HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Entertaining East Coast family in SF

My in-laws are visiting us next week, and I'm trying to think of some good dinner options in SF during their stay. Looking for a place that gives good SF cuisine, no budget in mind, fancy atmosphere not required, good hearty portions is a plus. (Chez Panisse and Rubicon did not impress them on a past visit - they want to leave feeling full for not too much money.) Father-in-law is a true meats-and-potatoes kinda guy, so no truly ethnic cuisines. Any recommendations?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Blue Plate.
    New soul food place,um,Farmer Brown's??

    1. house of prime rib, izzy's, capp's corner, bravo pizza

      1. East Coast parents + $ no object + large portions + meat 'n' potatoes + big city splash = Boulevard!

        1. Boulevard looks wonderful, but some reviewers on Citysearch claim that the portions are so small that they left hungry...so I'm a bit hesitant?

          1 Reply
          1. re: alina555

            I have never left Boulevard feeling hungry. The portions have always been very generous.

          2. Come on folks. Here are some real deal places...

            Suppenkuche, a great authentic German place in Hayes Valley. The dumplings are the size of solfballs! http://www.suppenkuche.com

            Home, either one is great food at great prices.

            Little Star Pizza, I dare anyone to walk away feel hungry after eating here.

            Cha Cha Cha, hardy, filling, lively and tasty Caribbean

            6 Replies
            1. re: TheRobin

              But none of those meet the criteria of being "San Francisco cuisine" and/or non-ethnic.

              My vote would be for Tadich Grill. Very San Francisco. Large portions. Although it's mostly seafood, the approach is very "meat and potatoes" and there are non-seafood options on the menu.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I think Home counts as SF cuisine. It's a pretty local take on American comfort food / home cooking.

                More or less the same goes for Blue Plate.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Totally take them to the Tadich -- very hearty.

                  I do not recommend taking people from the east coast for pizza unless it's at someplace like A16, which is not the standard east-coast pizza style.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    I second the anti-pizza suggestion. Little Star is ostensibly quite different from typical East Coast pizza, but it's not a huge step up from Uno's.

                2. re: TheRobin

                  Suppenkuche, a great authentic German place in Hayes Valley. The dumplings are the size of solfballs! http://www.suppenkuche.com


                  Suppenkuche's best attended when they open, 5:00 pm. By maybe 6:30 it's crowded; gets LOUD, and I do mean LOUD. Be prepared to shout to be heard by your guests. Parking's also a problem by 6:00 pm in a not great neighborhood - public housing to the North.

                  Food's good! German food by a German owner. Price is good. Staff's good.

                  Beer's not - hauling beer from far and away isn't conducive to 'fresh' - watch out for the cardboard taste of oxidation and don't be afraid to send that back for a different brew. The one beer that never seems to be bad no matter what is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - don't know if they have that, as they specialize in German beer.

                  Black Forest cake & Quark cheese cake are yummy. Coffee's usually good.

                  I've learned to not order beer - Suppenkuche has tasty sodas and wine. Good beer can be had at Thirsty Bear Brewing Co.

                  Good for a group is you don't mind the volume. You might try Sunday Brunch.

                  1. re: Waterboy

                    Is it just me or has Suppenkuche gone downhill in the last couple of years? I live around the corner and still go for dinner semi-regularly, but it doesn't seems as good these days. The spaetzle, in particular, just isn't as delicate onion/cheese creamy. And the weinerschnitzel is drier.

                    However, it is still good, solid food and a fun, albeit loud, place to eat. Excellent Reislings, too.

                3. i second blue plate & suppenkuche.

                  bacco on diamond is good classic italian food.

                  Tadich Grill maybe too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: shivani

                    i second blue plate


                    I had a delicious pork chop at the Blue Plate - a folksy place in a working man's neighborhood, surprisingly good! Usually packed - plan ahead.

                    1. Lulu. It's a good combo of fire roasted meats and stuff for everyone else that doesn't want to just eat meat and potatoes. Palette-wise it's all accessible.

                      I've been there with large parties(10+), some meat and potato midwesterners, and everyone was happy. The good thing about the family style service is you won't get stuck with one dud and if you like something you can easily order another.

                      1. Hmmm, so the California cuise doesn't blow their skirt up.
                        Maybe a view...

                        We had Christmas Eve dinner at McCormick & Schmidt's at Fisherman's Wharf. They can seat big groups by the windows.

                        Does the Corneilion (SP?) Room at the top of BofA building seat for dinner.

                        Hyatt Embarcadero has the spinning restaurant thing going on.

                        1. take them to the cliffhouse. great place, nice view.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: fooddude247

                            Which of the two places at the Cliff House are you recommending, and what have you eaten there that was good?

                          2. As an East Coaster, I must admit that I find the portions in this city to be pitifully small. I love Delfina, but the portions are so small that I often want to order a second or third entree, and sometimes even eat at a second resto. This is the city for s-l-o-w metabolisms. (I mean, aside from the fact that people here casually eat giant burritos consisting of large chunks of red meat, cheese, and oceans of sour cream.)

                            Anyhow, Range has decent-sized portions, and I think it's tasty. Rather Cali type food.

                            I like Home, and I go there for their early bird special (eleven bucks, dude!), but it's not terribly exciting food. I dunno if I'd take the inlaws there.

                            It sounds like you should just go steakhouse. Maybe if the Giants play an NL East team, you can take them to Acme Chophouse... does pa like baseball?

                            Actually, Pauline's Pizza is very California with respect to ingredient care, and if you each order a pie, it should be more than enough food. Not too expensive, either.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: dunstable

                              One pizza per person at Pauline's would be *way* more than enough food for most people.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Yes, but one pizza per two people is far from enough...

                                1. re: dunstable

                                  Only if the pizza were a size small...

                                  1. re: Frosty Melon

                                    Oops, wasn't that the assumption? Surely you guys didn't think I was suggesting that each person order an XL pie? My bad. But yah, if we're talking small, by no means is that "way more than enough food" for one person. I typically order a small pie for myself, and if I haven't eaten in more than four hours, can easily finish it in one sitting.

                                    1. re: dunstable

                                      I was starving and ordered a small from Pauline's on Wednesday and came close to finishing it, but not quite. Sure was good though: prosciutto, fontina and roasted garlic (meat special).

                            2. How about a trip up to Napa Valley? I've eaten at Ad Hoc twice and for $45 per person you get a ton of food--I've had take home boxes with enough for 2 more meals! It is 4 hearty courses, and the entrees I had were very meat focused. One was tri-tip, the other was sausages (I love sausages). It is novel to eat at a Thomas Keller restaurant where the portions are outrageously big and the bill doesn't leave me with a stomach ache. It is also not the flouffie-la-la food at Keller's other restaurants (N.B. this is not meant to be a judgement on flouffie-la-la). Plus, it's a limited time restaurant and might not be around the next time they visit.


                              1. the Cliff house on Point Lobos. i've only been there twice, and it was pretty unique each time, the views especially were wonderful. highly recommend the macadamia nut crusted halibut though, it was a great dish. along with that, a great californian wine from napa vineyards will delight those east coast pallets with something they probably can only order online. great place.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: fooddude247

                                  Really? I've never heard anything good about the food at the Cliff House.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Not meat and potatoes

                                      Not hearty

                                      Not good.

                                      Haven't been there, but why not Original Joe's. Can't get more San Franciscan / meat and potatoes than that ... been to other locations.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        Because Orig'Joe's is in the Tenderloin?

                                        1. re: ML8000

                                          "good SF cuisine, no budget in mind, fancy atmosphere not required, good hearty portions is a plus"

                                          Sort of describes Original Joe's. There's valet parking too, I believe.

                                          Ohh, I've never been, but what about Alfred's or House of Prime rib.

                                          Also, if stretching the meat and potatoes to seafood, while I would choose Tadich over it ... consider Scoma's in Fisherman's Wharf.

                                          The sides aren't exciting, but the fish is stellar-fresh, the portions are huge ... huge. It has a nice atmosphere on it's own wharf away from the main drag with little fishing boats parked next to it and free valet parking at the door. It beats the Cliff House in a major way.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            I've never heard of valet parking at Original Joe's, but they validate for $2 off next door at 142 Taylor.


                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Thought I read it on the board, guess not.

                                              What about the Memphis Minnies / Toranado / Roseamunde triangle. Real San Franciscans in their native habitant.

                                              Two other places to consider are Delancy Street and TownsEnd. Both are straight up American food and not overly pricy.

                                              I like Townsend more for breakfast/brunch but they have nice dinners in a nice environment. Lots of freinds like the steak, it's not serious steakhouse steak, but it is tasty and a nice dinner. That reminds me that I should post in the lemon merangue pie thread that Townsend makes a great lemon meringuqe pie.

                                        2. re: rworange

                                          Definitely meat and potatoes, and a filling meal for a reasonable price. The location's funky but seems like about half the customers are tourists.

                                          The original Original Joe's in SF has no connection with any of the other Joe's restaurants except a historical one to the Original Joe's in San Jose.

                                  1. Chow - either location in SF
                                    Buckeye Roadhouse- I know, I know, it's in Marin, but doing the Golden Gate Bridge is cool.
                                    And I second House of Prime Rib

                                    2 Replies
                                      1. re: j_b

                                        Buckeye Roadhouse

                                        Excellent choice for some things....

                                        I recommend making a meal out of Chicken Wings and Oysters Bingo.

                                        Not kidding!

                                      2. 1. Buckeye Roadhouse (in Marin) for hearty portions

                                        2. Firefly on 24th Street in Noe Valley in SF for California Cuisine, reasonable size portions

                                        3. Farmer Brown's has great food and big portions but is really really really noisy so may be hard to have a conversation

                                        4. Range is amazing but maybe too "California Cuisine"

                                        5. Slanted Door is one of the BEST restaurants in SF and has a lot of variety on the menu AND it's in the Ferry Building which is fun for visitors BUT it's ethnic. Every out of town visitor that I've taken there or sent there has LOVED it.

                                        6. Lulu's is always a good standby. I think it's a little tired but it's probably good for visitors.

                                        7. Zuni has good portions and I believe they have a good filet mignon on the menu. They also have (or used to have) a Niman Ranch ground sirloin "burger" on a French roll with fine cut super thin and crunchy shoe string potato fries.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: abbe

                                          Zuni's menu changes daily, but I've rarely seen steak and never a filet mignon, flavorful cuts like hanger steak would be more their style. The burger's not available from 6pm to 10pm. And people who aren't impressed by Chez Panisse usually feel the same way about Zuni.

                                        2. Wow, thanks for all the suggestions! Okay, I am torn between Boulevard and Firefly. I was able to snag Saturday night reservations for both. Now I know Boulevard is more pricey with a view (if we're lucky to get seated in the back)...is it that far better of an experience than Firefly to justify the price difference?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: alina555

                                            They're both good value for money, but from what you said about Chez Panisse and Rubicon, your inlaws would probably like Firefly better.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Agree. Firefly, or try Luella (amazing food, perfect friendly service, added bonus of atmospheric cable cars passing by the front window).

                                          2. McCormick & Schmicks in Ghiradelli Square, what about Gary Dankos, then there is always the cheesecake factory... LOL

                                            1. Q on Clement St. btwn 3rd-4th Aves. Grilled meatloaf, Great specials, great winelist. Casual, friendly atmosphere, good for weekend brunch, too.

                                              1. Okay, here's the update - we went to Firefly tonight and it was fantastic! The in-laws LOVED the food (FIL completely cleared his plate of beef brisket and MIL raved about the fried chicken) and my husband said it was the best pork chop he has ever had. The portions were the right size (good amount without being overwhelming), service was decent, and we especially appreciated the reasonable prices. Thanks everyone for the super pick!