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Tips for lunch, dinner solo near Palace Hotel

Hi all,
I'll be at a 2 day conference in SF in early June, staying at the Palace Hotel at Market and New Montgomery. I would love some recs on places within about 5 blocks walking distance that have quality food where I would feel comfortable dining solo (and where I could get to without walking through in relative safety). Anything from cheap ethnic to moderately $$ upscale. Preference for a place that takes credit. Sushi would be ideal, because I could sit at the bar, and I love sushi. But not ruling out any other great places.

I'll have only about an hour for lunch, including walking there and back. Dinner can be a more relaxed affair. If your recs would benefit from a reservation or are only open for lunch or dinner, please alert me. The dinner I have will be a Monday night, in case some places are closed Mondays.

Thank you!

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  1. Kyo-Ya, which is in the hotel (also has a street entrance), is expensive but very good.


    Nearby, open Mondays, and good for solo dining at the bar:


    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thank you. I was just browsing Kyo-Ya's sushi menu, and it looks more like $$$$ to fill up than $$. Are there other good, but more affortable sushi options in this area?

    2. osha thai (on 2nd) is pretty good.. they have 2 tops so you can eat at a smaller table.. i dont remember if there is a bar though 'cause i was there for lunch and didn't really pay attention. roy's on mission has a bar but it might be a bit pricey... you are also close to thirsty bear and zebulon which has sweet potato fries... =)

      also, you can also take muni or bart or cabs to other spots in the city as the city i believe is only approximately 49 square acres (???)

      the bay is one of my many "homes" but i'm more east bay/south bay.... so for me, i find muni a bit confusing and unreliable... i prefer to take bart. that's my preference, but if you come from a place with a great underground (london, ny), then you'll be fine. i mention this because you can always bart one stop to the embarcadero and go the ferry building for dinner and visit slanted door for vietnamese. they also have cheese shops and chocolate shops there... once i went there an afternoon and just did free sample tasting =) it was fun =)

      or you can take the bart the other way one stop to union square and eat in that area... i believe first crush on cyril magnin is not a popular spot here on CH, but i personally like it.. maybe i went with the right group of friends, plus i'm not that picky... anyway, i think it may be closed on mondays though... you may want to check.

      karroki (sp?) by embacadero is a greek restaurant that is pretty cool too. i like their lamb there. i think they have a bar area but it escapes me. i also like frisson, which has an austin powers type of vibe inside, and i think they have a bar too. i would think that you can order from the full menu from the different bars, but i'm not too sure.

      you can also cab it to north beach (known for it's italian) but for reason i haven't quite had good luck there.. i guess i'm either going to the wrong places or don't know what to order.. the place that i enjoy there is cafe jacqueline (sp?) for souffles, but since you'll be dining solo, i would save that for another trip as it can be a bit romantic.

      depending on when you are coming, you can walk down towards (insert your choice of telephone company here) park (aka pac bell park) and check momo's. ive never gone only because it gets crowded whenever there is a giants game.... but some folsk like it there. it doesn't quite strike me as a place i would go to, but you may want to check it out.

      we have good seafood here, folks on CH like scomas, but i found the food lacked flavor for my palatte....

      oh and make sure you dress appropriately =) meaning, bring sweaters =) that sf fog can be quite chilly =) i should know, sometimes it's a 20 degree different from one side of the bay to the other.... ack...

      have fun =)

      6 Replies
        1. re: sasha1

          Heavens, that Scoma's rec probably came from me and it is ONLY for people who insist in eating at Fisherman's Wharf and NOT a destination ... it is the best of the sorry lot in that area.

          Is your conference at the Palace too? Is that your starting base at lunch time?

          For dinner should you go to Boulevard, you might want to have some oysters at Hog Island in the Ferry Building across the street ... nice view of the Bay. There's also Slanted Door there too.

          1. re: rworange

            hahahhaha oh sorry about that rworange!!! =) i hope i wasn't being rude... =) i just had a bad experience when i went there during dine about town... hahaha oops... i've read so many postings on here that i can't quite keep up who wrote what =) hahahha

            what type of food does boulevard serve? and is hog island known for anything else besides the oysters? i've personally always wanted to go there, but i thought all they had were oysters.... =)

            1. re: kinipela

              Just sorry you wasted a DAT dinner there. Need to be sure I am clearer.

              Hog Island has a few soups, salads and a grilled cheese sandwich that I haven't tried yet but gets lots of positive mentions on the board. Here's the menu.

              It is a nice place to stop for a little snack. That clam chowder is more like a bowl of steamed clams since the clams are still in the shell.

              1. re: rworange

                hahahahah no worries! =) and yeah... i DID waste a DAT dinner there... i went with some folks who insisted on going, and were getting irritated with my other options... so they were set at going there, and i was pretty much quiet... my usual thing is that i'll find at least ONE thing on the menu that i liked.... i found the prices to be a bit expensive and i had the mushroom crab risotto... not very yummy.... i was sorely disappointed... luckily my SO and i also had an opportunity to go to fringale when were in the area for DAT, so it sort of made up for scoma... sort of...

                i may have stopped at jack in the box after eating at scoma for a crispy chicken sandwich... hahaha

                one of the recent times i was in the area, i was over in sausalito.. i saw a scoma there and adamently said "NO." is that the same owners as the one at fisherman's wharf?

                1. re: kinipela

                  Yep. Same owner. Never been to the Sausalito restaurant.

                  With Scoma the best thing to do is stick to the fresh simple fish and cioppino ... though, IMO, Tadich has the better and $10 cheapr cioppino. With Scoma it is the lunch special that is worthwile ... 3 courses for $21. The portions are not the humoungous dinner sizes ... honestly I thought they were bringing platters to share by the table rather than single servings. And again, even with the lunch special, only if someone insists on eating there or there's special circumstances ... good if you are disabled as there is at the door free valet parking.

      1. ditto on boulevard (for din din) one of my all time faves!

        1. I work on Hawthorne, right around the corner. There are several relatively inexpensive options on new montgomery between Mission and Howard, including one of the ubiquitous Sam's which in addition to making sandwiches, has a salad bar and hot food. It's nothing to write home about. Then there's Umbria, on 2nd and Howard. On Folsom and 3rd there's Chaat cafe, which does tandoori wraps and dishes. (there's also a thai restaurant on the corner that's mediocre). On 4th between folsom and Harrison there's a whole foods, where people eat alone all the time. Also on 3rd and Folsom is Bong Su, which i have not yet tried. Vietnamese, i think, and it's gotten some good reviews. You can also have tapas and pretty good beer at thirsty bear on hawthorne lane. if you're adventurous, on 5th there's le charme, a nice french bistro. there's also a jamba juice on new montgomery and a cafe trieste. The california academy of art is right there too. there's also the W restaurant inside the hotel at 3rd and Howard. I'm probably forgetting a bunch of them. for more options, you can check out the restaurant reviews in sfgate.com.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chuckl

            if you head north, you'll find cafe claude, where folks are friendly. it can be a nice place for a solo meal. tables are close, so you may end up chatting with your tablemates.

            if you are willing to walk 15 minutes north on Montgomery, you'll get to the southeastern edge of North Beach. You can try Cafe Zoetrope right on Columbus, which is yummy. If you stroll a bit further up there are many cafes on Columbus - some OK, some so so. Steps of Rome is lots of fun.

          2. Samovar Tea Lounge in Yerba Buena Gardens is a little oasis in the city. Safe & fine for solo dining.

            1. Thanks all for the good ideas. The conference is a block from the hotel. So no good affordable sushi in this area? What about dim sum? I was also thinking for my one dinner I might try Zuni Cafe, which I've heard much about and try to get some public transportation there - is that doable? Or is it in a completely different part of town?

              20 Replies
              1. re: sasha1

                Zuni's right on the F vintage streetcar line, straight shot up Market St.

                Good and affordable in the immediate area of that hotel is rare since there's a captive audience of 300,000 or so office workers and art school students on weekdays.

                Relatively inexpensive and decent lunch nearby:

                Tempura House II, 171 2nd
                B&M Mei Sing, 62 2nd
                Henry's Hunan, 110 Natoma

                Some discussion of B&M:


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I don't think there's anything worse than bad chinese food. Inferior protein, gristle and fat, heavily battered and gloppily sauced. I think I'll pass. I just checked Zuni and they are closed Mondays - sad. I may just have to go with the Japanese place in the hotel...

                  1. re: sasha1

                    Incanto's open Monday. The J Muni streetcar (subway along Market St.) goes right there. Boulevard's also open Monday, but it's considerably more expensive. Both are very comfortable for solo bar diners.


                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Thank you for all the good tips. I just looked up Yank Sing for dim sum - looks like only a 1/2 mile walk from the Palace. How is it for dinner if lunchtime is too short?

                      1. re: sasha1

                        Not open for dinner. The branch at 49 Stevenson is only a block and a half from your hotel.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          yeah, not open for dinner... and it may be a bit crazy during lunchtime... you can always order from yank sing express.... but they have a limited dim sum menu...

                    2. re: sasha1

                      In the immediate area, Kyo-ya is probably your best closest sushi option, although it is expensive, as noted. The Palace Hotel is sort of nestled between the Financial District and Union Square, and neither area has really has great sushi.

                      If you're willing to move a bit afield and do some combination of bus and/or a longer walk (but still under 1 mile), there are a few places on the border of Union Square and Nob Hill -- none of which are amazing, but pretty solid, and more reasonably priced than Kyo-ya. These include Sakana (on Post near Taylor -- you may want to stick with more standard nigiri here, when I ordered "special" nigiri one time, a couple of them were subpar, but maybe it was just the day), and Sanraku (a block north of Sakana, on Sutter at Taylor) is another option. But neither is in the *immediate* vicinity of the Palace Hotel.

                      1. re: sasha1

                        Who has bad Chinese food in that list? I ate at B&M for years when I worked in the area and it was good. Don't go with the steam table, but order fresh made dishes. I really liked the tofu with beef ... creamy great tofu.

                        There's an Italian restaurant on the corner of 2nd and Mission that is good ... name escapes me.

                        If you can't go to Zuni, I'd go to Boulevard. Seems a shame to go to a pricy hotel restaurant when you can get to a more SF experiance. Heck, I'd go to Tadich rather than an over-priced hotel restaurant. Seriously ... then walk across the street and check out Ferry PLaza.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Umbria is at 2nd & Howard, is that the Italian place you're thinking of?

                          I wouldn't call Kyo-Ya a hotel restaurant. It's more like Michael Mina or Masa's, a first-rate restaurant that happens to be in a hotel. More so, since if you enter from the street you could easily miss that it was connected with the hotel.

                          1. re: rworange

                            I've been to the Ferry building - is that what you're referring to? It was wonderful. But I never had any inclination to go to one of the cafes for food - I just picked up a roll at acme, some humboldt fog and quince paste at cowgirl, and had a lovely lunch outside on the benches overlooking the water.

                            Is it still bustling in the evening? I got the sense it was more of a daytime thing.

                            1. re: sasha1

                              To Robert ... yep, Umbria ... thanks

                              Ok, if you've been to Ferry Plaza already, never mind. Boulevard is along the Zuni line and there's are counter seats to watch the action in the kitchen.

                              Slanted Door is pretty much the anchor late in the evening at Ferry Plaza ... I've been ignoring MarketBar though I want to try the Sunday Mexican dinner. . Ferry Plaza is not as bustling at night, but not deserted ... unless you go on Sunday night.

                            2. re: rworange

                              Zuni's still not out of consideration - they are open for lunch, and I have a Tuesday lunch I could spend. I just worry about how long it would take to travel and eat, even if I hopped on the streetcar. Supposing I have an hour to 75 minutes...?

                              1. re: sasha1

                                That'd be cutting it too close for my taste. Depending on how long you have to wait for the next car, the trip takes 12 to 20 minutes. Zuni's not the kind of place where you want to rush your meal.

                                1. re: sasha1

                                  Yeah, I'd say cab it ... conference area is a good location for cabs, but still... Are you at Moscone for the conference? Something like Lulu or Azie would work then.

                                  If your heart is set on trying Zuni, maybe call them ahead of time explain the situation and then pre-order on the way there.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Ca PLI. I think I'll save Zuni for another trip. So far, I'm leaning to one lunch at Yank Sing, a dinner at Boulevard. I still have one lunch to fill up, and a to-go dinner the 2nd night right before I hail a cab to the airport.

                                    1. re: sasha1

                                      Well, for the to-go dinner ... which I assume means take it with you ... Boulette's Larder at Ferry Plaza.

                                      CA PLI?

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        Practicing Law Institute. Maybe I can try to go to the Ferry building for lunch that day and pick up some extra stuff for dinner. Conf ends at 5, flight is about 8pm.

                                      2. re: sasha1

                                        Lulu's sort of a Zuni knockoff. Very good, at least it has been the last few times I've been there. (The place has had ups and downs over the years.)

                                  2. re: rworange

                                    If by pricey hotel restaurant you are referring to Kyo-Ya in the Palace, I would disagree with the characterization. Kyo-ya is an expensive and elegant (in a simple sort of way) Japanese restaurant that happens to be located in the hotel. It has been delicious every time I've been. I've also been treated very well there as a solo diner, if that matters to the OP.

                            3. On the Home Cooking board, we're talking about Green Goddess dressing, which originated at the Palace Hotel. It's served at the Garden Court, and you might want to consider that for one of your lunches. Here's the information -

                              More on the Garden Court -

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                there is an option for good sushi - a place called Akiko's on Bush, just west of Kearney. I've always been very happy with their sushi, but i'm not certain it is open for dinner (I believe it is). It's only about a 7 minute walk from the Palace...