My wife and I recently returned from an 8 day vacation in your wonderful city. We travelled from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of the regular chowhound posters as your advice helped me create a short list of restaurants in the various neighbourhoods. While we didn’t make it to all of the places on the list, we did get to a few of them, and ended up exploring a few unknowns too. Timing, weather and a busy schedule kept us from visiting more of your recommendations. I’m not a pro food writer or blogger, but I did keep a daily diary of restaurants we tried. I hope this isn’t too long, but I wanted to share this with you. Again, thanks for your help.
(happy hour menu)
oysters on the half shell
French fries with aioli
Interesting building and undersea décor in an old renovated swimming pool I believe. Oysters were tasty, albeit small, but great presentation. Crab cakes were very tasty, albeit small. Clams were very good with a nice wine broth that was cleaned up with the terrific house sourdough. Fries were very crispy, nice homemade aioli. Sliders were done medium rare and it was a real treat having rare ground beef. I could make a habit of this place for happy hour if I didn’t live 1500 miles away.
Ferry Building Farmers Market
Roli Roti – food truck
roast fingerling potatoes with rosemary sea salt
The aroma was incredible. We were standing off to the side of this truck mesmerized by the rotating pork loins above a bed of fingerling potatoes, when people started asking us if we were in line. It was only 9:30 am and the line up was already forming. So we got a porcetta sandwich and a side of those potatoes that were drinking up the drippings - it seemed to be the thing to do. Super duper crispy pig skin was the best part of the sandwich. Almost bacony without any bacon. Dressed with simple greens (sort of mellow arugula) and a little caramelized onion. Simple, really tender pork and full of crispy pig flavour.
Aliotos – restaurant – lunch
Calamari steak sandwich
Oysters rock were full of flavour, but $13 for 4 small oysters at lunch time was a bit much. Crab bisque was good, with some crab chunks. But, it had a puff pastry ‘roll’ floating on the surface that was hard to eat, as it couldn’t be cut, so it had to be fished out and eaten by hand. Not really appropriate. The shrimp cocktail was a huge disappointment. The shrimp did not taste fresh at all. Wet and bland, not drained of their meltwater. Then it was topped with bottled cocktail sauce and served on an anaemic piece of iceberg lettuce. This would have been a disappointment at a convenience store. C’mon, a place with a seafood reputation and solid history served this dish. I should have sent it back. Major improvement with the calamari steak sandwich. Might have been the most tender large ‘tube’ calamari I’ve ever had. Nice comeback.
Romeo & Juliet roll
Salmon skin maki
Really liked the rolls. R&J was a hit, crunch roll had excellent contrast. Sushi was fresh and decent slices. Tempura was fine. Service was extremely fast as we were among the first diners of the evening. In and out in half an hour.
Thanks to reading up on this place on yelp it was fairly easy to find. But there is no sign in English and no number on the shop. As warned there are no English menus inside, and a Chinese lady butted in front of me, but no worries. I asked for gai bao and held up 1 finger. The lady smiled and went back to one of the huge steamer baskets. $1.35 she said. I felt like leaving the change from my two bucks. Ate the burger-size bun on the street out front with many curious onlookers checking out the steaming bun filled with chicken, mushroom, cabbage, hard boiled egg and some sausage. Really, really good, great value, cool experience and the staff didn’t ignore me.
Attempted to go to Dol Ho, but it was packed (Sunday noonish). Walked past You’s and no one was eating anything, just some older folks reading newspapers, so we went on to plan C at City View. Odd name given the location down a narrow side street almost in the FiDi. Nothing special, but everything was fresh, tasty and decent portions. Fairly standard dim sum cart experience, but I’d go back as a plan B or C again.
Shish kabobs for 2 (ground beef, chicken, lamb)
Picked this place due to the short walk from our hotel. The major knock on the food was the spanakopita, which seemed to have been microwaved before being served to us. I could detect no cheese, and it was small. The yogurt sauce was a long way from tzatziki, and perhaps this was intentional. Just yogurt and a bit of grated cucumber. A bit on the thin side too. Kabobs were very nice, good char, nice flavours, cooked perfectly. They were out of baklava, so we shared some tiramisu. It was much like the whole experience, just OK.
Arrived in the Mission on a drizzly morning. The place was busy, but there was room at the counter. Full of locals. The chilaquiles were cooked quickly and they were very simple accompanied by salsa verde, beans and sour cream. The hash browns were kind of sausage shaped and kept together, not tossed around. This kept them crispy on the outside and soft inside. Nice little spot with good breakfast. A busker from outside was invited in out of the drizzle to play a little guitar for the diners. I would go back here again to try some of the other authentic dishes.
An impulse lunch on a drizzly afternoon that was close to the hotel. The calzone tasted fine, but it was quite soggy on the bottom after only a few minutes. A bit lacking in flavour/spice/garlic/something I can’t put my finger on. The sogginess may have been from the excess of ricotta used inside. Also I thought a true calzone has little or no tomato sauce inside, but is served with sauce on the side for dipping, so this was actually a strombolli, and Uncle Vito can correct me if I’m wrong about that. I saw some other dishes - pizzas and salads go into the dining room while I was waiting and they looked good. Perhaps the ‘calzone’ is best eaten in house right from the oven.
(happy hour menu)
Oysters on the half shell
Crab cake with buerre blanc sauce
Walnut crusted brie with fig chutney and poached pears
A historic SF restaurant with a decent reputation. The happy hour menu was quite similar to Farallon, but Le Central’s oysters were much better. A bit bigger and better flavour, nice and briney. The crab cake was a generous serving and the buerre blanc sauce could have served 6. Rich and good. The brie dish was quite impressive and had a delicious crust of walnuts on the outside, and briefly fried to form a nice tasty crust. This was a winner. Only knock was the basket of sliced baguette which was surprisingly ‘cheap’ and wasn’t really fresh.
Boccalone - ferry building
6 or 7 slices of various cured salty pig parts served in a paper cone. Nice way to sample some of their meats d’jour and it was a good appetizer before Gott’s.
Gott’s Roadside - ferry building
Wisconsin Sourdough Burger
Ahi Tuna tacos
Mango tangerine smoothie
Terrific made to order burger surrounded by sourdough sliced bread that had been fried on both sides. Inside was a medium-well patty cooked to perfection, topped with a generous slice of cheddar, mushrooms and bacon. Really good and one of the best burgers I’ve had. Garlic fries had a great flavour, but sadly came out only barely warm, so I assume they sat around for a while. Almost a pesto like toss with parsley, garlic and oil. Tasty, but they would have been over the top if served hot. The ahi tuna tacos were really nice, very good flavour contrasts with the green onion and cabbage, topped with avocado and a sesame mayo. The smoothie was full of flavour, albeit on the sweet side.
Marinated heirloom tomatoes and eggplant with hand pulled mozzarella and basil
Salsiccia Pizza – fennel sausage, gypsy peppers, mozzarella, ricotta, grana, garlic, chilies
Fregula with chanterelle mushrooms, butternut squash and grana padano
Gelato – coffee, cinammon, chocolate
Started with the heirloom tomato salad. 4 different colours of tomatoes, nice mozzarella, eggplant and a few strips of basil, evoo, sea salt. Very simple, nice and fresh, tomatoes tasted like tomatoes. Good starter. The pizza was a great combination of flavours, and I had mine with an egg in the middle, which was highly recommended by our server. Thin, tender, tasty crust, cooked very hot as it should be, good char and bubbles. It was a good size and an ample meal for 1 with some sharing. Crust couldn’t hold up to the heavy toppings, but it tasted great. Had to eat the eggy part of it with knife & fork. The egg was OK, but nothing I’d do again. The pasta was good, but unfortunately arrived only luke warm. The half order was small for sure. Not a good value for that, but still tasted good. Gelato was outstanding. Notably good service too.
Cliff House – Bistro
Eggs San Francisco
Mahi mahi sandwich
Perched above the edge of the Pacific, this is probably the most spectacular location for a restaurant in SF. The popovers are complimentary and came out warm and served with butter. Much like a Yorkshire pudding, they were light and chewy. The eggs San Francisco were served over sourdough bread, topped with hollandaise and Dungeness crab. The crab was a generous portion and tasted fresh. The eggs were poached perfectly. A little dash of Tabasco made all the difference. This was a really nice dish. The mahi mahi was also cooked well and was very simple with some sliced red onion and some caper mayo. A very large green salad came along side. While a bit expensive, all things considered, it was a terrific lunch.
Close proximity to our hotel was the key here as we had walked miles today. This is a small Mexican place near the Stockton tunnel and we ordered our meal to go. We had carne asada in the tacos and chicken in the quesadilla. The tacos were overflowing with beef filling and toppings (guac, salsa cruda, refried beans, sour cream). The carne asada was a hit, small tender cubes of seasoned, slow cooked beef. These tacos were indeed super. The quesadilla ended up a bit soggy due to the transport back to the hotel, but flavour wise it was great. There wasn’t a lot of cheese detected, but there was a lot of tender, moist chicken inside. They were served with a side of refried beans and rice, guac, lettuce, sour cream and salsa cruda. The rice and beans were nice, obviously homemade. Very tasty dish. They offered a small container of hot sauce, which had a wonderful smoky chile flavour, but was mild as far as heat goes. Everything they offered was fresh and homemade. Terrific Mexican meal without having to run the gauntlet of deadbeats in the Mission.
Cowgirl Sidekick – Ferry building
Grilled cheese of the day: wagon wheel, grana padano, pesto on sourdough
Great grilled cheese made to order and done on a panini grill. Super crispy and oozing with cheese. Nice homemade pesto.
Out the Door – Ferry building
Ahi tuna salad
Imperial rolls were an impressive portion with red leaf lettuce, fresh mint, rice noodles and fish sauce. Made to order and delicious. Spring rolls were served with a thick peanut dipping sauce. Also really tasty and freshly made. The ahi tuna salad was a small portion served with sesame crackers, and compared to the other items seemed a bit expensive. Nonetheless, everything was really good.
Gott’s Roadside – Ferry building
Wisconsin Sourdough burger
Western bacon blue ring burger
Another stop at Gott’s after the ferry back from Sausalito. Had another Wisconsin, very good again. Also had a western bacon blue ring, which had a huge portion of blue cheese, bacon, bbq sauce and a big crispy onion ring on top. This was everything you’d expect on a burger and then some. So good.
Anchor Oyster Bar
Pan Fried Oysters
Combination seafood cocktail
Bay shrimp salad
This tiny restaurant is the type of restaurant every neighbourhood should have. Everything is made in house, fresh and delicious. The pan fried oysters were a nice plate of 5 crunchy breaded oysters, that were bursting with briney flavour. Served with their homemade tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon, we could have eaten dozens of these. The garlic bread arrived with the oysters and was a very generous portion of crunchy sourdough, with butter, parsley, garlic and dusted with parmesan. This bread should be ordered no matter what. Great stuff. The combo seafood salad had bay shrimp, a big scoop of fresh crab and a huge prawn, with homemade cocktail sauce on the side. Fresh and delicious. The bay shrimp salad was a big plate of red leaf and romaine, on the side were some slices of cucumber and good quality tomatoes, carrots and black olives. There were a lot of large bay shrimp on this salad and it took a while to get through. Very good portion and the quality was obvious. Their house made 1000 Island was on the side and was great. Aliotos should take note of basic food prep and making things in house. It makes all the difference. One of the better meals we had in SF. Saw the gazpacho with shrimp go to another table, and it looked amazing. No complaints other than them being dry on most of their draft beers (it was over 80 degrees before noon this day).
Hong Kong Clay Pot
Seafood pan fried noodle
Honey walnut prawns
Right in the tourist zone on Grant, but sort of hidden on the 2nd floor. Mostly locals inside. The lobster was fine, cooked with green and yellow onions, and sliced ginger. Very simple sauce, but on the sweet side and needed a bit of soy/salt. Kind of messy to eat, but they give you a stack of napkins. The seafood pan fried noodle dish was fine, but nothing special. Some fish, squid and shrimp along with some baby shanghai bok choy over crispy noodles. This dish was much better after I added some hot sauce. The honey walnut prawns was the best dish we had. Very nice flavour to the prawns, which were covered in a moist coating (maybe tapioca flour?) and tossed with honey coated walnuts. The walnuts were almost candied. It was served over crispy rice noodles, very good contrast. Again a sweet sauce, but this seemed to work better than the lobster. Prices were very reasonable, fair portions and decent quality. I’d like to try some of the other dishes here.
Canteen – breakfast
Blueberry French toast
A small space with some great food. We got there before the weekend brunch crowd and got a table. The chef was very focused and was a blur of activity. The eggs bennedict were covered with an amazing hollandaise sauce that was rich but cut perfectly with lemon. A sample of fluffy hash brown potatoes were served along side. The blueberry French toast was also really good, that was served over a homemade blueberry sauce that wasn’t overly sweet. It was topped with a whipped, sweet cream cheese. Good coffee too. No flaws whatsoever and we’ll have to try dinner sometime. A great way to end our epicurean travels through SF.
808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123
450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
City View Restaurant
662 Commercial St, San Francisco, CA 94111
809 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706
8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133
732 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133
, Hayward, CA
Out the Door
1 Ferry Bldg Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94111
Anchor Oyster Bar
579 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114
439 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108