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Jul 12, 2006 12:53 AM

Good little neighborhood places...

I'm frequently asked for my recommendations for small, attractive, neighborhood spots in SF and I am finally compiling a list so I don't keep reinventing the wheel.

Criteria are:

- excellent food, of course
- friendly vibe
- good service & value
- noise level not too loud to have a normal conversation
- tables not too cramped together
- return business from neighborhood residents
- can function as a mellow midweek last-minute dinner or a low-key "special occasion" dinner (ie jeans usually OK)

So far I've come up with (in no particular order):

- Firefly
- Luella
- The Richmond
- Tablespoon
- Chapeau!
- Garibaldi (maybe, haven't been in a couple years)
- Florio (occasionally too loud)

I'm definitely forgetting some, and the Mission is my blind spot. Any others for the list in any part of the city?


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  1. Some of your choices don't make sense on the noise level or tables cramped together. Like Chapeau! or Tablespoon. (although I love Chapeau! and learn to live with the tables and noise level)

    La Provence is possible addition to your list.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cary

      Definitely true about Chapeau, I had forgotten about that. When I ate at Tablespoon I guess we had a table apart from the others, or maybe we were there early enough that it was not full, but I didn't feel cramped. The food was very good.

    2. Though I love it, I have to mention that the tables at Chapeau! are _very_ close together.

      For such restaurants in my environs, I'd add Incanto, Chenery Park, and Blue Plate.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Euonymous

        How is Chenery Park these days? I loved it a while ago but heard it kind of went downhill.

        1. re: Maya

          We frequently go back about every three to four months to check on whether or not it is getting better.
          We went again last week and it was the best it has been in a long time, which made us both very happy.
          I had the Clams app and the macaroni and cheese and my date had the steak frites. he said it was one of the best preperations of the dish that he has had there in the last 3 years.

          Honeslty, it tastes like they got a new sous chef, or a new expediter, because the food (while the menu has not changed at all) is living up to par of how it used to be before the back slide of the last year or so.

          Give it a shot.

          They are still some of the nicest staff around.

      2. Several of my neighborhood favorites are: Chouchou, Roti, Bursa Taraval Okazu Ya and Tangerine (a little further away). Chouchou and Okazu Ya are loud at times and tables can be a little cramped, depending where you sit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: anna

          I'll second Roti, and add Fresca, Incanto, Aziza, and Thep Phanom.

        2. You should add Rue Saint Jacque to your list, it's perfect. Luella is outstanding.

          1. Blue plate for sure-Mission and 29thish.