That's a fair question. I was in town for a company meeting. Lots of business colleagues in town, and, like I said, a hotel right off Union Square. I had a pretty strong sense that the Ferry Building would be flooded with colleagues because it was so accessible, and easy to sneak in before a lot of people headed back to their respective homes later that morning, and to be honest after several days with colleagues I was eager to ... ditch them.
Thanks to everyone who offered comments, and here, in general, is what I wound up doing last Thursday evening through Monday morning and how it sized up (and, again, I was staying right off Union Square):
I wasn’t expecting to have any free time on Thursday or Friday night, but did, so I was able to do a little more (and get an earlier start on the weekend) than I anticipated. Everything was a bit hampered by pretty chilly weather and rain, at least until Sunday.
I had a little time before dinner and so I wound up at SFMOMA. I was very lucky. It was a half-price night, and there was live music and really tasty free food (and a young, hip, fun crowd). Plus, the Mark Bradford show really wowed me, but then I’m a huge modern art fan.
I then had dinner with a couple of friends at Foreign Cinema (2534 Mission Street, 415-648-7600), then after-dinner drinks at the connected/next door bar, Laszlo. I liked it a lot but was not totally wowed. Definitely a B+ for the restaurant) and a B for the bar.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND NIGHT
Lotsa rain. I took a cab to Hayes Valley, and enjoyed the cute little shops. I had wine at Arlequin Wine Merchant (384 Hayes Street, 415-863-1104), where, with no seating to be had, Melanie (of Sociale and Avedano’s Meat Wagon) kindly let me share her table and gave me terrific food intel.
I went with her restaurant recommendation, Flour + Water (2401 Harrison Street, 415-826-7000), and it was an A+ meal. Well, using Ebay lingo, A+++.
I didn’t get to any of the other places she recommended, but I wrote them down, and, with apologies for any misspellings, they were Fish, Perbacco, El Pollo, Blue Plate, State Bird and Commonwealth.
Breakfast at Brenda’s French Soul Food (652 Polk Street (at Eddy Street), 415-345-8100). Again, A+++. Basically perfect. One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had, really enjoyed the beignet flight starter and then a kick-ass omelet with a top-notch biscuit and killer grits. (I picked Brenda’s over Dottie’s True Blue Café (28 6th St (between Market and Mission), 415-885-2767).
I then spent a good part of the day in the Mission District and had a great time looking at art, the stores, the people, with an afternoon break for wine and cheese at Mission Cheese, a wine bar (736 Valencia Street, 415-484-6553). Also an A+++ for me. Loved it. Perfectly sized, delicious wine and cheese, highly recommended.
Then, dinner at Delfina Pizzeria (3611 18th Street (at Guerrero), 415-437-6800). I am a total asshole-pizza snob who dissed all these suggestions that I have pizza in SF, but, again, A+++. We have tons of kick-butt Naples style pizza here in Chicago. Delfina was better. Loved it. Also, VERY reasonably priced. (FYI, I selected Delfina over the other dinner contenders, Poc Chuc (Mexican, 2886 16th St (between Shotwell St & S Van Ness Ave), 415-558-1583), Lers Ros (730 Larkin Street (between O’Farrell and Ellis), 415-931-6917, Swan’s Oyster Depot (1517 Polk St (between California St & Sacramento St), 415-673-1101, Nopalito (306 Broderick Street (between Fell and Oak), 415-437-0303), and Bar Crudo (655 Divisadero St, 415-409-0679).
Never made it to Humphrey Slocumbe (2790 Harrison Street, 415-550-6971) for ice cream or Knead Patisserie (3111 24th St (between Folsom St & Shotwell St), 415-655-3024) for bread/croissants).
Breakfast at Zazie (in Cole Valley, easy walk to Golden Gate Park and the Haight from there, 941 Cole Street (between Parnassus and Carl), 415-564-5332). Hmmm, I’d give this a solid C. No better than what I can get almost anywhere near me in urban Chicago. Zazie seems like a viable breakfast venue only because of its location, and there are so many other restaurants in SF that it seems like there’d be better options in the Haight area—or, if not, I’d recommend that you go elsewhere, even away from the Haight (and then head to the Haight).
Then, a walk through the Haight area, then back to Ice Cream Bar on Cole, near Zazie (815 Cole St., 415-742-4932). I had the roasted pineapple and maple pecan cone ice creams and the (blow-me-away delicious) chocolate sorbet. Unbelievably cheap. From there, a walk back to and through the Mission District, more fun-time at Mission Cheese on Valencia.
Next, dinner at Aziza (5800 Geary Blvd. (at 22nd Ave., 415-752-2222). I did the $95 tasting menu. It was interesting and imaginative and I enjoyed it, but liked Flour + Water more. Aziza was reminiscent of (more expensive) tasting menus here in Chicago at places like Charlie Trotter’s or Boku, but I feel like at Charlie Trotter’s or Boku the food is more uniformly outstanding. At Aziza about half of the ‘courses” impressed; the other half were not so impressive. I’d say it’s a B+, and, from me, a weak recommendation.
That’s about it. Thanks again to everyone who offered suggestions and comments!
Based on comments to my own post and comments regarding other posts, I think my itinerary for later this week looks like this, but am looking for any additional refinements/suggestions:
Brenda's French Soul Food
Walk the Mission District
Delfina Pizzeria (totally pizza menu)
Humphrey Slocumbe (ice cream--flavors look VERY good--http://humphryslocombe.com/%7C_Flavors_%7C.html
Zazie (in Cole Valley, easy walk to Golden Gate Park and the Haight from there)
Mandalay or Burma Superstar
Walk the Haight District
Walk the north side of South Side of Haight as far as we want, then head back toward Zazie and stop at the awesome new Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley -- most shops open at 10 AM
The Lower Haight (whatever that means) is more of a foodie area (more than BBQ and beer). NOPA, Nopalito, Bar Crudo, to name a few (though technically these three are officially in the Western Addition).
Dinner @ 6:45 PM -- Aziza
MONDAY MORNING before departure to airport
I'll be in SF later this week. I live in urban Chicago where there are great wine bars and wine stores. I know there have to be some gems in SF, But I've never had much luck finding SF wine bars or wine stores that might offer interesting stuff--especially stuff that I might not be able to get in Chicago. (If it matters, I prefer red and pinot's my all-time favorite.) Thanks!
Great info. Thanks. Now I just need to figure out how to slot a lot of this stuff into three days.
Hi, all. I've reviewed variations on my question, especially this thread -- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835337 -- but still I have questions, so here it goes:
This will be a pretty quick trip to SF in mid-March, staying near Union Square, been to SF a few times before, and not interested in mainstream tourist stuff like the Wharf and Alcatraz, no car, from urban Chicago, so totally fine with cabs and the BART, like cool, artsy, fringe-y stuff (small art galleries), really enjoy Chicago's Wicker park/Bucktown and NYC's East Village and Chelsea a lot, if that helps pinpoint my preferences, so what do I do/where do I go? (No real bugetary restraints, by the way.)
From the other recent threads I sense that for breakfast I should aim for Mama’s and get there early and, while one of us is in line, the other should get onion foccaccia across the street at Liguria Bakery, or aim for Zazie and then the Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley. Or Brenda’s?
For lunch, it looks like I should try Delfina Pizzeria in the Mission District (though maybe that’s too close to how I can eat in Chicago?), then walk along Valencia and stop at Tartine bakery. Another lunch choice could be Poc Chuc (Mexican). Dessert, maybe Humphrey Slocumbe?
Then, it sounds like somewhere in there I should plan a picnic with food from the Ferry Building—I saw references to the Tanguito truck, DeLise, Café Cappricio, steamed crab curbside, Alioto’s (ask for the whole crab), Acme sourdough batard/cowgirl cheese/salumi from Boccalone (Miss Piggy sandwich)/box of rettuchi, Roli Roti (porchetta sandwich). If it’s still fun and cool the Haight would be fine with me, or Berkeley. I also saw references to Bar Crudo, Kokkari and Perbacco, and I’ve enjoyed Green’s in the past, but saw no recent favorable references.
Yikes, I’m confused!!