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Christmas in San Francisco

notmartha Nov 28, 2006 07:48 PM

My family and I will be visiting San Franciso this Christmas from Los Angeles. Any recommendations on restaurants that will be open Christmas Day, that has good food that I can't find elsewhere (i.e. non-chain), reasonably priced, and will tolerate a well behaved 8 year old?

I was thinking of going to the Ferry Building on Saturday and check out Hog Island. Other restaurants we will go to is Ino at Japantown and Da Flora. Would also like to check out the take out dim sum places in Chinatown - what streets there should we look for (want to do some comparisons before going in)?

We like pretty much any cuisine (ok - maybe not Ethopian).


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  1. Chandavkl RE: notmartha Nov 28, 2006 08:59 PM

    For take out dim sum, check out Jackson St. between Grant and Stockton (Garden Bakery, Dick Lee, Delicious Dim Sum), Broadway between Grant and Stockton (Mon Kiang, You's, Broadway), and most of all Stockton St. from Broadway south (too many to mention--mostly on the west side of the street except for Louie at 1242 Stockton and AA at 1068 Stockton).

    1. r
      rtmonty RE: notmartha Nov 28, 2006 10:33 PM

      By all means stop at Golden Gate Bakery and pick up some of their wonderful egg custard tarts, the best in town.

      1. s
        sfsand RE: notmartha Nov 29, 2006 04:05 AM

        according to opentable.com, here's whats available for a group of 4. minus the 'not so kid friendly' places as far as I know.

        > Ame SF - SOMA Contemporary American $$$
        > Americano Restaurant - Hotel Vitale SF - Financial Dist/Embarc California $$$
        > ANZU SF - Downtown/Union Sq Steak $$$
        > Ararat SF - Castro/ Noe/ Mission Mediterranean $$
        > Asia de Cuba - San Francisco SF - Downtown/Union Sq Asian $$$
        > Bistro Boudin SF - Fisherman's Wharf American $$
        > Bobo's SF - Marina Steak $$$
        > Cafe de la Presse SF - Downtown/Union Sq French $$
        > Campton Place SF - Downtown/Union Sq California $$$$
        > Chic's Seafood SF - Fisherman's Wharf Seafood $$
        > Daily Grill - San Francisco SF - Downtown/Union Sq American $$
        > Figaro Ristorante Italiano SF - North Beach Italian $$
        > Fior d'Italia SF - North Beach Italian $$
        > Franciscan Crab Restaurant SF - Fisherman's Wharf Seafood $$$
        > Hyde Street Bistro SF - Russian Hill French $$
        > Iluna Basque SF - North Beach French $$
        > La Scene - Warwick Regis Hotel San Francisco SF - Downtown/Union Sq California $$$
        > L'Olivier SF - Financial Dist/Embarc French $$$
        > Maharani SF - Civic Center/Van Ness Indian $$
        > Malacca SF - Castro/ Noe/ Mission Asian $$
        > Pacific Restaurant SF - Downtown/Union Sq California $$$
        > Park Grill - Le Meridien San Francisco SF - Financial Dist/Embarc California $$$
        > Restaurant Seven Fifty SF - Financial Dist/Embarc Mediterranean $$$
        > The Oak Room - The Westin St. Francis SF - Downtown/Union Sq American $$
        > The Stinking Rose - SF SF - North Beach California $$$
        > Vignette SF - Downtown/Union Sq American $$
        > Zingari Ristorante SF - Downtown/Union Sq Italian $$

        1. notmartha RE: notmartha Nov 30, 2006 02:59 AM

          Chandavkl - thanks for the chinatown suggestions!

          sfsand - that's clever! I usually use opentable to book a restaurant, but never for searching if they open at a holiday.

          I'll check them out. Some questions - does any one know of any special Xmas menus at the restaurants? Preferably not more than $40 a person?

          The Italian restaurants on the list above sounded good, but not sure how they compare with Da Flora? I can't find the Da Flora menu online anywhere, so the only thing I know is that they have killer gnocchi and is northern Italian food. Don't really want to do 2 similar Italian style restaurants.


          1 Reply
          1. re: notmartha
            rworange RE: notmartha Nov 30, 2006 03:39 AM

            Opentable will print the restaurant menus in these links as it gets closer to Christmas
            Christmas Day
            Christmas Eve

            It will look like this New Year's Eve list

            Just keep checking the above links for updates.

          2. Ruth Lafler RE: notmartha Nov 30, 2006 03:05 PM

            You can always have your Chinese meal(s) on Christmas day -- most places should be open and bustling. You could go to R&G Lounge for the traditional (in the Bay Area) Christmas crab.

            With a couple of exceptions, the restaurants on that list are pretty touristy and not that great.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              Melanie Wong RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 30, 2006 04:06 PM

              Here's my recent post on the salt and pepper crab at R&G Lounge with photos. I'd advise getting a res for Christmas Day. This place is packed on holidays, and even when we dropped in on a Tuesday night, there was a long line.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                rworange RE: Melanie Wong Nov 30, 2006 06:19 PM

                Here's the actual link to that great post on the R&G post

                I agree with Ruth that most of those restaurants are really tourist and not food oriented and I wouldn't want to spend my Christmas at many of them. I'd wait until the opentable link gets updated.

                Of the restaurants listed, the ones that are probably in your $40 price range and not just for tourists and even some of these are marginal, IMO:

                > Fior d'Italia SF - North Beach Italian $$
                > Hyde Street Bistro SF - Russian Hill French $$
                > Iluna Basque SF - North Beach French $$
                > L'Olivier SF - Financial Dist/Embarc French $$$
                > Maharani SF - Civic Center/Van Ness Indian $$

                Here was mainly the Opentable link for Thanksgiving restaurants that might give you an idea of prices. Not all restaurants open on Thanksgiving are open on Christmas.

                1. re: rworange
                  Ruth Lafler RE: rworange Nov 30, 2006 07:09 PM

                  How's the food at L'Olivier? When I worked nearby I walked by there often and would look at the menu, which seemed kind of old fashioned. More like classic American French restaurant dishes than real French cuisine. Also, I can't imagine that neighborhood would be very festive for Christmas, although it is walking distance from the Embarcadero ice skating rink.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    rworange RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 30, 2006 07:17 PM

                    Yeah, never been there. Just pruning the list down based on price and whether it was a restaurant I wouldn't be caught dead in on Christmas or any time. Given the menu for Thanksgiving, I'd probably splurge the extra $25 and give the Americano a try. If I had any clue that Roberto was going to be sick on Thanksgiving and just was unconcious most of the day (as in sleeping), I would have snuck down to Americano to try it out. As soon as opentable updates, there should be some better options.

                  2. re: rworange
                    susancinsf RE: rworange Dec 1, 2006 07:09 PM

                    I'd add Zingari to your list: not including wine, should be within the $40 p/p range, and I think the food is good.

                    That said, I'd probably choose R&G myself, and I suspect the 8 year old would enjoy it more.

                    1. re: susancinsf
                      notmartha RE: susancinsf Dec 1, 2006 08:02 PM

                      My 8 year old has the strangest taste. Part of the reason I was considering Figaro was because they have fried calamari and also bucatini Amatriciana on the menu. That pasta was all he ordered when we went to Italy. He complained bitterly if we have Chinese too much (except for chinese style seafood, like steamed fresh fish).

                      Sounds like R&L is a must do, even if it's not for christmas dinner.

                      1. re: notmartha
                        Robert Lauriston RE: notmartha Dec 2, 2006 01:09 AM

                        Ristorante Ideale's a very good restaurant that makes bucatini and other Roman specialties, that's where the chef's from. Probably won't be open this Xmas, since it's closed Mondays.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          notmartha RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 4, 2006 12:04 AM

                          Thanks for the tip! We're in town for several days, so that will be one of our italian nights.

                        2. re: notmartha
                          susancinsf RE: notmartha Dec 4, 2006 05:22 PM

                          I thought the fried calamari at Zingari was excellent...

                          1. re: susancinsf
                            notmartha RE: susancinsf Dec 5, 2006 07:41 PM

                            Oh - but he had me at 'Roman'. I don't see many restaurants with Amatriciana sauce in LA and I still can't cook a decent enough version (carbonara, however, I mastered).

                2. notmartha RE: notmartha Dec 1, 2006 04:49 PM

                  rworange - thanks for the links!

                  Ruth & Melanie - thanks for the R&L Lounge suggestion. Looks scrumptious, and the price for the crab looked reasonable. Definitely need to try it for lunch or dinner during our stay.

                  Any comments on:
                  Cafe de la Press
                  Chic Seafood

                  I liked the menu for Fior d'Italia, Iluna Basque, and Hyde St Bistro also, so need to check into those as well.

                  1. rworange RE: notmartha Dec 1, 2006 06:36 PM

                    Chic Seafood ... ick, ick, ick, ick, ick ... and an over-priced ick at that. Ask me how I really feel about the place. My visit was a few years ago, but joints like this rarely change.

                    I was tempted by Iluna Basque for Thanksgiving. But they seem to be uneven from what I've read. The chef is talented and helped open Piperade. However, he's young and sometimes his, uh, sense of fun gets in the way of paying attention to the kitchen.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rworange
                      rtmonty RE: rworange Dec 1, 2006 11:42 PM

                      We had an enjoyable time at Lluna Basque but it was a while back. Dishes were well preparted but the service was a little uneven. Haven't been back but not because of anything they did, just busy trying other places.

                    2. notmartha RE: notmartha Dec 1, 2006 07:59 PM

                      The menu for Chic Seafood looked OK, but I was wondering since it's at the Fisherman Wharf area (tourist trap central); only considered it since it's around our hotel.

                      Two off the list then..

                      1. m
                        Marat RE: notmartha Dec 2, 2006 12:33 AM

                        Cafe De La Presse is a good place, but I don't think you want that for a memorable meal. If you are staying in the area it's great for a drink (well stocked bar) and has killer French onion soup. If you are staying nearby, they are open early till late and would be the perfect place for you to go have a latte and read Le Figaro while the family sleeps in. It's located directly across from the Chinatown Gate and makes a perfect meet-up spot. As far as Fior D'Italia is concerned, it's one of the most, if not the most famous of the Old-school North Beach Italian places. I have not been since it moved to the new location due to fire, but my feeling in recent years is that it's been pretty tired. Often the service was atrocious as the waiters barely phoned it in. But, if you want veal meatballs, it works. Given the options you have mentioned, I would go with Hyde Street Bistro - it's a little gem.

                        1. notmartha RE: notmartha Dec 4, 2006 12:44 AM

                          Thank you all for your suggestions! We are set for Xmas - booked Hyde St Bistro - in the mood for foie gras and chicken liver.

                          Will do R&G for xmas eve, and also Ino Sushi and Ideale for the remainder of the stay. Was thinking that maybe for xmas day lunch we will check out chinatown to see if any dim sum places may be open.

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