.


A few other goodies I love: Plumpjack, Absinthe (French bistro, Luna Park and Zuni. Enjoy!
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 09:31 AM
  #3  
Susan
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Winegeek, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that you can get to Chez Panisse in Berkeley very easily from SF. If you are a goodie in addition to being a wine geek, it should make your list. You can dine upstairs which is more casual and you order from a menu, or dine downstairs with the set prix fixe menu. During the week the set menu is even fairly reasonable, considering the multiple courses and stature of the restaurant. You can see their menus for the week at chezpanisse.com.
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 09:32 AM
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Susan
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Geez, me again. I meant "foodie" not "goodie".
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 09:34 AM
  #5  
jp
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Winegeek,

In general I have found most restaurants to be overrated in San Francisco, and generally overpriced. I agree with you that Zagat is not a very good restaurant guide. SF is basically a large town (AKA small city) with many overpriced and overhyped restaurants preying on residents and travelers alike.
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 09:39 AM
  #6  
lizbeth
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Winegeek,
I really like Fringale, on Fourth Street south of Market. It's French, the chef is from the Basque region, so even standard dishes get some unique twists. I also like the Meeting House, in Pacific Heights. It's in a pretty space that used to be an apothecary shop. Their menu is described as "neo-Shaker", American classics updated and refined. Their breads and their home-made ice creams are delicious. For Italian, try Antica on upper Polk Street. Happy dining!
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 10:13 AM
  #7  
winegeek
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Thanks Everybody, This will be helpful. I have heard that Panisse is worthy as well as Plumpjack. I'll also check sfgate.com. How about Farralon or Kuleto/McKormick or MOMO. Any thoughts?
Keep replying as i'm generally very hungry and will need to dine alot!!!!hehe!!! Also, if anyone is ever in ATL dont miss these jewels(in order). ARIA, Canoe, Joel, Baccanalia, Lobster Bar, and Ritz Carlton Buckhead. Happy eats!!!!
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 10:21 AM
  #8  
Susan
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Umm, Farallon IMHO is overblown, expensive and very pretentious. It has a fabulous interior and might be worthy of a drink and appetizers in the bar. They have a lovely cheese plate so you could just pop in for port and cheese after dining somewhere else.

MOMO is a fun, hopping place. Not noteworthy food. It's across the street from our beautiful new ballpark, maybe worth a look.
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 10:21 AM
  #9  
bob
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I lived for two years in SF and found it incredibly difficult to find good food (not to mention at a decent price). I enjoy fine dining from time to time, and don't mind paying for it, but the general pretentiousness of the Bay-area shows itself more in the food available than in anything else. I am a born and raised Chicagoan and am not impressed by the no-calorie, vegetarian dominated, fusian ( a word basically refering to everyone's trying to set themselves apart by doing something a little different, one place actually bills itself as Mexican/French fusion...what the hell is that?), long-named (In San Francisco, the more words in the name of each menu item, the better they think it is... the name of most items on a typical SF higher-end menu is 12 or 13 words long) yuppy food that uptight San Franciscans pride themselves on ...
(how's that for a run-on sentance?)

That being said, here are a couple hits:

A little known (not often in dining guides) place called Zarzuela on Hyde street in the Russian Hill neighborhood is great. It is a Spanish Tapas place with a very casual atmosphere and GREAT service. The price is not too bad, so you are able to try many different items, and since most are very good and the choices aer plentiful, you will leave full and very satisfied.

Tadich Grill is in the financial district on California Street. Although it is casual in dress, it is old-school stuffy, but only because that is the image that they try to portray. They are actually very accomodating. Although the wait is usually fairly long to get a table, they have a full bar that accounts for half the square-footage of the place. It is what SF used to be before it became dot-com yuppy heaven.

House of Prime Rib is in the Van-Ness corridor on Van Ness st. (casual). It is a great place if you are looking for quality meat and potatoes. There are very few menu choices, and most of those are prime rib. The price is not bad at all and if you are still hungry at the end of your meal, you just have to tell the waiter, and he will bring you another piece of prime rib at no extra cost ! They even toss your salad at your table, and bring the meat around on those big shiny carts !

If you want a big-city old fashioned steakhouse, Alfred's is the place to go. It is nestled in an alley in between the financial district and Chinatown. It is expensive, and a little stuffy, but it rivals the best steakhouses in Chicago !

The absolute best place to go is one you would never go to unless you are specifically pointed toward it by a local. It is a little hole-in-the-wall chinese place in the Nob/Russian Hill area. It is called U-Lee. The whole dining room might be 15 feet by 15 feet and has only about 6 or 7 very basic tables (the kind your dad and his buddies used to play poker on in the basement). It is family run and as casual as it can get. In fact, if you are there early, the workers (family-members) are occupying a few of the 6 tables preparing the vegetables and other items because there is no room in the kitchen. You cannot go wrong with anything on the menu, or wall (You don't even have to open the menu because the wall is full of construction paper with food items written on them). BUT, YOU ABSOLUTLEY MUST GET THE POT-STICKERS !!!! They are enough to constitute a meal in themselves, although you are not allowed to order them that way.... and they are incredibly good.
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 10:44 AM
  #10  
George
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For a boatload of SF dining recommendations, go to www.chowhound.com (organized geographically.) Many, many recommendations, and up-to-the-minute about what's up to snuff, and what should be avoided.
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 10:50 AM
  #11  
wine geek
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Thanks bob and susan, I'll check these out. But i have to say Bob, coming from chigago, a town where good food is everywhere, you may be a little jaded.
Thanks again
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 11:13 AM
  #12  
Wendy
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I'm from LA and visit SF often. I agree with everyone who says the food is expensive!! Sometimes, not worth the price either. Definitely check out Chowhound.com for a wealth of information. That said, I have had very good luck at the following restaurants:

Hawthorne Lane, right below Market and next to MOMA. Wonderful service, top-notch well-executed American food. A "tried and true" gem, deserving all the laurels it gets. They have a website. Need reservations.

Plouf, on Belden Lane. It's more casual than Hawthorne Lane, but you'll still need reservations. Food leans towards the French-side. Great mussel dishes and apps. Some people have a problem with the service--I thought it was good and efficient. However, tables are so close together it's impossible not to hear your neighbor's conversation. I think they have a website too.

Kuleto's is overrated. Try some place else.

Btw, if you're from Atlanta, why not take advantage of restaurants where you wouldn't find the same types of foods as you would in the South? SF excels in Asian and Mexican, if that interests you.
 
Old Feb 14th, 2002, 11:31 AM
  #13  
x
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Like Wendy's suggestion about Plouf. Some friends outside Atlanta said Hawthorne Lane has famous husband-wife team, good media but had to cut short their trip by a day after paying the bill. Did say the evening was unimaginable and unforgetable.
 
Old Feb 19th, 2002, 08:20 PM
  #14  
John
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I'm a 4th gen SF resident and I'm surprised by the comments here. Bob's right, for red meat we aren't tops, but that's what Sizzlers for. And eating out is expensive, but so is everything here - it's not because we like paying more.
Hawthorne Lane is great. Slanted Door in the Mission for lunch (have icecream at the Indian Grocery next door for dessert. ) Pan e Vino is fun and not as snobby as Plumpjack, The Beach Chalet is just okay, but fun to visit. Eos, in my neighbor hood is good. I may be a chauvanist, but the hardest part of travelling for me is the poor quality of food in other U.S. cities. And when the best restaurant in town revolves, watch out!
 
Old Feb 19th, 2002, 09:53 PM
  #15  
MJH
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I'll second a trip to Zarzuela's -- the Spanish tapas place. The cable car stops right in front of the restaurant, so it's conveniently located.

We stayed in the Union Square area and we walked back to the hotel from the restaurant. It was a 20 minute walk, but a nice way to get some fresh air after all the Sangria we had. Nice area to walk through.

We also went to Kuleto's and we had a great time. The rainbow trout dinner with a glass of Mason Cellar's Sauvingnon Blanc was a great combination.

We also found a nice coffee shop adjacent to the Sir Drake Francis Hotel. The lattes and the pastries were great at very reasonable prices.

MJH
 
Old Feb 20th, 2002, 10:46 AM
  #16  
kam
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If you are in fact a wine geek, you'll love Plumpjack's wine list and prices. They also have a wine store down the street. No to Farallon and Hawthorne Lane. Yes to Slanted Door, Absinthe, Jardiniere, Delfina and Antica Trattoria. Having lived a long time in Chicago, I can see how someone from there couldn't get their red meat fix in SF, but once you adjust to California food, you'll find great restaurants here. BTW, we do have a Morton's of Chicago, Harris', and Ruth's Chris Stead House for those needing prime rib.
 

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