The Big Eat 2010: 1-9

31st March 2010

Every year, one of our local magazines publishes a list of 100 great things to eat in San Francisco. As part of getting to know San Francisco, I’m working my way through this year’s list. If you want to follow along in real time, my friend Alexa made the excellent Big Eat photo scavenger hunt on her site Foodspotting. My profile is here.

I don’t have photos of everything, but I’ve tried nine so far:

1. Morning bun at Tartine Bakery
Everything at Tartine is excellent.

2. Basil gimlet at Rye
I found this way too sweet for my tastes. If you like your cocktails to taste like alcohol, you should probably skip it.

3. Salted-caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery
I’ve been back for this again and again.

4. Oysters on the half shell at Swan Oyster Depot
One of the coolest places in San Francisco, but it’s always overrun. The freshest seafood anywhere.

5. Fried chicken and waffles at Little Skillet
Amazing. I haven’t had fried chicken so good since my mom made it. The syrup was amazing, the waffles were just waffles, which is fine by me.

6. A Gibraltar at Blue Bottle Café
This is essentially a short latte with some of the best espresso you’ll ever come across. I’m not supposed to drink coffee, but I make exceptions for a few places in town, and Blue Bottle is one of them. So, so good.

7. Rotisserie chicken at Limón Rotisserie
Delicious and an excellent deal. All of this plus one other side was only $9.95. A great place for a brokey date, because the atmosphere is pretty upscale for the price.

8. Chips and salsa at Papalote
What? I don’t get this at all. The chips weren’t even good chips, and the salsa is a liquid blend of meh. Someone on the editorial staff must drink near here is all I can say.

9. Ginger snaps at Miette
Everything you’d expect from a gingersnap, though I much prefer their gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

As part of getting to know San Francisco for my Mighty List, I’m making my own list of the 100 best things to eat in San Francisco and the 50 best cocktails. If you have tips, please share in comments.

A huge thanks to Verizon Wireless for sponsoring my Mighty Life List, and feeding me so well for the last month. Verizon is helping me cross off a few goals, and they also gave me a Palm Pre Plus. I used it to take most of these photos. Thanks, guys.

42 thoughts on “The Big Eat 2010: 1-9

  1. amy

    lot’s of things i have to get when I come home:

    Burrito at La Cumbre
    Burger at Hamburger Mary’s (but I think it’s closed now)
    Any beer on tap at the Toronado
    Any sourdough bread (didn’t appreciate this until I ate what they call sourdough in the northeast)
    Fries at Taylor’s in the Ferry Building

    I’ll come back and post more later

  2. Beth

    The ginger cake at Chow is absolute heaven. Dinner or brunch at Bar Tartine, you can pretty much close your eyes and point at something on the menu and be blown away. Looking forward to the rest of the list!

  3. sarawr

    Er, I meant “are.” They ARE both amazing. Or… each one is amazing. Or something. If you go on St. Paddy’s they also have delicious corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.

  4. meg

    Ohhhhhhhhhh. I love the Papalote salsa! Many of us do. The chips though, are eh. I will say the salsa grows on you. It’s creamy AND spicy.

  5. Amy --- Just A Titch

    Yum, this made me hungry! My favorite things in San Francisco: pizza from Little Star, red velvet cake from Candy Bar & the egg sandwich for brunch at Mission Beach Cafe (I had the one with caramelized onions). All delicious.

  6. Jennie

    The gelato (arcobaleno is my pick) at Marco Polo on Taraval. And a sandwich at the Yellow Submarine near 6th Ave in the Sunset.

  7. carmen

    Papolote is way over-rated. My pesos are on the tacos at La Taqueria on Mission St.

    My food rosary goes something like this:

    Burger at Zeitgeist
    French toast at Starbelly
    Mac and Cheese at Blue Plate
    Oysters at Foreign Cinema
    Bumble Bee cocktail at Heaven’s Dog
    Soup dumplings at Shanghai Dumpling House

  8. Leah

    I’ve just been to San Francisco once, and I was too sick during the trip to each much. But, the last day, I had my appetite back and just in time. I don’t remember the name, but it’s apparently pretty famous. It’s a Jewish diner with a big ovalish counter that you can sit at, and they sell really delish latkes and other Jewish food. Absolutely divine.

    Oh, I also ate a great Russian piroshki there. My brother speaks Russian, so we ordered in Russian. Again, no idea where that was (near a really pretty Orthodox church that can be seen in my old, old pics here: It’s vaguely near to Golden Gate park. We walked a lot that day, and it’s walkable from the park.

  9. pam

    i love the chocolate sables at miette. with the sea salt on top. sadly, i live far away and they are usually out of it when i make my pre-airport run.

  10. kat

    Oh I miss the salsa at Papolote, I used to live around the corner & they would give me a jar as a gift from time to time.

    When I go back to visit San Francisco now here’s what I have to have….

    sushi at Yuzu
    hanger steak & pomme frite at Baker Street Bistro
    carrot cake at Noe Valley Bakery
    hamburger at the Slow Club
    butter chicken at Amber India
    a burrito just about anywhere

  11. Lisa P

    I wish I could get Salted Carmel in SLC. I crave it daily. Please take Hank back and have a cone for me!

  12. Kristyn

    Gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd & poached pear at Zazie.

    Poached eggs Monaco @ Zazie (I REALLY like Zazie for brunch)

    Also, the Egg & Bacon Tartine or the catfish eggs benedict from Brenda’s French Soul Food (ok, maybe I just REALLY like breakfast…)

  13. Kat

    One of the best meals Ive ever had was in SF at Regalito on/at Valencia. (

    Their mole is incredible, and their tamales are super tasty.

  14. KK

    My partner and I are also working our way through the Big Eat list, and I agree about Papalote. Not exciting at all! But that experience has been the exception – Zazie and Nick’s Tacos are two of the highlights so far.

    Go to Ti Couz for the crepes/cider (on the list) but give their Bloody Mary a try for your cocktail list.

  15. k

    Oh, this is pretty divey but the tofu with peanut sauce at House of Nanking. I’ve had it two or three times and loved it every time.

  16. shauna

    Bugger! I wish could teleport myself back to my SF visit a couple of months ago and try this :) I did find Bi-Rite and Tartine though. Would love to have smuggled ’em both back to Scotland.

    Can’t wait for the next installment :)

  17. Andi

    I lived in SF for a few years and had a business across the street from Tartine. My thighs are glad we moved back to Canada! Whenever I come back to visit, grabbing several morning buns is high on my priority list. Mmmmmmmm-mmmm – they are scrumptious.

    And Papalote!!! Salsa, yes! And their fish taco is fantastic, too. Thanks for the reminder,I’ll be sure to indulge while visiting next.

    A few other old SF favorite flavours:

    – Peanut sauce and hibiscus cocktails at Bissap-Baobob
    – Mushroom gravy and crepes at Ti-Couz
    – Phils coffee

  18. mollygolightly

    The burger with brie at Chez Maman on Potrero Hill is out of control. I can’t speak for the other Chez restos around town, but this burger is too good. I order it medium-well because their version of “medium” is a little too pink for me. Olivier, who works the counter day and night Tuesday thru Friday, is a one-man serving machine.

  19. Judy

    I was going to comment about the best cocktail in the city, only to check first and find out that the restaurant has closed! No cucumber gimlet for me! So now I am just a sad pile and no help at all.

  20. Kat

    OK, give Papalote one more chance and go have the Triple Threat Burrito instead.

    They went up against Bobby Flay with it recently, and I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I will say that the thing is delicious.


  21. Sarah

    I would also like to know why you shouldn’t drink coffee.. Subtle outing of pregnancy?

  22. rena

    itty bitty brownie cookies topped with sea salt. just 75 cents at Boulette’s Larder. we get them every time we go, and if you buy 4 or 6 they put them in a little wooden “boat” and lovingly wrap them up for you.

  23. Jessica Flemming

    Any cookie at Anthony’s Cookies in the Mission (25th and Valencia)
    Carnitas Taco with guac at La Taqueria
    Mixed Berry Pie at Mission Pie
    Regalito is excellent
    Sesame Chicken at Eliza’s at California and Divis
    Milkshakes at Taylor’s Refresher
    Dungeness Crab cellophane noodles at Out the Door
    Chilaquiles at Primavera at the Saturday Ferry Bldg Farmer’s Market
    Pancakes and French Toast at Rigolo Cafe in Laurel Heights
    Cocktails at Range
    Dessert at Aziza

  24. mollygolightly

    I’m going to double-down and also recommend Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store & Cafe on Columbus. I love this place, it is the perfect North Beach spot. I recommend the focaccia sandwiches, either the eggplant parm or sausage. I like to get 1/2 sandwich because it’s enough to eat but also it’s open-faced so it gets all melty and good. Go on a weekday. And hit me up if you do, I work nearby and eat there for lunch once a week. Kids love this joint. Swoon.

  25. Stephanie

    Avocat Creole at Little Baobab (also any of their specialty drinks)

    French Fries at Frjtz

    Tostada al Pastor at El Farolito.

    Dear lord I miss the mission…

  26. agirlandaboy

    The best cocktail in the Bay Area is my S.O.’s invented honey martini. It’s usually made in Oakland, but it travels well. Let’s make a date?

  27. Jet Harrington

    I was going to rave about the mole at Cafe Marimba in the Marina District, but they are gone, with another Mexican restaurant in the old space (new people). So sad.

    Another SF fave is the White-Chocolate Cheesecake at McCormick & Kuleto’s in Ghirardelli Square. Nom nom nom.

  28. Nora

    Favorite Cocktal: The In Bocca al Lupo from Uva Enoteca: Champagne, Lillet Blanc, chiles, and basil, served in a glass with coconut salt around the rim. YUM.

  29. Michelle

    Noe Valley Bakery’s blueberry pecan scones. I blame these treats for the 5lbs I gained after moving into the neighborhood.

    Also in that neighborhood: lasagna bolognese at Lupa. So delicate, so delicious, so large — but I always find a way to eat the whole thing.

    Elsewhere: pretty much anything in season at Pizzetta 211. Burritos at El Farolito. Shaking beef at the Slanted Door.

  30. Amber

    I have to disagree about the Papalote salsa which is absolutely my favorite in the city. It is blended, as you say, which I think gives it a perfect creaminess that I love. I think it has pepitas in it, which also contributes to its unique creamy tastiness. If you go back, I highly reccomend the salsa verde.

  31. Megan

    Instead of tuna tartar and a gin martini at Bix, I would have said go for their seasonal tomato and mozzarella salad. They prepare the salad tableside on a rolling silver cart. It’s so simple and luscious.

    And it may be cheesey, but a Scorpion in a bowl for two at the Tonga Room…followed by a Mai Tai and then whatever else x 2 in a bowl… :-) I went home with an umbrella in my hair.

  32. jennifer in sf

    I have to heartily disagree on the Papalote salsa. I mean, I actually go there just to buy the jars of it and then spend my days slathering it on everything I eat.

  33. MichelleM

    My cousin lives in SF and introduced me to Luna Park. DEELISH! Everything on the menu is yummy. The Warm Goat Cheese Fondue with Grilled Bread and Sliced Apples is the best appetizer and the Make Your Own S’Mores are the perfect dessert. MMmmmm!

    (Oh, yeah. Their Mojitos are faboo as well.)

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