What are your favorite joints in SF? (and nearby environs)

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
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uhockey
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7 years ago

...I saw my name mentioned here.

Corey Lee is indeed a great chef and also a fantastic person - I can't recommend benu highly enough.

I was lucky to get into Saison before it got big (and tripled the price.) It was a crime to pay as little as I did, to be fair. Skeens is an arrogant fella, but VERY talented - and that restaurant will likely never move - his investment in the space is simply too great at this point and the kitchen/hearth/etc too "fit" to his standards.

I'd also strongly encourage anyone visiting to check out Atelier Crenn, Knead, Brenda's French Soulfood, Dottie's, and La Folie.
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MyLifeOnVacatio
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7 years ago

There's a Dottie's in Old Town Scottsdale now, has anyone been? Curious if it's as good as the SF original.
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uhockey
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7 years ago

...you just made my day!

Will let you know ~July 5th.
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BillBuitenhuys
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7 years ago

MyLifeOnVacatio wrote:There's a Dottie's in Old Town Scottsdale now, has anyone been? Curious if it's as good as the SF original.
We went a few weeks after it opened and thought it quite good. The place was empty (which you never see in SF) but the staff was friendly, blueberry cornmeal pancakes were delicious, coffee was a perfect breakfast medium roast, and overall menu appears similar to the original. The side of house made sausage (forgot what kind) was rather dry and dull though. I'd go back.
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

Benu / Masa / Atelier Crenn / Saison etc?

What would be the best place to go for one great meal, will be staying in Union Square

There are so many great choices here, hard to pick one

Probably going to do Absinthe one night

Need to make it to Bourbon and Branch (Wilson and Wilson) and Smugglers Cove of course

Heaven's Dog / Slanted Door / Rickhouse may get a shot but not sure if we will really have time to get there - unlikely

Wine list's don't mean as much as Sake (for the Mrs) or good cocktails, however i am also happy with a wine pairing if done well and isnt as much as the meal

If anyone has any rec's for some off nights, will be there Sat Sun Monday - need to get to a vietnamese crab place...also is there any place in fisherman's wharf that is a must eat at...have not been to SF before...limited time got to pick out the best things to do

thanks
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Saison's Chefs table will be the most unique dining experience you have in 2012 if you can swing the price. Zero doubt unless you happen to hit Blue Hill at Stone Barnes, or maybe get over to noma. In terms of people doing really special things in the kitchen right now I don't think anyone here in the US is doing what Josh does there. It is bucolic, rustic, and hyper-local yet refined. I can't comment on the main dining room, but I hear it is also very good. With Gawle now doing the pastry I imagine they'll pull a third star within a couple years. It was 2x the experience of Meadowood, imo. http://endoedibles.com/?p=543

That being said, I actually enjoyed my meal at benu SLIGHTLY more if only because I really like Corey's style. If you like Keller-esque attention to detail it is the French Laundry with Asian flare. I also have, on good advice, that their somm is one of the best in the Bay Area. If they sat less and tightened the menu to "tasting only" I imagine they could get a third star from Michelin as well - it is every bit as good as EMP or Le Bernardin or JG in New York. If Sake matters, I'm sure this is the best of the four. http://endoedibles.com/?p=734

Crenn is a step down in all departments save for pastry. It is dynamic and fun with a lot of 'mg' mixed and she is a very talented chef, but it just doesn't hit on the same levels. http://endoedibles.com/?p=624

I've not been to masa - menu has never wowed me. I'd go back to all three of the above, La Folie, Gary Danko, or at least 5 other places before making my first trip. Don't know, just doesn't do it for me.

Knead Patisserie and Dynamo Donuts in the Mission are sure fire bets. Ritual and Four Barrel for coffee. Skip the Wharf and do Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. Boulevard is lovely and I also REALLY liked Brenda's French Soulfood as a sort of 'different' place.
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

Benu and saison are both booked, 30 days ahead of time does not get the job done anymore ugh

Well actually there is a 945 for Benu, but don't want them really to rush us - how long does the tasting menu take at Benu, i want to get to B & B / W & W afterwards...so not sure if that really fits into the timeframe i would like

one of my friends recommended Gary Danko so that is another idea, and seems better priced

Also Altier Crennn is avaliable as well, that could be very "fun" before going out for drinks, however that seems to fall into the wine is as much as the meal...although they do allow corkage...seems to be about the same price as Benu, and more expensive with drinks...I can pair a good Sake with Benu's menu and use corkage there :)

anyone know if you can just pop into slanted door or heaven's dog or is it usually reservations only? Slanted Door seems over the top pricey for what it is?
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Saison is a difficult one, to be sure.
Benu will NOT rush you - it isn't in their genetics - but going out after a 3 hour meal starting at 9:45....you'd be a stronger man than I.

Danko is good - but IMO no better than Christopher's here in Phoenix. La Folie is more whimsy and Passot is a dynamic host.

Crenn, as I said before, is not a bad meal by any means - it would be the best restaurant for "fine dining" here in Phoenix (outside perhaps Kai) if it relocated.

Slanted Door - you pay for the view.
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azhotdish
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7 years ago

Dapuma wrote:...i want to get to B & B / W & W afterwards..
If you do go to B & B and you have any interest in scotch, they do some excellent flights. Also, the Laphroaig Project cocktail is a must.

I really must get back to SF soon.
---
Joel
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

calling beats opentable :)

Got a little bit earlier reservation for Benu, so it is booked - i can give up rocking out the first night there to rest up for tiki drinks the following day!

probably do PPQ crabs Sunday and Smugglers Cove - will need to find a snack after Smugglers Cove i would guess so will have to figure out something there

Need ideas for Monday, not at a killer price point, perhaps some good Chinese food - seems like Jai Yun, Yang Sing, or Koi Palace -jai yun seems like they have a good lunch deal...or dim sum would be fun at yang sing
sinosoul
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7 years ago

Danko is compost resting on laurels. It's not even about the Michelin star, it's about the staid room, equally geriatric crowd, the haphazard tourists, and the chef leg-humpers. Its existence is just so pathetic, especially because it is so close to the wharf. GD is a soul-sucking experience. The only comparably patheti place would be the old Michael Mina.

Dapuma, if you ever make it out to LA for Seafood Village / Newport, you can absolutely bypass PPQ. Koi Palace, OTOH, is really an American dimsum institution. Its lineage reminds everyone there was once a Gold Mountain.

Absinthe is so fun and iunno why. The food isn't particular good, but the cougars... O MY THE COUGARS. And the wife swappers. It's like Kerouac got old and started drinking martinis.

[edited for glaring spelling/grammar.]
Last edited by sinosoul 7 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

sinosoul wrote:Coi Palace, OTOH, is really an American dimsum institution.
Thisthisthis. If you're on a Yank Sing / Koi Palace fence, please let us push you off on the Koi Palace side. It isn't that the former isn't without merit, there's just a tedious amount of style over substance and enough misses to make the price tags insulting.
Dominic Armato
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Interesting note on Sea Food Village up above, its been on my "to visit" list everytime I head out to LA but I can never gather enough interested locals (much less family) to make it a worthwhile experience.

I've never heard a person I trust rave about Yank Sing.

Personally, I'd hit Una Pizzeria or Delfina for a pie at some point while you're there - neither are Bianco, but the authenticity at Una is pretty damned interesting while the scene and food at Delfina (topped off by some BiRite or Humphry Slocombe afterwards) is worthwhile.
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

Koi Palace it is! Thank you for the advice there - the Mrs loves the dim sum idea, we have gone to the one here in the Chinese cultural center, which is solid, but not the most amazing thing ever - however i have very limited Dim Sum experience, she has been to many dim sum places, i just hang out and she grabs stuff off the carts :) Koi Palace does dim sum every day? Just not for dinner brunch / lunch only?

It is about 20 min north of Union Square...is the BART the easiest way to get up there, it is showing as in Daly City, is that the right location?

I do want to make a trip to LA soon so next time we are out that way we will hit up Seafood Village and Tiki Ti! I am much more excited about a Ray's Mistake

PPQ is a requirement of the trip, Mrs D's friend recommended it and we want to mash into some Vietnamese Crabs, i think we are a bit early before crab season starts but it will still be fun

So probably do: saturday night - Benu
Sunday: ppq crab smugglers cove - then ?? late snack / dinner -- someone on chowhound recommended this place: http://www.suppenkuche.com/ looks kind of interesting just because it is a couple blocks from Smugglers Cove but i figure there has to be a better place, I just don't see San Fran having Killer German food compared to Milwaukee, however if it is legit perhaps is worth checking out - would be open to other ideas

Monday: Coi Palace for dim sum -- then ? dinner ? and W & W / B & B for drinks later at night
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Dapuma wrote:Koi Palace does dim sum every day? Just not for dinner brunch / lunch only?

It is about 20 min north of Union Square...is the BART the easiest way to get up there, it is showing as in Daly City, is that the right location?
Yup. Dim sum seven days, lunch hours only.

Google Maps is pretty good for public transit, especially in the bay area... 20 minute train ride with a two mile cab ride on the far end:

http://goo.gl/maps/msRWH
Dominic Armato
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

uhockey wrote:Personally, I'd hit Una Pizzeria or Delfina for a pie at some point while you're there - neither are Bianco, but the authenticity at Una is pretty damned interesting while the scene and food at Delfina (topped off by some BiRite or Humphry Slocombe afterwards) is worthwhile.
Una Pizzeria wont be open when we are there

Delfina pizza looks promising, seems like they have some good pizza's and if it is a lively atmosphere that could be fun - and only 1.5 miles from Smugglers Cove

If there is a line we can just do take away...
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

Ok think the list is complete

Saturday:
Benu

Sunday:
PPQ for lunch Vietnamese Crabs
Smugglers Cove at some point in the evening
Delfina Pizza after that

Monday:
Coi Palace for Dim Sum
Izakaya Yuzuki for dinner
Bourbon and Branch for drinks after - W&W doesn't operate on Monday's

Tuesday:
Ferry Building and Farmers Market
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Dapuma wrote:Ok think the list is complete

Saturday:
Benu

Sunday:
PPQ for lunch Vietnamese Crabs
Smugglers Cove at some point in the evening
Delfina Pizza after that

Monday:
Coi Palace for Dim Sum
Izakaya Yuzuki for dinner
Bourbon and Branch for drinks after - W&W doesn't operate on Monday's

Tuesday:
Ferry Building and Farmers Market
If you get there early enough do Ferry Building on Saturday, otherwise a pretty good list.
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Dapuma
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7 years ago

we won't be there until Saturday afternoon so Ferry Building / Market then is out, but i heard the farmer's market on Saturdays is cool - they have a mini one on Tuesday so hopefully can check that out before leaving
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Dapuma
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6 years ago

Trip Report:

So we started off the trip the first evening with a trip to Benu, which was nothing short of amazing
They allow corkage for $40, and the Mrs. loves Sake and so do I, also figured it would keep the price down somewhat as they did not list the prices for bottles of sake on their website, and a phone call to them only produced a, we sell the sake by the glass and the bottle but gave me no prices, so brought KUBOTA HEKIJU JUNMAI DAIGINJO YAMAHAI which was great and paired very well with the courses, I asked about doing the wine pairing for myself, and they said just enjoy the sake and if you get through the bottle we will just start you with the wine pairing wherever you leave off, so maybe 3/4 of the way through the meal, I gave the Mrs. the rest of the sake and started in on the wine pairing which was really really good, so if I go again I will just straight up do the wine pairing more about that later

I will describe the courses and try to rank them the best I can

1k year old quail egg, potage ginger: This was a very nice soup broth with a hard boiled dish quail egg that had a bit of funkiness to it, great and delicious way to start out the meal

oyster pork belly kimchi: This was one of the best bites of the meal, all of those items was in a super thin wonton wrapper and was crispy salty spicy awesomeness, I could have eaten a dozen of them and at that point you are thinking I don’t know if they can top this

Potato salad with anchovy: this is the best potato salad I have ever had and it was one of my favorite items of the meal, I don’t even know how to describe this one other than to say anchovy goes in all potato salad now

eel feuille de brick crème fraiche lime: This one was a fried cigar thing with eel and a dipping sauce, after the last two courses this one was a bit of a letdown, but it probably had to be, it was ok but nothing special

monkfish liver, persimmon, turnip, mustard, brioche: the "foie gras" of the sea, was delicious as was the bread, very nice course and we are back on track again with the meal,

Sake less, chestnut, green apple, yuzu: kind of a palate cleanser and unique flavoring, the Mrs. really loved this one, very simple and clean tasting

abalone quiche, caviar, rousong: a hearty small tartlet full of amazing flavors, the caviar crunch gave the tart so much flavor (apparently I like caviar now) we are back online with the oyster potato salad greatness level, this one was one of my favorites and the most filling course of the meal

Salt and pepper squid: This was good I believe it had a chip component to it, fun to eat

Lobster in two Courses xiao long bao and fresh noodles with fine herbes: These ones were a bit confusing as to which was which, I remember these being solid but not as amazing as the lobster course in my head was going to be

Rabbit Cassoulet with Black Truffle Bun - this one was the only fail, the Cassoulet did not taste very good, Mrs. D got tendon / sinew in her Cassoulet, however the Black Truffle Bun was like a little rabbit hot dog which was quite good, however Mrs. D had a pet bunny as a kid, so I got the other half of the rabbit Truffle Bun aka Rabbit hot dog...

Beef Rib, pear, broccoli, burdock, charred scallion, fermented pepper - This one was simply awesome, wish we had more of this, I have no idea how they got the sear and marble on this rib, I am thinking it was Waygu for all the flavor it had but who knows, it had more flavor than a lot of Ribeye's really good

"shark's fin" soup, Dungeness crab, Jinhua ham, black truffle custard - The soup part was fine, but the black truffle custard was too funky for me, if you like black truffle a lot you are probably in heaven with this, but it was too over the top truffley for me

Shiso, white chocolate, almond, pomegranate - a very light dessert well done

spice cake, huckleberry, yogurt, oatmeal ice cream - this one was great; the oatmeal ice cream was excellent

chocolates - pretty amazing chocolates

Overall a great evening and great service

When I switched over to the wine pairing he gave me some Maderia, and I normally do not like dessert type of wines, but this one blew me away - It was a 1968 blandy's verdelho Madeira WOW - It tasted like a sweeter more sippable version of rum - So I am curious if I like other Madeira’s or just this particular one, it was 50 years old and I looked it up it runs 160-200 a bottle so it isn't cheap but man it is good

Ok the next day we headed over to Mint Plaza and had breakfast and coffee at Blue Bottle, which would become our breakfast spot every single day we were there - The coffee is so good there I really loved the Latte's / Mocha's and the Kyoto Iced Coffee, although it was a bit cold there for that most of the time, it had a great flavor, the Mrs. rediscovered the Mocha coffee as she usually goes with cappuccino’s, their mocha is really good, only one I have had as good is the one at Macy's Cafe in Flagstaff, however after we got back she had another mocha, and was reminded how good theirs is

The breakfast's at that Blue Bottle only run about $10 and are made to order, the pimento sausage and cornbread with poached eggs was especially good, as was the Belgium waffle, their waffle was much superior to even a place that specializes in waffles and pancakes like the Pancake House - cannot say enough good things about this place, price point to quality it cannot be beat, no reason to go anywhere else for breakfast if you are close to this place in the morning - there is always a line there, but it moves pretty quickly, about 10-15 minutes all the time - their Snicker doodle Cookies are awesome as well

Fisherman's Wharf was what I was thinking Ferry's Market was going to be like, it looked like Disney world but for San Fran, so we checked that out and then walked down to the Ferry's Market - which we spent a lot of time at

Went to Slanted Door, who makes an incredible Singapore Sling (get it) and had a really great ceviche, I am not sure why people were bagging on Slanted Door, if the rest of the food is that good, the place would be great

PPQ Dungerass Crab- Was awesome, the crabs were huge, however 2 crabs for 2 people is crazy talk, I believe Chowhound said we should get two crabs, and we finished maybe 1.25 crabs, our cab driver ended up with our leftovers after we forgot them - I preferred the Roast Crab which was traditional in butter and herbs and the Mrs. liked the spicy - the bad thing was the cab ride from ferry market was around 40 bucks one way...so probably would have been better to do the pricier place that was closer, would not have been more...regardless was fun just tearing into the crab and knowing no matter how much I ate there was still more to attack...crab guts were good as well

Next up was Smugglers Cove - if I lived in SF, my residence would be located in walking distance to this place - had a fantastic time there. The place is so amazingly decorated, you do need to get there at 5 on the dot, even a bit early there was a line even then - we walked right up to the bar on the main level and got a spot. They have a drink list of 77 cocktails and you get to keep that with you and if you drink the entire list you get a prize! I like to win so I got 4 off the list, which is fun it gives you a reason to try everything. The drinks are perfectly made and balanced, the Mrs. Hot Buttered Rum was amazing, she loved it, I loved all my drinks Navy Grog etc Had some great conversations with the regulars, one of the guys I was speaking to had a plaque on the wall for going through all the rums there, was fun to chat with really knowledgeable rum aficionados - can’t wait to go back

After that was Delfinos Pizza, which was pretty disappointing, Clam pizza was a fail, should have went with something less delicate and more straight forward, crust wasn’t that great toppings were not that great -

Next day we Hog Island Oyster for a late lunch after Alcatraz, and that was a lot of fun...and lot of oysters, probably 4-5 dozen later, we were full - I would highly recommend the clam chowder there, it was the best I have ever had - nice casual vibe everyone having fun oysters and beers / wine

We had reservations and Bourbon and Branch, which was amazing inside, had great drinks - however after that many oysters and doing so much the last few days we just had one drink and left - it certainly requires further exploring

We bailed on Coi palace for Dim Sum, it was too far and Blue Bottle was too good and we subbed out Izakaya Yuzuki for the Oyster Place because the Oysters sounded more fun

Overall really great trip and cannot wait to go back and explore more of the city...great food and cocktail town!
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