Wine & Food

Snooth User: dmcker

Best food and wine experiences in San Francisco right now

Posted by dmcker, Jun 6, 2010.

A bunch of people are gathering in San Francisco for a conference this week, and I was wondering what any of you think are the best food and wine experiences in the City right now. Am interested in bars, cafes, proper restaurants, what have you, and locations as far as southern Marin, the East Bay and Palo Alto or other spots on the southern peninsula  (but not Napa or Sonoma because that's a bit too far), though with preference for closer to town. Oldskool, new hotspot, whatever. Any budget range is OK. Bring it on, but please provide as much explanation as you can for why you think the establishment is good....

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Replies

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Reply by Andrew46, Jun 7, 2010.

If you are in Oakland, Luka's Taproom is a pretty good choice.  It has good food, a pretty solid wine list and a very casual atmosphere.  OK.  The truth.  The real reason I suggest it is that they serve Briceland Humboldt Sauvignon Blanc.

If you go on sunday, bottles are 50% off.

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Reply by atonalprime, Jun 7, 2010.

Well, only been there once but I have memorable experiences from food in San Francisco:

1) Burma Superstar
burmasuperstar.com
I'm admittedly a huge fan of South East asian cuisine, but this place really opened up a new sense of produce in harmony with protein, as well as a few new flavors and combinations.  Hands down, my most memorable San Francisco meal was the tea-leaf salad off their menu, in combination with a few other entrees that were also fantastic. No reservation, but a weekend brunch crowd will form lines outside.  It is also close to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, http://legionofhonor.famsf.org , providing beautiful views of the bay and a terrific collection of paintings and sculptures.

2) Boulevard
http://www.boulevardrestaurant.com/
Great integrity for their seafood, and the abalone dish was the highlight for me.  Reservation likely needed.  The food was solid, and the wine recommendations were great.

3) Gary Denko
http://www.garydanko.com
Seems to be the "gilded truffle" hyped restaurant of SF (in the city at least. Our hotel room was across the street, on the second floor, so after a few days of staring at it/smelling it, we were swayed to visit the restaurant.  Reservation in advance very important.  final meal of our trip and we splurged for tasting with wine pairing and I was very impressed at the pairing, including the cheese course.  This was a very sexy restaurant and the hospitality was over the top, including pastry to take home to "remember" them the next day.  Knowing the price and knowing what I can find here in NYC (even here in Brooklyn...mmm...Saul...) I rate this as #3 because it just shouldn't be so expensive.

Also good to know if you're looking for solid lunch in downtown, go to the dimsum bar Yank Sing, i really enjoyed their soup buns
http://www.yanksing.com/home.php

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 7, 2010.

Andrew, thanks. My sister and brother both live in Oakland, so next time I visit that sounds like a place to hit.

Atonal, I haven't been to Burma Superstar yet, but I've been to Boulevard and Gary Danko several times over the years, and definitely agree with your recommendations. Though once I did Gary D one night and French Laundry the next, and I realized there really can be too much of a good thing....

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Reply by John Andrews, Jun 7, 2010.

crap ... just lost my full elaborate list so here is the quickie version:

Salt House: www.salthousesf.com - financial district 

Epic Roasthouse: www.epicroasthousesf.com - bay side - steak 

Water Bar: www.waterbarsf.com - bay side - seafood 

A16: www.a16sf.com - Italian, Marina 

Fleur de Lys: www.fleurdelyssf.com - Hubert Keller 

Michael Mina - www.michaelmina.net

Jardiniere - www.jardiniere.com - classic french

Foreign Cinema - www.foreigncinema.com - trendy - mission district 

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 7, 2010.

might i suggest a great spot that won't break the bank yet make you look like a culinary wiz???

PIPERADE..... amazing food at great prices, wonderful atmosphere...

it's Basque cuisine and has a sturdy wine list that holds up well to Chef Gerald's cooking.....

definitely worth a try...

Piperade

1015 Battery St. SF

415-391-2555

piperade.com

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Reply by John Andrews, Jun 7, 2010.

I would have to agree with Steven on Piperade.  It's been a while since I've been there but definitely a great 'unknown'. :-) 

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 7, 2010.

i just thought of a casual  place....

PEARL'S....... hands down the best burgers in life!!! the place is just a small burger joint, but trust me, it will change your life! they offer a full menu of specialty burgers, chicken, and even hot dogs. they also have a few different beef choices (other than the standard nieman ranch) estancia, buffalo and kobe, which by the way is mouth watering!

They also have some of the BEST milk shakes... a must have would be the chocolate peanut butter.... their fries/sweet potatoe fries/onion rings shouldn't be missed. Do what I do and order the "frings" or "springs", a combo of fries and onion rings... delicious....

But don't just take my word for it. Tyler Florence will be taking food network viewers there for the show Best Thing I Ever Ate, that will air on 6/28.

and it's just a short walk from union square (and my apartment, i can already hear my future cardiologist yelling at me for living walking distance from such an amazing place... haha)

Pearl's Deluxe Burgers

708 Post St (cross of Jones), SF

pearlsdiner.com

All this talk is making me want to go there RIGHT NOW! hahaha

Too bad I have dinner reservations at the Big 4... haven't been there before, I may be writting about it here tomorrow!

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 7, 2010.

Thanks, John and Steven.

John, any comments on those places? I've been to Foreign Cinema, but it was several years ago...

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Reply by TL NJ, Jun 8, 2010.

Ironically, i dont have any wine bar suggestions for you....

But 2 of my favorite restaurants in SF

1. House of Nanking in China town.  Great place for lunch (not dinner) - do NOT be fooled by the bad decor - the food is amazing. Chinese food with fresh ingredients and fresh herbs - does not have any of that MSG / salty stuff you can find at an average Chinese food restaurant

2. Zushi Puzzle on Lombard - one of my favorite sushi restaurants in SF - actually one of my all time Top 5.  Not easy to accomodate large groups.  Just some of the freshest fish I have ever had, and the chef is extremely creative - not just your ordinary "alaska rolls".

 

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 9, 2010.

i second house of nanking.... crappy service, AMAZING food.... the older gentleman with the short white hair, i think he's the owner, let him order for you if you have trouble deciding.... usually i wouldn't do such a thing, except for here... he'll steer you twards all of their popular dishes....

 

as for wine bars..... check out the hidden vine, it's actually in the same alley as le colonial.... good wine, and the guy there is really knowledgeable on what they carry...

also, bin 38 looks pretty good too..... it's in the marina... i haven't been there yet, but i have an interview there tomorrow...  from what i gather from their website, the place seems promising...

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Reply by samantha gaw, Jun 9, 2010.

I most miss free-range chicken pho ga up and down those couple of blocks of Larkin theoretically called Little Saigon.

Maverick in the Mission has an unexpectedly well-curated wine list and half price bottles on Monday nights (enjoyed a cheaper-than-retail Pey-Marin Pinot my last visit).

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Reply by John Andrews, Jun 9, 2010.

@Steven ... let me know what you think of Bin38.  I enjoy it but it is a bit small but do have nice focus on wines and they regularly have wine events there.

@D ... here are a few notes for you.  I had written them up with the first post but lost them (my fault) so here are some details:

Salt House: www.salthousesf.com - financial district - Smallish and a bit loud but some of the best food I've had in a long time.  Great duck and lots of local ingredients.  They have two wine lists normal and reserve so the selections are quite extensive.  

Epic Roasthouse: www.epicroasthousesf.com - Situated on the bay side of Embarcadero Epic has great bay views.  It shares it's property with the Water Bar: www.waterbarsf.com.  Epic focuses heavily on meat dishes and Water Bar on seafood.  Both are relatively new (1 year) but high quality.   

A16: www.a16sf.com - Italian, Marina District.  A16 has been one of the most popular Italian restaurants in the bay area for years now.  Focus is on south Italy in food and wine.  Highly recommended. 

Fleur de Lys: www.fleurdelyssf.com - Hubert Keller.  Never actually been here but it is one of the 'name' restaurants in SF.  Hubert Keller is classic French food but he does run the 'Burger Bar' in Union square for more American style. 

Michael Mina - www.michaelmina.net - Again, another 'name' restaurant but one I have not been too.  Continually gets great reviews and wine list is heavy European focus.  

Jardiniere - www.jardiniere.com - classic french. My friends keep telling me to go here but I have never made it.  It has been described to me as the 'stealth French restaurant' of choice.  

Foreign Cinema - www.foreigncinema.com - trendy - mission district. Still going strong and still a great stop. 

As you probably already know reservations are almost always required and I use www.opentable.com to make them. 

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 9, 2010.

@john.... well my interview went well.... seems like a great place with a good approach to service....

i've heard that michael minna has started to slide... they lost a micheline star... my girlfriend went, and wasn't impressed.... and water bar and epic have really taken a slide since they opened... in my opinion not worth the hype.... they do have great wine lists though  : )

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 10, 2010.

John, thanks. Are both Epic Roasthouse and Water Bar Kuleto operations? I seem to remember someone telling me WB is, at the least. And if so, Steven, that explains the slip'n slide dynamic, so common with all his places over the years...

Understood about the reservations. Am a bit oldschool about those. I always cultivate staff connections at the restaurants I know I'm going to be going back to, whether it's the owner, chef, maitre d' or wait staff. Otherwise I let the hotel's concierge work his magic--in this case, the Huntington. And I get to know them well, too, over time, so even when I'm not in town I just have to call them up to arrange whatever....

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 10, 2010.

D, i'm the same way with meeting people..... i can and will talk to just about anybody.... i blame it on the 7 plus years of bartending, and being able to strike up conversations with just about anybody....

the Huntington... i live about 3 blocks from there... it's beautiful a top Nob Hill, especially around christmas time.... just had dinner at the Big 4 there on monday... wonderful old SF feel to the place... very comfortable... the food was good too... we tend to be neighborhood people, that is walk to everything... which is nice since we're 3 blocks from Union Square, 2 blocks from Nob Hill, 3 blocks from the front gates to China Town.... within two blocks of Masa's, Minna, and Fleur de Lys.....

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 10, 2010.

I've always tended to gravitate to that kind of hotel. Have of course stayed in the likes of the Hyatts on points, or better the Donatello, Pan Pacific and Stanford Court way back in the day (even the Mark once or twice). But more the Campton Place and Huntington in recent years. And I understand about walking distance since I've spent time in so many cities where I haven't needed a car. Though in San Fran I usually have one for jumping down the Peninsula, up to Sonoma and Napa, or across the Bay....

Talking intelligently with them, of course. But then, of course, the strategic tip that when done correctly leverages far beyond the actual amount... ;-)

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 10, 2010.

intelligent conversation, is there any other kind at a nice bar??? hahaha

there is a bit lacking in the bar service here... it can be hard to talk to some the bartenders... and they don't even have to be busy... just a lack of personality....

are you planning a trip out this way?

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 10, 2010.

Ever walk down to the Tadich Grill?

I almost came this time with my people, but didn't. Not sure when I'll next be there, but perhaps we can share a drink when I do.

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 10, 2010.

there's actually a few places down around tadich that are doin pretty well.... i have had a nice manhattan there.... another older, classy feel

i think a drink the next time you're in town is definately in order.....

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 10, 2010.

I heard Aqua closed. What was that Spanish place behind the Hyatt? Went there a couple times a few years ago. Once good, once not.

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