Suggestions for NYC Chowhound....Popular but not touristy....
I'll be in town with my boyfriend, staying near union square, and would love to find a moderately priced restaurant that the locals know is great but that is not a tourist destination. Any kind of food, just an inviting/romantic/trendy vs. staid/casual yet classy/ambiance yet not too loud kind of place! Easy for you all, right? ;-) Would be great if it was in walking distance, but happy to go anywhere in the city if easy to get to with public transportation....just want a memorable eveningw ith good food and wine.... thanks!
I always recommend Ristorante Milano. It's homestyle Italian, all homemade pastas, small, quaint, great service. One of my favorite restaurants in the city. It's on Pacific between Hyde and Larkin, and from Union Square you can take the Powell-Hyde cable car right there.
If you want something right downtown, try to get a table at Canteen. It's on Sutter at Jones, about four blocks from Union Square. Granted, it's gotten write-ups in a couple of mags, but it's a great little place with amazing food. It's tiny and booked every night, so call soon...
A little further afield is Chow (at Church and Market; just take the Muni Metro to the Church St. station). Not fancy, very neighborhood-y; I'm there for "date night" with my partner every Tuesday. Food is consistent - sort of comfort meets Italian - with good pizza, pasta, burgers and salads. Prices are VERY reasonable. And be sure to save room for dessert - coconut cream pie, pecan pie and ginger cake are all winners.
Luella, Rue Saint Jacque and Frescotti are all great little neighborhood place located not that far from Union Sq. In fact, you could take the cable car to all of them if you like. None of them are noisy nor are they fancy but they do have outstanding food. All are favorites of ours.
I like Fringale, though it can be a little cramped.
If you can handle a little touristy, there is A16 and Delfina...