There are thousands of restaurants in San Francisco, offering everything you could imagine and want. Whether it's a meal in a garlic restaurant, a word famous clam chowder by the sea or an authentic chow mein in Chinatown, it's all here
by dkm1981 on January 7, 2012
We went Brandy Ho’s Hunan restaurant in the Chinatown area of San Francisco for lunch one day after reading a review of it in one of the city guides we found in our hotel room. We went for lunch and had a set menu that was on offer.-About the Restaurant-The restaurant opened in the 1980s when the three brothers that own and run the place moved over from Hong Kong and completing training. I have never had Hunan food before, nor had I ever even heard of it, but it is quite similar to Chinese food but is much more natural using simple ingredients and spices. -Location and First Impressions-The restaurant is located just on the edge of Chinatown at 217 Columbus Avenue. It is very close to the Transamerica Pyramid, so is very easy to find once you have located the distinctive building. There is underground parking available very close to the restaurant.The first impression I got from the restaurant is that it is very proudly family run – from the signs outside to the warm welcome you receive inside, you get the distinct impression that the owners are very proud of their restaurant and the reputation it has. The restaurant is very large inside and stylishly decorated with none of the usual trappings of Oriental restaurants (waving cats anyone?!). We were surprised to find that, even at lunch time, it was quite busy. Despite this, the number of staff and size of the restaurant meant that we didn’t have to wait for a table.-The Food and Service-We opted for the set menu that had been advertised outside – just $10 per person (around £7), we got green tea, a combination of starters, a main course and a fruit salad dessert. The starters included an absolutely delicious onion bread that was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before – very light and fluffy. This was served with a choice of soups and a delicious fresh salad of pickled vegetables. We both opted for the hot and sour soup which was exactly that and packed full of flavour from the mixture of vegetables, chillis and meat used in it.For the main course we went for a sweet and sour chicken dish with fried rice and a chilli mince dish served with noodles. The chicken was delicious and the fried rice light and fluffy. The beef dish was an odd one, it was a bit like having Bolognese sauce with noodles. It tasted very nice but was not what we expected to find in a Chinese restaurant and not quite as good as everything else. For the main course, you could choose from a number of dishes – it was a pretty comprehensive selection and not at all like the usual restrictive choices you get on a day time set menu.The service was impeccable, the staff couldn’t have done more if they tried. The time between the courses was the perfect amount – we didn’t feel rushed, nor were we left waiting at any point. The staff were all well presented in matching smart uniforms. I also enjoyed the fact that the kitchen was open plan and so you could see everything as it was being cooked.-Price and Overall Value for Money-Like I said we had a set menu for $10 each and added to the couple of soft drinks we had, the total bill including taxes and tips was less than $40 which is unbelievably good value for the amount of food we had and for the quality of both the food and the service.Overall I would have no hesitation in recommending the restaurant because it’s cheap, offers good service and comfortable surroundings and you can try something new.
The Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco is a popular tourist hot spot and as a result there are literally hundreds of place to eat, whether you are looking for a quick bite to eat or something more substantial.There are many big restaurant chains here , including Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company which is themed on the film Forrest Gump and The Rainforest Cafe. Both of these chains offer simple American food in the form of shrimp based dishes at the former and steaks and burgers at the latter. They are both quite expensive, but you get huge portions in a quirky and fun environment.One of the most famous dishes in this area is clam chowder which you can get in lots of restaurants. One of the most popular ways of serving this dish is in a sourdough bread bowl and you can get it for varying prices from lots of restaurants. I had it in Wipeout, which is a laid back sports bar on Pier 39. We found the service and prices here to be great and it's well worth a visit for lunch or dinner.There are lots of fast food restaurants in the area too with McDonald's and KFC both having a branch on the main road through the area. The menus here are both what you'd expect and they offer a cheap meal including your favourite dishes. If you want to grab a drink, there is a nice bar on Pier 39 that offers tasting sessions in a comfortable environment.As this is the city by the sea, seafood is obviously served in abundance here and you are spoilt for choice, with many of the establishments having lots of the fish available on display outside.So whatever your choice, budget and needs, you'll find something to satisfy in Fisherman's Wharf and all of it is within walking distance of the main attractions and hotels.
We ate at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co on our recent trip to San Francisco and, whilst the food was OK and the service good, I wasn’t bowled over by the whole experience to be honest. It was nice enough, but it has all the trappings of being part of a big chain where deep fried food and a reliance on a tenuous theme are the order of the day.-About the Restaurant-Like I said, this is a themed restaurant based on the film Forrest Gump. It’s a long time since I have seen the film so I’m not sure what the specific connection is, but there are lots of things in the menu that relate to characters in the film. You also have little placards on your table that say ‘Run Forrest, Run’ and ‘Stop Forrest, Stop’ which you display according to whether or not you need a waiter to stop. I’m not sure why you can’t just call someone but then I suppose that wouldn’t be thematic. The theme in general is quirky and fun, but like I said a bit tenuous.The chain is American based although it also has branches in the Far East and in Mexico. The restaurants tend to pop up in very popular locations, such as Times Square in New York City. This branch is on Pier 39 – a very busy and fun filled area of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I think it is a great place to have the restaurant to be honest because it is in keeping with the atmosphere of the pier – fun and simple.-Booking and First Impressions-We tried to book a table the day before because the restaurant is right at the end of Pier 39 and has lovely views over the Bay and to Alcatraz Island and we wanted to get a table by the window. The very helpful waiter at the welcome booth told as that they didn’t take bookings. The restaurant is so big that I think it would be unlikely that you would ever have to wait for a table, but a window seat is less likely and it is a shame you can’t book them.The restaurant is big and airy and lined with windows so it creates a nice open space by the sea. The walls are covered with sea related memorabilia such as giant fishing nets and the like.-The Food and Service-As the name suggests, Bubba Gump’s serves mainly shrimp and it serves them in more ways than you could imagine. We opted to try a bit of everything with the combination starter, the ‘Run Across America Sampler’ which contains five of the restaurant’s most popular choices. I particularly enjoyed the Far Out Dip, which was full of flavour and served with crispy tortilla chips and the unusual but tasty corn and shrimp Hush Pups. For main course I went for the fish and chips whilst my husband opted for Mama Blue’s Southern Charm Fried Shrimp. Both were tasty and well cooked, the fish was lovely and white and coated in a very light batter the shrimp was good but maybe a little bland. Unfortunately the main courses were cold when they arrived though, which is obviously a big no-no. The reason for this was that they had initially brought the main courses when we were only half way through our starters. It didn’t just seem to be a mistake either though because when we said that we were still eating our starters the waiter asked if we wanted the mains just leaving on the table then! He eventually took them back to the kitchen but I strongly suspect that they were just kept warm and not very successfully either. We didn’t bother to complain about the temperature of the food though in the end because we were so full from the giant starter that we couldn’t have managed anything more anyway and I’m not one for complaining for the sake of it, it did somewhat sour the meal though unfortunately.-The Price and Value for Money-The total cost of our bill, for two courses and a couple of alcoholic drinks each, was around $90 including taxes but excluding tip. To be honest I don’t think it was particularly good value for money. Whilst the portions were huge, I thought the food was a little bland. In fact I’d go as far as saying that the names of the dishes were much more inspired that the dishes themselves. Overall I would say that it is OK, like I said at the beginning, I wasn’t bowled over but it was an average experience, with average food but great views. It is what it is – simple, chain restaurant food served in quirky surroundings.
by dkm1981 on January 6, 2012
The Stinking Rose is a restaurant in the North Beach area of San Francisco, USA that we visited on our recent visit to the city. We’d read about the restaurant in our guide book and were quite excited about visiting this unique eating experience.-About The Restaurant-When finding the restaurant, you simply need to (as the place’s website suggests) ‘follow your nose’ as the unique element is that it features garlic heavily in all of its dishes, hence the name (stinking rose being an historical term for the pungent garlic). To give you an idea, 3000 pounds of garlic are used each month by the restaurant. It does indeed smell as you approach the building and once you are inside the smell is obviously very strong. It isn’t off putting though, it does actually smell quite nice – my husband was in heaven because he loves the smell!-Booking and First Impressions-We booked a table the night before we wanted to visit as we’d heard that it was a very popular place. I was glad that we did as well because, even on a week night, it was extremely busy. The restaurant is quite big and there are probably over 60 tables of varying sizes. When we arrived there were a few available, but not many. We had a table to the side of the restaurant, which was more like a private little booth, adorned with draped to enhance the privacy element. In the main area of the restaurant, the tables are more closely packed and there are lots of bigger tables so the area is more adapt to cater for larger groups. We were generally very pleased with our table as it was much cosier and more romantic.When you enter the restaurant, there is a little area where you can purchase souvenirs and ingredients that are used. You are greeted by some very helpful staff who guide you to your table. You walk past the open plan kitchen, which is nice and something that I always find comforting. You also walk underneath the world’s largest garlic braid which winds through the restaurant – novel indeed.-The Food-The menu is quite funky and contains a nice little bit about the origins of the restaurant and a history of the all important garlic. Straight off you get some nice fresh bread that is kept warm at your table with a little Bunsen burner type thing. This is accompanied by a garlic dip which, as the waiter advised us, was just garlic and olive oil and was extremely powerful. It was nice but you only need a little bit of it. I swear it was this dip that I could still taste on my breath three days later. We opted not to opt for a starter because we had already experienced the giant American portions and this turned out to be a good option because we were more than satisfied with our main courses. If you do want a starter you can choose from garlic soups, to local garlic encrusted crab and from garlic roasted clams to garlic bruschetta – you get the idea now!For main, I was torn between the 40 clove garlic roasted chicken and the ‘silence of the lamb shank’. I eventually opted for the latter and thoroughly enjoyed it. To be honest it didn’t taste that garlicky to me, but that could have been because of the dip. It was so beautifully cooked though that it fell of the bone and melted in my mouth. To keep to the theme of the dish it was served with a chianti glaze, garlic mashed potatoes and fava beans – something I have never had before but enjoyed. I was pleased to find that the mashed potato was indeed thoroughly mashed – I often find that it is lumpy in restaurants, which I hate.My husband opted for the garlic roasted prime rib, which was a huge piece of steak that was again cooked to perfection. It was served with the garlic mashed potato and creamed swiss chard which was delicious indeed. He thoroughly enjoyed his steak but didn’t really like that it was served with mashed potato rather than chips. He agreed the mash was good but not really in keeping with the dish.If you aren’t a fan of garlic, there is no need to worry because there are lots of dishes that can be prepared without it. I’d say around a third of the menu items can be served without garlic if you prefer and these are marked with a little vampire symbol!-Price and Value-My lamb was $20 and my husband’s steak $30, both before applicable taxes. We had a bottle of wine and a couple of beers (as well as much free water as we could drink) which made the total bill about $90 (roughly £60 at the time of writing). I don’t think it was bad value to be honest even though it was quite pricey for just a main course. The food really was delicious and you could tell that the best ingredients had been used.-Anything Else?-The service was excellent. We had the same waiter for the duration of our meal and he was attentive and very knowledgeable about the menu. Even though the restaurant was busy and we were in the separate booth area, we didn’t feel neglected at all.The only complaint that we had was that the restaurant was unbelievably hot. Uncomfortably so in fact. We didn’t stay for dessert because it was so warm, which was a shame because it would have been a nice way to round off what was otherwise an excellent meal.One other thing that struck us a little bit odd was the opening hours. It is open from 11.30am until 10.00pm – not that late really. To me, 8pm is about the time you eat your evening meal on holiday and so ten seems quite early to close.Aside from that, I would recommend the restaurant as a fun way to spend an evening and a great place to get some lovely (garlic filled) food.The website- www.thestinkingrose.com – is very useful if you are planning a visit or looking for more information – it also has a couple of menus to whet your appetite.
by dkm1981 on December 20, 2011
Wipeout Bar and Grill is located at the entrance of Pier 39 in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf area and it is certainly a very colourful place that offers good food in chilled out surroundings. We wanted something chilled out for lunch after a busy morning’s sightseeing and we had walked past the restaurant / bar a few times and it always looked pleasantly busy, so we decided to go in for a beer and a bite to eat.Outside, the bar has been presented as a sort of beach side shack and this is an impression that carries on throughout the restaurant. On the outside there are wooden tables and chairs that are designed to look like beach picnic tables and the side of the restaurant is adorned with a huge three dimension Volkswagen camper van that presents a very chilled out style. Inside there are trinkets and souvenirs covering every possible space, from giant sharks hanging from the ceiling to beer mats on the walls. I loved it all because it seemed really authentically San Franciscan and was everything I’d expected from the city. A little stereotypical maybe, but that isn’t always a bad thing.The food is standard bar / restaurant fare and there is quite a good selection of burgers, pizzas, fried fish and salads. The portions sizes are huge. We decided to go for the lighter bite options and my husband had a small pizza and I had a burger. Both of them were far bigger than what I’d consider to be a light lunch, but they were both still reasonably priced. The pizza was absolutely packed with topping and my burger was cooked to my liking and accompanied with onion rings and a side salad.We had beers with our lunch (we were on holiday after all!) and my husband, mishearing what the waiter said, ended up ordering us both huge 20oz beers. It was a local beer that was pretty good and lasted even him the whole meal. This meant that our bill was less that $30 for both of us which is more than we’d normally spend on lunch. Having said that, we could have quite happily had that for dinner so the price isn’t actually that bad.The service was great, the staff all very friendly and knowledgeable. The surroundings were great and the food was simple but good – I’d definitely recommend this place to any visitors.
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