I live in chow-exile in a small Canadian city where the number of inspiring restaurants can be counted on one hand and still have fingers left to snap. While most neighbors are natives of the cite city and aren't troubled, I grew up on the fringe of NYC, lived three years in Los Angeles and a few summers in Washington, ate my way through Tennessee and spent considerable time in Italy -- I still dream about a particular restaurant in Parma.
So it is with a sense of excitement that I am planning a week-long trip to San Francisco along with my wife and our kids, ages 11 and 8. Our children are seasoned travelers and are well behaved in restaurants - we're careful to make sure they have something to eat an hour or two before so they aren't ravenous and fidgety.
I also approach the planning of where to eat with some trepidation: The list of places I'd love to try are considerably longer than the 13 dinners/lunches we'll have time for. So I have planned our outings with the following in mind:
(1) I love variety and want my selections to reflect that, both in types of cuisine and atmosphere. I have yet to find a type of cuisine that, when done well, I love.
(2) While there is no upper limit on how much I might spend for a great meal and experience, I have little interest in going to the 13 best fine dining places and prefer a mix that also includes dives, family restaurants, etc.
(3) We will have a rental car in addition to a muni pass for the week and will be based in Pacific Heights. The hotel serves breakfast.
(4) I will have Dungeness Crab even though it will be from northern waters and lived more recently in tanks. I will have to figure out a way to return some day in the winter.
(5) This is our first trip to SF since 1994, when my wife and I came for less than a week.
(6) I won't be going to Napa or Sonoma because it's a lot of time spent in a car for a day trip, which isn't that fun for the kids.
(7) I don't have plans to go to the East Bay though I suppose it's possible we'd hop the Bart.
(8) We will be going to the Saturday market in the Ferry Bldg and will make a pilgrimage to the Mission to Tartine.
(9) La Ciccia is closed during our stay or it would surely have made our list.
(10) After our week in SF we will be traveling, and eating, in Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles -- the latter we'll have time for just 5 or 6 lunches/dinners.
With all that in mind, here's what I have planned (tentatively):
Aziza - Moraccan
PPQ Dungeness Island - crab/Vietnamese
Lers Ros - Thai
Poc Chuk - Yucatecan
Yank Sing - Dim Summ (unless we can get out to Koi Palace)
La Folie - splurge dinner/French
Tdadich or Sams for San Dabs
Canteen - California/Med
Baker and Banker Restaurant
Perbacco - Piedmontese
Delfina - Italian
Mission Chinese Food
That's a list of 12 restaurants and I welcome feedback on what I have picked as well as suggestions on what should be the 13th.
Koi Palace Restaurant
365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015
291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131
230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109
3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105
Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
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