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Gary Danko, Cyrus, Michael Mina or Chez Panisse?

We'll be in San Francisco (from LA) this weekend and am looking for a fabulous dining experience for Sunday night. I would love to go to French Laundry, but it's a bit out of the price range and there is no chance we could get a reservation.

We're staying at the Westin St. Francis, but thinking of spending Sunday in wine country (Napa/Sonoma/Healdsburg) and we'll also have a car.

I've read good things about Gary Danko, Cyrus, Michael Mina and Chez Panisse. Does anyone have a trong recommendation? It doesn't need to be from this list if I've missed anything. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Fleur de Lys is my favorite in the city. Then comes The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton and La Folie.

    Manresa is out of your way, but they all say it is rediculously awesome. Mina, Cyrus, and Panisse all get mixed reports. I guess a couple of people love Danko, but my feeling, and the feeling of most people I know, is that it is always very good, but never awesome.

    1. Gary Danko and Chez Panisse are both a guaranteed great time in my opinion. I'd skip on Michael Mina if I were you. Neither of my experiences there have been great, or even very pleasant, and it gets a lot of mixed reviews on this board.

      What kind of dinner are you looking for? Romantic? Rustic? Over-the-top? Letting us know will help.

      7 Replies
      1. re: grishnackh

        Something different than the LA scene I guess. Romantic is good, but also rustic. Just really good food and a great wine list and nice atmosphere. We'll be at a wedding the night before (@ the Westin) so probably something relaxing.

        EDITED to add: We love Italian food, but I don't think any of my original suggestions fit that bill. We eat a ton of Italian food, so something different would be nice. Based on these reviews, I'm leaning towards Cyrus since Chez Panise isn't open on Sunday (and might be inconvenient). I hope I can get a reservation there!!

        Does anyone have any thoughts on Auburge Du Soliel? I had lunch there years ago and it was good, but I don't remember it being spectacular.

        1. re: Obessed

          You won't really find "rustic" in our fine dining restaurants, but you will in our mid-range. In that case, I'd recommend A16, Delfina, or Myth - all of which would make for a fabulous dining experience.

          1. re: Obessed

            While there have been chef changes and a positive report here and there I would guess Auburge wouldn't be any different than your lunch experience.

            1. re: Obessed

              Cyrus currently seems to have a big Asian bent to it... don't know if that makes a difference to you.

              1. re: Obessed

                Second on A16 and Incanto for rustic.

                Also La Ciccia.

                Zuni (somewhat similar to Campanile) is open on Sunday.

              2. re: grishnackh

                My experience with Mina wasn't great either, I found it overpriced and not that great.

              3. Chez Panisse.

                Gary Danko isn't that much different than any upscale restaurant anywhere. Since you are staying at the St. Francis, you can stop by the bar at Michael Minna and have a glass of wine and an appetizer to get a taste of the food without a lot of cost.

                1 Reply
                1. See, this is where subjectivity comes into play. lol Short blurbs to follow, though I've posted much longer reviews on a number of these restaurants...

                  Among my circle, Fleur de Lys repeatedly gets bad reviews... and is also viewed as one of the more "stuffy,' and therefore uncomfortable, restaurants in SF.

                  I found the food at La Folie to be good, but not particularly memorable... that is, other than being entirely too full as the portions are not conducive to multiple courses.

                  My experience at Gary Danko was positive overall; though, I haven't been back in ages. I'm not sure if that speaks to the impression it made... or that I'm apathetic about making reservations at restaurants not listed on Open Table. haha

                  My one and only meal at Michael Mina wasn't particularly memorable; however, that was very soon after they opened. A dear friend of mine just raves about the place, though... and I certainly respect his palette. It's on my short list of "to try again" restaurants.

                  I was absolutely not impressed with Chez Panisse. While I found the food to be "good," I did not find it at all innovative. I got the impression that it's "time" has passed and is resting on it's laurels.

                  I adore Cyrus. My first meal there was beyond memorable... and it's on my special occasion short list. I would go more often, though it's difficult to set aside a day to travel to Healdsburg. Going again in early July, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

                  The fact is that there isn't a universally loved restaurant in the Bay Area (hell, if anywhere). It's all incredibly subjective. I think your best bet would be to give us an idea of the type/style of food that you're looking for... as you could find a "fabulous dining experience" in many different avenues. Fine dining doesn't necessarily have to be your route. As is said, "Help us help you." :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jrhsfcm

                    Cyrus or Danko hands down. Mina is in a hotel lobby lwith high ceilings and is not quaint, Chez Panisse has its supporters but it is across the bay, is not stylish and is not my thing. Danko and Cyrus are similar (they should be with many crossover employees), but Cyrus is 70 miles north.

                  2. Chez Panisse is closed on Sunday. I don't know about Gary Danko, but the one time I tried to go on short notice (and this would be short notice, espeically since there is a lot going on in the City this weekend, notably that it is Pride weekend) I wasn't able to get a reservation....