An Area with Lots of Good Restaurants and Hotels in Walking Distance?

I’m developing a smartphone-friendly community website, where we food lovers list our favorite restaurants to help others find either good food through a walking distance restaurant search (free) or best restaurants through a city-wide search (with a little fee), in return we are rewarded with 90% of the fees paid by the searchers.

Now I want to test if it is what customers want. I need to pick up an area of about 1 kilometer radius with lots of hotels and good restaurants so that I can advertise the services within the area to see how many travelers are going to use the walking distance restaurants search and how many are willing to pay to get the best restaurants in town.

Could any San Franciscan suggest such an area and list a few good restaurants in it? Many thanks in advance!

Not trying to be snarky, but what’s the incentive for one to pay money to know what other users like to eat? We have Yelp, forums like this one, the Michelin star and bib lists, all of them free and have maps (well, Eater maps for Michelin).

San Francisco gets about 25 million visitors a year. Let’s say on average they comes in groups of 2. So you have 12.5 million groups. 25% of them care about food. That leaves 3m. Let’s assume 5% is willing to pay a dollar for the recs, that leaves a fee of $150k a year, of which you keep $135k. And you still have to solve for the costs of building the supply side- a critical mass of the user recs, which is a problem that costs more than $135k a year to solve. And this applies to other big cities.

I am not trying to be an ass, but I really think your business model may be risky.


But to answer your question, I’d place the center at the Powell St Station. fidi and and soma restaurants should be within 1km.

@sck Thank you very much for the two posts! Much appreciated:+1:

After seeing the Chowhound messing and HO FTC no merger due to difference on commercials, I’m just trying to explore another alternative: a combination of free service on the most needed by customers and slightly paid service on the best of best list.

Like Sampson or Robert, the goal is not to chase profit; it’s to blaze trails for food lovers who really contribute and should be paid for the sharing efforts.

If customers like the free breeze service, which should be much different than Yelp and Michelin or a forum experience, they become the contributed users and building the supply side can be gradually taken care itself. So it’s worth to explore…

The app as proposed is sort of the reverse of what I want … at least based on my NYC food-oriented Site Visits. Finding the ‘consensus’ “Best Places in Town” is really not too hard. What is harder is say … “I am walking from MURRAY CHEESE to the WHITNEY, what are the awesome spots to hit along the way?” Or say you seeing a program at SYMPHONY SPACE or THE BELL HOUSE, what’s a place to get a bite before/after?

Often I’ve found I walked 3ft to 2 blocks away from some awesome bakery/slice joint/dumpling place/etc without realizing it was withing arm’s length/mouth’s reach. I dont need something to tell me about MINETTA TAVERN or EMP or COUCOU.

In fact, what would be even better is something which registered specific must eat items, like say the COPETTA DESSERTS at the possibly slightly radioactive OTTO. Or the PEPPERONI SQUARE at PRINCE ST PIZZA. Or the remarkable COLD NOODLE at MIAN/SGV.

The current way I solve this is I have filed away a large number of names but I dont necessarily know where they are … but if I do a YELP LOCAL SEARCH, I will at least recognize the name as one I’ve stored in some fuzzy way.

But apropos to the last point, what I really want is a way to save restaurant data with “searchable metadata” … like say a URL to a restaurant, with comments like “open late” “upper east side” “try Backeoffe”, “happy hour = Tue-Fri 4-6” “near MET” “near Guggenheim” … and maybe some map interface. And maybe some way to express “level of interest” (currently I use the tags TOPSTAR and TOPTOPSTAR).

I’ve used various GOOG tools for this … the one I liked was spun down by GOOG and the current GOOG KEEP is lame. Someone recommended EVERNOTE a while back but something derailed my exploration of that option. And I was too lazy to learn how to use AIRTABLE. And of courses these are all generic tools without any food/restaurant-oriented support.

Honestly, I’ve reverted to mostly using Dropbox + emacs M-x dired/grep + custom elisp extensions now, but I more or less carry my MBP + cell modem everywhere.


Another issue is hours of operation. I’ve taken advice from the most knowledgeable of locals when I’ve visited their cities, only to discover the suggested restaurant was closed during my desired hours/day or the owner was on vacation (yelp often has hours wrong too). I’d imagine being miffed if I’d paid for such advice, or if the restaurant were super busy and I’d have to wait in line for an hour after paying for advice.

For union square:

montesacro pinseria
Popsons for a burger
Kin Khao Michelin starred Thai

psbanerjee, very valuable input, thanks a million!

Your site visits and your experience described here kinda prove the value of the site I’m building: to solve the need to hit “the awesome spots” along the way or before/after an activity. Free walking distance search opens the door to get knowledgeable customers sharing their spots in a metro area and hopefully the problem is solved along the growth of contributing users.

Finding good food in a rural place is different though, I find Yelp etc and all food forums lack of information on this aspect. The slightly-paid city search on this problem might be enough to cover the cost of running the site if some customers satisfied in big cities go back home listing their favorites in little towns. Also don’t forget, most of eaters are not as professional as hounds here, once they are happy with the free service they might not bother finding the ‘consensus’ somewhere else.

Searchable metadata is at the easy side in the view of coding, thanks for all the good tags. I’ll make sure it is on my to-do list.

BTW, I was ever living in the NYC area for 8 years. Can I have your food site address?

Hi hyperbowler, I like the Union Square area and was there a lot ever. Thanks a lot for the recs!

Google Maps has the hours of operation handy, but I can include it in the search result.

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Below is the preliminary list for free walking distance restaurants search test, centered Powell St Sta. with about 1km radius.

My friends’ and my favorites:

  • R & G Lounge, Cantonese, great clay pots 煲

  • Utopia Café, homestyle Chinese, good 煲仔饭 (clay-pot rice dishes);

  • Hai Ky Mi Gia, noodles;

  • Yank Sing, dim sum

  • Sizzling Pot King, Sichuan Hot-pot

Recs by hyperbowler:

Montesacro Pinseria for pizza
Popsons Burgers for a quick bite
Kin Khao Michelin starred Thai

Recs by sck (Michelin, I tried to avoid top expensive ones):

  • star list: Mister Jiu’s; Campton Place; In Situ at SFMOMA; Luce;
  • bib list: Del Popolo; Yank Sing; Zero Zero; M.Y. China;

Could please anyone add your “awesome spots” in the area so psbanerjee will one day be able to travel to SF without carrying MBP + cell modem?

Utopia has new owners and no long does clay pot rice.
Montesacro isn’t exactly pizza: Has anyone been Montesacro Pinseria - Enoteca ?

Very appreciated for the correction/clarification!

Under the new ownership, is the food better or worse?

Not to go too OT here but since you mention Popson’s, HB, can you tell me if they will cook their burgs to medium rare/rare?

Their burgers are in the good quality meat, inexpensive, and quick domain, similar to Super Duper, rather than the bloody and delicious “nice restaurant” burger like Mission Bowling Club. Their smash technique probably makes it challenging to get medium rare. Read Anna Roth’s review, and decide whether it sounds like your type of burger! (I’ve also read good things about their veggie burger, but never tried it)


Okay and one more burger deek, since I have you: What about Wes Burger? Same deal? TIA

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we tried Wes Burger once and liked it quite a bit, but not sure if I liked it more than Super Duper’s. Wes Burger’s site itself was a little too 50s retro for my taste, but it was a good sloppy burger.

Haven’t tried Popsons yet…

Okay that was my take from reading around about Wes. I really do prefer the 6 oz or more, still red in the middle, higher quality meat options, since we simply can’t get them here. I am obsessed with burgers in the US because of that!

Mission District:
Hawker Fare
Krispy Krunchy Chicken at the Gas & Shop gas station, 599 S. Van Ness Ave.
Rite Spot Cafe
La Santaneca
innumerable taquerias…
I mean, the Mission District is just replete with great places to eat, at all price points, within walking distance…


Wesburger is all chopped brisket and has a super beefy/salty flavor. One of my favorite burgers in the city before you move into restaurant style burgers like Nopa (which is great) . To me Wesburger is a different and higher category than Popsons or Superduper (which are both similar - ground rather than chopped beef). As mariacarmen notes it is a juicy drippy sloppy burger - two napkins. 6 ounces is the perfect burger patty size IMO. I usually get the Hot Wes, side of collard greens and tater tots (big portion so share these). Small but good draft beer selection.


Are you actually saying you would pay money to the people who write the reviews? I don’t know who the “we” in your original post is (“we” the website owners or “we” the reviewers).

If you are talking about free reviews I have no idea what makes you think this is better than Yelp. If you are talking about a select set of reviewers who are “curated” and paid I think you have an interesting model. The area you should select is a lesser known area, like Chinatown, or even the mission ( which is well covered but once you get down to 24th and outward it’s a bit more interesting ).

I would expect a model where you assign (me, say, whoever) a set of restaurants ( which I would probably go to anyway ) to make sure there is enough coverage of a given place, and hold each reviewer to a high standard ( or they are not given many restaurants to review ).

In this way you could literally get all the restaurants in an area, with high quality reviews, in a way that has not been done before.

Or do I misunderstand?

Brian, sorry for the late reply. I was sick for a few days.

Yes, you understood correctly: the idea is reviewers get paid! With helps from experts like you and the other HOs so far and later, I believe my model can “braze trails” to get the “curated” reviewers well paid.

Though I’m open to add later, currently the reviewers (called guides in the model, who list their favorite restaurants), don’t even need to write reviews. The model is trying to use 1) searchable tags like “kids-eat-free(almost free)”, “seafood”, “burger”, “noodle”, “pizza”, “dim sum”, etc to give customers general guidance on food selection, and 2) a Dutch treat dining provided by a friendly guide for much intimate face-to-face helps on food selection.

A guide like you or any knowledgeable food enthusiast, if listing many restaurants and/or providing Dutch treat dining with a requesting customer whom you accepted from many, will automatically be selected by the customers demand as the “curated” and well-paid too (you still get paid because of the advertisement effect if your recs are picked in the free walking distance search).

The lesser known area suggestion is a very good one. A big THANK YOU!

Hope the model after taking many good inputs here will eventually meet your expectation. Please keep suggesting, asking and criticizing, whatever, my dear dream co-weavers:)