Best of SF?
I'm visiting SF 1/18-21 with my bf and will be staying at the Campton Place in Union Square. What are some restaurants that are MUST TRY's in SF? Preferably something fun, trendy, but not too stuffy and uptight. We're visiting friends so transportation is not a problem.
Near Campton Place:
Drinks at Cantina, Rye, Bourbon & Branch (make a reservation), the Ambassador
I'm sure you will get recommendations for "good" Mexican in the Mission district, but as one who was born and raised in San Diego, please warn your BF that San Francisco's Mexican food is NOTHING like that we were accustomed to by being so near the border.
It is something I often lament and actually rarely bother with Mexican food anymore here in Northern California. It quite simply is not nearly as good but as you are coming from the East Coast, will still be better than what you can get there. I'm sorry I can't make any specific recommendations. The only one I've been to I have found remotely interesting is Cocino Poblano but for a vegetarian burrito that includes grilled cactus, mushrooms, rajas, and more. Again, not remotely like anything you would find in San Diego, but quite tasty.
Truly there is very little in the Bay Area that is close to San Diego quality. There are a handful that come close but they are in the East Bay and not in great neighborhoods.
The Fruitvale area of Oakland has better Mexican food than San Francisco. If you are interested in driving across the Bay I'll give you a few tips about a great little Mexican ice cream shop, some of the best taco truck eats, etc.
Rick Bayless of Frontera recently opened Frontera Fresca at Macy's Union Square. They are still in the throws of opening, but Bayless will be dropping by in early January to do a book signing so one would hope it is as up to snuff as it will ever be.
There is a Yucatan restaurant in the nearby Tenderloin which has a daily special and a few other dishes but seriously it is in the worst part of the city and it is truly bare bones. There is a Yucatecan population in the city and quite a few restaurants have opened. There was a recent crawl of all the restaurants. You might really enjoy Chichén Itzá which also has the benefit of not being a dive and plating food beautifully. Here's the crawl info
I like Cocino Poblano for what it is ... a little better neighborhood place, but truly not worth the trip to the SF location and would be a major let down to someone interested in San Diego style food. Cocino Poblano is trying to become a chain and straddling a little more interesting Mexican food and pleasing-to-the-masses food.
Oh yeah, there's Voda vodka bar near Campton Place which is on Belden Alley. That has a number of French type restaurants that are popular.
I wouldn't rule out seafood -- there are local seafood specialties that are different from what you'd get in Boston. Yeah, I wouldn't go for clam chowder (or any clam or lobster dish), but I wouldn't rule out Dungeness crab and local fish like sand dabs and petrale sole and local specialities like cioppino (sort of an Italian take on bouilliabaise).
Did you read the "new to the SF Board" sticky topic? That will give you some good advice for asking questions that will generate better responses. You have to realize that this board gets half a dozen (or more) requests similar to yours every week, so it's good to have a "hook" that will inspire people to respond, or at least to demonstrate that you've done a minimal amount of "homework."