bbulkow's Profile

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San Francisco's Local Seafood

Well, let's not squabble (even if I tend that way from time to time).

I searched for the word "local" and got seven. Trying to parse out what might or might not be local from that list is difficult --- should you count the sand dabs? Almost certainly local, but says nothing other than "fresh". Should you count the Ahi? Almost certainly not local, just has the grades. Etc.

Your US fish and game page is fascinating. It seems that a thriving fish catch can get upward of 1M lbs a year, like crab. Swordfish has more than I might have expected, perhaps enough to feed a few good restaurants, but smelt really did have a terrible year.

I maintain san francisco is not a good seafood town, especially compared to NYC. I have occasionally had good fish, but more happenstance than regularly. I would not send anyone from NYC to a "fish restaurant". My opinion.

That being said, what would you suggest as the best of san francisco fish restaurant? (let's remove oysters from the equation.)

Waterbar ? Tadich ? Farallon ? Codmother ? Pacific Catch ? Woodhouse ? Sotto Mare ? Skool ? Old Clam House ?

According to TripAdvisor, the best restaurant in all of SF is a seafood restaurant - Bimini Twist - that I've never heard of. Looks like some kind of pop-up.

San Francisco's Local Seafood

This list seems to prove my point that we have a small fishery - 7 out of a long list.

A few fish are local, most are not.

Interesting about the swordfish, I was quite wrong about that.

San Francisco's Local Seafood

That pinbone steak was freakishly big (over a foot, closer to 2 feet, from side to side). To tackle it with two people would be avoiding other great dishes on the menu --- and busting a gut.

I have occasionally had good seafood in the bay area. OCCASIONALLY. I would be pretty surprised to hear that swordfish or ono could be caught in quantity within 100 miles of the golden gate. Anything further is frozen and just as fresh when defrosted anywhere in the world.

Is there salmon that's not coming down from the pacific northwest? I thought it was all long-run-deep-water or down from seattle/alaska or farmed.

New york has great fish. Fisheries all the way to Maine within a truck's drive (dawn to 4pm), shallower waters.

I also don't know where the SF wholesalers have gone. There used to be one in "dogpatch", long gone, I understand the fisherman's wharf places have mostly packed up. I posted before about a friend who claimed to be opening a restaurant thus would stop by the wholesalers to pick over the fish. Any leads appreciated.

business trip to san francisco

Corrected to persian.

Anyone else getting tired of "new" Craft Beer,Gourmet Burgers & 3rd Wave Coffee joints in Bay Area?

Bierhaus always has lighter german style beers.

Scratch has beers on the lighter side, always, but never the highest quality stuff.

Steins keeps that "calfornia kolsch" in their permanent collection. The whole place is very german.

My girlfriend, who thinks like you, always suggests the Refuge, even though they have a lot of belgian "heavy hitters" and weird sours.

Yes, Jane's is a funky little store, and I'm not fond of it. Cool stuff but hard to pick. They have to compete with mega-whole-foods, which has an excellent selection with good pruning. I don't know why you are unwilling to mention the name of Jane's, but are willing to mention BevMo.

If you're complaining that you have to push through the 100's of "copycats" to find the dozen interesting things to your taste --- totally a first world problem --- that's different from saying you can't get stuff you like near you.

Anyone else getting tired of "new" Craft Beer,Gourmet Burgers & 3rd Wave Coffee joints in Bay Area?

You might try going back to some places. Saison and "session beers" and wheat beers are very much in style. While you were out, the pendulum swung back, and it's the "craft beers" that are leading the swing. Hanger 24 is a new brewery that has a lot of range.

business trip to san francisco

Ah the man who just asks for advice in different cities. I hope you'll help me out next time I'm in NYC (week after next).

We don't have much seafood here (really, it's a nature of the ocean combined with poor salmon runs over the last decade). You're out of peak crab season ( december / january ). It's a bad year for smelts, and I hope the fishery even recovers from the drought. We don't have much steak here and you're coming from an area rich in steak.

I will recommend cockscomb. They have a small raw bar, they have lots of interesting types of meat (mostly pig), it's a very typical San Francisco type place that will remind you a bit of momofuku ssam but with west-cost ingredients and constantino's love of offal.

Get the specials --- I had the pork skin "noodles" and it's an exceptional dish. The people next to me had some kind of braised surf and turf that I didn't see on the menu and was delivered by Constantio --- were they "known" or did they just run out of that special? Or, get the pig head, or get the steak. I saw one pulled out of the fridge at the end of the night, and simply getting one of those bad boys for two people might put you under the table. SF's always been like that - the best steaks are served by places that care about steak, have good sources, but just have steak as one item on the menu. ( I always loved The Globe's steak for two, for example. )

Other dishes we had were the bruschetta, like no other I've had, local flavor with acme sourdough and shaved fennel and excellent, the country ham with strawberries, which really makes you wonder why we fetishize Spanish and Italian hams and strawberries are PEAK right about now, and the beef heart tartare. The tartare was the weak dish, wanting a little something - more heart-ish flavor?

Constantio's also a bit of a celeb, and I was there on a Saturday night and he was expediting, showing a little technique to a chef when he saw something not quite right. Intimate. Cool.

Cocktails and wine place. They have a few well chosen beers. Style these days is quirky wines - smaller producers in different regions.

Best seats are near the center of the bar/counter. Don't get stuck upstairs. We rolled in at about 10:00 on a saturday with no reservation and the counter was just loosening up. If you're not willing to eat that late, you'll need reservations.

Marlowe, also on that block-ish, would be a fallback if Cockscomb is full, but the menu is less interesting (more straight Californian). Between the two is Fringale, an excellent long running mid-level french place, which would feed you in a pinch but was a great place in 1995 but I wouldn't send someone out of their way. If you'd like a real san francisco nightcap, walk up the block to the Hotel Utah, a very non-touristy long running bar with the smallest live music stage but the best bookings, actual local flavor (get it while it's still here), and cheap drinks. You don't have to pay the music cover, just say you're there for a drink and stick to the bar area. There is no "drink list", no mixologist, you'll see a lot of vodka-cran, whiskey sours and shots, and a huge amount of beer. That kind of place.

My other favorite out-of-town recommendation in the greater fidi is Zare at Flytrap, because his persian meets californian is opinionated and rare, the room is pleasant, and it flies under the radar of many --- reservations or seats are easy to come by. It's also been doing what it's doing for a while, and you'll see some board love, but it's in no one's top N lists.

I'm also fond of the bar at Gitane, as they have the "secret entrance", some nice bar dishes, and you'll feel like a real in-the-know cat if you can find the bar door and slip in for a drink and a small plate on the way to-from somewhere else. It's not the best of anything in the city, but it's very good, and not quite as overrun with the 20'somethings who are the current pestilence of the city.

NY style slice near SFO/San Mateo

I ate at pizziolio last night to remind me of the different styles. P is distinctly more charred, maybe less salty in the dough, and has far more interesting toppings. We had a potato and some herbs pizza, adding anchovies. Amazing, and more to our taste than all the south bay places I've been enjoying (although simply different).

NY style slice near SFO/San Mateo

Ah, the restaurant v the pizzeria. Sure.

In an interview on 7x7, there's a mention in 2010 that Delfina (the restaurant) is 12 years old. Articles get things wrong, but 1998 matches my memory.

NY style slice near SFO/San Mateo

Good point that it's a bit less direct than I thought.

Here's an interesting bit of writing from 2005, where the author discusses Craig Stoll and the CP style of ingredient driven cooking. The article uses the term "farm to table" referencing Stoll, although doesn't outright quote him using that phrase ten years ago. Also, Stoll is talking about "the style" which might mean Delfina isn't cooking "the style".

Delfina at the time was certainly known for not copycatting chez pannise. Their goal was to be far closer to northern italian.

I really thought Delfina was older than 2005. I would have sworn I ate there in late 2003 or mid 2004, and it was a few years old a the time. Ah, flawed memory.

I haven't had the 2005 delfina pizzas like you have, but the delfina pizzas I've been eating in Palo Alto which I expect are like the current Burlingame's version we were discussing remind me a lot more of CP cafe's style, and quite california, compared to the actual VPN places that PA/MV is now lousy with.

There is a fake-populist aversion to "fancy food" at work, perhaps because of a residual association with the hoary temples of classicism that Chez Panisse overthrew. ... The issue is that everyone seems content with one narrowly defined style of cooking. This happy coincidence of chefs, customers and members of the press all trapped in the same culinary "Groundhog Day" goes largely unquestioned. A San Francisco diner said: "When I go out for a Wednesday-night meal, I don't want something in gelée. I want a pork chop or a bowl of pasta." I heard this repeatedly. Craig Stoll, the chef and owner of Delfina, offered a view of local chefs as shepherds of sorts, herding the ingredients from farm to table. "I can't separate the cooking style from the ingredients," he said. "The style is defined by the ingredients." Another chef talked about "the point of view of the carrot." Seriously.

Junior's "BBQ" ( burger )

The bayview is in San Francisco.

98 Napoleon St
San Francisco, CA 94124

Los Angelino from San Gabriel Valley ISO Best Inexpensive Dim Sum Palace

To visit the doggie diner head at 45th and Sloat?

May 20, 2015
bbulkow in San Francisco Bay Area

NY style slice near SFO/San Mateo

And with non-neapolitan toppings local in style -- but a bit of char ( not a huge amount ). Delfina has been serving that pizza for a long time, as a direct descendant of Chez Pannise.

Cloudship, thanks for the report, at least you sampled some of the quintessential local style --- whether or not you thought much of it.

Tony's Pizza - the St. Louis Style [San Francisco]

When I traveled to St Louis, I learned about the dreaded pizza. I did not have it at "Imo's", but a local small bar.

I liked it, but was forewarned that one should think of the food as a mutant flat nacho with nacho processed "cheese" spread.

With that in my mind, I rather liked what I ate, and look forward to eating it again.

Thanks for the reports on this edible object, regardless of its family.

A review: Stan's Donut Shop in Santa Clara

Bars are common, I often get mine at the various Happy Doughnuts, with the density of buttermilk, I prefer the bar configuration --- more of that wonderful denser inside.

A review: Stan's Donut Shop in Santa Clara

I fully agree on buttermilk. I prefer the buttermilk bars, glazed, but the entire concept is great .... is this a bay area regionality, or do they have them elsewhere?

Radio Africa Kitchen -- report [San Francisco]

Thinking of going tonight.

After reading this thread, the answer seems to be "don't get the tasting menu". Get stuff that sounds interesting.

Any other thoughts?

Mountain View Advice? Ramen?

Yes, which I find suitable for someone who wants something "different", but I've had the same issue with my sister, who has decided she likes northern indian food a lot more than southern indian.

Mountain View Advice? Ramen?

caipirinhas don't use sour. They are lime, sugar, cachaca, soda.

The limes should be cut into small bits (like 1/16), muddled with sugar, left in the glass. This releases the zest, unlike simply using the juice. The kind of lime you use matters, the ones in brazil seem more like small mexican limes. ( according to the IBA, 1/8, and half a lime, and 2 teaspoons of sugar, which seems about right


Most american bartenders don't use enough sugar, even if they muddle properly. The sugar has to put the lime in balance, more like lime-aide.

Mountain View Advice? Ramen?

Indian is by far and away your best bet compared to SF/Oak.

I would not send you to the places on castro st, because they're not very "different". Sakoon is interesting but a little high end. If you must eat on Castro, Sakoon might be the best choice.

I would send you to Amber (which is north indian but very high quality), Chennai Kings (south indian and not particularly fancy), but if you can take a drive down into sunnyvale, your best bet is aachi appakadi ( ). This place will wow you - just make sure you order things you've never had before.

From MWinston's list:
Maru Ichi (Ramen) : good but different enough ?
Shalala (Ramen): good but different enough ?
Cascal (Latin Fusion): fun but not great food
Shezan (Indian/Pakistani): haven't been. Sue's used to be so great that I've been kind of boycotting Shezan.
Scratch (Cal-American/Cocktails): Much better versions in Berkeley, Oakland, SF. Skip for sure.
Sushi Tomi (Sushi): Better or similar in Oak / SF
Himalayan Kitchen (Himalayan): Haven't tried, not sure better than himalayan on Solano ave
Oren's Hummus (Mediterranean) : this is probably worth a shot. There isn't hummus like this elsewhere, although you might not like israli style
Bushido Izakaya (Japanese) : there are same-or-better in SF/Oakland
Chef Zhao (Sichuan) : perhaps worth it. See reviews.

A review: Windy City Pizza in San Mateo

Tony and Alba? Really?

I would say Blue Line is far above Tony and Alba, not even in the same orbit.

Clearly your report cries for more data, and I intend to get my mouth over to San Mateo post haste. No derision intended, just a triangulation.

Zach's has its supporters and its denigrators. Mr Lauriston denigrates, I support, although even I prefer Blue Line to Zach's.

Koo omakase -- first of what will be many visits. [San Francisco]

Tuesday night, right?

In the mid-range, day of the week matters.

High end places really do fly in fish every day. Low end places freeze.

The upper middle can get caught out some days, like at Tomi in Mountain View. Their sunday fish and their Friday fish are worlds apart.

When a menu is not a menu

" for a prix-fixe seasonal-ingredients dinner whose menu wasn't known until long after making the reservation "

I suspect CP Downstairs might still have a more than one-week window for weekend reservations, was when it was new.

Chronicle top 100 2015

I have to agree. When we eat "cal", we eat "cal-cal", like Mayfield or Martin's West.

When we're closer to cal-ital, we gravitate to places with a good wine by the glass list, we'll only have 0.5 to 1 glasses each. But we eat that rarely, and it's usually pizza. A meatball and a pizza split two ways is pretty sweet right now around us.

It's maybe 1/3 of our eating-out budget. We're eating more burgers n beer, chinese & indian are very high.

Love that only manresa is in the south bay / peninsula list. No Bauer-followers down here !

Back A Yard, Menlo Park: Killer Caribbean

Downtown san jose, a little north of the main business core.

As I'm sure you know, back-a-yard has been a board favorite for years. It should be noted the place closes early for dinner (about 8pm).

The area was a lot sketchier 10 years ago, now it's clogged with facebook traffic from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

San Jose without a car

BBQ: IMHO, Smoking Pig about the same level as Smokestack out on 3rd St (right near the end of the 22 line, on the Muni T, and easy parking). Both of which are plausible. Smoking Pig is in about monthly rotation.

Each has their benefits, but within spitting distance of each other.

San Jose without a car

Sending someone who lives in SF for Ike's and a Specialty's cookie seems unnecessary.

San Jose without a car

I feel like I should also make a list not to visit. Your history of posting & replying implies you favor small, tasty interesting places --- "ethnic" if such a word applies ---

Thus, don't go to:

Arcadia - restaurant steakhouse
Farmer's Union - I think I went. Standard sysco fare.
Billy Berk's - standard sportsbar
Iguanas - sportsmexican
Smokeeaters - unless you like beer
Scotts - actually has good simple fish, but you should aim higher
SP2 - no reports, but unlikely your cup of tea
Firehouse #1 - sportsbar
Gordon Biersch - mediocre
Picasso's - not up to snuff on the classics
Agave Mexican. If it's the same owners as the Agave in MV, it might be plausible, although unlikely.

Stay away from Thai. If there was good thai somewhere, the word would be out. Surprisingly true about Indian, given how amazing the indian a few miles away is.

Maybe try:

Louisana Bistro - no reports
Punjab Cafe - no reports
Arepa Swing - no reports

Nice early Sunday dinner in Palo Alto, plus transportation help

The bar is very different from the dining room. The space is split into two areas, and the true "dining room" is quieter and less intrusive. But... there are tables in the bar area that are regular tables, so you'll need to make sure you reserve the dining room specifically.

San Jose without a car

It's a long 45 minutes each way to McCarthy Ranch / Milpitas Sq. You can also get to Castro St in 40 minutes, but you have to hit the train just right. Castro St is so pleasant an evening - lots of googly buzz - you might want to look up the schedule & make it happen.

Here's a list of walking distance places.

Back a yard - actually tasty, I promise, worth a meal for sure

Nemea - sit down healthy med expensive, haven't tried but it looks nice

Paper Plane - Lounge-style appetizers with alcohol

First to Market - high-ish end modern, please give us a report

Angelou's - for the california burrito. This is good.

Com Ga Nam An - supposed for Hainan Chicken, please report

Curry Pundits - I like the look of it haven't tried it, casual

Cheese Steak Shop - I like a good cheese steak, bread flown in constantly

Original Joe's - big red italian in a fun atmosphere - probably dinner only

La Victoria - the classic SJ burrito

Cafe Stritch (dinner) - best freaking burger ever

San Pedro Square Bistro - always liked the look of it

Los Cubanos - lots of good rep, some comments of downhill in yelp.

Henry's Hi-Life - lots of atmosphere, please report re: food, supposed to be average at best.

Psycho Doughnuts - fun late night weird doughnuts