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30th birthday party for tightwad foodie?

I am not from SF, so I am unfamiliar with the best restaurants up there, but I am planning a birthday party for my boyfriend, whose pet peeve is overpaying for food. he's a foodie...he usually spends an hour perusing this board (hope he doesn't see this post!) before we go out anywhere. the food needs to be excellent, the space needs to hold 20ish people, and it can't be too pricey. any recos?

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  1. Can you give us an idea what you mean by not too pricey? That really does mean different things to different people. In addition to food, are you interested in wine? Cocktails? Etc.

    1. Not sure what pricey means to you, but both Bar Crudo and Canteen are on the small side - I've not been to either but they are both well spoken of. Any particular cuisine you are interested in?

      5 Replies
      1. re: dinnerout

        he likes asian, and is japanese, so if it's japanese it's gotta be really good (at least better than his dad makes). not to pricey is less than 20 bucks a plate. thanks :)

        1. re: Mixster

          Bodega Bistro would be one option. Another option would be to do a full Chinese Banquet -- I'd check with either Louie's or Great Eastern and see what they can do for you in your price range.

        2. re: dinnerout

          I'd guess the OP means the space needs to hold 20ish people because there are 20 invitees to this party--in this case, Bar Crudo and Canteen probably are too small to accomodate your party.

          1. re: pane

            Silly me, I thought OP meant that the entire restaurant needed to be teeny, tiny and only seat 20ish people, not 20 people in their party!

            1. re: dinnerout

              Understandable--the post was a bit unclear.

        3. Well, there is Todai [birthday boy free]. Or go around balboa theatre in Richmond; free theatre ticket for him.

          1. How much is "not too pricey"?

            I think one of the issues you'll find is that the less expensive places tend to be small mom and pop place, i.e., less rent, less overhead, lower prices, so seating 20 on a reservation will be harder at less expensive places.

            Any way, take a look at this, the SF Chron's annual bargain bites, listing about 100.


            5 Replies
            1. re: ML8000

              thanks all. I think part of my problem is that living in L.A., there's a wealth of awesome, cheap holes in the wall nestled in the abysses of the endless strip malls, so I expect cheap, quality food. I know SF doesn't have the strip malls...so maybe it doesn't have the endless supply of family owned restaurants? Maybe this is why I got the sharp tounged suggestion to take him to in n out for his 30th bday. Thanks for the suggestions I did get, and if anyone thinks of any others, I'd be glad to hear em!

              1. re: Mixster

                If you are not averse to Chinese, Great Eastern offers good Cantonese in a reasonably nice room. No problem seating 20. You'll end up w/ two tables of ten. Menu is here: http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res... The Chinatown Selection is a great deal at $88. One per table, plus 4 or so additional dishes (depending on size) will meet your needs. FYI: you can upgrade the whole fish if you're not a catfish fan. I would definitely include bbq (either the platter or the chicken/pork). If you don't go crazy on high end seafood, you can get out for around $15 per person before tax/tip/drinks. You could do something really nice at $20 per person.

                1. re: lexdevil

                  Just a note that Chinese New Year is on February 7th, so many places (including Great Eastern) might be crowded due to CNY dinners.

                2. re: Mixster

                  There's plenty of awesome, cheap hole-in-the-wall places run by mom and pop places in SF, blocks and blocks of them...but they're in "neighborhoods" instead of the strip malls. The Richmond, Sunset, Mission, etc. If you know where you're staying that'll probably help.

                  1. re: Mixster

                    I think that the trouble is that you emphasized cheap, with no real information about what that means, and that it seemed like cheap was your only real qualifcation that you were interested in. If you give us better perameters, I'm sure it will be easier to come up with good suggestions. Also 20 people is hard, because a lot of the good quality and still lower priced places in San Francisco are on the smaller side, and so 20 people wouldn't fit, unless, as others have said, you want to do chinese. If that's not what you want, it will be a little tougher, though not impossible. Korean might also be a good idea, and it's really fun for a big group.

                3. Check out Z&Y Garden. Great Sichuan food, cheap, big room, always seems to be empty.

                  Z & Y
                  655 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1. Forget about Japanese you live in LA you won't find what you are looking for on the inexpensive side.

                    Pagan is a new place that has received great reviews- they might be able to fit 20 people- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478792
                    Cash only!

                    PPQ Dungeness Island crab - take a look at their set menus

                    I though Bodega Bistro was a good idea

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Lori SF

                      Bodega Bistro can definitely handle big groups.

                      1. re: Lori SF

                        Would you consider going over to Oakland Le Cheval is a Vietnamese place that takes large parties and usually a crowd pleaser.

                        1. re: Lori SF

                          Le Cheval's food is pretty Americanized. I don't think it's any cheaper than Bodega Bistro and the food's nowhere near as good.

                      2. California cuisine ... in-house bakery ... 3-course prix-fix $21.95 ... easily fits 20 ... Town's End ... even a little Bay View.

                        Town's End Restaurant & Bakery
                        2 Townsend St Ste 2, San Francisco, CA 94107

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: rworange

                          Still finetuning my April list and Townsend sounds great. Would this be an option instead of Sam's/Tadich Grill for our first night (a Thursday) when we will be fresh off the plane and probably a bit travel worn? How long would it take to walk/Muni from Bush and Powell?

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Direct route would be a mile and a half walk, most of it not very scenic. Or six blocks to the Muni subway station, 15-20 minutes on the streetcar.

                            Bar Crudo's the logical choice if you're travel-worn.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Thank you, sir! I just checked out Bar Crudo's menu and at the risk of going way off topic and sharing too much, I have annoying seafood sensitivities (not the full on allergy) which might make that choice a bit dodgy for me. Back to the drawing board...

                              1. re: grayelf

                                Scala's Bistro is nearby, reliable, and open till midnight.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Thanks, Robert, it looks nice (maybe too nice as we are rather casual travelers). No one puts contorni on Italian menus here, and I notice they have the petrale sole...

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    I haven't been in awhile, but I've enjoyed the salmon in the past. Don't worry about being casual, SF is a pretty casual city. (Just don't wear shorts and a t-shirt!)

                            2. re: grayelf

                              Tadich doesn't take reservations so you would have to wait in line which wouldn't suit the travel worn.

                              1. re: rworange

                                I had heard no resos at Tadich but if all goes well we will be in time for an early dinner. I'm actually loath to make reservations anywhere in case the flight is delayed and we can't cancel them. People who don't cancel their resos should be shot... or at least have their CH privileges taken away :-).

                                And not to worry, DO, no shorts!

                          2. Schnitzelhaus is a great destination for a birthday party that size. The food is tasty, reasonably priced, and comes in large portions. The beer flows freely and the staff are very warm and friendly.

                            294 9th St, San Francisco, CA