Just got back from a week in San Francisco, and wanted to pass on a HUGE thanks to the board for some great restaurant recommendations! I lurked here for a month before leaving, and we ended up having some incredible meals based on the info I got here.
Here's what we did...
Flew in from the East Coast on Friday morning. After checking in at the Palomar just off Union Square, we wandered up to the Marina area for the afternoon, and had a quick lunch at Greens. It was not rave-worthy, but perfect for a nice, light lunch on a sunny day at the Marina. I knew we'd be jet-lagged and cranky by evening, so I had made an early dinner reservation at La Folie. *Incredible* four course meal, and came close to being the best meal on our trip.
Saturday we took the bus out to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and stopped on the way back at Ton Kiang for dim sum. Neither one of us are huge fans of Chinese, but it was very good. That evening, we took the ferry out to Alcatraz, and when we came back, had dinner at Helmand. Excellent (and surprisingly inexpensive) dinner, and whoever recommended the spiced meat and pumpkin appetizer was dead on-- fabulous!
Sunday morning we headed out to Napa Valley, and had brunch at Chandon. Again an excellent recommendation-- we were lucky enough to have uncommonly good weather, so we sat on the patio and had a fabulous meal. After several wineries and a stop at the Oakville Grocery, we came back to the Village Inn and had dinner at Bouchon across the street. Once again, great recommendation and fabulous meal-- I had white sausage on a bed of mashed potatos and prunes that was sooooo good.
Monday was a day of more wineries (and of course more Oakville Grocery)-- had a particularly good time at ZD and Cakebread. We wanted to see the meteor shower that night up at the observatory in Sonoma, so we had dinner at Deuce. It was a good dinner, but compared to the meals we had before and after, it paled terribly in comparison.
Tuesday was a working day, so no leisurely lunch, but a fantastic five course meal at Gary Danko made up for it. The food was excellent, service was excellent. The restaurant was a bit close and crowded, though we may have gotten that impression less from the atmosphere and more from having to listen to the obnoxious guy at the next table who was just too proud of himself for being there with two women, and just had to be the big man in the dining room. You know the type-- just a little too loud, a little too drunk, a lot too much of a show-off. After he and his entourage left, though, the dining room got noticably quieter and we really enjoyed our last two courses.
While I generally make reservations for meals way ahead while on vacation, each vacation I set aside one night for what we call our "restaurant crawl." Inevitably there are always two or three restaurants that we'd like to try in one area, but just don't have time to do a full dinner at each, so we hop from one to another, having drinks and appetizers at each. This was Wednesday night for us this time. We hopped the bus down to Mission, and started at Ti Couz for crepes, and then to Alma for a light second course. Both were excellent, though we were so tired by that point we didn't make it to a couple of other stops on our crawl that we wanted to. Short night, but still fun.
Thursday, our last day in the city, we met for lunch at Yank Sing. Again, we're hardly connoisseurs of Chinese or dim sum, but we found it average, and not as good as Ton Kiang by far. Our last night found us back at the Palomar for dinner at Fifth Floor, which was fantastic. We just had a blast-- great five courses, great wine pairings, great dessert, after dinner drinks, great service, beautiful restaurant. Fine dining is always an intensely personal experience, so no slam on any of the other restaurants we visited and loved, but this one was my favorite of the trip. Just one of those nights where everything clicked and we just had a great time!
Again, thanks a million times over, Chowhounds-- I never would have found half these restaurants if it weren't for you guys, and you helped make a memorable week in San Francisco for two food and wine nuts. Now I'm off to the New Orleans board to start planning meals for our week there in February...