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This Friday night near Clement/Presidio -- where to go?

We find ourselves with an unusual, unplanned evening sans baby tomorrow night. We'll be free for dinner right about dinner time, leaving from an event near the Arguello gate to the Presidio. Where to go? One of the Spices? Pizzetta 211? Old Shanghai? Dragon River? Chapeau? Someplace in the Presidio?

Decore and cuisine secondary to great food where we can talk a little, but we aren't looking for intimate. We could also head down to the Marina, where I'm *really* unfamiliar with the choices...

We're leaning towards someplace we've never been, so that excludes Aziza, Clementine, Mandalay and Burma Superstar. Still, the choices are paralyzing, plus we have little time for reservations.

Thanks for any and all input!

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  1. Clementine on Clement or Garabaldi's on Presidio (try the Chicken Milanese - yum). You should be able to get a reservation for both if you call today.

    1. Singapore Malaysian on Clement is great - try the Mi Siam soup....

      1. what about la terasse in the presidio? i haven't been yet but a coworker has raved about it.


        1. I'd heartily recommend Spices, Pizzetta, or Chapeau!, based on your criteria.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Windy

            WIndy, which Spices would you go to? I will check the archives, but in general I admire your reports so would lean towards your preference. Thanks for taking the time.

            1. re: bernalgirl

              I've been to both multiple times and never remember which is I and which is II. Worse the menus have a lot of overlap but different numbering.

              The one on 6th is bigger and a little nicer as far as atmosphere. The one on 8th is small and chaotic. Food seems equally good at both.

              There's an old post from Noodles that goes through most of the dishes, esp the stinky tofu, but half the fun is pointing as interesting plates go to other tables.

              I love: the numbing cucumbers appetizer, the fried chicken bits (wings? legs?) covered in dried red peppers with Sichuan peppercorns, the silky chicken breast in red oil. We had a whole fried fish once that was amazing, and a delicious non-spicy eggplant with garlic. Also a raw (?) bacon appetizer in red oil with garlic.

              Have fun!

              1. re: Windy

                Also, I believe the one on 6th takes credit, whereas the one on 8th does not.

                I don' think I have had a bad dish at either place, but I really enjoyed the garlic crab at 6th Street and the fried basil & calamari app at 8th Street.

                1. re: Windy

                  the bacon isn't raw, it's poached and stays white.

            2. There's Golden Mandalay, too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Maya

                Mandalay and Golden Mandalay are the same place.

              2. We went to Spices II and were not disappointed. It was perfect for a night w/o child, this is an incredibly bad place for a toddler (not just because of the spicy food).

                We started with the numbing cucumber app, wow! As with the other dishes we tried, we were blown away by the complexity of the flavors, this wasn't just spicy, it was salty and garlic-y and a little sweet, and the texture of the crunchy cool cucumber was a treat.

                Taking our cue from Windy, we looked around and landed on a hot pot at the next table. We copied our neighbors and had the Spicy Combination Hot Pot, a delicious combination of squid, mussels, shrimp, fish, pork intestine, pork meat, pork blood and pork rind, tofu (silken tofu slices?), napa cabbage and bok choy. Again, a wonderfully complex broth, redolent of chile, yes, but not at all one-dimensional. The fish fillet in particular was tender and delicious.

                This was an enormous portion, designed to share and although we were stuffed when we left, we barely dented it. We ordered it with the rice noodles, which came on the side to be cooked as wanted, and they were unnecessary, I preferred the rice.

                Some fish, pork blood, tofu and rice, topped with that amazing garlic sauce, with an occasional sip of broth, and I was in heaven. I had to hold myself back from devouring all the pork rind (can that be good for anyone?), and thoroughly enjoyed the slightly chewy spicy pork intestines.

                Concerned that my chile receptors are out of shape, I also ordered the napa cabbage with ham. It was nice to have something on the table other than rice (and beer) to provide a break from the heat (which was very manageable even at the "three dot" level, btw), but I also appreciated the salty counterpoint of the ham and again, the complexity of the flavors. This was not a bland stir fry by any stretch.

                We're both looking forward to another visit to further mine the menu. Thanks for the recs, all!