Industry Pros

Industry Pros Weigh In

The staff at Dish took to the streets to find out what the folks in the trenches--on the front lines and in back kitchens of restaurants all over the city--think about the San Francisco dining scene.

Our survey includes input from chefs, waiters, managers, owners, bartenders, caterers, and hosts, from Suppenkuche to the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton. In a food-obsessed town like this, there was naturally a lot of interesting feedback. We also gave our industry professionals a chance to sound off and let diners know about current trends, and even their pet peeves. Here's what they had to say:

Favorite venerable restaurantTadich Grill
Sam's Grill
Swan Oyster Depot
House of Prime Rib
(other votes went to Alioto's and Alfred's)

Swan Oyster Depot, a favorite old-school spot with a great staff.
Dan Dion
Swan Oyster Depot, a favorite old-school spot with a great staff.

Trendiest spotBacar
Gary Danko
(Backflip, Asia de Cuba, Butter, Charlie's)

Most romanticFleur de Lys
La Folie
Da Flora
(Jardiniere, Brazenhead, Carnelian Room, Jianna, Luisa's)

Best place for a quick biteGolden Boy
Pasta Pomodoro
(Chow, Tu Lan, Rose's Café)

Most decadent mealFifth Floor
(Fringale, Azie, Café Kati, Brazenhead)

Single best meal everMasa's
Ritz Carlton Dining Room
(Hawthorne Lane, French Laundry, Eos, Firenze by Night)

Best healthy mealGreens
(Citrus Club, Millennium, Pluto's, Juicey Lucy, Villa Restaurant)

Best place to take out-of-town guestsHouse of Nanking
(Khan Toke, Enrico's)

After work spot for cocktailsNo consensus reached here--apparently the pros drink all over the city. Responses included Bix, Fulton St., Globe, JohnFrank, O'Reilly's, Café Du Nord, Little City, Charlie's, and Sadie's Flying Elephant.

Best Mom & Pop (small, casual, family-owned)Tommy's Mexican Restaurant

Da Flora
Cafe Aroma

(Cobalt Tavern, Sweetie's, Sodini's, Suppenkuche)

Hidden gemNo one place emerged. Votes went to Café Vino, Chapeau!, Isa, Street, Jianna, Da Flora, Emma, Brazenhead, Pastis, Maharani, Burma Superstar, Villa Restaurant

Favorite restaurant/bar personalityVotes included Frank Colla (Gino & Carlo's), Big Mike at the Holding Company, Mike D. at Tony Nik's, everyone at Swan, the staff at JohnFrank, Neil Riofski at Capp's, Antone Sabella, Seamus Coyle, Johnny Love, Bruno from Zam Zam Room (RIP)


- The proliferation of the noodle bar
- Small plates
- Eating at the bar
- Healthy and organic ingredients
- Lots of show, little substance
- Better presentations and food combinations
- More value conscious restaurants
- Upscale comfort food
Messages to Bay Area diners

- Please turn your cell phone ringers off and take the call outside
- Arrive on time
- Show up or cancel--no-shows really hurt a small business
- Treat your server kindly, don't penalize the waiter if the food is slow or bad
- Tip well--take care of the service industry that takes care of you
A number of respondents simply wanted to tell you to relax, enjoy yourself, and keep coming out--"we'd love to have you."

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