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Aug 31, 2006 01:30 AM

Friday night, no reservations, casual, near Union Square?

Sorry for the long title, but it pretty much sums up my dilemma. We're flying into SF on a Friday night, arriving at our hotel on Union Square around 8pm, if the flight is on time. Because of that "if", I am looking for a place near Union Square that is fairly casual and doesn't necessitate reservations. Any cuisine is fine. Am I dreaming? Is this possible without ending up at Cheesecake Factory? Should we head straight to Chinatown?


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  1. Farmer Brown is just what you're looking for. It's near Union Square (about a block from the Powell BART station), the food is good, it's not that pricey and while you might have to wait for a little while (depening on what the crowd is like at that hour), you don't need a reservation.

    1. Definitely don't settle for Cheesecake Factory, that would be a crime. Plus on a Friday night, you may actually ave to wait longer than at most places around there!

      If you walk up Geary from Union Square, you'll have quite a few good choices. First up, between Mason and Taylor on the right sidewalk, is Colibri Mexican Bistro. I've only had one light dinner there, so I can't vouch for the food, but do a search on this board, there's been quite a few writeup on it. Next up, at the corner of Taylor on the left sidewalk, is Grand Cafe, a high end French brasserie. A new chef took over recently, and I'd expect the food to be fairly good, if a bit overpriced. Next, down the block on the right sidewalk, is Cortez, which serves tasty but expensive small plates. Finally, three blocks further, at the corner of Geary and Larkin, you'll find Thai House Express, a very casual, inexpensive and delicious Thai restaurant. The area gets a bit seedier after Cortez, so you could take a cab there, the fare would be very cheap.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Malik

        I had an unexpectedly good meal at Grand Cafe last week. The Salade Lyonnaise was wonderful. Everyone loved their entrees - lamb shank, pork chops and excellent crispy stripped sea bass. The service was very slow, though. We informed them on entering that we were going to theater, but it still took 15 minutes for our waiter to come and very long to get our entrees. Still, I am looking forward to going back when I don’t have to worry about the time.

        1. re: tvham

          Thanks so much for the responses!

        2. There are a bunch of restaurants on Belden Place with seating both indoors and outside in the closed-off street, so they can handle a *lot* of walk-ins. B44 for Catalan, Plouf for mussels and french fries, there are four or five others.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Great tip. Given the literal row of places next to one another, you're bound to get into one.

          2. Puccini & Pinetti would be good for casual Italian. Nice, energetic atmosphere with good basic food.