Any suggestions near the AMC1000 on Van Ness?
Ah, that neighbourhood. I stay there all the time when I'm in the city. In addition to these recommendations, you may wish to check out the recent (like two days ago) thread on MUNI Food Tours - the 47/49/90 Van Ness and 38 Geary buses intersect one block north of the AMC.
Depends on what you want to eat. If you want beer-and-quasi-German food (buffalo stew, sausages, etc.), you can't beat the old dive. I think it's called Tommy's (uff da, too much soju last night!) but it's on the corner of Van Ness and Geary and is painted in hideously lurid colours.
Fina Estampa, kitty-corner from this place (across from the Cathedral Hill Hotel) is a decent take on Peruvian cuisine. (Their pisco sours are good.)
Stars! is on Golden Gate just down from Van Ness and is a very clubby looking place (old boys club, not dance club) that serves chichi Cal cuisine. Their rabbit ragu is EXCELLENT.
I'm assuming you're going at night so I won't recommend Saigon Sandwich which I think is only open for lunchtime and is a questionable neighbourhood anyway (insofar as San Francisco has questionable neighbourhoods).
I also concur about Alborz, a recent arrival. It's on Van Ness about two blocks north of the Cathedral Hill Hotel and serves very very good Persian cuisine. Their fesenjoon (chicken in ground-walnut-and-pomegranate sauce) is very good but is VERY sweet.
Just south of Alborz on Van Ness is the Village Pizzeria. No decor at all but the pizza is a good take on NY-style (I dare not say NY pizza) and the prices are low.
If you're up for a little bit more of a hike, five or six blocks or so with a little hill, walk up Van Ness to Post, turn left on Post, and just past Laguna St., in the beginnings of Japantown, is the New Korea House (not to be confused with the Korea House, which is further down and which I don't like as much) which is a good Korean barbecue. (I have to admit, I always ask them to cook it for me, because I don't want to smell like beef smoke.) Their kimchi and pickled vegetables are very good as well and the price is correct.
I don't know if Venture Frogs is still open in the same building as the AMC, but it's best avoided. Someone in the kitchen is afraid of spice and the prices are astronomical for what you get.
re: Rochelle McCune
Thank you for the suggestion. Four of us had dinner at Alborz this evening, after a movie. We all left stuffed and happy.
When we were seated the waiter brought a basket of warm lavash and a plate of raw onions, basil leaves, mint leaves, cilantro, feta, and butter.
For appetizers, we had the yogurt with cucumber and mint (Mast-o-Kihar). The homemade yogurt was excellent. We also had the Dolma (made with beef). I thought they were just ok.
Our main courses were enormous. I had the lamb shank (Baghali Polo with Lamb Shank}. This was two shanks really served with basmati rice with lima beans and dill. The lamb came in a separate bowl in a thin broth. It was very good, but I would have prefered it to be roasted or braised. The other three at the table had Rack of Lamb, Filet of Lamb, and Fesenjoon with chicken. All three came with a huge portion of basmati rice. The Rack of Lamb consisted of six meaty chops, all separated and grilled very nicely. The Filet of Lamb had three good sized pieces of lamb, about an inch thick and one and a half inches in diameter. They had been grilled on a skewer with onions, and were presentd side by side removed from the skewer. I thought this dish was outstanding. The Fesenjoon, made from ground walnuts and pomegranite juice was also extremely good. It was the first time any of us had tasted this dish, so I have no point of reference. We all liked it very much. I had expected it to be too sweet, but when it was mixed with the rice it was fine.
For desert we tried the Persian ice cream, which had a rosewater flavor, and was interesting, but not my favorite mid-eastern desert.
In summary I think Alborz was an excellent choice, and I would definitely recommend it