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Mar 3, 2008 06:15 AM

Looking for upscale veg-friendly "nice" dinner spot for 6

Hi. NYC hound going to be in your area for a very short weekend stay in a couple of weeks. We are looking for a dinner that can accommodate 6 people, 2 of them who are vegetarians (eats dairy, eggs) for Saturday night. We're staying at the W, but have a car. Would love to do something like Millenium. Unfortunately DH believes that a meal is not a meal without meat. It seems that we can't get into Fleur dy Lys (as they have a decent veg menu). These are the restaurants we are thinking of:

Chez Panisse Cafe

These looked good but didn't seem very veg friendly -- Ame, Gary Danko, Incanto, Boulevard. In the past, we've enjoyed Michael Mina, Zuni, Terra, Ritz-Carlton and A16. We're all pretty adventurous with exception of one of the vegetarians.

Is there any one that you would recommend over the others? Any other suggestions?


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  1. Aziza is *very* veg friendly and I bring vegetarian friends there all the time with glowing success. With six people, you can order the 5-course chef's meal which starts with two soups (both veggie and are usually shared), a selection of starters (again, lots of veggie options but you can throw one or two meat ones in, if required), and then everyone picks their own entrée where the meat eaters can relish with a giant sous vide lamb shank or succulent rabbit whilst the veggy-eaters can go towards the amazing vegetable couscous. Desserts are a no-brainer and with amazingly different cocktails (I love the tarragon, cachaca with cardamom), everyone will be happy.

    1. I took a vegetarian to Incanto and she said it was the best meal of her life. Though the number of vegetarian pasta / entree choices varies a lot.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Actually, I too loved the veg. items as much if not more than entrees. The sides that came with the pork were amazing as were the peppers in the appetizer section (name escapes me).

        To OP, how upscale does it have to be? I just realized if you're okay with Chez Panisse Cafe, A16, then...

        1. re: ceekskat

          Thanks to everybody with the responses so far! I would prefer it to be more upscale like Mina, but am fine with something like A16. Just didn't want something like Slanted Door.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            I'm not sure what you mean by like A16 but not like Slanted Door. To me those two places are similar in many ways.

              1. re: uptown jimmy

                Super-popular, noisy, spare modern decor with lots of hard surfaces, noisy, not terribly comfortable seats. Did I say noisy?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  We ate at both places over the Christmas holiday 2 years ago, and I think many of the best restaurants were not at full capacity, so A16 was rather cozy and quiet, not empty, but far from hectic. But a friend of mine who lived there for 15 years says SF is a "net-loss" city over Christmas in terms of population, so maybe that time of year is one of the best times to pay a culinary visit to the Bay Area. I do know it was really, really easy to get into a number of the better restaurants, and on very short notice, and haling a cab was also a cinch.

                  Slanted Door was the only restaurant that seemed to be at or near capacity, and it was cold and loud and culinarily underwhelming. Not our kind of dining experience.

                  1. re: uptown jimmy

                    December's the busiest time of year for most San Francisco restaurants. January's the slowest.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                A16 has a bit of a warmer ambiance. Slanted Door has a bit of a colder feel to it. And Slanted Door is not a stand-alone restaurant but part of a food mall (albeit a very nice one).

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  If a restaurant is a part of something else, that's a bad thing? Or any kind of thing, really?

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    Are you talking about Out the Door? Because Slanted Door is very much a stand alone restaurant, its location in the Ferry Building notwithstanding.

                    1. re: JasmineG

                      Does Slanted Door have its own bathrooms?

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        I appreciate all of your responses. You have been very helpful. However, I'm not here to debate whether or not Slanted Door is appropriate because it is part of a mall, etc. It's just really not what I'm looking for.

                        I'm looking for a special occasion destination restaurant. It is my understanding that the choices I have listed above are special occasion restaurants. I've got it narrowed down to Coi or Aziza because of you guys. Thanks for all of your help!

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          I liked my meal at Aziza a lot, but there have recently been some reports from visitors who were not thrilled by it: this thread is one but there are others that I've seen. Coi is also more upscale than Aziza, so that's something else to keep in mind -- Aziza does not seem to fit the bill of the special occasion destination restaurant to me, though it is a fun place with good food and great drinks.

                  2. re: Miss Needle

                    I would reconsider Mina -- here is my less-than-stellar review:

                    And there are others of equal disdain.

              3. Based on this report, I would love to try Coi.


                We just had dinner at Aziza last week and enjoyed it very much, especially the cocktails. However, of the four entrees we ordered, the veg. couscous was the one item we did not enjoy (others: beef w/cauliflower, lamb shank, halibut). I am not sure if it was overcooked or what but felt the grains should have been more separate. Also, I've never had couscous with vegetables before but I expected the veggies and the flavors to be more integrated into the dish similar to a pulao/biriyani. It seemed they were just placed on top of the dish. Oh, forgot, the spreads we ordered as an appetizer were delicious (and yes, we could have used one or two more pieces of that yummy flatbread).

                Lastly, while Aziza is a nice restaurant, it is not in the same "upscale" league as Mina, Ame, etc. Haven't been to Coi but looks elegant from pictures.

                5 Replies
                1. re: ceekskat

                  Note - they will bring you more flatbread... you just gotta ask.

                  And I actually adore the veggie couscous. Traditionally, it is all cooked together but hardly like a biryani, I think. I like that the vegetables were each showcased (probably cooked separately) so that they are not a giant stew of stuff but plated with forethought.

                  1. re: Carrie 218

                    The extra flatbread was a bone of contention on a thread during the DAT:-) With this info in hand, I looked at the menu and there was a $3.00 charge for extra flatbread. Since we still had plenty of regular bread and lots of food to come, I just didn't bother asking. It just seems that with the amount of spreads they give, just two more slices would be the right amount. And it would seem that is the general consensus on CH too!

                    1. re: ceekskat

                      Hmmmmm... I missed that thread and guess I am an anomaly -- I scoop heavy and always have leftover flatbread.

                      1. re: ceekskat

                        The menu lists flatbread a la carte at $3. That doesn't necessarily mean they'd charge extra for more if you run out before finishing the spreads.

                    2. re: ceekskat

                      While Ubuntu is undoubtedly the best vege place in the Bay Area, Coi is the best vege friendly high end restaurant in the city (go to the website and look at the menu - it is kept up to date). The menu is set up with choices so you can avoid all meat if you wish. I would be willing to bet that an all-vege meal at Coi would easily deliver the best vegetarian (though not vegan) meal in the city.

                      373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    3. Just remembered about Kokkari, an upscale Greek restaurant. Haven't been there in a while but have previously enjoyed their crispy smelt, grilled lamb chops, & grilled whole fish. The only veg. items I've tried were appetizers and they were good too. This is a good place for a group but again can be loud. They have a somewhat dark but nice front bar/lounge area & open dining room with kitchen in the back.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ceekskat

                        I like Kokkari, but it's not very vegetarian-friendly. Some nice appetizers but no choice of entrees, just one vegetarian pasta dish.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I've had great luck at Kokkari. There are a lot of appetizers which they can put together into a dish, and the last time I was there, the chef offered to make something else if I didn't want the main dish on the menu.

                      2. only an occasional visitor(business) these days, but had a terrific meal at an old standby in december: Green's @ Ft Mason. Only vegiterian, and a surprisingly nice , and somewhat reasonable wine list. the views are great as well. (and i am not vegitarian.)