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Dinner before the Ballet

Hello Hounds,

We decided last minute to go to the ballet tomorrow night (War Memorial Opera House) and are looking for dinner suggestions in the area. We are open to any kind of food. We are shooting for $20/entree.

Any ideas?


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  1. Citizen Cake, Absinthe, Jardineire

    1 Reply
    1. re: enahmanson

      Last time I was at Citizen Cake a couple of years ago all the entrees were well over $20, and I think Jardineire is at least as expensive.

      There are other nice restaurants closer to the price range you mentioned -- I'll throw out Bistro Clovis because it doesn't get mentioned as often as some of the others.

      1. You might need to look for a place that doesn't take reservations; I think most restaurants are pretty booked in the pre-theatre/show hours.

        1. Sauce would fit the bill

          1. I would definitely recommend Indigo. Jardiniere is over the price range you mentioned, and I have never been all that impressed with Citizen Cake (though I really wanted to like it).

            1. Stelline's Italian. THE Best Spaghetti and meatballs (portion perfect) I have ever had. Light options, seafood options. Wine selections are superb. Staff extremely friendly. I have been going here for years.....330 Gough Street
              (between Fell St & Hayes St)
              San Francisco, CA 94102

              2 Replies
              1. re: mynameisolivia

                Have you tried Il Borgo? Not for meatballs ('cause I don't think they have them) but for other pastas.

                1. re: chaddict

                  Highly recommend Il Borgo for pre-show dining. Their pastas are fantastic!

                  Here's my pre-show inquiry w/ my Il Borgo report appended at the bottom:

              2. Paul K. Platters are wonderful for sharing. I agree that Jardiniere is above your price point (but a worthwhile splurge).

                1. There is an excellent Italian restaurant on Hayes Street a few blocks up from the Opera House named Cafe Della Street. Very good Italian food and reasonably priced. The place caters to the pre-theatre crowd. Try it you'll be delighted.

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: chaddict

                      That sounds right. Just across the street from Absinthe.

                      1. re: QuincyFats

                        In that case, no. We all have diffrent tastes so take everything with a grain of salt. But seriously, this place bites.

                  1. Thanks all for the suggestions! I think we'll add many of them to our list.

                    On Saturday night we tried Bistro Clovis. I got more excited about going when while walking there we overhead a couple in front of us talking about how great the salads were.

                    We arrived a few minutes after our reservation - I had called on the way in to let them know we would be late - and they sat us promptly. We were not given the wine menu. When our server arrived - almost 15 minutes after we were seated - she was kind but in poor form - meaning she said with a polite smile, "Ready to order?" No hello, no drink order taken. We had to ask what the specials were and for the wine menu.

                    The food was a mixed bag. We shared the escargot and it was wonderful. They were cooked to perfection and the hot buttery garlic sauce was good enough for better bread.
                    I had the pork and my taller half had the salmon. Both were fine but not memorable.

                    The service didn't improve much. Our food was brought out hot and in a timely manor but no one stopped by to see if we were enjoying it or needed anything else. I was a bit surprised by this because, although it was before the ballet, they seemed to have a great flow worked out and plenty of staff available.

                    Perhaps we should have gotten the salad.