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Sep 13, 2007 01:46 PM

1 Sat nt Dinner, Alone - Incanto, Canteen or Perbacco?

Hi SF Chowhounds! Please help me to make a decision...

I will be visiting soon for only 1 night (Saturday) and would like to have a memorable dinner in SF for the short time I'm here.....

Will be staying around Union Square and I'm dining alone! So...
Which of the following should I choose to have dinner - I'd ideally like to feel comfortable, so if any of these are good for dining at the bar, etc. or are set up for solo dining, that'd be great.

Also, if there are other suggestions other than Incanto, Canteen or Perbacco that you think I should choose instead, please comment.

Thanks so much in advance....
Looking forward to yummy eats!

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  1. They're all comfortable for dining at the bar.

    Canteen you'd definitely need a reservation.

    Perbacco's bar can get crowded but probably won't be on a Saturday.

    Incanto's my personal favorite. The bar seats are extremely comfortable thanks to a raised step for your feet, you can chat with the sommelier, the by-the-taste/glass wine selection is great, and there's a partial view of the kitchen.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I second that, and like the food best there as well. On weeknights I eat at the bar at Incanto on average of once a week; there are a lot of neighborhood people you'll see there. I've eaten at Canteen quite a few times with a guest or two, and haven't noticed single diners at the counter there. Perbacco is my least favorite in terms of food, but the downtown location probably lures solo diners.

      1. re: pane

        I eat alone at Canteen about once a week and there are usually 1 or 2 other single diners. Last time I was there the only other single diner was a woman (I'm a man) who was seated next to me. I'm not sure how you'd be able to tell the difference...

        Canteen has seatings at specific times (6pm, 7:30pm and 9:15pm) and a single diner can usually just walk into the 9:15 seating. Tuesdays are an exception. There are only 2 seatings (6,8) and the menu is fixed.

        1. re: r.vacapinta

          I had no idea! Some people just look like couples, or groups, based on their level of interaction, but I suppose there can be very quiet couples or very jovial strangers. I've seen quite a few people eating alone at Canteen at breakfast, but when I've been for dinner it always seemed to be couples or small groups.

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        I think Incanto's bar is the most comfortable of the three. However, from Union Square it is either a (comfortable but pricey) cab ride, or a decidely uncomfortable and often late ride on the J Church muni (the fact that the J Church is notorious for running late is part of what makes it uncomfortable).

        1. re: susancinsf

          I don't find the J uncomfortable. I do allow extra time for delays.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Thanks for your feedback everyone...

            I'm female btw, so if I'm going to try for let's say a 9:15 seating at Canteen or dinner at a similar time at Incanto, will it be okay for me to try walking back to the hotel? I'm not familiar with areas I would theoretically 'avoid' walking alone at night in the city, if there are any.


            1. re: rosemarysage

              well, as my prior post indicated (I thought) you can't walk back from Incanto: too far to walk (several miles). The Muni stops right in front and you can walk from the muni stop to your hotel, or you can cab if you get tired of waiting for the muni. (and the muni ride will be 20 to 30 minutes. personally, I'd rather go to Canteen or cab to Incanto).

              I'd do the walk from Canteen to Union Square, which is 4 to 5 blocks at night alone at night, but it could make some people a bit uncomfortable.

              1. re: susancinsf

                Everything Susan said is exactly right.

                You can get from your hotel to Incanto via the J-Church street car, but it is the least reliable line, and especially after your dinner, during non-commute hours, you may be waiting a very long time in Noe Valley, though it is a safer neighborhood than the one Canteen's in.

                If it were me, and I had all the time in the world, I would probably take the J out there, but take a cab back.

                Enjoy! Ask for a half salumi platter if you go to Incanto.

                1. re: pane

                  Great tip on the half salumi platter, I didn't know they did that.

                  I'd take the J out and cab back.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    It's not on the menu, but if you're dining alone and ask nicely, they'll usually do it.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          I love Perbacco, and I love dining alone at a restaurant's bar, but I wouldn't recommend it at Perbacco. They do have a nice long bar, and nice bartenders, and maybe it would be different at 9:15 on Saturday, but the one time I tried it, around 7:45 midweek I think, I discovered I was in the middle of two huge dinner rushes. What had been a nice empty bar became an extremely crowded one, with standing people crowding up next to and behind me. One guy put his hand on the back of my chair, squeezed between me and the woman sitting next to me, and chatted her up for the entire second half of my meal (which I cut short). FWIW.

        3. Perbacco is very good, downtown and lively. You could sit at the bar.
          I have not eaten at Canteen- it's small, downtown edge, and supposedly very good food.
          Incanto would be my first choice. It's innovative, unusual food, but vewry far from downtown, on the edge of Noe Vally. I'm taking out of town friends- true foodies- there in Nov.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rempartner

            FYI - it can be really hit and miss trying to get a cab back from Incanto. Have the host/ess call for one, but plan on it still taking a bit for one to be summoned.