If you’ve Googled for restaurant tips, as we all have, you know: two websites have a strange hold on the internet. One is our good friends at Welp, and the other is TripAdvisor. Neither site sees fit to provide genuinely useful advice, but the Svengalis at TripAdvisor seem to take particular delight in mixing one-third good restaurant picks with two-thirds utter absurdity. We’re not sure what enchantment they’ve cast over the algorithmists at Google, but for some reason these idiotic recommendations hold sway with travelers to our fair city. (If you’ve ever had a friend visiting from Europe or Asia, they might have asked you to go to some of these places, to your utter confusion.)
It’s time to take back this ridiculous list of “best restaurants.” We’ve taken it upon ourselves to re-write the comical TripAdvisor Top 10 with a better list. A real list. A list that will surely not perform as well in search results, but will at least be intelligently chosen.
So if that SF newbie is visiting from out of town, send them this way, instead.
A Revised TripAdvisor Top 10 List
#1: bimini twist
Seriously, what the f*ck? According to TripAdvisor, this is the #1 restaurant in San Francisco. Of 4,619! Of over four thousand, this is number one. And yet we’re not sure any person who lives here has ever heard of it. It sounds like a poorly-mixed tiki cocktail.
As this was “#1,” we had to figure out what was going on. According to their website, it’s “an undiscovered chef & an exclusive location in the heart of San Francisco.” Undiscovered, indeed.
After doing more research (clicking around the website), we figured out that this is “something different from the conventional restaurant experience…[hosted] at the chef’s house.” Who is the chef? His name is Don. Last name unknown. There’s about a 10% chance this is a gigantic scam — it’s possible some intrepid programmer “hacked” their way to the top of TripAdvisor, and is laughing as countless tourists risk life and limb to book dinner at a fictional restaurant.
But let’s assume it’s real. Given that, do you want to eat at a random house, where the chef has only achieved acclaim on TripAdvisor? No, you do not.
An upscale tasting menu with a distinctly Northern California/Mexican twist. Everyone’s #1 pick is different, but it would be hard to argue that this isn’t in the discussion.
This restaurant ALSO appears to be the work of a single dude cooking in his home. We respect his hacking skills, but, seriously, this is an insult to the hard-working kitchens of SF that put out hundreds of good meals a night. What’s the total output of this restaurant, ever? A few private friends-and-family tastings? FIX YO RANKINGS, TripAdvisor.
You want fancy sushi? We’ve got the best in the game. (This is the one on Bush St., don’t forget).
#3: gary danko (no replacement needed)
A rock-solid restaurant. Sure, it’s over-the-top fancy and mostly targeted at hereditary wealth, but the FOOD IS SO DELICIOUS WE DON’T CARE, YOU WIN, G-Dank.
Another bastion of wealth and power. With Greek food. Let’s celebrate the downfall of their fiscal system by rejoicing in ours!
If you want that “take my breath away with the aura of money” vibe, this is an even better pick.
#5: hollywood cafe
What’s next on the list — the Times Square Diner? The L-train Delicatessen? Of all the crappy diners in town, why is this one elevated above all the others? Is this search ranking a result of confused visitors who think California is the size of Rhode Island?
The best egg/bacon/potato/pancake combo in America.
#6: The Italian Homemade Company
If you thought the “Little-Italy-Disneyland effect” was limited to a few square blocks in New York, you thought wrong. Please, fair visitors, eat some actual Italian food. Or some authentic California-Italian, if you actually want to experience the city.
If this isn’t in your SF top 10, it’s not a real top 10.
#7: home plate
Hollywood Cafe, redux. Unless this is a recommendation for jumping on to the field at AT&T Park and actually visiting “Home Plate”, in which case, we approve.
Is two breakfast brunch joints too many? Nah, this is a chance to include the bread standard-bearer.
#8: Molinari Delicatessen
Not a bad pick, but is this the best sandwich-deli in town? Far from it.
Italian subs brought into the modern farm-fresh-organic ingredient era.
#9: seven hills
These TripAdvisor voters clearly have something for the trappings of fanciness. We don’t begrudge them that urge, but this ain’t the #1 upscale Italian in town. Or even #2. Or top 5? Let’s fix it.
Fancy Italian food, with a cool vibe to match. Hard to go wrong here.
#10: hog island oyster BAR
A great selection sneaks in at #10! Is the wheat on TripAdvisor worth the oceans of chaff? Clearly not.