Some friends of mine and I visiting San Francisco from Los Angeles over Halloween weekend. (We’re actually not coming for any Halloweeen festivities but for the Madonna concert in Oakland on November 1.) We’re staying in Japantown to avoid any Halloween craziness and hopefully as much of the Critical Mass chaos as possible on the evening of the 31st. It’s my first trip north of San Simeon, and I’m looking forward to a lot of things in San Francisco, but nothing so much as the food.
My other friends aren’t as hardcore foodies as I am, and none of us want to drop tons of money or go anywhere terribly formal. I’d love to experience Chez Panisse and the Gourmet Ghetto or to go out to Napa for the French Laundry, but this isn’t that trip. Gary Danko will have to wait for another day. I’ve looked for some places, and I thought I might throw them past you for your opinions, and other suggestions within what we’re looking for are great, too.
For lunch Friday, I really want to try BURMA SUPERSTAR on the way to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. Burmese food isn’t something common in L.A., and the remarks for the place – good prices, popular with locals – make it sound exactly like the sort of place we’d like to experience. Is it worth the trek?
For dinner Friday night, our hotel is walking distance to both SPQR and the new Pacific Heights branch of PIZZERIA DELFINA. We had a friend of ours recently move to South San Francisco, and one of her favorite restaurants in L.A. was Pizzeria Mozza. Pizzeria Delfina sounds like it’s got a similar vibe and would be fun for a homesick Angeleno meeting friends. SPQR also looks really good, too, but more pricey. (Neither the Fillmore branches of Dosa or Out the Door look like they will be open in time for our visit.) We get enough Japanese food in L.A., so we’re not really looking for that, despite being in Japantown.
Both places are walk-in only, too. What time should we get there to make a 10:30 reservation at BOURBON & BRANCH? Is Bourbon & Branch worth the visit? How about TOSCA CAFÉ?
One friend is very particular about breakfasts; she likes big, stick-to-your-ribs type breakfasts to start the day. Both DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFÉ and MAMA’S sound like what she’s looking for, though both also seem like a bit of a chore (especially for a late-riser). Which is better? How much of a hassle are they? How is TARTINE? And are there any hidden alternatives? (Please don’t worry about my telling other obnoxious Angelenos about your secret places. We’ll be on our best behavior, and I promise I won’t tell.)
Haight-Ashbury is on the agenda around lunchtime; I don't know what's there, but one friend wants to check it out. What is there to eat in that part of town? All I know is, I want to go to BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE…
What is best in the Ferry Building? Is The Slanted Door really so good, or is it just overpriced and overdressed? What is the deal with TAYLOR’S REFRESHER? On paper, it looks like just a fast food joint, but there must be more to it. (I'm thinking of having us stop there before the concert.)
More recommendations are welcome. We’re looking for laid-back, not too expensive, easy to just drop into (i.e., not needing reservations if possible), kind of fun, unique, places San Francisco locals would go, not tourists. Thanks for your help, and I’m looking forward to your replies!