2 Days in BA. Where would you eat like a local?

If a friend is flying in, where would you
Send them to get a bay area cross section?
Any cuisine, any price, but just 48 hours.
Not the Mission Burrito folks, by the way. :slight_smile:


Here’s where Anthony Bourdain went when he had 30 hours in “The Layover.” I don’t think he got much sleep, though.


For me you need to narrow this a bit. The Bay Area is a big place.


This was asked on a KC food group I am on on FB. Good people.
Of course, folks responded with the same old same old, for the most part. The Wharf, Pier 39, etc.
Since I’m up in Southern Oregon now,
I figured to leave it up to you guys to fill in however you wanted and then it’ll be a nifty resource. The Bourdain thing is great.

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What? Not the Tartine Way? (joking, btw.)


Man, I’ve never been nor do I live anywhere near SF and even I know not to go near the Wharf/Pier 39.


I’ve lived, hung out, done business and stuff but not recently, other than my son goes to Stanford, but I doubt these folks will make it that far South.

This is a couple of years old, but is the absolute best overview I have ever read of Bay Area dining, by visiting Scottish restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin, who may be my favorite food writer in the whole world, and who obviously does her homework.



Swan’s Depot, or Hog Island Oyster Co. at the ferry building. Amazing view and amazing food.

Personally, I like Mission Chinese Food a lot, and out-of-towners I’ve taken there like the vibe.

I would also take them to Arizmemdi Bakery in Oakland, for a feel of the whole co-op/hippie thing.

Oliveto is another really good restaurant, with downstairs for casual and upstairs for incredible Italian.

And for goodness sake, make time for dim sum!


I don’t know what KC doesn’t have. But without knowing more about the poster’s preference, I’d say the person should give these categories a meal if possible, and then settle on the individual restaurants based on other constraints on itinerary, location, preference, budget, etc.

Californian: the well known like Chez Panisse, Zuni, or many many others
A good bakery/ coffeeshop: enter the sweepstakes to experience the Tartine way, or something more modest like Ariscault, etc.
Ferry Building on a market day
Thai: Kin Khao/ Lers Ros, etc.
Vietnamese: noodle/ banh mi- Tenderloin. or Burmese
Oysters: as @bookwich mentioned, maybe even show up and shuck at the Tomales Bay Oyster Farm.
Indian/ Pakistan
A fancy meal
Some regional Italian fare
Dim sum
A regional Chinese meal, pick the region
Real Mexican

I am probably forgetting something, but I am speculating that these are relative strengths of the Bay Area food scene relative to KC.


Thanks! Exactly the kind of ideas I was imagining.

I totally forgot about Japanese- omakases, izakayas, ramen. I am not familiar about KC’s access to prized fish, but there are some decent choices around here. Ramen is obviously everywhere.

Eat uni from a live urchin right at the Half Moon Bay pier. That you can’t do at KC.


We’re strong in Yucatecan and Central American (Salvadoran, Honduran, Nicaraguan) too. Try pupusas, nacatamales, poc chuc anything.


I recommend Kiraku in Berkeley. Impeccably sourced innovative Japanese food. My favorite Bay area restaurant.



Papusas are definitely a must. The best I’ve had are by Bart stop at 24th and Mission, a couple blocks up on 24th. (Towards Fremont, I get my NSEW confused.)

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I must say, that menu almost makes me want to abandon my mountain hideaway and descend into what looks like ecstasy . :wink:

It’s a fabulous place. You walk in an feel like you are transported to Kyoto. Everything is excellent. We always order the sashimi special which is some of the freshest sahimi you can find in the bay area. The skewers are great. The tempura shrimp are a revelation. The house made tofu and the suzuki carpaccio we always order and they have this cod roe dish sometimes that is excellent.


What do you like at Kiraku? Is it worthy of a BART trip in from the city?

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Definitely worth a trip! Whenever we eat at Kiraku we ask “why do we eat anywhere else? Why do we even go to other restaurants?” We were just in Japan and I have to say Kiraku stacked up to our best meals there. Hee is a review I wrote a few months ago:

Kiraku is one of the hidden gems in the east bay. I hardly ever see it on any best restaurant lists but it’s my favorite restaurant in the Bay Area. The food is creative modern Izakaya. It’s one of the few Bay Area restaurants that is consistently good. I’ve never had a less than stellar meal at Kiraku. The service is always warm, welcoming and complexly unpretentious.

We recently ate here with a visiting chef friend.

Here is what we ate:


ABURI MENTAIKO Seared Spicy Cod Roe- complex zesty, salty, umami flavors. Excellent

Smoked pickles- perfectly pickled carrot and daikon. A light hint of smoke to enhances the sweetness of the pickles and elevates the dish.

TAKANA (mustard greens) PICKLES – very satisfying tangy bitter flavors. Addicting for a lover of mustard greens like me.

ROCK SHRIMP TEMPURA W/ MAYO Deep Fried Rock Shrimp w/ Mayonnaise. One of my favorite dishes here. A relatively simple dish is perfected and elevated. Easily the best shrimp tempura I have ever eaten.

10 piece Sashimi sampler special. Super fresh high quality sashimi. It’s worth coming here just for the sashimi.

GRILLED BEEF TONGUE skewers. very tender, full of flavor and perfectly grilled

Grilled Unagi skewer special. Served with Sansho powder. The Sansho they use is very high quality. Almost all the sansho I have purchased in the states has been meh. This dish reminded me how much high quality sansho can elevate a dish. The sweetness of the eel was elevated by the numbing Sansho. Out of this world.

Suzuki carpaccio- delicate slices of raw seabass elevated with a dressing of ginger, sesame oil, citrus and Shichimi pepper mix. Always excellent.

Spoons of uni, salmon roe over creamy Yuba skin. A dish that would fit in perfectly at a Michelin Stared restaurant. Easily the best bite in the Bay Area.


We ordered 3 of them.

HOMEMADE GRAPEFRUIT YOGURT ICE CREAM. This has always been my favorite dessert here. I love it. It’s completely unique. It has an interesting rustic texture-not ultra creamy, not super rich and it’s not overly sweet. Bits of grapefruit rind add a satisfying bitter edge. This is a dish that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. The flavors and textures mingle and come together in something unique and deeply satisfying.

Back sesame BLANC-MANGER. Our friend’s favorite of the desserts. Very good.

Frozen cheesecake with marmalade - Cubes of frozen cheesecake with citrus preserves. The cheesecake has a very interesting dry texture. Very unique dish.

The food paired perfectly with a bottle of Sake we ordered.



Thanks so much, all, so far … :slight_smile: