Traveling to San Fran with college student
I took young friends to ChaChaCha on Haight Street recently and they loved the experience. It's loud, funky, fun, and the food is unique (Carribbean tapas) and usually quite tasty. (the sangria isn't bad either...) They don't take reservations and it's always crowded, so come early, put your name on the list and go poke around the neighborhood shops. Enjoy!
I asked my teen and she countered with a suggestion that we go out to Massawa on Haight Street. She had discovered it with friends a couple weeks before. You should make a Haight Street trip, so this is one option for that. I had not tried Eritrean/Ethiopian before and she really enjoyed showing me the ropes and ordering for us. Even before you walk in you smell the spices and the tangy bread. She ordered a chicken and a potato dish, family style, which means they put it on a big platter lined with injera, a sour spongy type pancake that you also use to scoop up the food, instead of silverware. The chicken was like a mildly spicy curry and the potatoes were falling apart almst mashed mixed with spices. There are a few other dabs of spicy items on the edges. The dishes are $7 to 11 each. We had a good time. There may be better examples of this type of food--we plan to try others.
Something fun to do is try a family style Italian restaurant in North Beach. Most are not too good, though. I like La Felce on Union/Stockton. Get the 'dinner' with you entree and you will be brought salad, an antipasto platter with meats and cheeses, soup and (I think) pasta. The food is much better here than at Capps Corner, which always gets the press.
Another place we like to go together is Ti Couz on 16th at Valencia in the Mission. There is often a wait, but it goes pretty quick (or used to we don't live near there any more). Share one of the crisp buckwheat crepes (specials like smoked trout with almonds are good) and one of the excellent large seafood salads. Then enjoy a dessert crepe or two, like caramel apple and ice cream, or bannana and nutella. There are Breton style crepes if you have not had them they are a treat, and the place is great for people watching.