03-20-08Despite all the internet information sites, there's still no substitute for massive amounts of learned local information and the human memory. Part of the problem is that when you're trying to think of a good place to go, the criteria in your head are not so simple. You don't just think "I need a decent restaurant in Hayes Valley". You think "I need a decent restaurant somewhere near Hayes Valley (though I would go farther if necessary), it should be mid-ranged priced, classy but not stuffy or a big scene, I need to be able to get in without a reservation, it should be decently small and cozy, not a big cavernous noisy mess, somewhere I can wear jeans and a t-shirt and not feel under-dressed". There's no way to really search like that on the web and weight all the different factors. In your head you can store all this local knowledge of good places, and you can do a really nice weighting, so maybe you pick a place that doesn't even fit a single one of the criteria exactly, but it's pretty close on all of them.
After about 1.5 years in SF I'm still not even close to having the necessary local knowledge.