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Short Visit to San Francisco - How are these choices?

My wife and I will be visiting San Fran but only have 2 nights (Thu-Fri) and 1 full day. We are looking for medium priced (around $75 pp w/wine) dinners that are somewhat unique to SF. We're from the Chicago area and love ethnic foods, but are open to suggestions. We like relatively informal places (i.e. not dressy), but not TOO loud or crowded. We also want places that take reservations. From the posts I've read, among the places I'm thinking of:
Zuni Cafe
Yank Sing for Dim Sum
We're staying near Union Square but as long as we can take public transportation without too much difficuly, location in the city is no problem. What do you hounds think?

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  1. Personally, I would skip Betelnut. The food is average at best and it's completely overpriced. Everything else looks great - Delfina is my favorite.

    1. I've been to all of those choices except for Aziza, and I'd highly recommend them all, with the exception (as lettuce said) of Betelnut. It's not that I dislike the place, the food is fine, but it's nothing exciting, and your other options are all much better. Great choices. If I had to pick your one lunch and two dinners, amongst that group it would be Delfina and Limon for dinner and Zuni for lunch -- however, Delfina and Limon are in the same area of town, so if you want to see a little more of the city, you might move one of those dinners to Aziza.

      1. I would go to Bar Tartine, just had a really lovely dinner there and the atmosphere is very San Francisco- casual, simple rustic elegant..these are the folks that have the Tartine Bakery. Located in the Mission. I think Limon has slipped not as good as it was a year ago.

        I agree with the others on Betelnut. Zuni is a great spot for lunch. Bar Crudo might be more interesting, early evening sit at the Bar nice seafood dishes that are beautiful and near Union Square you do not have anything like this in Chicago.

        Have not been to Aziza for a long time but was not impressed last time I was there too loud and hard food was ok.

        Dosa -good Indian in the Mission.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Lori SF

          Aziza dropped the loud music a couple of years ago. No belly dancing any more, either. Both good things in my book.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            thankfully! It still reminds of the dot com days.

          2. re: Lori SF

            I had a very tasty meal at Bar Tartine the last time I was in the Bay Area.

          3. I don't think Limon is that good. The sangria and ceviche are quite good but the entrees are are never to my liking. It's also very loud.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mmmonica

              I'd second that. We were sort of disappointed with Limon. It was a while ago but I remember everything except the ceviche being sort of salty and uninteresting.

            2. I think Betelnut is a fun place to go for the small plates (appetizers) and the house made beer. I consider it a lunch/early afternoon snack place. Have never had dinner there. Have taken a number of friends and they've always enjoyed the apps.

              1. I have always loved Yank Sing, but stopped going there the day our bill was about $150 for four. They are hands down the best dim sum in town, but they are also the priciest.

                I don't want to scare you away because you can easily eat there for less, just be careful not to choose too many of their specialty dishes. These are usually fabulous items that you won't find elsewhere, but they are also the most expensive. You will recongnize these because they are brought out just a few plates at a time on a tray - not a cart - and they will write in the item at the bottom of your ticket instead of stamping it the way they do all the others.

                Make sure to call for reservations or your wait time will be very lengthy.

                1. Oh...forgot to mention that you might want to consider trying to get reservations at the Slanted Door for excellent Vietnamese. It's in the Ferry Plaza - which you have to visit anyway if you are a true chow hound :)

                  1. I hate that I do not like Slanded Door anymore. Once upon a time it was great now it's a tourist spot that is probably liked but not by someone that remembers what was, sorry. I have been there recntly upon request for biz lunches and keep thinking I would enjoy the BBQ sandwich better next door.

                    Really good Vietnamese is hard to find here. LA has a better selection from high end like slanted door to dives.

                    1. I want to thank everyone for their suggestions on this post as well as some others. It looks the agenda for next month (at least right now) is:
                      Sat: A stop at the Ferry Plaza FM on the way to Sonoma
                      Dinner at Syrah, Santa Rosa
                      Sun: Dinner at Charcuterie, Healdsburg
                      Mon: Dinner at either Willy's or Ravenous, Healdsburg
                      Tue: Dinner at Mustard's Grill (an old fav of ours)
                      Wed: Dinner at either Terra (another fav) or Wappo Bar
                      Thu: Dim Sum at Koi Palace on the way to SFO
                      Dinner at Delfina
                      Fri: Dinner at either Limon or Bar Crudo
                      Tons of wine tasting during the week, including the "Red Velvet" weekend in Alexander Valley.
                      I'll report back after the trip. Again, thanks for all the help

                      1. What about breakfast?

                        Tartine Bakery
                        600 Guerrero Street (at 18th St. in the Mission district)
                        San Francisco, CA 94110
                        415.487.2600, Fax: 415-487-2605

                        Warm bread pudding with house-made brioche and fresh stone fruit is such a nice way to start your day. I’d go back even just for the double chocolate cookies (but I don't know how I'd resist the rest of the menu)! This neighborhood bakery was packed both times I went during my last trip to SF, so I'd expect to wait in line.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AzureBlue

                          Ditto on the Tartine breakfast. They have really good coffee and lattes and my friend and I had the croque monsieur last time which was quite dif from those in France - it was a big slice of crusty, tangy bread with cheese, ham and tomatoes melted on top. Wonderful!
                          So you don't only have to have sweets.

                        2. I was just in San Francisco and opted for Bong Su over the Slanted Door or Betelnut - was glad I did. It would hit the top of your price point but I thought was well worth it - great service and atmosphere. I think the Slanted Door has read to much of its own press. Wasn't that great last time I went and its way too noisey.