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tiny gem of a resturaunt in SF?


I was wondering if anyone knew about a small, moderately priced place to have lovely fresh food in the SF area. I am coming to town w/ a friend who is moving to Hong Kong. We were hoping for interesting and creative fare, perhaps a pre fixe. 50.00 or so a person for the meal, not incuding wine or drinks is fine.

Thanks in advance!


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  1. There is no better small restaurant in SF than Canteen on Sutter Street.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Husky

      Second the vote for Canteen.

      Another spot to consider is The Richmond out on Balboa St. in the Richmond District. Upscale fare at moderate prices. More intimate than Canteen.

    2. Da Flora on Columbus at Filbert.

      3 Replies
      1. re: wineguy7

        My girlfriend and I went to Da Flora for our anniversary a couple of months ago, and thought that, though it was good, it was not as outstanding than Dopo, in Oakland, and substantially more expensive. We both love Dopo for its intimate atmosphere and superb food - I still remember the coarse paté I had the first time I was there, and my dad's fall minestre soup, which was better than the soup we had at Chez Panisse the next day. Da Flora, by contrast, was very, very rich and heavy, and the only really remarkable dish we had was the so-called signature sweet potato gnocchi, which came in a bacon cream sauce. These really were fantastic. The other dishes we had, a lamb shank and sweet pea ravioli, were merely very good, although they get bonus points for the bright, sweet flavor of the peas against the cream sauce they (also) came in.

        1. re: David Boyk

          I love Dopo, but I wouldn't call it intimate. Atmosphere's more like a crowded, very informal cafe. Tables are very close together.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Okay, that's actually true. But to be honest, I'd rather have cheerful white noise in the background than silence. By intimate, I really meant that it was small and allowed for romantic what-have-you, plus dessert.

      2. What about Aziza, $42 tasting menu (5 courses) pretty damn fantastic food, intimate atmosphere, and great drinks? Creative desserts, too.

        Also, Chou Chou which is on Laguna Honda in the Sunset/Forest Hills

        1 Reply
        1. re: Doodleboomer

          Although I consider Aziza a gem, I wouldn't consider it small, although the way it's set up can be intimate.

          I think Chapeau! is closer to a small gem. Piperade is a gem and rather small.

          For that matter, since you said "SF area" why not head over to Berkeley and the Cafe at Chez Panisse?

        2. Luella or Tablespoon. Luella is more friendly and a touch less expensive. Tablespoon is more creative. Both Russian Hill neighborhood spots.

          1. I would definately call Kiss Seafood a little jewel


            1. Canteen is quite wonderful but I would also consider Universal Cafe.

                1. Definately give Chapeau! a try. It's our favorite for neighborhood, great service, great food, great wine restaurant.

                      1. Woah,

                        color me impressed, SF-ers! So many choices, we may have to go to more than one. I can't wait to pick a place!

                        Thanks everyone!


                        1. wait, don't forget Delfina! Small, fantastic food, moderately pricey, and some of the best meals I've ever eaten served by knowledgable, respectful, hip locals. 18th Street near Dolores Park. A real gem.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: geismapa

                            Delfina's not what I'd call small. It was when they first opened, before they took over the adjacent storefront.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              you are righ, it's not tiny, but it's still only seats about 60 or so, right? ALthough I heard they opened a pizza place next door, is that right?

                              1. re: geismapa

                                That's correct; just over one year ago. It is separated from the restaurant.

                          2. Range or Canteen I'd say.

                            1. Osteria del Forno - Italian on the west side of Columbus near Green. This is a lovely very small, homey but sophisticated Italian restaurant. Their pork roasted in milk is woderful, the white bean and tuna salad, the pizza for an appetizer, the bright green fava bean soup - I've never had anything that wasn't A minus quality - but then I'm no gourmet/foodie - I like good, simple food, very well prepared - that's what you'll get at Osteria del Forno. Slightly surly waitresses - I can relate. Try to sit in the inglenook by the window. No credit cards, but there's an ATM across the street. It would be difficult to hit your $50 meal ticket limit there.