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SF Dinner suggestion (based on atmosphere)

We're having a hard time thinking of a place to eat that fits the mood we're in. I'll try to be specific, but what we're looking for has more to do with the atmosphere than a specific cuisine.

What's a good place in the city that fits the following, on a typical weekend night?

--not loud. It doesn't have to be silent; a little energy or personality is fine. But not a hopping bar or place pumping loud music.

--cozy/intimate. it doesn't have to be dripping with romance, or overdecorated. Just more on the quaint or homey or rustic side than on the modern or dramatic side.

--we want to dawdle over dinner. This means being able to converse, but also means that the cuisine itself and/or the nature of the seating allows one to take ones time. This could mean small plates or mutli-course meal or even a tea service, but doesn't have to--it could just be that the seating is comfortable and the vibe mellow.

--affordable. The median entree in the high teens? Maybe a little more, if necessary.

--cuisine could be most anything, but not: Italian or Asian, which we've had a lot recently. By not Asian, I mean not a straight-up Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. Fusing elements of any of those with anything else is fine. I guess the vibe I'm describing screams "bistro" or "brasserie," but it doesn't have to be French, necessarily. Could be, or could be Moroccan, Indian, Spanish, American, Swedish....whatever

--most neighborhoods are fine. If this place were sort of a "neighborhood gem," that'd be great.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Aziza fits the bill for everything you have described and then some.

    You can have cozy and intimate with stunning cocktails, great food, affordable considering the 5-course meal is $50 a person (for food), and I have stayed there for hours without feeling rushed.

    1. A few ideas:
      La Provence
      Le Charm
      Saha
      Cafe Claude
      1550 Hyde
      Bacco
      Woodward's Garden (front room is much nicer but in higher demand than the back)

      You might also spend a little more in a bar of a high-end restaurant--Campton Place will let you linger in the bar, as will Coi.

      The other issue is timing; often on a weekend, it pays to go early or late to avoid being rushed. Or go on Sunday. One of the best (and most relaxed) meals I've had at Delfina was at 9:30 on a Sunday.

      1. Chapeau!

        Hands down. Aziza and Fringale would be my next choices.

        2 Replies
          1. re: whiner

            My caveat about Chapeau is that the tables are very close together, so there's not a lot of intimacy (unless you want to be intimate with the people at the next table).

          2. Jeanty at Jack's may be the kind of place you're looking for, though the entrees come in in the mid-twenties rather than the high teens. Otherwise, it seems to fit your description.

            Despite a recent blah Chronicle review, I really like this place. The roasted marrow bones with bordelaise first course I tried last time was amazing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pincho

              I tihnk it is too expensive to fit, and overpriced as well. Some of the entrees are higher than mid-twenties, and it adds up quickly.

            2. Metro Kathmandu- I was just there and like this place not only for the food Napalese style but the atmosphere is cozy with nice service. The decor is contemporary but very warm and cozy.

              I like Firefly in Noe Valley too.

              1. I think Maverick would fit your needs to a tee. Been there twice, and it's small, homey, with personable service and reasonable prices. The fried chicken is a delight.

                1 Reply
                1. Try Firefly in Noe Valley. I think you'll be happy there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Euonymous

                    A third vote for Firefly in Noe Valley. I also like Sociale (very good food) and Magic Flute (okay food) in Pacific Heights.

                    1. re: kresge86

                      Fourth for Firefly. Ate there last week w/a group of 4 and it was perfect!!

                    1. re: brokergal

                      "not loud." "cozy/intimate" I don't think TWO fits this profile at all.

                      1. re: Paul H

                        I disagree; both on a weeknight and (early) weekend I found it to be more than conducive to conversation at a normal volume.

                    2. Woodward's Garden. It's been a while, and while not the best 'hood it's quaint and charming in a very specific Mission sort of way.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ML8000

                        Last time I ate at Woodward's Garden they had set seating times. So we had to be out of the restaurant before the next seating. Not sure if that's every night so I'd call to check if your plan is to "dawdle over dinner".

                        I'd definitely look into Aziza

                      2. Cafe Bastille. It is downtown in a cute alley and it has a great European ambiance, but also very cool and not too loud. It is a quiet spot with a ton of great food and very fun to speaking to French wait staff all night long.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Zucumber84

                          If you want good French bistro food, you'll get better food and better atmosphere at Fringale, Cafe Claude, and Anjou.