My favorite San Francisco restaurants

Jul 27th, 2009, 05:07 AM
  #1  
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My favorite San Francisco restaurants

Here are a few of my fav San Francisco spots - in no particular order (I'm a local, 20 years in SF).

I adore The Slanted Door at the Ferry Building. It's a fancier Vietnamese cuisine and it is simply delicious and elegantly appointed with great wine list and all the extras. The atmosphere is very wide open, maybe a bit cold, but this place has been an SF treasure/institution for quite awhile now. They were originally in a funkier place in the Mission. Go for lunch if you prefer (a bit cheaper), do make reservations, Don't go on Saturday when the wonderful farmers market is in full swing because there are too many tidbits to sample and try from the market. Must reserve!

A San Francisco institution is definitely Swan's Oyster Depot on Polk St. It's all about raw seafood (oysters, crab, shrimp, salads, chowder and sometimes delicious sauteed soft shell crab.) It is only open by day (don't go on Monday because we all know seafood is not as fresh on that day anywhere) and you will have to wait in line for limited seating at a small counter only. No reservations taken.

Betelnut on Union Street is an upscale Asian place that is very local and is on fun and pretty Union Street. The food is always delicious and they have exotic drinks and kind of sexy atmosphere. Must reserve.

A16 on Chestnut Street is a very well regarded, delicious Italian place, upscale and buzzy (packed too) where you will find great authentic cuisine, excellent Italian wine list. Trendy and very good food, bar scene. RESERVE

Bistro Aix is also in the Marina district, is very low key, very local with solid and delicious Provencial/California cuisine. On certain nights you can just pop in for a table but obviously busiest with loyal customers on Fri/SAt.

Ton Kiang on Geary is my absolute top spot for amazing Dim Sum. On weekends (get there early if you can) they come around with endless variety of heavenly and fresh dim sum of all kinds. It is something to experience and you will find it very authentic.

Pesce on Polk Street is a small but tasty little place with an emphasis on seafood. Lovely little small plates and quality operation. Reserve unless not peak times.

Cortez on Geary Blvd (downtown) has very tasty small plates of Mediterrean food in a pretty atmosphere within a hotel. Full bar and relaxed.

Canteen on Sutter st. (downtown) is a small, unassuming place that is becoming popular. Friends keep telling me about the high quality food and it is on the top 100 list SF Chronicle (as are most of my listings, quite by accident) I mention this one for the person who asked me what was good downtown.

LA Taquiera on Mission St. (if you are in the Mission district or need to make the pilgramage - Valencia Street very hip) there is a sensational, very informal taqueria that has divine tacos!! Don't get the burritos, its all about the tacos (crispy ones with all the trimmings) Great orchatta too. Good Mexican Food not easy to find in SF - maybe you don't need to find it if you come from somewhere that has plenty of goodness in this dept!
If you are craving an insanely good, 100% Blue agave Margarita with fresh lime juice - go to Tommy's Joynt on Geary Street (not in Mission but out in "The Avenues" where they have 100 types of excellent tequila. Too bad the food is not very good! Still, you could choke down a harmless quesadilla as you focus on the more important beverages! Only for tequila afficianados!

Foreign Cinema, also in the Mission is a great place for Sunday Brunch, sitting outside or inside (weather unpredictable with fog!) Nice cocktails and high quality ingrediants that the locals like to go. Dinner can be good, sometimes hit or miss - but its cool to watch a movie on the giant screen outdoors (though you won't hear the sound). Maybe go for wine and appetizers!

Zuni Cafe on Market st. is an institution. It is on a seedy part of Market Street and is quite expensive but foodies have been flocking to this place for so many years. It's not totally my thing, because of the prices and uber-trendiness, but I thought i should mention it because it is very well thought of and local instition.

I hope this list provides a few ideas.
ebacher is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 05:22 AM
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ebacher, great list. I can't believe how many of my favorites you mentioned. And 5 of them I just hit again in my one week stay in SF in June.

I'm not even sure which burrito places in the Mission we've eaten at. I once went armed with a list of 5 of the best and we were going to hit them one at a time. But one burrito at the first place so filled us up, that was the end of that.

The huge crab salad at Swan is fantastic, although I gulp a bit every time I go and see the price has raised another dollar or two. Still worth it though.

Our recent Sunday brunch at Foreign Cinema was great -- thanks to a suggestion here. And my last day in SF recently I "discovered" Canteen for breakfast just a block away from my rental apartment on Sutter. What a find -- the rockfish hash with poached eggs was >>almost<< as good as my beloved wild salmon hash at Mothers in Portland.

Slanted Door? Can't beat it, and I love Betelnut.
Bistro Aix, and A16 are super. Love Zuni too, but for the life of me I haven't figured out the big deal about their chicken which takes forever and didn't seem at all "special".
NeoPatrick is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 06:53 AM
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thanks for posting, ebacher!
ncounty is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 07:01 AM
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Ohhhh..I'm saving this list!

I was just in SF at the beginning of July and had dinner at The Slanted Door and A16 and LOVED both places...So many great restaurants...We ran out of days! The Foreign Cinema and Zuni Cafe were on my list too...guess I'll need to make another trip!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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I live here, and think that list is great!
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 10:48 AM
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I walked by Bistro Aix yesterday - and I think it's closed for remodeling.

Had dinner at Betelnut Sat night.

I just can't get excited by the menu at A16 (not a big pasta fan, however).

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jul 27th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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great list..I would add Tadich and Boulevard.
ksucat is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 09:32 PM
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Hey ebacher,
My partner and i are visiting SF for labor day weekend. We are on a budget but like good local places..not too pricey. any thoughts? also..any thing special happening that weekend. Any good performers in town
clifbob is offline  

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