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Where [in SF proper] should a Chowhound live?

Carrie,

Ok, ok, I promise to check out your neighborhood. But can't you recommend any more choices so I have some variety when I get there? :-)

Erik

Apr 14, 2008
ErikT in San Francisco Bay Area

Where [in SF proper] should a Chowhound live?

Hi All,

I haven't replied in a week because I've been busy following all the excellent suggestions here, and exploring more. I just wanted to post another note to thank everyone for their time and suggestions.

It does seem that the search is narrowing a little... I have concluded that the "great upscale neighborhood where all the greatest restaurants are in walking distance" just doesn't exist. So the question becomes identifying the great restaurants, picking the acceptable neighborhoods, and seeing what works.

I've been to the Valencia st. area now a couple of times and agree there are several decent food choices there. The feel of that neighborhood is too gritty for me to want to live there exactly, so I'm looking for the nicer surrounding areas. I'm checking out Dolores Park in detail, and will look at the 4th/Folsom suggestion as well.

Thanks again, everyone, for the suggestions.

Erik

Apr 13, 2008
ErikT in San Francisco Bay Area

Where [in SF proper] should a Chowhound live?

Ok, the concept is sinking in now... I had the impression from some posts that you guys were trying to say "don't worry about where the food is when you choose a place to live". I just couldn't comprehend how you could offer that advice when I said up front that my goal was to live where I could walk to the most restaurants.

Now I think I get it... Everyone is saying that no such central place exists in SF, so I might as well choose a neighborhood based on other criteria, or just on being central, because my ideal of being able to walk to a large selection of places just isn't realistic in this city. So I guess the advice is to get used to the idea I'm going to have to cab it or take public transportation frequently, and stop assuming I have to live within walking distance of all my regular dining choices.

The comment that SF just doesn't have a Tribeca really hit home. I lived in Tribeca for 4 months and couldn't stand it - I thought the place was totally dead at night. I wanted to avoid a Tribeca-like neighborhood in favor of something more hapening. Sounds like something AS hapening would be optimistic.

I get the concept behind the advice to forget about the food when choosing a neighborhood now, but it still doesn't work for me. If there really isn't a nice place where I can walk to an ample selection of restaurants, then I need to seriously re-think the decision to live in San Francisco. Sounds like I should look seriously at the Mission district before giving up. I went there today (day time) and it didn't seem all that much improved from its pre-regentrification days when I lived here in the 90s. I'll go back tonight and see how it feels around dinner time. Sounds like Mission and Valencia between 16th and 22nd is the main area to check out. Anyplace else?

Thanks again all,

Erik

Apr 05, 2008
ErikT in San Francisco Bay Area

Where [in SF proper] should a Chowhound live?

Many thanks to all who have responded so far! I can't say how much I appreciate the welcome reception and numerous suggestions. I appreciate all of it and will take the suggestions to heart.

I think several people have come to mistaken impressions about my goals and intentions, however. To clarify, I am easily able to afford a car and I will probably have one. The point is that I prefer a lifestyle in which I don't need to drive. When I lived in North Beach I had a Porsche in the garage that I drove about once every 6 months. So the point is not "I can't afford a car", but rather that I can afford to live where I choose, and would like to find the optimal location given my preference for city life not involving driving.

I don't care about what pizza options exist or what supermarket is in the neighborhood. I love gourmet food and don't mind spending money for it, within reason. As a guideline, I typically spend about $50/night on dinner with a glass of wine. I'm looking for the maximum number of options possible in that price range within walking distance. I care about great food, don't mind a social atmosphere, but avoid night clubs and other trendy scenes like the plague.

I appreciate everyone's taking the time to offer advice, but I just don't understand where the people are coming from when they say "don't worry about this - just choose a neighborhood where you want to live and find the food from there". I feel like they didn't pay attention to the quesiton or something. The point is that I have the luxury of choosing to live anywhere I want, and my choice is to focus on living in the place that offers the very best culinary options in walking distance, but without New York weather. Given that these are my stated criteria, to suggest that I should forget about culinary considerations in choosing a place to live seems silly, but I appreciate the gesture of well-meaning advice just the same.

Thanks,

Erik

Apr 05, 2008
ErikT in San Francisco Bay Area

Where [in SF proper] should a Chowhound live?

I am in the process of completing a personal move to San Francisco from the east coast. For me, where I live is primarily about the food. Specifically, the question I care most about the answer to is, "How many great restaurants can I WALK to from my home?".

I tried living in Manhattan (specifically for the restaurants) but couldn't handle the cold winter weather, so I'm back in my favorite city. (I lived in North Beach from '93 to '98). But the neighborhoods have all changed, South of Market is completely different, and I need help figuring out where to look for housing if my main criterion is restaurants in the area.

Again, what I care specifically about is how many great restaurants I can walk to. By great restaurants, I mean gourmet food - no denny's or McDonald's, but since I eat out 14 times a week, I over-the-top high end places don't work well. The problem I had living in North Beach was that every place there was too rich and/or heavy for every day dining (Zax was my favorite exception if anyone remembers it). I frequently eat alone, and therefore prefer restaurants that have a comfortable setting for eating dinner at the bar.

Several people recommended the South Beach (ball park) area, but when I checked it out I liked the modern living spaces available there but found the restaurant scene terribly limited. The Paragon (a frequent stop of mine in the 90s) has moved there, but only a few other places were open when I toured the neighborhood and the whole place seemed dead. I'm decidedly not a sports fan either, so the prospect of living next to the park wasn't appealing.

I ended up taking a temporary (3 months) furnished lease in Cow Hollow because I couldn't figure out where to live on my short househunting visit. Although both Union and Chestnut appear "lined with restaurants", on closer inspection it seems like there are only a few places (Betelnut, maybe Osha, Circa if its not thursday night) that I would frequent. But if there is a part of San Francisco that feels like Los Angeles, it's this neighborhood, and frankly I don't like that feeling (no offense to LA intended). I'm more of a down-to-earth kind of guy and prefer to avoid scenes where image and trendiness are considered important to people.

So where should I be looking in the city? I can afford a car but prefer not to drive one. That's why I like the city in the first place, besides the food. First priority is walking distance restaurant selection, 2nd priority is convenient access to public transportation. A lot of people have said So. of Market, but if there is a busy at night/happening part of SoMA, I haven't found it yet. It's sure not around the ballpark neighborhood.

The best advice you can give me is "For XXX, try walking down YYY street around dinner time". I have 3 months to go research neighborhoods before my short-term lease runs out, so I can do plenty of research.

Thanks,

Erik

Apr 02, 2008
ErikT in San Francisco Bay Area

Where to dine (alone) "At the Bar" in Tribeca?

Just a quick note to say thanks to all who replied. This is a really great community! I've now got a list of 11 recommendations and plan to try them all out.

Thanks again, and keep the ideas coming if anyone has more!

Erik

Jul 30, 2007
ErikT in Manhattan

Is it safe to send food back?

I realize your question was about sending food back, but I'll share some advice on getting spicy Thai food, which is a challenge I share.

The basic problem is that many Americans don't "get" the whole spicy thing, and Thai chefs are not keen on the idea of throwing food away after some ignorant wanna-be orders spicy when they really mean mildly spicy. The american taste for spice is so far subdued below what is normal in Thailand that the Thais simply don't know what to do other than just make it as mild as possible. Unfortunately, there is a prejudice among Thai chefs that if a "white guy" says spicy, he probably doesn't really mean it. They are just responding to their experience, so its hard to blame them.

The solution I've found to work very well is to ask in Thai. I don't know why this works, but for some reason I find that saying "very spicy please" gets ignored, but saying "peht mak mak, khrup" (Thai for "very spicy please") usually works much better. I guess they figure if you can speak a little Thai then maybe you really mean what you say. Some basic Thai expressions:

peht: Spicy (pronounced like "pet")
mak: Very (often used twice, as in "peht mak mak", meaning very very spicy)
peht Thai: Thai Spicy (be careful - national pride may yield spice you can't handle!)
arroy: Delicious (often used as a compliment, e.g. "Arroy mak mak!")
assan: Food
khrup: Used by MEN at the end of a sentence to indicate politeness ("please")
kaah: Same as khrup but used when a woman is speaking

The full sentence to use at the end of your order...

"Khao assan peht mak mak, khrup/kaah" (I would like my food very spicy, please)

One more... "Mai Peht" means NOT SPICY. If ordering in Thai isn't enough to get them to believe me, when I receive mild food rather than asking them to send it back, I (politely) throw up my hands in dismay and say "Mai peht!". This generally evokes a sense of pride in the Thais, and they immediately take the food away and bring it back with a whole new level of spice. Use with caution, as you might get more spice than you bargained for!

A funny story... In Thailand I once got very frustrated with bland food after asking for spicy. I said to the (thai) waitress, "Khao assan mai peht, mai peht mak, mai peht mak mak. Khao assan PEHT THAI!" (Translation: I don't want it spicy, I don't want it very spicy, and I don't want it very very spicy. I WANT IT THAI SPICY!") She responded, in perfect english, "If I tell the chef you said that, you'll be taken away in an ambulance with your mouth on fire. I'll ask them to spice it up a little for you." It came back more spicy than any dish I'd ever eaten anywhere before.

Hope this helps!

Erik

Jul 30, 2007
ErikT in Not About Food

Advice on Manhattan dinner groups/clubs? [Moved from Manhattan board]

AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

I was intending to go to this, but for no good reason other than pure laziness I delayed purchasing my ticket until today. And of course... Now it's sold out!

Oh well, guess I'll keep looking for more similar events and buy my ticket promptly next time!

Thanks again for the info guys...

Erik

Jul 30, 2007
ErikT in Not About Food

Advice on Manhattan dinner groups/clubs? [Moved from Manhattan board]

Ok, now I "get it". I'll check out Meetup.com as well. Thanks for the info!

Erik

Jul 26, 2007
ErikT in Not About Food

Where to dine (alone) "At the Bar" in Tribeca?

I just moved to Tribeca (Duane street between Church & B-Way), and need to find some new regular dinner spots. I eat out every night, and when I am alone I generally prefer to eat at the bar (I don't like sitting by myself at a table).

Any recommendations on good spots for dining alone in my neighborhood? I'm NOT talking about "bar food" meaning sandwiches and french fries. I mean nice restaurants that have a nice bar, people to socialize with, and really good food. I prefer places where it's common for others to eat at the bar, so I'm not the only one doing so.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Erik

Jul 25, 2007
ErikT in Manhattan

Advice on Manhattan dinner groups/clubs? [Moved from Manhattan board]

This sounds cool to me. I particularly like the notion of having a "tasting" of each of the signature dishes on the menu. Seems to avoid the problem of incorrectly coming to the wrong conclusion about a restaurant just because you got unlucky and happened to order an item that wasn't the strongest on the menu.

I think I'll give this event a try and see how it goes. Anyone else going?

Erik

Jul 25, 2007
ErikT in Not About Food

Advice on Manhattan dinner groups/clubs? [Moved from Manhattan board]

MissJeane,

Thanks for the reply, but when I looked at the ChowHound "boards" directory, I found no board for meetup groups. Were you referring to a different board about that topic on another site or something? If so, a pointer to it would be much appreciated!

Jul 25, 2007
ErikT in Not About Food

Advice on Manhattan dinner groups/clubs? [Moved from Manhattan board]

I am a food lover who just moved to lower manhattan (tribeca) from California. I generally eat out every night, but I don't know the city or anyone in it.

I'm sure there must be plenty of "dinner clubs" (groups of people who get together and try a new restaurant each week) here in the city, and I can't think of a better place than here on Chowhoud to ask for advice on which groups/organizations are best.

A little about my interests (in case it helps you recommend the right group)... My primary interest is in getting to know where the good restaurants are in manhattan. A secondary interest is meeting people and making new friends, since I don't know anyone here. For me, restaurants are all about the FOOD, so I Iove owner-chef restaurants off the beaten path with really great food. Some of my favorites are places like Zax in San Francisco (now gone), and Canyon in Ft. Lauderdale.

I detest pretentiousness, and wouldn't be caught dead in places like The Ivy or Koi in Los Angeles, where mediocre food is served up with undue attention to presentation, and eveyone there is so caught up in who they are seeing or being seen with that they don't notice that the food really isn't worth the obscene prices being charged. In other words, if there is any risk of being seen at the table next to where Paris Hilton is sitting, I would prefer not to go there in the first place! Ditto for "celebrity restaurants" that are owned by someone famous and cater to ignorant tourists who are easily deceived by high prices and emphasis on presentation. (Although I must admit the Blue Door at the Delano on South Beach is pretty damned good, and I think it's still owned by Madonna).

I generally prefer gourmet food, but on the healthier side. One thing I really liked about California was that health-consciousness is so pervasive there. Things like all-you-can-eat lasagne or the world's largest/biggest/most fattening <whatever> are not so appealing to me, whereas eclectic, healthy, multi-cultural cuisine gets a big thumbs up. I love Dim Sum, good Thai food (oh how I crave the Som Tam I fell in love with in Chiang Mai), prefer northern Italian over southern, etc.

I also love wine, so a club/organization that does tastings in addition to dining out events would be even better.

I welcome any and all advice. Thanks in advance for sharing your insights!

Erik

Jul 25, 2007
ErikT in Not About Food