San Francisco in July

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David Kaufman
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#1 Post by David Kaufman » May 7th, 2014, 7:30 am

Headed to SFO in July with the wife (few days away from the kids). Will be staying at the Palace. I have my calendar set for 60 days out to make a reservation at Gary Danko, but was looking for a few additional dining recommendations. The French Laundry is out for this trip, as we will be cabbing it/using public transportation everywhere in the city.
Last edited by David Kaufman on May 19th, 2014, 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#2 Post by Jim Duane » May 7th, 2014, 9:13 am

David, I wouldn't miss out on Hotel Biron when you are in SF. More wine bar with charcuterie than restaurant, but a very cool hole in the wall. Anyone else been here?

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#3 Post by CWun » May 7th, 2014, 9:33 am

forget gary danko. it's not very interesting at all.

Atelier Crenn, Benu, Saison, and Coi are the big boys.

There are a lot of more casualish places (but not necessarily cheap) in SF as well. What cuisines interest you?
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#4 Post by Dan Hammer » May 7th, 2014, 12:10 pm

This isn't upscale, except for the food. [wink.gif] Sushi Zone. The address is on Market, but it's actually just around the corner.
http://www.zagat.com/r/sushi-zone-san-francisco

I'd arrive at 4:30 and hang out; otherwise, there's a wait to enter. It's long walking distance from the Palace.
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#5 Post by Robert.Fleming » May 7th, 2014, 12:25 pm

Not exactly what you asked, but....

Go see the longest-running musical revue in theater history, Beach Blanket Babylon: http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com/what/index.shtml
It's a broad farce, and a complete hoot.

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#6 Post by CWun » May 7th, 2014, 1:08 pm

For Japanese, try Akikos. amazing stuff flown in from Japan.
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#7 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » May 7th, 2014, 1:34 pm

We love Atelier Crenn, though it isn't for everyone, as the food pushes some boundaries. For intensity of flavor and both sensory and intellectual pleasure, though, it is hard to beat her cooking. If what you like is rich, comforting food, it won't be for you, though. The sommelier's name is Ian and he is both knowledgeable and friendly. They allow BYO on a limited basis. We are also fans of State Bird if you can manage to get in, and numerous Japanese places. Standbys like Delfina won't let you down.

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#8 Post by David Kaufman » May 8th, 2014, 3:29 pm

Some great suggestions, thanks all.

CWun, I'd be curious to hear your take on Gary Danko and why I should avoid it?

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#9 Post by RyanC » May 8th, 2014, 4:05 pm

Saison. Maybe the best in the USA.

Next tier for me at the high end is Coi, Crenn, and Quince.
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#10 Post by CWun » May 8th, 2014, 4:24 pm

David Kaufman wrote:Some great suggestions, thanks all.

CWun, I'd be curious to hear your take on Gary Danko and why I should avoid it?
I'm going to sound a bit cynical or jaded, but Gary Danko isn't a special restaurant in the competitive SF arena. Most people eating there will be tourists, out of town biz folk, or people who just look at the Zagat guide.

That being said, the service is always top notch. Excellent service.

The food is Califonian/American and used to be interesting back in 2002, but these days you can find similar food like Gary Danko in any large city in the US. The last time I went several years ago, I had crunchy (severely undercooked) risotto. That was the final straw. A restaurant of that caliber can not be serving crunchy risotto.

If you want to try new things, there are better restaurants than Gary Danko.

If you just want a good meal with familiar sounding proteins and nothing too ornate, excellent service, a solid cheese cart, Gary Danko would work (along with a number of other restaurants in the city). At that price point and experience, I'd much rather eat at Passot's La Folie restaurant. For a more casual feel, and still French, Chapeau! is a city favorite, but can be annoying to get to.
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#11 Post by David Kaufman » May 8th, 2014, 4:30 pm

CWun wrote:
David Kaufman wrote:Some great suggestions, thanks all.

CWun, I'd be curious to hear your take on Gary Danko and why I should avoid it?
I'm going to sound a bit cynical or jaded, but Gary Danko isn't a special restaurant in the competitive SF arena. Most people eating there will be tourists, out of town biz folk, or people who just look at the Zagat guide.

That being said, the service is always top notch. Excellent service.

The food is Califonian/American and used to be interesting back in 2002, but these days you can find similar food like Gary Danko in any large city in the US. The last time I went several years ago, I had crunchy (severely undercooked) risotto. That was the final straw. A restaurant of that caliber can not be serving crunchy risotto.

If you want to try new things, there are better restaurants than Gary Danko.

If you just want a good meal with familiar sounding proteins and nothing too ornate, excellent service, a solid cheese cart, Gary Danko would work (along with a number of other restaurants in the city). At that price point and experience, I'd much rather eat at Passot's La Folie restaurant. For a more casual feel, and still French, Chapeau! is a city favorite, but can be annoying to get to.

I appreciate the info! We are going to be in town for 3 nights, and thinking of having ONE really nice dinner (e.g. pricey) and two a little easier on the wallet.

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#12 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 8th, 2014, 9:17 pm

More. Gimme more. I'm in town on Saturday night.

Something more Cotogna than Quince. (and don't think my knowing those two names is any indication of a general sense of what's going on in SF.)
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#13 Post by RyanC » May 8th, 2014, 9:19 pm

brianmcbrearty wrote:More. Gimme more. I'm in town on Saturday night.

Something more Cotogna than Quince.
Flour & Water
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#14 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 8th, 2014, 9:23 pm

Ryan Caughey wrote:
brianmcbrearty wrote:More. Gimme more. I'm in town on Saturday night.
Something more Cotogna than Quince.
Flour & Water
Haven't been. And funny because I was just reading about Central Market -- same guy, right?

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#15 Post by CWun » May 8th, 2014, 10:10 pm

Aq and spqr are good choices.
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#16 Post by Brian King » May 9th, 2014, 5:04 am

If you want to try another concept, State Bird Provision Co is really good. More of a Dim Sum concept but with a wide mix of foods..

Commonwealth was great the last time I was there. Fairly-priced tasting menu with good, quirky wines.

Una Pizzeria is fantastic Pizza if you happen to be in town Wed. - Saturday and can get a table. A bit pricey for pizza ($22-24 per person) but it really is the best Naples-style pizza I've had outside of Italy.

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#17 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 9th, 2014, 8:50 am

Yeah, Una is great, but at 25 bucks a pop, it oughta be.

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#18 Post by Alan Rath » May 9th, 2014, 8:32 pm

Never been to Saison, but there is no way in hell I would fall for the chutzpah of charging what they charge. If I wanted high end, I would go to Quince. If you really want to go to Gary Danko, consider eating in the lounge (which, frankly, I find a good practice in just about any restaurant, as I'd rather have the comfort and lower key service of that environment, but I'm a southern Californian, what do I know).

Flour and Water is pretty good, I'd rather go to La Ciccia. Rich Table is almost the quintessential SF restaurant, for me. Low key, good food, good energy but comfortable. If you're going to be in town for dinner on a Sunday, Cotogna's Sunday Suppers are a good way to go. Within walking distance of the Palace are RN74, Piperade (as well as Quince/Cotogna). Agree with Cary on AQ (though I haven't been since they went to a fixed menu only) and SPQR.
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#19 Post by Ron Kramer » May 9th, 2014, 8:37 pm

Be aware that you might be freezing your arse off.

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#20 Post by CWun » May 9th, 2014, 8:52 pm

There is no such thing as summer in sf
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#21 Post by Michael Davidson » May 10th, 2014, 8:56 am

CWun wrote:For Japanese, try Akikos. amazing stuff flown in from Japan.
I'm staying nearby for one night in June. Solo diner on a Tuesday night, can I just show up?

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#22 Post by John Davis » May 10th, 2014, 9:30 am

Love Atelier Crenn. I think Danko gets a bit of a bad rep b/c it hasn't changed in years. The food is always very good but it wouldn't be at the top of my list, either. Boulevard and RN74 last year were very good.
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#23 Post by CWun » May 10th, 2014, 10:08 am

Michael Davidson wrote:
CWun wrote:For Japanese, try Akikos. amazing stuff flown in from Japan.
I'm staying nearby for one night in June. Solo diner on a Tuesday night, can I just show up?

Michael
maybe... but best to call ahead for a seat at the counter.
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#24 Post by David Kaufman » May 10th, 2014, 10:42 am

If we wanted to do a tasting menu, but without the $175++ per person price tag, what would be the best option?

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#25 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 10th, 2014, 10:54 am

what about places you might actually have a chance at getting into same day (today/saturday) after 7pm

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#26 Post by CWun » May 10th, 2014, 10:57 am

David Kaufman wrote:If we wanted to do a tasting menu, but without the $175++ per person price tag, what would be the best option?
La Folie for french.
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#27 Post by CWun » May 10th, 2014, 10:58 am

brianmcbrearty wrote:what about places you might actually have a chance at getting into same day (today/saturday) after 7pm
There are many places that have no-reservations seating for the bar. Full menu and service.
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#28 Post by Barry L i p t o n » May 10th, 2014, 11:01 am

I've been to Saison twice; loved it the first time, the second time I was not wowed. Unami can get motononous if that's all there is.

I like but don't love Cotogna as I prefer something other than meat. Perbacco is one of my favorites (as is Quince), still my #1 choice is Boulevard.

Perbacco has tables today at 9pm

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#29 Post by RS Beck » May 10th, 2014, 11:02 am

My favorites have been mentioned.

Here are more votes for:

Commonwealth
Rich Table
La Ciccia

None of these are going to wow you or make you feel like royalty with their atmosphere, but if uncommonly great food and interesting wine is what you're after, these would be at the top of my list.
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#30 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 10th, 2014, 11:21 am

Barry L i p t o n wrote:I've been to Saison twice; loved it the first time, the second time I was not wowed. Unami can get motononous if that's all there is.

I like but don't love Cotogna as I prefer something other than meat. Perbacco is one of my favorites (as is Quince), still my #1 choice is Boulevard.

Perbacco has tables today at 9pm
And I just took that 9pm table, but don't know if I can stay awake that long.

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#31 Post by RyanC » May 10th, 2014, 1:54 pm

David Kaufman wrote:If we wanted to do a tasting menu, but without the $175++ per person price tag, what would be the best option?
Quince's 5-course Seasonal Menu is $130 I think, and is excellent.
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#32 Post by Dave H. » May 10th, 2014, 4:57 pm

If you guys are adventurous eaters and up for something very casual, you might try Mission Street Chinese.
It won't be the fanciest place you eat, but it might be the most delicious. Supremely inventive and affordable Added bonus: $8 corkage.
http://missionchinesefood.com/sf/
I'm just a tourist, too, but also would plug Arlequin wine shop. A very good wine shop that has a courtyard with tables in back where they'll open your just purchased wine for free. Nice respite in the city.
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#33 Post by David Kaufman » May 11th, 2014, 8:56 am

Thanks again all. I'm excited for the trip even though its still two months away!

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#34 Post by Linda Baehr » May 12th, 2014, 5:46 am

One tip, though. Don't call it San Fran (or even worse, Frisco). [snort.gif]
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#35 Post by Xavier Lavoipierre » May 12th, 2014, 7:08 am

Linda Baehr wrote:One tip, though. Don't call it San Fran (or even worse, Frisco). [snort.gif]
I was wondering when someone was going to mention that! "The City" works well, "SF" if you must, and just plain ol' "San Francisco" will never get you into trouble! San Francisco is a great city. Hope you have an equally great time.
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#36 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 12th, 2014, 9:53 am

I'm gonna go on calling it San Fran.

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#37 Post by Jay T. » May 12th, 2014, 11:15 am

My wife and have lived in SF for seven years, and we love to eat out. I agree with the general consensus advice above but thought I'd offer the perspective of a resident who has eaten at most of these restaurants several times.

Right now, in my mind, the best restaurant in the city is Quince. We ate there two weeks ago and had the best meal we've had in the past 12 months. We've dined there 4 times now, and it has gotten better each time. If you're up for a big night, I think this is the place to do it. The sister restaurant next door (Cotogna) is also great and much more casual at a much lower price point. Just note: despite it's pedigree, Quince is not an "Italian" restaurant anymore.

If you are interested in very high-end Italian, you're better off at Acquerello, which is a true classic. The best sommeliers at Acquerello as much about Italian wine as anyone in the world.

Gary Danko is tired and touristy. We don't plan to go back after our last two experiences have been quite bad.

I agree that if you want something French-leaning, that La Folie is much better. For a long time, La Folie was our favorite restaurant in the city. I've eaten there 8-9 times now, and it's a little less exciting to me now that I've had everything on the menu a few times, but it's a great place.

Saison, Coi, and Benu are each extremely inventive and capable of providing you with a meal unlike anything you have ever had in your life. Among the 3, Saison is my favorite, but it's incredibly expensive, and the last time we went, we left feeling for the first time that it just is not worth the price, no matter how good our food was.

A few more favorites, most of which have already been listed, you can't go wrong with:

1. La Ciccia -- Sardinian. Outstanding, affordable, and unique. I recommend it to just about everyone who visits.

2. Piperade -- Basque. For some reason it flies under the radar. The food is fantastic, the space is lovely, and it's relatively easy to get a reservation.

3. Contigo -- Catalan/Spanish tapas. Also flies under the radar, but this is our absolute favorite place to go with friends for a fun night in a casual setting. Ask questions about the wine; the wine director is awesome, and if you show an interest, he'll let you taste just about anything and loves introducing people to interesting wines they have never heard of.

4. Rich Table -- Californian. last year's hot restaurant (along with State Bird Provisions). This restaurant will give you a good idea of what the current trend is in San Francisco. Extremely high-end food in a verycasual setting. Prices are reasonable. Has a bit of the hipster vibe, but not obnoxious.

5. Bar Tartine -- Californian/Hungarian/Japanese. I love this place. It's one of the most inventive restaurants I've ever visited, but it feels like a neighborhood restaurant. Similar vibe to Rich Table. Another place I recommend all the time because, unlike all the Cal-Ital places around the city (which I do love), the food you'll get here you won't be able to get anywhere else in the world.

6. Mamacita -- Fancy Mexican. I've probably eaten here a dozen times, and it's been awesome every time. Really good food. It's noisy and gets a bet raucous as the night goes on, but I still think it's the best place to get a fine-dining interpretation of Mexican food in San Francisco. If you are interested in high end Mexican in a slightly more conservative mode, Nopalito is also really, really good.
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#38 Post by RyanC » May 12th, 2014, 11:18 am

Jay T. wrote:My wife and have lived in SF for seven years, and we love to eat out. I agree with the general consensus advice above but thought I'd offer the perspective of a resident who has eaten at most of these restaurants several times.

Right now, in my mind, the best restaurant in the city is Quince. We ate there two weeks ago and had the best meal we've had in the past 12 months. We've dined there 4 times now, and it has gotten better each time. If you're up for a big night, I think this is the place to do it. The sister restaurant next door (Cotogna) is also great and much more casual at a much lower price point. Just note: despite it's pedigree, Quince is not an "Italian" restaurant anymore.

If you are interested in very high-end Italian, you're better off at Acquerello, which is a true classic. The best sommeliers at Acquerello as much about Italian wine as anyone in the world.

Gary Danko is tired and touristy. We don't plan to go back after our last two experiences have been quite bad.

I agree that if you want something French-leaning, that La Folie is much better. For a long time, La Folie was our favorite restaurant in the city. I've eaten there 8-9 times now, and it's a little less exciting to me now that I've had everything on the menu a few times, but it's a great place.

Saison, Coi, and Benu are each extremely inventive and capable of providing you with a meal unlike anything you have ever had in your life. Among the 3, Saison is my favorite, but it's incredibly expensive, and the last time we went, we left feeling for the first time that it just is not worth the price, no matter how good our food was.

A few more favorites, most of which have already been listed, you can't go wrong with:

1. La Ciccia -- Sardinian. Outstanding, affordable, and unique. I recommend it to just about everyone who visits.

2. Piperade -- Basque. For some reason it flies under the radar. The food is fantastic, the space is lovely, and it's relatively easy to get a reservation.

3. Contigo -- Catalan/Spanish tapas. Also flies under the radar, but this is our absolute favorite place to go with friends for a fun night in a casual setting. Ask questions about the wine; the wine director is awesome, and if you show an interest, he'll let you taste just about anything and loves introducing people to interesting wines they have never heard of.

4. Rich Table -- Californian. last year's hot restaurant (along with State Bird Provisions). This restaurant will give you a good idea of what the current trend is in San Francisco. Extremely high-end food in a verycasual setting. Prices are reasonable. Has a bit of the hipster vibe, but not obnoxious.

5. Bar Tartine -- Californian/Hungarian/Japanese. I love this place. It's one of the most inventive restaurants I've ever visited, but it feels like a neighborhood restaurant. Similar vibe to Rich Table. Another place I recommend all the time because, unlike all the Cal-Ital places around the city (which I do love), the food you'll get here you won't be able to get anywhere else in the world.

6. Mamacita -- Fancy Mexican. I've probably eaten here a dozen times, and it's been awesome every time. Really good food. It's noisy and gets a bet raucous as the night goes on, but I still think it's the best place to get a fine-dining interpretation of Mexican food in San Francisco. If you are interested in high end Mexican in a slightly more conservative mode, Nopalito is also really, really good.
Awesome post. Thank you. I'm going to save for future reference.
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#39 Post by T Welch » May 12th, 2014, 11:36 am

brianmcbrearty wrote:I'm gonna go on calling it San Fran.
Damn hick from P-town. [snort.gif]
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#40 Post by SteveBrown » May 12th, 2014, 12:23 pm

Michael Bauer/SF Chronicle just released the latest version of his Top 100 Restaurant list for the Bay Area (fwiw), published yesterday in the Chron. Not available online yet unless you are a paid subscriber to the Chron website, but should be available (for free) on the sfgate website in about a month. w/o having it in front of me I'd say many/most of the recommendations above are on it. Danko is also still on there, which may or may not speak to the overall validity of his reccs.
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#41 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 12th, 2014, 1:05 pm

Truett W e l c h wrote:
brianmcbrearty wrote:I'm gonna go on calling it San Fran.
Damn hick from P-town. [snort.gif]
:)

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#42 Post by Alan Rath » May 12th, 2014, 1:14 pm

Ryan Caughey wrote:
Jay T. wrote:A few more favorites, most of which have already been listed, you can't go wrong with:

1. La Ciccia -- Sardinian. Outstanding, affordable, and unique. I recommend it to just about everyone who visits.

2. Piperade -- Basque. For some reason it flies under the radar. The food is fantastic, the space is lovely, and it's relatively easy to get a reservation.

3. Contigo -- Catalan/Spanish tapas. Also flies under the radar, but this is our absolute favorite place to go with friends for a fun night in a casual setting. Ask questions about the wine; the wine director is awesome, and if you show an interest, he'll let you taste just about anything and loves introducing people to interesting wines they have never heard of.

4. Rich Table -- Californian. last year's hot restaurant (along with State Bird Provisions). This restaurant will give you a good idea of what the current trend is in San Francisco. Extremely high-end food in a verycasual setting. Prices are reasonable. Has a bit of the hipster vibe, but not obnoxious.

5. Bar Tartine -- Californian/Hungarian/Japanese. I love this place. It's one of the most inventive restaurants I've ever visited, but it feels like a neighborhood restaurant. Similar vibe to Rich Table. Another place I recommend all the time because, unlike all the Cal-Ital places around the city (which I do love), the food you'll get here you won't be able to get anywhere else in the world.

6. Mamacita -- Fancy Mexican. I've probably eaten here a dozen times, and it's been awesome every time. Really good food. It's noisy and gets a bet raucous as the night goes on, but I still think it's the best place to get a fine-dining interpretation of Mexican food in San Francisco. If you are interested in high end Mexican in a slightly more conservative mode, Nopalito is also really, really good.
Awesome post. Thank you. I'm going to save for future reference.
Since 3 of the top 4 are also on my list, I have to agree [cheers.gif] And a couple of the names are unfamiliar to me (the two Mexican places), so thanks for those recs! I see Father's Day dinner at one of them :)
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#43 Post by Alan Rath » May 12th, 2014, 1:15 pm

brianmcbrearty wrote:what about places you might actually have a chance at getting into same day (today/saturday) after 7pm
Brian, where did you end up? Don't forget the bar/lounge at a lot of places, generally easier to get into on short notice (and sometimes more enjoyable).
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#44 Post by brianmcbrearty » May 13th, 2014, 6:27 am

We wound up at Boulevard because they had a 6:30 open up and it was more appealing than my 9pm at Perbacco. Was solid but not exciting. I'll make a point of Rich Table very soon. Basically every place we mentioned was booked solid. I just called Boulevard from the car on the way up and said, "oh yeah? 30 minutes? yup, we can make that."

Eating out is too expensive. I quit. I'm gonna buy all the damned kitchen stuff I ever wanted AND the pizza oven in the backyard.
Boulevard was fine of course. But two courses, and coffee, and a bottle of Peay plus tip and I don't remember exactly... 300+ bucks? Just to eat well?

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#45 Post by Alan Rath » May 13th, 2014, 11:33 am

Haven't been to Boulevard, I assume it's like other restaurants in the group: solid if unexciting. And yeah, hard to get out much under $200 these days, kind of depressing. One reason we really like Scopa in Healdsburg (not that this helps you in SF, just an example). We just go out less frequently, and expect to pay more when we do something on the fine dining front.
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#46 Post by Jay T. » May 14th, 2014, 1:23 pm

We found a new place last night that I think should be on people's radar: it's called Prubechu. The restaurant offers Chamorro cuisine. Chamorros are the people from Guam and the other Marianas islands. I'd call the food a fusion of Filipino, Latin American, and Southern US cuisines.

It's a hole in the wall in the Mission. The setting doesn't look like much, and the service is very casual. But the food is fantastic, unique, and reasonably priced. The chef is a young guy from Guam, and he's definitely passionate about interpreting the food he grew up with through the lens of cutting edge techniques and preparations. I thought the food was as good as any of the places mentioned in this thread charging $100+ per person. Also, they don't charge corkage. You can do the chef's tasting menu for $40 per person, which I highly recommend.

If you are looking for a really delicious meal in SF unlike anything you can get anywhere else, I highly recommend Prubechu. I still enjoy fine dining and love many of the high end French, Cal-Ital, and Spanish restaurants in San Francisco, but if I was a tourist, I think I'd actually prefer a place like Prubechu (or to a lesser extent, La Ciccia or Bar Tartine), where I would have an experience unlike anything I could get in most other cities in the US, and for not too much money to boot.
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#47 Post by Linda Baehr » May 16th, 2014, 5:35 am

Jay T. wrote:We found a new place last night that I think should be on people's radar: it's called Prubechu. The restaurant offers Chamorro cuisine. Chamorros are the people from Guam and the other Marianas islands. I'd call the food a fusion of Filipino, Latin American, and Southern US cuisines.

It's a hole in the wall in the Mission. The setting doesn't look like much, and the service is very casual. But the food is fantastic, unique, and reasonably priced. The chef is a young guy from Guam, and he's definitely passionate about interpreting the food he grew up with through the lens of cutting edge techniques and preparations. I thought the food was as good as any of the places mentioned in this thread charging $100+ per person. Also, they don't charge corkage. You can do the chef's tasting menu for $40 per person, which I highly recommend.

If you are looking for a really delicious meal in SF unlike anything you can get anywhere else, I highly recommend Prubechu. I still enjoy fine dining and love many of the high end French, Cal-Ital, and Spanish restaurants in San Francisco, but if I was a tourist, I think I'd actually prefer a place like Prubechu (or to a lesser extent, La Ciccia or Bar Tartine), where I would have an experience unlike anything I could get in most other cities in the US, and for not too much money to boot.

Thanks for that. I love hole in the wall ethnic places. [dance-clap.gif]
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#48 Post by Robert R » May 16th, 2014, 6:11 am

SPQR on Filmore St....great food and an excellent all Italian wine list
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#49 Post by Jay Miller » May 16th, 2014, 12:58 pm

Jay T. wrote:
5. Bar Tartine -- Californian/Hungarian/Japanese. I love this place. It's one of the most inventive restaurants I've ever visited, but it feels like a neighborhood restaurant. Similar vibe to Rich Table. Another place I recommend all the time because, unlike all the Cal-Ital places around the city (which I do love), the food you'll get here you won't be able to get anywhere else in the world.
I love Bar Tartine but I want to start a campaign to get them to put the thyme and black pepper gougeres back on the menu.
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#50 Post by Bill Gold » May 16th, 2014, 1:52 pm

We have enjoyed RN74 and also like Cotogna.

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