Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wanted: SF-area food and drink suggestions

Making a list and checking it twice . . .

Wow, who thought time would fly so quickly? A planned trip to San Francisco area that I conjured up in mid-May is coming sooner than I thought -- and I barely did any homework of places to hit in the area, eep!

So while I do some major catch-up reading with some of the blogs and city guides, I figured I'd take the suggestion box to you readers for some great places for noshes and drinks while I'm up there.

My stay will only be 3- to 4- days, but I would definitely like to hit up some, if not all, of the below:

1) Great casual and cheapish breakfast/lunch spots, bonus points for creative dishes
2) One somewhat spendy dinner (~$50-75/person for food)
3) Of course, great bars for cocktails or respectable beer/wine lists
4) Food- or drink- worthy daytrip excursions
5) Notable afternoon teas in the area, can be traditional or modernized
6) Great food/drink events in the upcoming days in the area
7) Nice place to shop for staple food-venirs to bring back down
8) Oh yea... must-hit dessert joints!

Of course, the more details you can provide the better (favorite items, websites) but looking forward to see what my food- and cocktail- hive mind will bring. Thanks in advance and I'll definitely credit your suggestion if I wound up hitting the spot and blogging about it! Comment away :)


Foodeater said...

Maggie Mudd is an amazing vegan ice cream parlor. They have dairy stuff too, but who needs it!

Also for amazing sandwiches for vegetarians, vegans and meat lovers alike, you gotta check out Ike's Place.

Have fun!

fauxLAhipster said...

bi-rite creamery is like the scoops of SF. i think they're most famous for their starwberry balsamic ice cream.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

My go-to dessert is Ti Couz in the Mission District, 16th and Valencia. Get banana crepes flambeed in Grand Marnier or coconut crepes flambeed in rum, ala mode too, of course.

The Wok Shop in Chinatown is great for dim sum magnets 2 for $5, mini tart pans with removable bottoms for $1.50 to $1.95, and really excellent fortune cookies. Seriously, really fresh, crispy, not stale like what's give after a meal.

La Boulange is a chain but such a great vibe for French sandwiches, salads, breads, and tons of desserts.

If I get around to blogging about both before your trip, then you can see.

Also, don't forget to check out creme brulee cart for me!

H. C. said...

@foodeater, thanks -- that's quite a tongue twister of a URL!

@fauxLAhipster, oh, read about that recently -- will definitely keep my eyes peeled for that. Thanks!

H. C. said...

@WC, thanks for the creme brulee cart reminder and the other recs!

gourmetpigs said...

Brunch at Universal Cafe, pretty creative dishes and smoothies.

Grilled cheese sandwich at Hog Island Oyster Depot.

Dinners: Slow Club, kaiseki at Wakuria.

Daytrip to Berkeley is worthy for Chez Panisse (Cafe or restaurant), Gregoire, Cheese Board.

Ad Hoc is worth a trip to Napa :P

Bar: Alembic
Belgian beers at La Trappe.
German beers in boots + German food at Suppenkuche.

Food, she thought. said...

Spendy dinner at Boulevard, walk up to Michael Mina in the St Francis on Union Square fir dessert/coffee/cheese.

More casual dinner at Bacaro.

Drinks at Heaven's Dog.

Casual dinner at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission (NOT the Haight), drink a Ginger lemon drop while you're there.

There's also a bourbon bar in the theater district on Geary that I love, but cannot remember the name. Go early. It's kinda douchey later.

I don't eat b'fast.


Kristin said...

B Star in inner Richmond.
Tartine Bakery
Limon for ceviche
Ferry Building Farmers Market!

Virginia said...

I'm a local food writer who is obsessed with sharing the REAL San Fran via food and drink (I grew up in LA/OC, then NJ, then back to OC in my early 20's). Having lived in SF over 8 years, it's a magical place which fully fanned into flame my passion for food as some of the best in the world here. 3-4 days will be merely a drop in the bucket, but you can check my site (I have a bi-weekly newsletter): http://www.theperfectspotsf.com, for more recommends (I also write a weekly food/drink column for the SF Bay Guardian).

Ours is an incredible cocktail city & there are many places to have some of the best anywhere (and believe me, I try everywhere!) Bourbon & Branch (that's the one the above commenter mentioned but couldn't remember the name of) is a must for elegant, classic drinks & atmosphere but you have to make reservations (speakeasy w/ a password) - it's an experience to remember but has also launched many of the best bartenders in town. The Alembic (mentioned by another poster) is one of the best bars anywhere: brilliant bourbon & beer selection, New Orleans cocktails & some of the best classic cocktails in the US: http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_id=8437. Heaven's Dog, as was mentioned (but not for food, just cocktails). Jardiniere - sit at the bar for 1930's elegance. Range has some of the most creative cocktails around in a revolving menu - also, an incredible mid-range place to eat.

As was mentioned by others, if you haven't been to SF before or in a long while, you should make sure you've done classics like Tartine Bakery (James Beard winner for best in the US), Ti Couz (for crepes), and of course, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Tues or Sat (soon to be Thur, too). If you love seafood, Swan Oyster Depot is THE SF quintessential classic for nearly a century - BEST crab & oysters (Hog Island at Ferry Plaza for the other best oyster spot). Little Star Pizza for deep dish.

There are a million amazing food/drink excursions beyond the city, too. Obviously, Napa & Sonoma are some of the richest, with Oakland and Berkeley being the next most concentrated areas outside of the city to find incredible food at every turn (again, lots of places in these areas written about in my newsletter if you search by key words like "Oakland").

Best breakfast (among many greats) is at Dottie's True Blue Cafe but long lines are the norm so go on a weekday and expect sketchy neighborhood & long waits but awesome breakfast & amazing breakfast breads.

If you love coffee, ours is one of the best coffee cities. Though there are many local greats, Blue Bottle is hands down # 1. Their cafe downtown as the country's only siphon coffee maker from Japan - New York Times & everyone else has written about it; even NY Times called Blue Bottle a "revelation" & best in the US. The coffee is better than even my favorites in Italy (but similar - prepared strong, dark).

You mentioned dessert - don't know if you include ice cream in there but besides classic Mitchell's and can't-go-wrong Bi-Rite, Humphry Slocumbe is a MUST: foie gras, "Secret Breakfast" (their best! is Bourbon & Cornflakes), and Peanut Butter Curry are just a sampling of the incredible flavors they have, all rich & creamy. The owner has a fine dining background & these tastes are the best I've ever had in ice cream, which I'm quite passionate about.

I could go on forever but would love to know what you tried & loved while here if you have a minute... you can email me at virginia@theperfectspotsf.com. Links to websites of most of the places I mentioned are on my Perfect Spot website if you search by their name in the Search field.

Have a wonderful trip!

H. C. said...

@burumun, Liz, Virginia and Kristin, thanks for all those recs!!! wow, I really have to plot an itinerary now!

mattatouille said...

Here are my picks:

Ritual/Four Barrel for coffee

Tartine bakery for break/lunch

Definitely check out berkeley for: Acme Bakery, Kermit Lynch (legendary wine shop), Ici Ice Cream, Cheeseboard, Gioia, Monterey Market/Berkeley Bowl (those two are almost better than every LA farmer's market)

Bi-Rite Creamery, Ferry Building.

I like Incanto for dinner if you can handle all the offal :)

Also check No Salad As a Meal (on my blogroll). He's got some good SF reviews.

liza said...

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