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Please help us get excited about SF again! (a little long)

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Please help us get excited about SF again! (a little long)

carbonara | Jan 21, 2012 04:41 PM

After considerable initial excitement, we've become a little disappointed by food in SF since having moved here 6 months ago, especially if compared to the variety and quantity of restaurants in NYC we love (or, for that matter, in Hong Kong, or Paris, or Barcelona). The key word here is probably "love"--there have been a lot of restaurants that were fine, pleasant, etc., but we want to fall in love, to have to stop talking mid-sentence because the flavors in our mouths are so surprising and right, to get so excited we remember why we can spend hours trawling Chowhound for recommendations.

Please help us! Given SF's sterling reputation, we're assuming we're doing something wrong here. To give you a sense of where we've eaten, I'll try listing all the places that have truly excited us, versus the (oft-praised) places that underwhelmed us. Any further suggestions would be much appreciated. We have a slight preference for places in the Mission//Bernal Heights or in the financial district/SOMA, though we're of course willing to go elsewhere. East Bay recommendations also welcome.

(At this point, and while acknowledging how lucky we've been, it's probably worth mentioning that we've lived in various foreign cities, which makes us perhaps unreasonably picky about--though also potentially very excited about--US versions of some cuisines. This includes Italian, French, Cantonese, Korean, Hungarian, Spanish (esp. Basque and Catalan), German, some Chinese, and Argentine food. (No, we're not in the 1%. Not even close. It's just that we've prioritized living and working abroad, especially in our student years.))

Restaurants we love:
- Aziza
- Benu
- Chez Panisse, sometimes
- the old Bar Tartine (very disappointed by its new incarnation, though the bread's still wonderful)
- Koi Palace (though currently searching for a version with less MSG--will soon try Tai Wu/Mr. Fong)
- Lers Ros (Tenderloin version; haven't tried the Hayes Valley branch)
- Nopa, sometimes
- Range (we find them inconsistent, but the 70% of the time they get it right, good god, they get it right)
- Slanted Door (maybe it helps that we've never been to Vietnam)
- Spicy Bite (for delivery in Noe, at least)
- La Taqueria
- Taqueria Cancun (well, one of us loves it; the other one doesn't, finds it too greasy)
- Tartine Bakery (for its lemon tart and croissants)
- further afield: Bouchon, China Village, Maru Ichi in Mountain View, and the late, much-lamented Kaygetsu

Places that disappointed us, particularly versus the hype:
- Beretta (what is the deal with Beretta? Can't begin to understand its appeal)
- the new Bar Tartine
- Burma Superstar
- Commonwealth (we wanted to love this place!)
- Flour + Water
- Incanto
- Plum (was it an off-night? People seem to adore this place)
- Quince (used to love this place back when we lived on the Peninsula and would drive into the city, but something changed)
- Zuni (to be fair, we didn't try the roasted chicken--maybe we'll try it another time)

Places we've found pleasant, though nothing to jump up and down about:
- A16
- Delfina
- Dosa
- El Farolito
- Foreign Cinema
- Gary Danko (we haven't tried it in years, though)
- Heirloom Cafe
- a couple of Korean places in outer Richmond, including Jang Soo and Han Il Kwan
- ICHI Sushi
- Inka's
- Knead Patisserie & Local: Mission Eatery
- La Ciccia (this one's on the border between pleasant and amazing--one of really liked it, the other one is often put off by strong sea flavors)
- Lahore Karahi
- Limon
- Manresa (haven't tried it in years)
- Mission Chinese
- Mr. Pollo
- R&G
- Sam's (for the onion rings)
- SPQR
- Truly Mediterranean
- Udupi Palace
- Yank Sing
- Sura
- Z&Y

Places we've been meaning to try (though, should we?):
Ame, Bowl'd, Chez Spencer, Eijii, Ippuku, Izakaya Yuzuki, Kappou Gomi, Pastores, Papalote, Piqueo, Pizzaiolo, Saison (only if we get past the sticker shock), Roli Roti, Sushi Aka Tombo, Tai Wu, Una Pizzeria Napoletana (we liked it in NY)

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