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The Chowhound's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area Paperback – April 26, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (April 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143034413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143034414
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,461,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

If you’ve heard of even a quarter of the places they mention, you’re way ahead of the curve. -- Jonathan Gold, Gourmet magazine

From the Back Cover

Praise for Chowhound.com

"Thousands of food lovers swap tips on everything from which Queens street cart sells the best India dosas to how to get a reservation at Napa Valley's The French Laundry."
--Newsweek

"The best web restaurant site"
--US News and World Report

"The anti-Zagat's, for people who like food a little spicier."
--Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons"

"My mecca was Chowhound.com...The Chowhound community has more passion for and knowledge about food than any other on the Internet."
--Forbes Magazine

"If eating has become the first great cultural experience of the 21st century, chowhound.com is now the grand salon"
--Los Angeles Magazine

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Krys on April 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Whether you are a tourist who wants to eat like the locals or a Bay Area native, this book has the most compact yet comprehensive list of ideas for delicious dining in a unique, humorous and easy-to-read format.

As a long time Bay Area resident, I found myself using it immediately

Things I love about the book

-It's lightweight, so I can carry it my purse

-There are tips about places I frequent that I didn't know about

-Great cross indexing. It's very easy to use.

-It doesn't have the same tired general knowledge tips

-Really amazing that not only is SF and immediate areas covered, but that the entire Bay Area is nicely represented.

It also captures the essence of Chowhound of having fun while finding something wonderful to eat.

I've traveled quite a bit and bought many guide books. This is one of the best and most useful books I own.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Hudgins on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Want to out-Zagat Zagat? Start a website for chowhounds and get them to eat at various places and send in a report to your website. When your website registers 500,000 hits go to a publisher and talk them into publishing your aggregation of reviews in one compact volume. Come up with variations on the theme, like farmers markets and lunch trucks, so you're not just stuck in the restaurant world. Of course it helps if you have a name and a column somewhere.

Create a "by-cuisine" index (besides the main alphabetical one) that sub-divides cuisine into Chinese (Beijing) Chinese (Dim Sum) Chinese (Cantonese) and see if anyone can top that!

The format and organization of this guide is as individual and eclectic as the editor and chief chowhound, Jim Leff. Although the book is laid out alphabetically the alphabet can refer to anything here-a town, a food, a lunch truck. Santa Rosa, Sausage, Sausalito, and Scones all follow each other alphabetically. Luckily there are several indexes to help the reader sort things out.

Be forewarned. Chez Panisse isn't in here and neither are some of the other well-known restaurants in S.F., Berkeley, and Napa where I ate during my last visit five years ago. But the next time I see my cousin in Berkeley, I'll remember that the best rugelach in the world (or at least in the bay area) can be found in a bakery there. I've got to bring him something, right?
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Meat Street on May 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Oh boy, I've never been so misguided by a guide book in my life, and believe me, I own lots and lots of guide books. This thing is already outdated. A few restaurants have been out of business since the books publishing (not Chowhound's fault), key restaurants have been left out or miscategorized and the format of the book is like a Mr. Magoo tour of SF. What gives? I was really excited about this book. I love Chowhound.com but I can't with good conscience recommend this ten car pileup of a guide book. The only reason to buy it is to help out Chowhound...but honestly, just donate money to them. I can't believe that I'm saying this but I'd rather use a Zagat. Oh well.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Sam on May 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jim Leff, Chowhound's creator, includes a long disclaimer in this book's introduction. "Don't trust this book", he says. He even describes all of the food tips themselves as "iffy". This is one point on which I agree with him and it leads me to wonder if this book has much use or value at all to the casual user. If it's iffy, why buy it?
The format of the book, a guide to eating good food in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a visual mess and difficult to navigate, just like the Chowhound.com website itself. I did discover some real gems of information like Melanie Wong's important message about duck juice but it was hard work finding them and more often than not I was just confused.
The book contains discrepancies, anomalies, inaccurate information and strange choices. But I think the major problems are the bad layout and the fact that the entries are extrememly dated. Everything moves so fast in the world of food.
Aside from the most loyal of Chowhounders and obsessed good-food-foragers, I think the more general public just won't 'get' the cluttered, muddled confused format. I don't think people will be prepared to make the investment (time or money) needed to find the good bits amongst the chaos when they can find out the same kind of info online easily where it will be much more current and freely available.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gary Soup on April 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you are a Bay Area chowhound (and if you are not, there's one inside you screaming to be let out) you'll want this book. It covers the area like a blanket, reporting on the best in eats of all persuasions, but especially focuses on places that fly under the radar of conventional guidebooks and Sunday paper dining columns. The Chowhound's Guide is organized in a tantalyzingly browseable pseudo-random manner using red herring keywords ("Ono Hawaiian Grill" comes between "Offal in Oakland" and "Organic Produce -- Delivered!") so after flipping through a few pages you'll know what you are craving even if you didn't have the foggiest before you opened the book. But not to fear, it's also well indexed by locale, cuisine and establishment.

For the uninitiated (and go and initiate yourself by visiting the quirky message board website the wisdom emanates from), the book is not only for chowhounds, it's by chowhounds -- hundreds of them -- via a grass-roots Delphi process unlike any other you're likely to have encountered. The resulting buffet of choices spread out for the reader consequently reflects neither the tastes of a single pundit, nor the anonymous click-to-vote blandness of a popularity contest.
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