Dinner tonight, alone, San Francisco
First of all, thank you for your collective wisdom on this board, it's kept me eating well all week! Tonight's (Thursday) dinner is my last before heading home and I'm wondering what I just can't miss before I leave. Keep in mind that I'm likely to be eating alone. I'm in a hotel downtown, but am happy to walk/metro/BART/or even bus if need be.
So far this week, mostly thanks to you all, I've been to:
o Café de la Presse: not my choice. Respectable but not great, although it was Sunday night.
o El Farolito, twice: a fantastic burrito, one of the best I've ever had, and a pretty good chile relleno. I'll probably pick up something from them on my way to the airport tomorrow. Good for solo, of course, but even better for taking back to your hotel room, and only a couple of stops away from downtown on BART.
o Tajine: very very good couscous, addictive in its butteriness. The pepper and tomato salad was excellent too, but the other salads were just ok, without the strong flavors I associate with North African cooking. I've had much more Tunisian than Moroccan, though, so it may be a regional thing. Good for solo dining, especially lunch. No bar and very small, so a singleton taking a whole table at dinner may be tough.
o CAV: a lot of fun and good wine, of course. Perhaps I didn't make the smartest food decisions, though. Fried smelts (an odd dish for a wine bar; I had beer) were superb, but the mushroom "tartare" was strangely lacking in flavor. A poor choice of cheese (the smoked one; it just tasted like generic smoked cheese) when they were out of my first choice, but the cheese plate was very nicely put together. Great atmosphere for solo dining.
o Petit LuLu at the ferry building: an ok salmon sandwich. Good salmon flavor but no kick in the salmon salad. I thought I saw preserved lemon in the ingredient list on the menu, but its flavor was totally lacking from the sandwich. The bread was buttered which, in addition to the mayo in the salmon, made a pretty greasy sandwich. Nice to eat in the sun in Justin Herman Plaza!
o Breakfast from Frog Hollow Farm at the ferry building: WOW! excellent hot chocolate and the best scone I think I've ever had. They charge like $4 for it but it's worth it, at least once.
o Original Joe's: perfect for solo dining.
Sorry, that was rather longer than I intended, but if you've made it this far, please let me know what I'm missing. Potential choices for tonight are Pece, Luella, Delfina, Incanto, etc. Where should I go???
A good dining alone spot is Hawthorne Lane. They have a lively bar area where you can sit and order anything off the main menu. The wine selection is good and you'll find it easy to chat people up. It's good food and casual, and thankfully, not to loud or too 'sceney'. It's south of market near Moscone and sf/MOMA.
Delfina is wonderful and I'd definitely recommend eating there although I'm not sure it would be the best "solo" experience. The tables are close together and once while waiting for a friend, I felt like I was inadvertantly eavesdropping on my neighbors coversation by sitting there silently. Haven't been to Pizzeria Delfina yet but I heard its great.
I love Blue Plate. They use local, seasonal produce (and meats) so you're getting the best the Bay Area has to offer. Zuni is one of my favs too.
At Foreign Cinema you can sit and watch the movie as you eat which might be a great solo dinner.
There's lots of great sushi around if you want to sit at the bar and gouge yourself. Ebisu comes to mind, although it gets crowded. Check out this board for other recommendations.
Some other favorites of mine that I can see dining alone at are Suriya (Thai), Tu Lan (Vietnamese) or House of Nan King (Chinese).
Thanks everyone. I wanted a good walk so I ended up at Pesce and had a very tasty meal at a bar which is very friendly to the single diner. My advice for Pesce would be to stick to the fish, which is very good. Polenta, which came with a delicious braised tuna, was slightly stale, enough to make me think about sending it back (which I never do), but not enough to make me do it. Green beans were frankly overcooked. Sardines excellent, cocktails excellent, bread pudding good but a little dry, and service excellent and very friendly.
By the way, it was pretty slow when I went in around 7:30 and the bartender was complaining about inconsistent business lately. So, if you want to see Pesce stick around, you ought to eat there :)