I'll be in town Wednesday-Friday afternoon for a conference, staying at the Marriott on Fourth and Mission. I've searched around the board and read a bunch of threads responding to other requests for recommendations by out-of-towners, but I could still use some guidance. (I tried to pick up the Chowhound SF guide, but they didn't have it at my local bookstore yet.)
Generally, what am I looking for? Getting food I can get better in SF than elsewhere is of prime importance. Chapeau, for example, sounds great, but I'm not certain from what I've read that I couldn't do as well with that kind of thing in NY--though given the quality of ingredients available in SF and the massive concentration of culinary skills, it might be distinctly superior. I just don't know. But you get the idea--I'd rather have a superlative papusa that I couldn't find in NY than an excellent bistro scallop dish that I could find an equally excellent version of here. As for cuisine, I really don't care, but in line with the above, I have some interest in Chinese or whatever other Asian cuisines are strong in SF. Asian food in NY is, even in Chinatown, fairly weak, and I believe that's not true in SF. But I love Latin American, New American, and cuisines of all kinds.
For lunches, I don't know enough about the geography of things to know what's within striking distance of the hotel--location is important for lunch since I'll have limited time what with the conference and all. Nice atmosphere is immaterial. In fact, no atmosphere is fine--back of truck, food cart, takeout window inside a garage, all are fine if the food is great.
Wednesday dinner will be through the conference, so the only dinner with chowish possibility will be Thursday. Proximity to the hotel is not important for this. Presently, I have a reservation at Aziza that night, but one post indicated that it wasn't worth the distance from the hotel where the person inquiring was staying, especially given that there are great places everywhere. So while nearness to the hotel is not important, I don't want to be spending $30 on cabs or an hour roundtrip in a bus to go one place when there's someplace as good or better around the corner. Here, a nice atmosphere would be nice, especially since my fiancee will be joining me, but if there's a no-frills or dive-y place that is a must given the preferences indicated above, I'd like to know about it. Price is not an issue for this meal.
Sorry for the long post, but I thought it'd be easier to reply to and less annoying than another generic "seeking recommendations in SF." I'll report on my experiences, and thanks in advance.