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Fun dinner spot for group of 8

I will be traveling to San Francisco with a group of 8, mixture of male and female, all of us in our early to mid-30’s, staying in the Union Square area. We are planning to have a Friday night dinner with the entire group and I’m having a tough time finding exactly what I’m looking for. After so much research that my head is spinning, I’m breaking down and just asking the question.
We don’t want white tablecloth, we don’t want Italian or French. Prefer something that has a fun atmosphere (not stuffy and pretentious) and a great drink menu, but also not sacrificing food quality. The food must be really good, and have a variety of menu options. I’m sure in a city like SF, that shouldn’t be a problem. Price range could be from $15 to $35 per entrée. The location doesn't matter so much, as long as we can get there by cab or public transportation.
One restaurant that I’ve seen suggested that seems to fit the bill is Coco500, but it has received mixed reviews. If you’ve been to Chicago before, I’m envisioning the atmosphere of something like Japonais, Carnivale, or Sushi Samba. I’ve never been to SF, so I don’t know all the spots, and even as much as I’ve tried to research I’m sure there are plenty that I just haven’t found yet.
Please help!

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  1. Bong Su - nice atmosphere (very good looking interiors), Vietnamese dishes that are fun to share, good drinks.
    http://www.bongsu.com/

    Azie- favored my many, good spot for a group this size, east-west food that is excellent.
    http://www.restaurantlulu.com/Azie_ab...

    Both of these places are in an area called SOMA (sounth of market), walkable from union square or easy cab ride.

    Also, my friend who is well traveled, loves and knows food really likes Coco500 the few times he has been.

    1. We really enjoyed Gordon Biersch last week.
      http://www.gordonbiersch.com/

      1. Limon has the atmosphere and food, but only beer and wine. The food does make it worth a visit. You can go to Blondies a few doors down for martinis afterwards.
        www.limon-sf.com

        One of my favs is foreign cinema. Good for groups, great atmosphere. Full Bar.
        www.foreigncinema.com

        Slow Club is little more casual, fun and lively atmosphere. Full Bar.
        www.slowclub.com

        All three are about a $10 cab ride from Union Square.

        There is also Kokkari which is slightly more upscale than the above three, but still not very pretentious. I love the food at Kokkari!
        www.Kokkari.com

        Have Fun!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Fussy Foodie

          Foreign Cinema's a good call. I don't see how Slow Club would accommodate a party of 8.

          1. re: Frosty Melon

            and it's been really hard to get into Slow Club on a Friday, I tried twice but ended up at Universal Cafe and Maverick which ended up to be great! . Most the other places all mentioned are great choices and most all take a reservation.. You could look at Opentable.com to see if any of these are on there.

        2. Aziza -- California-influenced Moroccan, great, imaginative drinks, lively atmosphere, perfect for groups. I've never heard anything good about the food at Gordon Biersch -- it's really just a brew pub (and at that, not as good as Thirsty Bear).

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I love Aziza, great Rec. Only been twice, but both times were fantastic. A very fun place. It is a trek from Union square though.

            Gordon Biersch has surprisingly good pot stickers, then again I may have just spent too much time at the bar beforehand.

            1. re: Fussy Foodie

              You guys are great! I've checked out all of these websites and there are some wonderful choices. Azie, Bongsu, Aziza and Limon all look like the kind of places I was picturing in my mind!! Gordon Biersch is not really what I'm looking for...I used to live in San Diego, so I've been there more times than I ever wanted to, plus I would like something that is unique to SF. Foreign Cinema is on my radar, but I was thinking of it maybe for Sunday brunch or dinner with just my boyfriend and I instead of for the group dinner on Friday.
              I'll be in SF for 3 more nights, and will need to eat, but not with the large group so I'll probably be able to try more than one of the places mentioned above. Any other suggestions, keep 'em coming! Thanks!

              1. re: sparkplug

                Good Idea, Foreign cinema is a great brunch spot and considerably cheaper than at dinner.

                1. re: sparkplug

                  Maverick on 17th in the mission is the best brunch.. a great spot for just the two of you.. they take reservations too.

            2. 2nd Bong Su, also recommend Nopa, and Brick

              3 Replies
              1. re: mrsricho

                Hi all- Okay, my group has narrowed it down to either Aziza or Nopa for Friday night dinner. Leaning toward Aziza, but since I'm not familiar with the area, wondering if there are some bars in the near vicinity for us to go to after dinner. Also, best way to get there transportation-wise?
                Nopa is 2nd choice but I'm concerned about comments on the boards about the noise level. Any thoughts on this?
                Sunday night dinner will be dinner at Kokkari. We are also going to try to work Bong Su into the trip....maybe late Saturday night. (We'll be in Berkeley most of the day Saturday for a football game)
                Thanks again for all of your wonderful suggestions!

                1. re: sparkplug

                  Aziza's a straight shot from Union Square on the 38 Geary bus. Trad'r Sam (Tiki) and the Blarney Stone (Irish) are a couple of blocks away.

                  http://www.sfmta.com/cms/asystem/rout...

                  1. re: sparkplug

                    Good choice...LOOOOVE Aziza, and it's fun for a group because you can share, the cocktails are wild, and the atmosphere lends itself to a good time.