The Bay Area’s most overrated spots

A new year is almost upon us, so let’s talk about some of the most overhyped and over-recommended places that have disappointed me in the last year.  And to start the new year off right, I’ll recommend some places you should visit instead, right alongside them. 

First, some restaurants…

OVERRATED: Slanted Door (S.F.)  / INSTEAD: Bong Su (S.F.) or Tamarine (Palo Alto)

I enjoy Vietnamese food so much, but I just can’t justify a one month wait for a reservation to a place that is all style over substance.  You pay for the view and the rising chef that’s making the food.  It’s tasty, but you can get the same or similar dishes at a hole in the wall down the street for a quarter of the price.  Bong Su, or its sister restaurant Tamarine, are so much more innovative in their ingredients, preparation, and flavors.

OVERRATED: Limon (S.F.) / INSTEAD: Scott Howard (S.F.)

I know, Limon serves Latin cuisine and Scott Howard contemporary American.  Totally different foods.  But Scott Howard is the best restaurant in San Francisco that not enough people are eating at.  And Limon is definitely one of the most overhyped (right behind Slanted Door).

OVERRATED: Salt House (S.F.) / INSTEAD: Town Hall (S.F.)

Salt House does have a great vibe and fabulous atmosphere.  But the food is not up to snuff, plain and simple.  Ironically, its sister restaurant, Town Hall, has fabulous food and also a happening scene.  Go there instead.

OVERRATED: The Counter (Palo Alto) / INSTEAD: Jeffrey’s Hamburgers (San Mateo), Taylors Refresher (S.F. and St. Helena), In-n-Out Burger

Why on earth would I return to a restaurant that has some of the worst service I’ve ever experienced in my life?  Easy, I don’t.  The mediocre food could never possibly warrant such poor service from the waitstaff, and the management obviously doesn’t care.  And worst of all, the food isn’t very good!  If you’re in the area and are jonesing for a burger, go to Jeffrey’s instead.  They’re friendly, clean, and no frills.  Oh yeah, and the burger is pretty damn tasty.  And if you’re further north, both Taylor’s Referesher outposts are good, too.  Hell, In-n-Out has a better burger and service than The Counter ever will.

And now, some shopping…

OVERRATED: Daiso (Daly City) / INSTEAD: Ichiban Kan (S.F. and San Mateo)

Daiso is Japan’s largest discount retailer.  Ichiban is a chain of two Japanese “dollar stores” in the Bay Area.  How do they compare?  In the words of my husband, Ichiban may be smaller, but their merchandise is much better.  You get Japanese name brands that you can trust in food and healthcare products, like Kanebo, Calbee, Meiji, and others.  Daiso may be as big as a Target store, but it’s void of anything worth buying.  It’s a huge waste of time.

OVERRATED: Gilroy Premium Outlets / INSTEAD: Great Mall (Milpitas) 

This one used to be the other way around.  But with the addition of Neiman Marcus Last Call and its competitor, Off 5th, Great Mall now wins this challenge.  Now all they need is a Barneys New York outlet and it’ll be perfect.

If you have any thoughts on what’s overrated in the Bay Area, let me know.  Until then, Happy New Year!

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