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Jan 6, 2008 08:36 PM

San Francisco on the Semi-Cheap

my husband and i are taking visting clients out to dinner in SF on Thursday night. We'd love to take them out somewhere impressive both foodwise and ambiance wise, but can't afford to break the bank. Any suggestions for four people around $175-$200 max? Would prefer Italian, but am open to other thoughts. Thanks in advance!

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  1. the wine is going to blow your budget. if you go out for indian or thai instead you can spend more on the food.

    1. You could try Two -- it's not Italian, but there have been a number of good reports, and the prices don't look like they break the bank (especially if you and your husband get some of the more inexpensive items): Also, Slanted Door has a great view and I like the food there a lot (others don't), and it's also one of those restaurants that gets mentioned a lot in travel articles about San Francisco, so it might be impressive to your clients. Currently on Open Table there's a few reservations for 4 on Thursday night, and I've gone there a number of times on a much smaller budget than yours and came out under budget (granted, with no alcohol). Zuni is also fun, and is a very San Francisco kind of place and a fun place to take visitors, and their prices aren't that high (Open Table also has a reservation for 4 there open on Thursday night). A16 would be fun, if you can get a reservation -- the atmosphere there is pretty casual, though.

      22 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105

      Zuni Cafe
      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

      Scharffen Berger
      1 Ferry, Building San Francisco, CA

      8 Replies
      1. re: JasmineG

        If anyone orders cocktails and wants more wine, dessert, coffee,etc you will be out of that price range the OP has mentioned. With the exception of A16 because the don't have cocktails and it is do able for that amount for four people.

        1. re: Lori SF

          Well, that would be the case just about anywhere; anyone getting lots of cocktails and ordering a lot of food will drive up the prices, but I have come well well under her budget at all of those places in the past.

          1. re: JasmineG

            I like TWO very much but my lunch with five people was about 130.00 and there was no wine or cocktails. Slanted Door is do able but so far from Italian, maybe their guess would not be into that.

            I adore Zuni and have been going there since they opened but feel they might be pushing it to top 200.00 max and again not Italian.

            All good suggestions.

            1. re: Lori SF

              Yeah, I only suggested Slanted Door because she asked for somewhere impressive, and Slanted Door is very much a newly famous SF restaurant that tourists are often impressed by.

              Italian and business and under $50 per person is difficult in this city (as I think that the other responses have shown!). Zuni, while definitely not Italian, has some Italian influences, and, especially if at least two of the party stick to the cheaper parts of the menu, is doable.

        2. re: JasmineG

          Please note on the place link above the map shows the Slanted Door on ferry street near the Oakland Army Base.

          1. re: wolfe

            The map for this Places link should be correct.

            Slanted Door
            Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              What a difference a bridge makes.

          2. re: JasmineG

            I highly recommend a casual, neighborhood place not too loud where four people can have a conversation-
            ANTICA TRATTORIA on Polk in Russian Hill area..Great food, beautiful pasta, seafood and very well priced wines, desserts are a must here. You will be able to have a lovely, cozy dinner with good food. I like to make business dinners comfortable and not stuffy. I have not had a bad meal here yet. Good service too.

          3. My favorite Italian resatuarnt is Firenze by Night. The service and ristorante feel of the place will impress them. The food is perfect Italian and homemade with lots of options. It is not trendy or new; has actually been around for 20 years but would perfectly fit your budget; could probably afford 3 courses and not the cheapest bottle on the menu.

            1. Check out Allegro Romano (on Jones near Broadway on Russian Hill) -- nice neighborhood atmosphere, good Roman food, could be within your budget depending on what you order.

              Or more casual and less expensive, Ideale at 1309 Grant in North Beach. Louder and livelier, but still good food (also Roman).

              Or near Union Square, Fino (624 Post St., more Italian-American, pastas, veal) is casual but cozy (nice fireplace), and reasonably priced.


              2 Replies
              1. re: waldrons

                No disrespect but I did not think Fino was very good. I went there because I needed to eat before a show and I though the space was cool so I gave it a shot. I would never eat there again. I love the sign though. What do you like there?

                Ideale would be another I would never go back to.

                1. re: waldrons

                  I think Allegro would be a bit out of price range like some above mentioned. They also push you to have several course.

                  Firenze is like Ideale but I think tastier, yet same price range.

                  I also think Slanted Door could be out of price range because of how many course you have it unlimited. Drinks are also rather expensive.

                2. Not exactly Italian, but Mediteranean is 1550 Hyde
                  Sample menu

                  It remains one of my favorite restaurants in the City. Very San Franciscan. If they have rabbit on the menu it is amazing. I have trouble getting past that when they have it. On top of it the wine list is reasonably priced. Parking is bad but you could take a cab or cable car which runs right in front.

                  On the super inexpensive, but there are nice white tablecloths,a tiny bit of a view of the bay and good quality food is Town's End. Not Italian at all though.

                  Pazzia is a nice little Italian place.