Dining alone near Marriott on 4th
Heading to San Francisco for work and would rather sample the city's delights than eat conference food. I will be staying at the Marriott on 4th street and would like to eat at places within a 5-10 minute cab ride of the hotel (never been to SF and don't want to get lost!). I am a young female and want to avoid anything that may include a pick-up scene...just me, good food, and a book.
I will want to do one "nice" dinner (meaning entrees in the $25 - $35 range) and two other meals. I like all types of food and want to stay away from anything touristy. If you recommend a place and have a particular dish you enjoy, please share.
Any local products I should bring home to the my chowhound husband who won't be making the trip?
You won't get lost going anywhere from the Marriott -- it's right off the "main drag" (Market Street). For a nice dinner in that range, I'd head down to Boulevard -- they have a counter overlooking part of the line that's a really fun place to eat when you're by yourself. The bar at Tadich Grill is also a fun place to eat -- their speciality is fresh, local seafood and a seafood stew called cioppino. Both places are a longish (but simple) walk, or a very short cab ride (or for Boulevard, take the F street car down Market St.).
For local chowish products, check out the Ferry Building market hall at the foot of Market Street (same direction as Boulevard). If you're going to be in town over a Saturday morning, the Farmers Market there is not to be missed. There's also a farmer's market at Civic Center (just a few blocks the other direction up Market St., although some of that area is a little scuzzy, so you might want to hop on a streetcar) on Wednesdays.
Maybe I'm naive (or just showing my age), but I don't think restaurants being a "pick-up scene" is really an issue in SF.
Lulu at the bar, no one will bother you and it's two blks from the the Marriot. There's Ame close by. There are also quite a few places North of Market. A second on going to the Ferry Building for take home stuff...you can also grab a nice meal there as well...you can probably get a seat at the bar at Slanted Door which is in the Ferry Building.
i second the rec for ame. they've got some very interesting crudo (i had the marinated trout) and the spaghetti "crab"onara was quite a different take on the standard. portions are a little small though. service is excellent.
lulu's is a good place as well. they have daily specials from their brick oven like roasted leg of lamb sandwiches. hefty portions too.
These are the dishes I loved:
Tempura "Poke" with Ogo Seaweed, Hawaiian Sea Salt and Green Onions
"Lissa’s Staff Meal": Cuttlefish Noodles and Sea Urchin
Tossed with Quail Eggs, Wasabi, Soy Sauce and Gobo
Japanese Egg Custard "Chawan Mushi"
with Maine Lobster, Nameko Mushrooms and Mitsuba Sauce
Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod
and Shrimp Dumplings In Shiso Broth
Linguine with Dungeness Crab "Crabonara"
I also had the Lissa's Staff meal and the Chawan Mushi and both were just absolutely lovely. I also had the Tataki of Hamachi which was exquisite. The "sashimi" dishes were all very good. It isn't a sushi bar, per se, in that they have set dishes that you order off of the menu, but their sushi/sashimi offerings were all good.
If you like seafood, you should check out Bar Crudo, which is perched above the Stockton Tunnel, a 5-block walk north of the Marriott. No pick-up scene, and there's a handful of bar seats that are great for solo diners. Best of all, great food -- the seafood chowder with applewood smoked bacon is delicious, and if you go and they have the lobster salad, you're really going to want to order that -- it's another hit. My mouth is watering right now thinking about it, and it's not even 9 AM yet! Only open for dinner.
Bar Crudo is very focused on seafood, though, so you may want to check out the menu on the website in advance to see if it's to your liking.
I travel almost non-stop for work and have similar requirements as your own, except in other cities. I, along w/my book, stick to the bar/chef's counter. Suggest Zuppa http://www.zuppa-sf.com/ in SOMA, which is an easy walk (just keep your eyes open, especially under the freeway) from your hotel. I suggest Zuppa because:
1) They have fantastic house-cured meats. If you can, try one of the starter platters.
2) They offer a good selection of wines by the glass (important unless as a single you want an entire bottle).
3) They have a great chef's counter where you can comfortably feel part of the atmosphere while still keeping to yourself, if you prefer.
Counter at Kuleto's right up the street on Powell -
Keep in mind with the price of cabs in SF if you are on a budget if you keep to walkable locations (easy - but as a female I would be careful about some locations after dark) you will eat fabulously