Howdy! First post here from a long-time lurker. Me and the Missus had a wonderful week in my old home of SF over Christmas week, and I thought I'd throw in my $.02. We picked all our restaurant visits with help from Chowhound and SF Gate, comparing and contrasting.
1. Yank Sing (Dim Sum)- What can I say. Awesome. Pricey, I suppose, and worth every penny, as far as I'm concerned. The place was packed for lunch, and deservedly so.
2. Kabuto A&S (sushi)- Impeccable. Quite a bus ride from our Union Square hotel, one of the busiest lines in the city, I guess. But the food was, well, once again I am speechless. Perfect atmosphere, too, at least until the six 30-something loudmouths walked in a began shrieking and shouting their conversation at top volume. There's a weird exhibitionist streak amongst some big city types, I guess; some people can't have a good time or be interesting without sharing at top volume at all times.
3. Farallon - You gotta be kidding me. This place is insulting to anyone who knows better. Pretentious and pricey, and just plain bad. Avoid, avoid.
4. Tu Lan (Vietnemese)- Well, it was an old favorite from my days in the city, and the Cha Gio Bun still makes me moan. Love it, love the ambience, love the location, just love it.
5. Jai Yun - Incited some controversy on the Chowhound board, I see. Some of the best food I ever had, hands down. Make reservations and get there before 7:00, as it's one turn per night, all at once. Wide variety of little courses, most dishes previously unknown to us. Pricey, I suppose, but some of the best food we ever had. Lovely experience.
6. Slanted Door - Damn good food, awesome views, impeccable service, but pretentious and a little too foo-foo modern in decor and presentation, IMO. I've had better versions of the food, as well. Oh well, it was a nice experience.
7. A16 - Wow. Best pizza ever. Really special atmosphere, outstanding service, just an untouchable experience in every way. Highly, highly recommended. We ate here our last night, and if we had gone earlier we would have eaten there 3 times in our week trip instead of just once. Outstanding!
8. Hog Island Oyster Co. - Wow. They grow 'em and drive 'em down every day. Awesome location, awesome atmosphere, awesome service, awesome food. Sooooo good.
9. Swan Oyster Depot - Wow. A slice of old San Francisco, and I mean that quite literally. The last spot in it's neighborhood left-over from the old days when it was, well, a neighborhood. A unique experience these days, and the atmosphere is delightful, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with other customers, chatting with the guys who run the place. Huge place in my heart for this little spot, so good, so charming, so tasty.
We stayed at the Maxwell, and it was pretty nice. Great views, good service, great location for accessing all the various parts of the city. Our most magical evening was capped off with a visit to the Harry Denton Starlight Lounge, and that was hands-down one of the most beautful times we ever had, so romantic, such awesome views, it makes me cry to think we can't go there all the time.
In final, I must say that we probably got served faster and got better seats than possible at other times of the year, as it was the holiday season, and my buddy Dave says SF is a "net-loss" city over the holidays. The town wasn't empty, but it was remarkably easy to get seated at a few of the best restaurants in town.
Wonderful time. Wish I could do it several times a year. Love that town....