Need recs for San Fran mid Feb please!
I am going to be in San Fran for 4 days with 2 other couples and are looking for some great dining recs. I think one fancy, romantic dinner out, the rest pretty casual but only amazing food! 3 meals a day! Fun! We will travel for our food so anywhere in the surrounding area is possible too.
We have one vegetarian, 2 pesco veggies, and the rest will eat just about anything. I am really into some good Californian/ New American cuisine and like the slow food, local ingredients kinda places.
Going with the vegetarian as the limiting factor:
Ubuntu (Napa) for upscale vegetarian that's been getting raves (I haven't been yet).
La Folie (SF) for the fancy, romantic dinner - they have a vegetarian tasting menu - although there were some very negative reports toward the end of last year. I haven't been here either.
Pizzeria Delfina (SF)- lots of options for meat and veggie lovers alike.
Bar Tartine (SF)- two of my favorite dishes here are veg (the gnocchi with mushrooms and the kale soup with poached egg).
Slanted Door (SF) - opinions are very divided, but they do have a lot of vegetarian options.
Chez Panisse (Berkeley) - I think this is a must - go for lunch, then head across the street to Cheeseboard afterwards.
Is going to Napa out of the question? Or Sonoma? Or Los Gatos?
Surprisingly, despite the bounty of lovely produce out here, few of the upscale restaurants in SF proper seem to really celebrate veggies. Also, as you've noticed, most of the upscale restaurants in SF get mixed reviews. I think Ame gets the most consistently positive reviews, but it's not very veg friendly. The Dining Room at the Ritz and Gary Danko have some staunch supporters, but neither seem to have many veg options either. Masa's has a vegetarian tasting menu... I haven't heard much about Masa's lately.
The only other fancy restaurant I can think of that has a vegetarian tasting menu is The French Laundry, and good luck getting a table for 6 there. You can design a veg tasting at Manresa, but that's a pretty long drive from SF. Cyrus is another option - it's not too bad of a drive to Healdsburg.
Quince would be a good choice, but it's a very small restaurant and mid-February is soon - you might not be able to get a reservation for 6 people. Call ASAP if you're considering it.
Also, as the thread wolfe linked demonstrates, while people generally agree that the food is good, opinions are divided as to whether it is worth the money. FWIW, most of the visitor reports I can remember on Quince were positive.
I am going with some good neighborhood spots that seem or are perfect for four dining. I like cozy places and good food, reason why I moved here 10 years a go.
Pagan Restaurant - has received favorable reviews and on my list- might have something for all in your group.
3199 Clement St
(at 33rd Ave)
I am sure that Aziza will get mentioned, this is favored my most chows. I have not been, but I WANT TO.
Metro Kathmandu is cozy perfect for four- tangy, spicy, savory Nepali restaurant
311 Divisadero St.
Cross: Page St.
Again, vegetarian options. Good service.
BONG SU- great space, shared dishes, lots of vegetarian options
311 3rd St.
Cross: Folsom St
Universal Cafe- they change the menu nightly, you could call and ask if they can make something vegetarian and most likely it will be fabulous. I have done this before.. its a great spot, nice vibe.
Dosa- loved the last meal we had here two weeks ago, warm, fun place. South Indian lots of thing to share, I don't think we had any meat. Good service.
What about Ame? I'm not sure anything will be unanimous...I am in the "let down" camp on Quince, so not objective there. We were thinking of going to La Folie but decided against it based on the number of negative reviews I've seen on this board of late. IF you decide on Quince, consider ordering apps and pastas - seems the main course is where the most disappointments were as I recall. That said, I had ho hum gnocchi - I was so disappointed, must have been an off night.
I recommend NOPA--never had a bad experience there...
Also, Delfina [the restaurant, haven't tried the pizzeria]...on the subject of Quince, put me in the positive column...finally, I haven't been there recently, but The House on Grant Avenue in North Beach might be an interesting place to try during your visit...
Fluer de Lys has a wonderful vegetarian menu. Not sure if it's what you're looking for (it's French rather than American, but def. has the Ca. influence) but it is most certainly romantic, fancy, and boasts one of the best veg. menus I've ever had. It's in the city, and just absolutely amazing. I did a brief review on my blog as well. Their menu is online if you want to check it out.
Just to jump in with my two cents, I find that many times people confuse formal service with "snooty". I'd put Fleur de Lys in that category. I've seen kids on prom dates there who seemed to be having a great time with the staff. I've found them to be friendly and knowledgeable, but still professional. They've explained the menu and the wines when we've had questions, without making us feel stupid for asking. Heck, they've even recommended restaurants in Paris for us when we asked!
By the way, I think most good restaurants would do a vegetarian menu if you asked for it.