Ilyce, we are traveling to San Francisco for a wedding in October. Could you tell me the name of the great Italian restaurant you ate at when you were there? Thanks, Tony

A few weeks ago on my radio show, I was talking about my trip to San Francisco for the Inman Connect conference.

We always eat well in San Francisco, thanks to my cousin, Carole, who has lived there for the past 25 years and always seems to know a great place to go — particularly for Asian food.

But one night, we relied on the bellhop at the Palace Hotel (where we were staying) for a recommendation. (Not that the Concierge wouldn’t have given us equally good advice, but the line was too long — thanks to the conference.) We asked for a great family Italian restaurant and he suggested Cafe Tiramisu.

We walked over and realized we were in an alley that had been closed off and several terrific restaurants were there. Most folks were eating outside, and the restaurants had strung lights and had tables with umbrellas packed next to each other. Everyone looked happy. We took the last table outside and sat down.

Eating at Cafe Tiramisu was like going back to Rome. The food was incredibly fresh. The pasta was homemade, and we shared an amazing tuna bolonese for an appetizer. For dessert, order the sample platter, which my kids devoured.

It wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t outrageously expensive either. And everyone was so friendly. The waiter was fun and we struck up a conversation with the people at the table next door. They were regulars and were kind about making suggestions about what our sons should order.

We also had insanely good, inexpensive Chinese food at Hunan Homes Restaurant. Again, a very friendly person at the table next door let us try the amazing fried bread entree, which was extremely unusual and tasty.
When meeting my friend, Jodi, she and I shared excellent pastries and coffee one afternoon at Frog Hollow Farms (in the Ferry Building or order online).

We walked over to Citizen Thai & The Monkey one night. It’s the second time I’ve eaten there and it’s one of the best Thai restaurants I’ve been to anywhere in the country. The decor is amazing — you should see the gorgeous Thai clothing the owner wears each night.
I don’t know where you’re staying, but instead of blowing $30 per person to eat breakfast at the Palace Hotel (but walk inside and see the leaded glass dome), we picked up (twice) an inexpensive, but delicious breakfast at Tart to Tart (at 90 New Montgomery Street, around the corner from our hotel – here’s a link to some reviews).

I go back to San Francisco once or twice a year these days for business (I’ll probably be back in October) and I’ve eaten at all sorts of wonderful places in the city as well as in Oakland where I sometimes stay with my cousin Carole. Piedmont Street has a multitude of wonderful restaurants, expensive and cheap, up and down the street. You really can’t miss.
Hope this helps.

Aug. 22, 2007.