San Francisco is a progressive city, so why not have a progressive dinner? Over a long weekend in San Francisco, Vegetarian TravelingMom Judy Antell ate very well at several restaurants around the city. If you want to sample as much of San Francisco’s great cuisine as possible in a short amount of time, this curated list highlights a 5-star hotel and 5-star restaurants in San Francisco.
San Francisco probably has more Michelin starred restaurants packed into its hilly streets than any city in the United States. My husband, younger daughter and I spent a couple of days with local friends, eating our way through the city. We filled in the time between meals with museums, walks and bike rides.
5-star restaurants in San Francisco
Below is my curated list of the five best courses we ate over our long weekend in San Francisco. But these are not Michelin-starred places. Rather, they are an idiosyncratic collection of dishes we would want to eat again and again. Try them – and then discover your own best dishes in the city.
Soup course: Crab and corn chowder at Blue Mermaid
If you are a seafood lover, head down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Blue Mermaid, the restaurant in the nautically-themed Argonaut Hotel, serves some of the best chowders in the city. There is creamy, New England style clam chowder, thick with fresh clams, tomato based Manhattan clam chowder, or the award-winning crab and corn chowder. There is a bit of heat, so make sure you have one of the local beers on tap, or a glass of California chardonnay. Both pair well with the chowder.
If you go for lunch, you can have the chowder in a bread bowl, with San Francisco sourdough.
Appetizer course: Vegetarian spring rolls at The Slanted Door
The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant at The Ferry Building, has creative cocktails and equally inventive food. The vegetarian spring rolls have tofu, shiitake, cabbage, mint and peanut sauce. There are also spring rolls made with pork and shrimp. So many flavors harmonize that my mouth was in a happy state for the rest of the night.
My drink also made me happy. I had a ‘cocktail a la louisiane‘ with rye, vermouth, benedictine, bitters and absinthe.
Salad: Burma Love Rainbow Salad
The over 22 ingredients packed into the rainbow salad at this Burmese restaurant virtually ensure that no two bites will be the same. The dish included green papaya, tofu, carrots, cabbage, dried shrimp and four types of noodles with a tamarind / fish sauce dressing.
My daughter loved the salad so much we got a second one for her to eat on her flight back to college.
Main Course: wild mushroom and spinach filo at Greens Restaurant.
Greens Restaurant is a pioneer in luxury vegetarian cuisine. I own all the cookbooks from Greens, so the menu is like seeing my cookbooks come to life. We shared several dishes with our (meat eating) friends; the standout was the wild mushroom and spinach filo. There was spicy green Harissa, crunch from pistachios, and more flavor from roasted carrots, meaty maitake mushrooms and a chickpea tagine. Sadly, the candlelit waterfront restaurant was too dim for quality photos.
Dessert: chocolate chip cookie at Tartine Manufactory
Tartine Manufactory, a mecca for sourdough bread, has a sit down restaurant and more casual cafe. No matter what time of day you go, there is a line and the intoxicating aroma of baked goods. Give others their elaborate nine layer cakes and souffles. I prefer a simple, perfect cookie. The salted chocolate chip is sublime.
5-star food and a 5-star hotel: where to stay in San Francisco
The luxury Intercontinental San Francisco is in SOMA, walking distance to Union Square. The LEED gold certified hotel has a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid for guests to use. There is a hot tub, where my daughter rested her weary bones after an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
Our room had floor to ceiling windows. They offered great views, as well as tons of natural light so we didn’t have to use every light in the room.
The Intercontinental’s club lounge puts you in the right frame of mind for a culinary adventure through San Francisco. In fact, the Michelin starred restaurant, Luce, provides appetizers at the lounge, along with a fantastic breakfast. And the restaurant uses local, organic produce. In the lounge, you could help yourself to food or drinks, but a waiter also served you.
Chef Daniel Corey provided the recipe for the club lounge’s delicious yogurt parfait
Nuthouse gluten free granola
Strawberries, raspberries, or other seasonal berries
Candied Pecans for garnish
Layer one part yogurt with three parts granola with and top with one Tablespoon of each condiment in a highball glass or Mason jar.
Note: Intercontinental gave me a special media rate for my stay. Recipe photo credit: Aman Kulkarni. My opinions are my own.