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Old 05-14-2017, 01:30 AM   #1501
spaceman Bryce
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Also I just wanted to say the mission district on the whole is great. I get scared to be too forward around latin men but there are a lot of hotties there. it connects to castro district if you can walk. Theres also a lot of gross/homeless people there so mixed bag. la tacqiera felt like one of the least authentic things there
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Old 05-17-2017, 03:26 PM   #1502
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Setting off next week. Couldnt get a room for Hyatt Carmel Highlands on points, should have booked earlier. Ended up booking Hyatt Monterey, thanks for the suggestion.

SF dining includes dinner at Oza Oza and a lunch at In Situ.

Havent decided on Monterey/Carmel dining, considering Aubergine. One thing I know, abalones will be involved. At first wanted to eat at Post Ranch Inn but that part of Big Sur seems still closed off.

Full report when I get back.
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Old 05-27-2017, 01:07 PM   #1503
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Just wanted to do a quick TR while I was thinking of it. Thanks again to everyone who offered suggestions and made recommendations. Your responses made this trip great!

Tuesday 5/16: Flew into SF too late to catch a dim sum lunch, so went to Scoma's for a seafood dinner. Great meal and great beer too -- had a couple local brews, including an Odeprot, which was my favorite of the day.

Then we walked around the Mission, stopped in at a couple funky shops, and had a couple beers at Amnesia while watching some good open mic standup.

Wednesday 5/17: Breakfast at Mymy, including delicious grapefruit mimosas, followed by a look around Grace Cathedral, then walked through the Cable Car Museum, then walked over to the piers to check out the sea lions. Walked from the sea lions down to the Ferry Building.

We weren't starving yet, so we ended up passing on Slanted Door. Instead, we had some wine and beer at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, then grabbed some cured meats from Boccalone and breads from Acme Bread to take over to Golden Gate Park.

At Golden Gate Park, we walked from the Japanese Tea Garden all the way to the ocean, stopping along the way to walk around a couple of the lakes, have our picnic lunch, and give the (very little) leftover bread to the birds.

Then we caught a Lyft/Uber to Chinatown where we met up with a relative at Li Po for lots of pre-dinner cocktails and beers. Dinner was at House of Nanking, which ended up being very good (and very inexpensive). Then we had dessert at Ghiradelli.

Thursday 5/18: We grabbed a quick breakfast at Miller's East Coast Deli, then drove out of town toward Santa Rosa. Along the way, we drove up to the entrance to Muir Woods, only to discover that there was absolutely no parking available for us to take a look around. So back to the 101 we went. I have a bit of a fear of heights, so driving on those roads from Muir Woods back down to 101 was terrifying.

For lunch, we stopped in to an Italian place called Risibisi in Petaluma. After a bottle of wine and two great entrees, we were back on the road to Santa Rosa. Got checked in to our place and went out to a Burmese place called Best of Burma for dinner.

Friday 5/19: Had breakfast at a patisserie walkable from our place, then got picked up for a wine tour at 9:45a. Went to four wineries: Kunde (beautiful grounds, blah wines); Sunce (great wine, great people, no ambiance); Loxton (good wine, great people); and Little (beautiful grounds, good wine). After a nap, we went for a walk in downtown Santa Rosa and found some delicious ice cream.

Saturday 5/20: Attended a wedding at Armstrong Woods. Breathtaking scenery and a beautiful ceremony. The bride and her Dad even made a Pliny the Younger clone for the occasion. I was absolutely shocked by how good it was. The reception in the evening was a lot of fun too. It had top 3 all-time wedding food in my experience. After having so many poorly-prepared individual meals at weddings, I feel like a buffet setup or stations is definitely the way to go.

Sunday 5/21: Lunch and BEER at Russian River Brewing Company. I couldn't believe my good fortune when I heard that RRBC has all-day happy hour on Sundays, resulting in a ridiculous savings on our tab. The beers of course were great. My favorite was Blind Pig, but Pliny the Elder also was fantastic. The barrel-aged sours were very good too. We were pleasantly surprised at how many sours were available.

Monday 5/22: Had a quick lunch at In-N-Out on our way back to SFO for our flight home. The burgers were just as good as I remembered from my first (and only other) time a decade prior, but the fries kinda sucked. Even getting them "animal style" couldn't make up for the sogginess and lack of seasoning.

Overall, the thing that sticks out the most to me is the incredible beauty of the natural features of SF and the surrounding areas. The city of SF itself is quite a bit dirtier than DC in most areas, which was a little surprising to me, but the views, architecture, and neighborhoods are so wonderful. And Armstrong Woods is probably the most visually impressive place I've ever been.

We did a lot of stuff this trip, but we also didn't overwhelm ourselves. We had great relaxation time while feeling like we got a good feel for the region. We'll definitely be back someday.
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Old 05-29-2017, 01:18 PM   #1504
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Thanks to everyone who helped, we had a really great time.

5/24
Flew in to SFO in the afternoon. Booked Silvercar again since we liked it so much the last time we used them in Denver and the price was arguably the same as getting a midsize vehicle from a normal rental place.

Took the more scenic route from 280 to half moon bay and then down Hwy 1 to Monterrey.

Stayed at the Hyatt Monterey as it was the only place that I could book in the area on points.

Hotel was nicer than I expected though.

Had a late night dinner at the hotel. Squash risotto better than expected.


5/25

Woke up early as still not adjusted to timezone.

View from hotel room pretty nice.



Breakfast at hotel then drove to the aquarium. Some random pics from aquarium.



I really liked this Cthuluesque painting.



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Old 05-29-2017, 01:51 PM   #1505
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

5/25 cont

Drove the 17 mile drive after the aquarium. We recently watched Little Big Lies a few weeks before the trip. Recognized some of the settings.



Ended the day in Carmel. Really love the houses there with the pastoral hobbit village feel.



Dinner at Aubergine at the L'auberge Carmel. Service was impeccable withjust the right amount of balance between formality and humor/affability.

Food was great but nonchallenging. A good showcase of Californian ingredients. I was a bit disappointed because I feel I can make the same level of food if I had access to the same ingredients. I understand that a hotel restaurant in a resort town that caters mostly to an older wealthy clientelle cant take as many risks with the menu though. We added the A5 wagyu supplement. Pretty damn good but it is supposed to be. Thats my general assessment "pretty good but its supposed to be". I do need to restate that the service was perfect. They even gave us a kitchen tour after the meal as they realized we were there for food and not just to throw money just because we can.



Oysters, gelee, caviar.

Dungeonous crab with citrus granita, yogurt sauce, basil oil



A5 Miyazaka wagyu. Didnt take a picture of the raw piece that we were presented with ahead of time.

Best dish of the night was the lamb, unfortunately the dining room was a bit dark to take pictures by that point.
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Old 05-29-2017, 10:03 PM   #1506
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

5/26
My wife gave me some crap before the trip about how I plan too much and our trips revolve around the 3 meals of the day. So today is spontaneous day. More on this later.

Woke up around 8 local time and didnt want to eat the hotel breakfast so went to the Carmel bakery. Somewhat of a mistake. Wife got a bagel and i got a pretzel because the preztel is the icon used for this bakery. The pretzel tastes like the bagel and both tastes like hard white bread. Thoroughly disappointed and wasted calories.

We go to Carmel beach for a while.



Its a bit cold to stay for long so we head out to Point Lobos state park.



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Old 05-31-2017, 11:47 PM   #1507
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

We take a side detour to the Carmel Valley for some wine tasting and lunch. Had lunch at Bernardus Lodge Lucia.
Great rendition of beef tartare, grilled artichokes, and tomato soup.

Did some wine tasting too. I am a lightweight so spit like a pro. My wife does not believe in spitting. Bought some sauv blanc and pinot noir.

Continued onto Big Sur until highway 1 closed and drove back with the sun setting to our left.

Ended up eating at a touristy mediterrenean restaurant because my first choices were all booked. Spontaneity has a price.

5/27

Driving back to SF today.

Got a great breakfast at Parker Lusseau bakery. Some of the best pastries i have had outside of Europe.




The croissant and apple galette were very solid (crisp croissant with big air pockets, galette with a thin layer of pastry creme between mandolined apples and pastry) but that rendition of the canele was awesome. Unlike most canales in the US, this one had a crunchy top which breaks in to its custardy rum and vanilla flavored center.
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Old 06-04-2017, 09:47 PM   #1508
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

We then drove to Castroville to visit a huge succulent nursery. My wife is a big collector/grower and there are some varieties here that we dont get where we are.

We buy some apricots and cherries at a roadside stall and then headed to the Henry Cowell state park north of Santa Cruz to look at some redwoods.





Got back on to highway 1 towards SF. Stopped at a roadside farm to pick some strawberries.



Its crazy how inexpensive and high quality fruit is in california. We saw signs for avocados, 7 for $1. Wtf...
Wanted to get some but hard to put away 7 avocados in a hotel room with no knife.

Arrived in SF at 6pm, have a nervous breakdown driving towards the hotel. I am not used to big city downtown driving with so many pedestrians.

The grand hyatt SF is nice. Smaller rooms than our hotel in Monterey but better furnished.

The bellhop must have been inquisitive as along with our bags, we had about 4 pounds of fruit and a box of succulents.

Took a taxi to our dinner at Oza Oza. 10.50 fare. Drivers credit card machine not working. I only had a $10 on me. Guy took it but wasnt happy. Not sure what right play was there. Feel kindof bad.
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Old 06-04-2017, 09:53 PM   #1509
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Oza Oza

Online felt like a pretty good deal for Kaiseki at $100 pp.

Wagyu supplement much cheaper than at Aubergine.





















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Old 06-04-2017, 09:58 PM   #1510
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Amoeba,

Oza oza as good as that looks?

Totally fine w the cab. Right play was Uber or lyft.

Gonna have to make a trip to that bakery!
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:35 PM   #1511
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

El Diablo, the sashimi was high quality, especially the Shima aji. Out of the cooked dishes, the fried eggplant and beef croquette were really good and technique wise hard to replicate in a home kitchen. I also was really excited about the ayu sweet fish. Its right now the season for it in Japan. Its a very precise unoily fry and the flesh is sweet. Traditionally, Japanese people eat it whole with the bitter innards inside because they feel the bitterness highlights the sweetness of the flesh. Not sure if it translates to western palettes.

The grilled fish bonito dish was pedestrian.

The wagyu supplement was pretty good deal. The amount i showed in the aubergine pic was $130. The amount i showed in oza oza pic was $25. Quality was very similar though the smaller pieces at oza oza produced a slightly more done interior. But then i didnt have to share with wife so more beef for me. She was pretty full by that point too so I ate one of her pieces.

I think kaiseki is one of those things where its not going to be the pinnacle of deliciousness throughout, unlike sushi. The menu is also highly seasonal so depending on preferences, you could have a wide range of experiences.
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:41 PM   #1512
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

5/28

Last half day of the trip.

I saved my most anticipated meal for last. I had posted inquiring about In Situ ever since hearing about it since the concept was so interesting for me. How to review a restaurant where every dish is from somewhere else ? Who gets the credit or blame? Then again I think about most high end namesake restaurants where the celebrity chef on the marquee gets the credit/blame while the line cook is responsible for 90% of your experience.

We wake up and polish off the fruit for breakfast and then check out of the hotel and storing our luggage.

Take a leisurely winding stroll down to the SF Moma. Its a bit cold outside so we decided to spend most of the day inside the museum and manage to catch the last day of the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit.

I am not an art expert but seeing something like a Rothko in person is more powerful than seeing a picture on the internet and whereas the latter viewing experience can understandably produce derision, seeing modern works in their natural environment is an entirely different experience.

I am slightly irked at people taking pictures of themselves in front of a small Picasso, covering up half the painting. Why take a picture where you inevitably have to explain that the barely visible painting behind you is a Picasso? Then again, i take food pictures so i should probably check my elitism.

We see most of the second floor before it is time for or 1230 lunch reservation.
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:54 PM   #1513
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go





Apologies ahead of time for being wordy.



Cuttlefish Cappucino. Essentially a very light potato soup with very tender pieces of cuttlefish at the bottom and heightened in flavor complexity with cuttlefish ink.

I like that the dish was served very hot. Its something of a rarity in restaurants.



Tidal Pool.

I was glad to see this on the menu since I had been unable to get a reservation for Manresa on this trip and out of the David Kinch dishes that I have seen, this one excited me very much. Kinch influenced by Japanese cuisine here. The bowl has raw uni, oysters, clams, foie gras slices, enoki mushrooms and hot dashi broth is poured over. Reminiscent of Masa's foie gras and lobster personal hot pot, where you eat all the ingredients then drink the enrichened/fattened broth. A delicious dish. Then again, hard to **** up with this combination of ingredients.



Wasabi Lobster.
I had watched Tim Raue on Chef's Table and was interested in his take on aggressively flavored Asian influenced food. The stars are wasabi flavored marshmallows, the crunchy bits are wasabi flavored cereal, which covered a wasabi flavored sauce that covered a tempura lobster tail. The wasabi flavor overpowered everything. The dish almost felt like Warholesque commentary on cultural appropriation. Then again, maybe the dish is super authentic because in Japan you do see wasabi ice cream and wasabi snacks. Meaning aside, the taste was not good. The tempura batter was too thick and the lobster was scrawny and flavorless. Tastewise worst dish of the trip.
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Old 06-06-2017, 10:50 PM   #1514
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go



Lamb Manti

I ordered this dish because I was surprised to find a dish from a Turkish restaurant and I dont see myself traveling to Istanbul anytime soon. I am glad I did because the lamb was juicy enveloped in a chewy toothsome dumpling skin with a smoky tomato sauce and an aerated yoghurt. A modern remaking of a fusion dish from 700ish years ago.


The forest.

A very beautiful dish with a medley of nicely grilled mushrooms on a bed of quinoa risotto. The faux moss is likely the 1 min microwave bread recipe. Its very aesthetically pleasing but perhaps does not mesh well with the rest of dish taste wise. Think moist bread on top of grilled mushroom risotto. Still, many a chefs have put in an element purely for aesthetics and its not an unforgivable sin. Still a solid dish.
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Old 06-06-2017, 11:12 PM   #1515
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

I had a longer post that was combined with previous post but I lost it, hence the disjoined nature.



Cheesecake.

I had always been skeptical of the Adrias ever since El Bulli days because I tended to be a traditionalist but I have always wanted to try out their dishes. This dish comes from Albert Adria's Ticket in Barcelona since Ferran retired.

The initial presentation with the cheesecake presentedin the form of a wheel of cheese and shortbread cookies presented on its flat side representing crackers is cute and delightful but expected of Adria.



I take a taste. Wow. The texture is of an airy cheesecake with the flavor of brie and a hint of the kind of funk that comes with washed rind cheeses. I would have been already fairly impressed if this was achieved through the mixing of a wash rind cheese in to the center filling. I take another taste of just the center section. Holy ****. No funk at all. All the funk is from the fake rind just like a real cheese. Whats more, the rind is not made of cheese but nuts, sugar, salt, and I am sure some secret ingredients.

Up until this point, most of the dishes we had, i could probably figure out how it was done with some thought. You could give me 10 years and I wouldnt have an inkling on this dish. It is such an evocative dish and a complete play of the senses.

Forgive me Albert Adria, you are the man.

I would fly to SF just for this dish. I feel kind of sad writing this review because it takes away some of the magic.

In Situ was the most affordable of our 3 fine dining meals though it had the highest highs and the lowest lows but what highs.

As we were paying our check, the table next to us sat down and the woman remarked "i would order the cheesecake but I dont like cheesecake"

How I wanted to ask her to reconsider but I refrained.

We browsed the rest of the Moma for another 2 hours then went to the airport.

My wife caught me daydreaming at the terminal.

"Still thinking about that cheesecake?"

"Yes. Yes I was."
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Old 06-07-2017, 01:29 AM   #1516
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Amoeba,

Thanks for the awesome review. I'm a couple blocks from the museum, so I'm gonna head there quick specifically to try the Cheesecake.

You're absolutely right about the highs and lows at in situ. And that also makes it tough to recommend to people, because things change so frequently and lots of stuff they choose is really pushing boundaries.
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Old 06-07-2017, 01:21 PM   #1517
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

I'm in Oakland next week at the Marriott on 1100 broadway. Any restaurants I absolutely can't miss in 3 days of business trip?
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Old 06-07-2017, 01:32 PM   #1518
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Jack,

Read the last few pages of this thread for a bunch of recent recs.

The answer to your question depends completely on your preferences and could range from $5 in and out burger to $500 Saison.
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Old 06-07-2017, 02:22 PM   #1519
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Quote:
Originally Posted by callipygian View Post
Restaurants I like

Lungomare (Jack London Square): Italian, great squid ink pasta.

Le Cheval (Downtown): Vietnamese, hard to pick favorite foods but I do love their Vietnamese coffee.

Restaurant Peony (Chinatown): Chinese, but I basically only go for dim sum. Fair warning: non-Chinese people, including bananas like me, are brutally discriminated against. Totally worth the harassment though.

Shooting Star Cafe (Chinatown): Hong Kong style cafe, open really late at night and an overall happening spot.

Hawker's Faire (Uptown): omg omg omg pr0k belly

Oliveto's (Rockridge): Italian. Don't remember much of the main courses but I always end up eating way too much antipasta.

Cactus Taqueria (Rockridge): Mexican, one of my favorite stops for a quick bite with my kids.

Zachary's (Rockridge): Chicago deep dish pizza. Better than Chicago's Chicago deep deep pizza IMO.

Smitten (Rockridge): Ice cream. They make it on the spot with big tubes of liquid nitrogen. The only real competition for best ice cream is Ici in Berkeley.

Bake Sale Betty's (Temescal): Awesome chicken sandwich. Not-awesome line that you have to wait in if you want said sandwich. Get there before they open.

Koryo & Sahn Maru (Temescal): two separate Korean restaurants but they're right across the street from one another and both have great BBQ.

Commis (Piedmont): Oakland's only Michelin-starred restaurant so I feel obliged to mention it. I've only been there once, when it first opened, and by accident (we had intended to go to Restaurant Jojo but didn't realize Commis had taken over), and to be honest, it was not memorable (reviews at the time seem to have agreed, it got better over time).

Jong Ga House (Adam's Point): my favorite Korean restaurant. BBQ is good, but their panchan is top notch.

Mijori (Grand): Our "everyday" Japanese place. Not the world's best sushi but really good and it's reasonably priced.

Ikaros (Grand): Greek. Lamb chops FTW! And the kolokithia (zucchini strips).

Cheese Steak Shop (Lakeshore): Best Philly cheese steaks, better than Pat's or Gino's IMO although a friend from Philly insists neither Pat's nor Gino's has Philly's best cheese steaks so YMMV.

Growler's Den (Glenview): English pub food, but with crack in it or something because everything is just so ****ing good. "Mushy peas" sounds terrible but is in fact anti-terrible and will annihilate your expectations to form a Higgs boson and a gamma ray burst.

Bellanico (Glenview): Italian. The food is good but the real reason I go there are the desserts, especially the affogato.

Full House Cafe (Laurel): Diner, but I heard the owner retired. New owners are supposedly changing a lot of things, but they used to have the best beet hash. When my son was at that age where he could sign but not talk, I taught him to sign "boat" to refer to the restaurant.

Sparky's (Redwood Heights): Burgers. Blue cheese burgers, salmon burgers, they're all great, but the real reason to go there are the deep fried zucchini. Don't attempt to take it home, just scarf it there and burn your mouth, totally worth it.
Awesome thanks for this list I'll report back after my trip.
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Old 06-07-2017, 07:16 PM   #1520
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Jack,

If you're into beer, be sure to go to the Trappist, you're right by it.

And you're also right by Bart, so anyplace in downtown SF is very easily accessible to you.
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Old 06-07-2017, 10:05 PM   #1521
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

I know there's probably many better restaurants in the area now, but I was still fairly impressed with Chez Panisse a few years ago. Just a very clear vision and great execution.
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:16 PM   #1522
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

SF eaters,

A few new places I really recommend:

Cala - modern Mexican cuisine. Salmon tostadas are the must have dish. Medium price.

Alba Ray's - Cajun. The jambalaya and cocktails are where it's at. Medium-low price.

Rooh - fancyish modern Indian. I recommend ordering off menu, not getting the tasting menu. Short rib curry! Medium-high price.

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Old 06-10-2017, 12:07 AM   #1523
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Quote:
Originally Posted by amoeba View Post
Ended up eating at a touristy mediterrenean restaurant because my first choices were all booked. Spontaneity has a price.
i ended up eating at a lot of very touristy places because the guy i was with likes those kind of things. it kind of pisses me off to be honest. ie i ate a lot around pier 39. i cant wait to move there though.

edit rather than make 2 posts: places i enjoyed the most personally:

Mission district
North beach
Castro district
China town

in that order.

places i did not enjoy that much:

richmond district
financial district( i dont personally have boatloads of cash)
pier 39
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Old 06-10-2017, 12:20 AM   #1524
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Any opinions on Swan's Oyster Depot?
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Old 06-13-2017, 03:46 AM   #1525
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area: Your favorite things to do or places to go

Tonight I went to Battambang restaurant on Broadway (7/10) and
Trappist. I had a Le Merle.

Then,

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