Burma's House , 720 Post Street (Jones), 415.775.1156. Ask for Pia, and she'll tell you my favorite dishes, e.g., Burma's Chicken, Moo Hing Nga, Pum Day Kaw Zawe, Own Note Kaw Zawe, etc. Quite good for the price. CitySearch says it's in an unpleasant neighborhood; two blocks south is unpleasant, but not 720 Post.
Tu Lan, 8 6th Street (Market). Some of the tastiest Imperial Rolls and Shrimp Fried Rice; one of my (and Steve's) favorite combos is the BBQ Pork over rice noodles with an Imperial Roll. Seedy neighborhood.
Miyabi, 253 Church (Market/15th), 415.861.0447, .7680(F). Randy's favorite sushi place! He likes the Snake Roll. Lunch specials available.
Zapata Taqueria, 4150 18th St. (Collingwood), 415.861.4470. Where else can you spend $2.45 (w/tax) for a taco with chicken mole (or another choice of animal), salsa, and chips? Friendly people behind the counter, too.
Marnee Thai, 2225 Irving (23rd/24th Avenues), 415.665.9500. I quite like this place very much (and so do many other people, so keep that in mind when considering going without reservations).
The California Culinary Academy , 625 Polk (Turk), 415.771.3536. An enjoyable Friday and Saturday night dinner buffet at the downstairs restaurant. For the price (about $18 lately (?)), it should be more consistent than it is, but Amy loves it when we go there.
Saigon Sandwiches, 560 Larkin Street (Turk & Eddy), 415.474.5698, M-F 7:00-4:45, Sa 7:00-4:30, Su 7:30-4:30. Yummy banh mi (sandwiches) on French bread with carrot shreds, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro for VERY low prices (last time I went, the xiu mai (pork meatball sandwich) was $1.60). Also has the usual Asian desserts that fall into the "funky" category. Seedy neighborhood.
Dottie's True Blue Cafe , 522 Jones (Geary), 415.885.2767. I usually get The Open Road, which has two eggs; two pancakes or french toast; potatoes; bacon, ham (my favorite ham in SFO!), or sausage; and orange juice. Oh, and the maple syrup IS maple, not that artificial merd. It's so big I sometimes can't finish it! My favorite waitress is Louise. NOTE: CALL before you go if there is even a remote chance that they're on holiday.
Rose Pistola (Rose's Cafe) has a little set-up at the farmers' market north of the Ferry Terminal on weekend mornings. We had the MOST amazing Brioche French Toast with creme fraiche, toasted almonds, and quince compote (NOTE: Last trip (25SEP99), they were not serving this kind of French Toast; they were serving it with fresh berries). The bread part had been cooked with a bit of Harvey's Bristol Cream in addition to the usual egg, vanilla, and cinnamon. (I think those were all the ingredients). Their regular restaurant is Rose's Cafe, 2298 Union Street, 415.775.2200. I haven't been to their regular location.
Eric's , 1500 Church Street (27th), 415.282.0919, .9989(Fax). Pleasant little Chinese place in Noe Valley (the only Chinese place I particularly like in SFO; House of Nanking is too crazy).
New Bombay Bazaar, 548 Valencia Street (16th), 415.431.1103, 11A-10P Tu-Su (closed M). Little Indian ice cream store/grocery (grocery side: 10-7 Tu-Su, 621.1717) with very unusual ice creams: kesar pista (has saffron, I think), fig (one of my favorites), badam kesar pista, chicku, lychee and mango.
La Scene , 490 Geary Street (Jones), 415.292.6430. Amy, Cathy, Charlotte, a few other people and I had dinner here in summer (?) of 2001. They had a reasonably-priced prix-fixe / pre-theater dinner which was pretty tasty! Good service.
The Helmand , 430 Broadway, 415.362.0641. A rather good value! Yummy Afghani food.
Tita's hale'aina , 415.626.2477, 3870 17th Street (Sanchez?). Tasty Hawaiian restaurant! (and an unusual flag!)
Eliza's, 1457 18th Street, 415.648.9999. From Will in SFO/SJC: I recently tried a great Chinese/yuppy food restaurant in Potrero Hill called Eliza's (1457 18th Street, 415.648.9999), but it's not a great place for groups over 4 people (I was with a party of 6 and they sat us at the largest table, and it was very crowded). The food really was nice though.
Nippon Sushi (aka No-Name Sushi) (also no phone!), 314 Church Street (15th), also 2470 Skyline Blvd. in Pacifica. Found this San Francisco Magazine review in JUL01, but have not been yet. Will went in JUL01 and liked it, but thought the service was efficient to the point of rudeness.
Teriyaki House, 114 Old County Road, Brisbane, 415.656.1889. Linda recommends this place on the peninsula: It's been open about 5 years and I just assumed that it couldn't be too good because, how could they get the volumne of business for really fresh sushi, etc...but they apparently get a huge volumne of business at the lunch trade, and surprise surprise, they have excellent food at super reasonable prices (like what Japanese restaurants charged 10-15 years ago!)...maguro really nice & creamy, great unagi...yellowtail lacked pizazz but was still palatable, the teriayki was terrific and although the vegetables in the tempura were a little uneven, the batter was good & the shrimp super, mild and tasty miso, etc....well worth the trip...and the owners just opened a Thai restaurant next to it (hired a Thai couple to cook & plan the menu etc), haven't tried it yet but it looked good & smelled great...very interesting...
From Samantha: I had a nice meal at The Meeting House (American food, Quakerish decor, lovely staff and GOOD food -- at least last May when I went for Mother's Day), 1701 Octavia (Bush), 415.922.6733. They're supposed to have great biscuits, and they sell the dough (if you like 'em THAT much). Cuisinenet's review .
Battambang, 850 Broadway St., Oakland, 510.839.8815. Amy, Cathy and I had Somlaw Ktiss (pineapple in lemon grass and coconut milk broth with basil and chicken (?)), Sach Chrouk Aing (char-broiled pork marinated with lemon grass and spices, served with pickle and lime sauce), Trob Trung Kor (baked eggplant stuffed with diced prawns and ground pork in a spicy lime sauce).
Thai House, 151 Noe (Henry/15th), 415.863.0374, and 2200 Market, 415.864.5006. Consistently good, busy Thai places in the Castro. Their tom kha gai is quite good, but last time I tried to eat there, the service was so nasty, our group got up and left.
India Garden, 1261 Folsom. Went here with Amy, Kathy, and Elizabeth (all SFO); can't remember what I had, but I liked it.
Double Rainbow, 519 Powell Street , 2116 Irving Street , and 1653 Polk Street . Try the chocolate sorbet!
Roosevelt Tamale Parlor , 2817 24th Street, 415.550.9213. A popular place in the Mission; not one of my regular stops, but it has many fans.
Kate's Kitchen, 471 Haight Street(Fillmore), 415.626.3984. My dear friend Steve took me to this breakfast (& lunch?) place in the Haight. Our waitress was Erin, whom I liked immediately - seemed very down-to-earth. I had the French Toast Orgy, but I think the Orange Spice French Toast would've been a bit better.
Steve also introduced me to Nirvana, 544 Castro (18th/19th). We both had Man O Mango with chicken and spinach noodles (or some close variant of that).
Dianda's, 565 Green Street (Columbus), 415.989.7745. Try the macaroon - finely chopped coconut with a bit of chocolate mousse on top, all covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate.
Sunflower Restaurant, 3111 16th Street (Valencia St.), 415.626.5022. Randy & I ended up here since Tokyo Go Go across the street was closed for lunch. We had a decent-to-tasty lunch (Tu Lan's imperial rolls are much better, but this place is much cleaner).
The Slanted Door , 100 Brannan St., 415.861.8032. Ask for Mulan. ABSOLUTELY delicious AND well-priced. Try the Shaking Beef, the Vegetarian Spring Rolls, the Navarro Gewurtztraminer grape juice (yes, yes, I know it costs $3.50 a glass, but it's great stuff!), and the Chrysanthemum or White Peony tea. Linda and I just went there on 13MAR99, and the prices have gone up 10-15% very recently, but that hasn't changed the fact that it's a yummy place to eat! The Caramelized Shrimp were quite good. Our favorite waitpeople are Mulan and Rachel. See New Bombay Bazaar below for ice cream. SEP01: This place has become WAY overpriced. Shaking Beef is now $16.75 - way too much for that class of restaurant, that noise level and that location. AUG03: BigBook.com still has this place listed on Valencia (and the new street, Brannan). I informed someone at the Slanted Door, and she seemed none-too-inclined to let BigBook.com know. I could let 'em know, but I want to see if the Slanted Door bothers to get it fixed...)
Amy (OAK/SFO) gave me this suggestion: Orchard Hotel near Bush and Powell Street has reasonable rates with a continental breakfast. The only drawback she mentioned is the lack of a real lobby (where visitors can wait). She mentioned reserving through Hotelres.com; you might also try USAHotelGuide or Priceline (hotel rooms) .
Liste de merde:
Liberty Cafe, Bernal Heights. WAYYY overrated. I cannot concur with the rave reviews of their chicken pot pie OR the desserts (Linda and I had the Banana Cream Pie, and I didn't hear any moans over the others either).
Paisley on Market Street. Crappy service - can't
even remember what I thought of the food - only that I would not return!
Farmers' Markets: Linda/Alima suggested we go to the Alemany Farmers' Market on the JUN01 trip to SFO, and I am so glad I took her advice! Abby (MSY) also enjoyed the ripe, organic nectarines for $1/pound! There was a nice variety of honeys at one of the booths - not as wide a variety as Marshall's, but it was also more reasonably-priced. And the dates! I looked for Bella Viva at Alemany to no avail; Jonathan (SFO/ISP?) says they're usually there. Hmm. Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market and Farmers' Market at U.N. Plaza . The one north of the Ferry Terminal near the water and Levi Plaza is on Saturdays and is one of my favorite things to do in the whole Bay Area! One of my usual stops is Bella Viva Orchards (209.883.4146) for nuts and dried fruits (try the Red Flame raisins and the slab dried apricots), and one of my favorite recent experiences there was Marshall's Farm Natural Honey . Linda (SFO) and Carol (ORF) introduced me to Lavender Honey, which I thought was wonderful. I also had the Manzanita and the Fairfax, both delicious as well; I thought the Eucalyptus was unusual. Flying Disc Ranch has very nice dates (although their web page has way too many god references). WATCH OUT for Affi's Marin Gourmet; a jar of some concoction - cranberry, I think - leaked in a suitcase (in the overhead, not checked) on the trip home. When this was mentioned to the merchant on the next trip, they said "Sorry". Now if you were the merchant, wouldn't you offer a replacement or something? Very poor customer relations.
Trader Joe's , two locations in SFO (one in SoMa). I can recommend their Triple Ginger Snaps, Smoky Black Bean Dip, Blue Corn Chips, Rosemary/Olive Oil Potato Chips, the Trader Joe's label of strawberry soy milk, California olive oil, grade B maple syrup (I think it has a nicer, bolder flavor than A), and their prunes (French variety grown in California). I think their prices on nuts are pretty good. About their breads: stick 'em in the fridge when you get home because they can go bad a little quickly.
The Grocery Outlet. Gone! I tried to show Abby (MSY) where it was located, and, well, I showed her where it was located! They still have other locations though; see their website . Here's the review from when it was still in SFO: Sometimes it's all utter crap, at other times your arms will be tired carrying the loot home! My number one find: a passion fruit liquer(sp?) made by the people who make Grand Marnier for $2.49/375ml bottle and $4.99/750 ml bottle! But keep in mind that was a rare find indeed.
EBJ Wholesale, 900 Murmansk St., Oakland, 510.625.8200 . Torani syrups (those Italian soda syrups which many people only associate with coffee) for $3.95/bottle (Orgeat (almond), Creme de Cacao (don't worry, AA Possums, it's non-alcoholic), Tamarind, et al. ). I also got an enormous stainless steel bowl for a very reasonable price (it did feel a little odd putting that in the overhead compartment). Food service items (food and non-food), Asian grocery stuff (squid crackers, Thai coconut milk), etc. AUG03: I have not been to their new location in OAK yet.
Tibet Shop, 4100 19th Street (Castro), 415.982.0326. One of Linda's favorite shops: clothes, boots, antique jewelry, curios from Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan.
For Rainbow Grocery, see the HEALTH links below...
Kabuki Springs & Spa is a lovely facility in Japantown (but you can't necessarily count on the prices you see on their site).
The rooftop garden at 343 Sansome, available M-F, 9-5. Bring your takeout and go to the 15th floor. Lovely!
The top of Dolores Park on a weekend morning or afternoon (really any morning or afternoon). Be careful at night; it's quite the haven for dealers and muggers (how the DEA misses this kind of thing, I don't know).
SFO - Wine Country (Notes from May, 2000)
S. Anderson Vineyards , 1473 Yountville Crossroad, Yountville, (Napa Valley), 707.944.8642, 800.428.2259. I had one of my best champagne (fine, fine... "sparkling wine") moments there: a 1995 blanc de noirs (I think that was it) which had the tiniest little bubbles and a most wonderful slight berry taste to it. The tour guide informed us that her response to people who say that champagne gives them a headache is, “ ‘You’re drinking cheap champagne.’ There’s really no nice way to put it.” At $28/bottle, I certainly won’t be having it weekly, but considering how wonderful I think it was (having tasted Pommery and Dom Perignon as well), I believe it’ll be worth the price tag on the rare occasions I buy it. The tours are at 10:30 & 2:30 daily, cost $5 including tasting, and include their champagne caves.
Pine Ridge Winery (5901 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707.253.7500, 252.9777) was also a great stop. Samantha & I tried their 1998 Chardonnay, Stags Leap District, and we all quite liked it, but, alas, it too was expensive at $40/bottle. My favorite red was their 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District which we tasted right out of the barrel in the cave: the tour guide siphoned off a bit from one of the barrels to let us taste the batch which hasn’t been bottled yet. It had a very nice berry-cherry flavor to it half a minute or a minute after tasting it (the first moment had too much tannin for my taste since I usually prefer white wines). I described the flavor as slightly plum/prunish in addition to berry, which greatly amused Samantha (well, it did, and there’s nothing wrong with a prune anyway). Their tours run $10 (including tasting) and are at 10:15, 1:00, & 3:00. Special note: The tour guide told us that after five tastings, the taste buds are kind of shot for further tasting until the next day, so taste selectively and wisely. Keep in mind they are on the far side of Napa proper near (if not actually in) Yountville in case you’re leaving San Francisco at 9:01 attempting to make a 10:15 tour. :-)
Celadon had a nice organically-raised, non-hormone-injected beef burger with fries for only $8 right in Napa at 1040 Main Street (707.254.9690) served by Judi. They’re in the back of the building (Suite 104) and are also known for their salads. P.S.: The pink lemonade is not fresh, but everything else was lovely. P.P.S.: It’s possible the red onion on the burgers could interfere with wine tasting later.
Dessert Stop 1 was at Auberge du Soleil (don’t have the details of the place handy; search for the name and area code (707) under the detailed search heading of BigBook.com) where we ordered the honey lavender sorbet in a grapefruit-champagne syrup. Tasty and kind of bizarre. I quoted Mr. Hanky by saying, “You smell mighty flowery!” which grossed him out. Refer to Comedy Central’s website and see the South Park details if you want to know who Mr. Hanky is.
Dessert Stop 2 was Pinot Blanc, a beautiful restaurant in St. Helena. We sat at the bar and rotated plates in order to share the Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding (recommended to us by the champagne guide at S. Anderson Vineyards), a strawberry-rhubarb tart, and a chocolate tart with tangerine ice cream.
Bistro Jeanty (6510 Washington Street, Yountville, 707.944.0103) was mentioned in Gourmet Magazine. I found the hostess somewhat startling with her synthetic, Barbie-Doll-esque look. Samantha’s comment was that her hairdo gave her a Bride of Frankenstein look. We asked if we could sit outside, but they had not opened the patio yet; it’s a shame they hadn’t (and didn’t by the end of dinner either). The busy dining room in the back reached a Manhattan-style noise level, and there was unintelligible and unnecessary racket being broadcast over the speakers, so we requested that it be turned down. Samantha’s quiche was very tasty and one of the richest quiches I have ever had, and the sole was certainly one of the best fish entrees I have ever tasted. Robert was our pleasant server, and I would visit again IF I could sit outside; otherwise, off to try other places such as Bouchon, which was also recommended by the champagne guide at S. Anderson Vineyards.
Garden Court Cafe & Bakery , 13875 Sonoma Highway 12, Glen Ellen 95442. In the Wine Country. Nice breakfast (OCT98).
China Room Restaurant, 500 Mission Blvd., Santa Rosa, 707.539.5570, Su-Th 11:30-9:30, F-Sa 11:30-10:00. Linda (SFO) highly recommended this place. I'll try to get some specific dish recommendations from her soon.
Downtown Bakery & Creamery, Healdsburg. Wins award for "Most Overrated". None of the baked goods I had sent me over the edge. When told by the girl behind the counter that their "sherbet" had no milk, I told her that that would be a sorbet. She said that's what the owner called it - didn't seem inclined to tell the owner otherwise. Ugg. Stupid people.
Flags courtesy of ITA 's Flags of All Countries .