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Restaurants & Bars

SF wrap up (too long)

Joanie | Dec 17, 2003 02:39 PM

Thanks to everyone who gave suggestions and returned emails about the "fun hip" dinner in SF. If you ever have Boston questions, feel free to give me a zap. I had a list a mile wide and of course, only got to a fraction in the 5 nites I was there. I'll give a quick rundown and break it down by category to make it simpler (I hope).

Bakeries/cafes: Great iced coffee in the crusty punk smelling Rockin Java on Upper Haight; a life saver iced coffee at friendly Cafe Verde on Green St. in North Beach (most of those Italian places don't believe in cold coffee); good skim latte w/ unsmiling service at Muddy Waters on Valencia; good but expensive chocolate croissant at Citizen Cake on Grove & Gough but I prefer less of a choc. bar filling; okay scones from Boudin bakery by Fisherman's Wharf and Noe Valley Bakery on 24th; wonderful choc. croissant from Tartine at 18th & Guerrero, rivaled recent Montreal croissants (hope Delfina didn't mind the choc. slurp that fell out as I read their menu); great breakfast at Just for You cafe on 22nd by 3rd, in the middle of nowhere but everyone knows about this place. A little expensive but the Hangtown Fry was great ($9.95), well done scambled eggs (as requested) w/ bacon and oysters and good if over-peppered home fries and a wide choice of toast stuff. My friend couldn't finish the "cowboy", eggs, sausage, french toast. Plus we had sides of beignets for $3 which you don't see outside of New Orleans.

Meals: Forced my friend to go to Pancho Villa on 16th cuz I read that their burritos were the best. Opted for a taco since I didn't want to ruin my appetite for dinner and he got a quesadilla. Didn't seem so great to me, he has a place he prefers whose name I can't remember and I can get better tacos in Somerville for $1.25 less.
Lunch plans at an old SF standby got screwed up and I almost went to John's downtown anyway, but it was a little more than I wanted to pay and they didn't have crab cakes or a crab salad sandwich. The place had great atmosphere tho. Opted for Cafe Europa (I think) on Powell where $7.50 got me a half sandwich (tomato/mozzarella on a baguette), soup and a drink. Didn't realize it was such a big bowl of seafood chowder so I only got one extra slice of bread (like I needed it) but it was all quite good and easy to deal with.
Took the walk along Clement St. and my friend had raved about Bill's Place so instead of going Asian as planned, I got a cheeseburger w/ sauteed onions and mushrooms w/ fries ($6.95). The fries were decent, burger quite good, my friend's shake was yummy (altho his chicken sandwich was the thinnest breast I've ever seen), I love old fashioned places like that.
I did get an order of crab fried rice to go from PPQ Dungeness across the street. It was decent but not the crab experience I know I should have had while in SF.
We hit happy hour at Butterfly on Mission at Duboce where they had $5 apps and $4 drinks. We split duck confit spring rolls and each had a lycheetini. It was good but I was surprised at how quiet it was, thought there'd be some after work/happy hour crowd.
Dinner ended up at 2223 Market St. when we decided not to wait for Destino. We ate at the bar and split a great mixed green w/ beets and goat cheese salad, steak w/ mashed and brussel sprouts and mocha pot de creme for about $31. We were a little ignored by the bartender but it's a nice looking spot.
Got Japanese at Minako on Mission by 18th. Parts of the menu were a little confusing and service was lackadaisical but it was fine and great for my vegan friend (all veggie items are vegan they say). He got spicy tofu w/ green beans and spinach and it was maybe the best entree. I got rice wine paste salmon (or something like that) and there was a salmon teriyaki, both came with awesome potato croquette things. Tempura avocado rolls were ordered but there was no tempura.
Our hip meal ended up being at RNM on lower Haight which was a nice space but not as "groovy" as I'd imagined, maybe it's a bit small for what I pictured. Took a while to get seated for our 9:00 reservations, waited by the small bar and the bartender seemed nice. Kind of got stuck in the corner, the upstairs section might be fun to eat in overlooking the lower level. Didn't notice all that many small plates, we split caramelized onion pizza w/ mushrooms which was good. I had scallops that came with mashed something (not potato) and maybe leeks. Very tasty but on the salty side. My friend's steak wasn't as good as 2223's, too much vinegary taste plus he said it was stringy. But the onion rings were good and we liked the fruit crisp with a too tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nice waitress and with a glass of wine, coffee and a lemonade, it came to about $70 before tax/tip which is reasonable.

Bars (from swankiest to skankiest): I was set on the Top of the Mark but when we got off the elevator, it was like a bad wedding reception with a crappy cover band and tons of people dancing, we left immediately. Maybe that's what the weekend is like and it's more mellow on weeknights? We took a look at the Tonga Room just to see it then stood in line for the stupid Redwood Room in the Clift Hotel. I can't believe I waited in line, the kind of place where they wear ear pieces and let scantily clad women thru before everyone else. The room *is* nice and had there been a seat, it would have been a laugh for people watching, but there wasn't and we went to the Compass Rose in the Westin cuz I knew it was closing soon. Most expensive drink in SF, $12 martini (unfortunately, almost typical for Boston). We had a nice pre-dinner drink at Mecca on Market by Church which is more of a restaurant but the bar is huge and it had quite the scene. We had the best bartender, bigger older guy who was great. The place is very gay which wasn't for me on my big night out and my gay friend didn't think the clientele was that great looking (said the valets were cuter) but it would probably be fun to eat there. SF has great 50's looking bars with beveled glass which I love. Bloom Saloon on 18th around Potrero Hill was cute with a great view out the back, kind of a neighborhood joint. Doc's Clock on Mission and Lucky 13 were more rock oriented but kitschy, and we got a show on the way to L13 when we just missed a drive by on Mission then a couple decided to have sex in the photo booth there. The Elbo Room on Valencia is cool and dark and red with an upstairs room for music. Kilowatt on 16th is total rock as is the Tempest between Howard and Mission where probably no one here has ever gone, unless you're a bike messenger. On the way there I walked by the lounge at the W Hotel and wished we'd picked that for our swanky after dinner drink, cool room. Stayed at the Serrano on Taylor the last nite and Ponzu next door looked interesting but didn't check it out.

Yikes, that was wicked long. Maybe it'll help the other Boston person asking for help. Thanks again.

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