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Quintessential or Noteworthy SF Restaurant for out-of-towner?

Hey y'all, the dilema: 40-something out-of-town guest visiting me in SF for one night only! Has never visited SF before. Oh the pressure to find the perfect restaurant.

Help!

Ideally restaurant has really good food--any cuisine. Perhaps a quirky, fun or unique atmosphere or bar. View would be great too but not necessary. Something memorable. No price restrictions--tend to prefer higher-end restaurants.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

(yes, i've read: "new to the SF board" posting)

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        1. re: mc2

          not familiar with this one, will look it up. thanks!

          1. re: chazzerking

            thanks, not sure if i can get a res there, but thanks for the suggestion!

            1. You are getting lots of one-word responses. Zuni *is* quintessential, but not high-end and the bar scene is eh - just a bar.

              Amé tends towards high-end and has an amazing menu, but again, not much of a bar scene either.

              Coi is stunning and unique -- in menu and presence.. The "bar scene" is their lounge which is quirky for San Francisco (oddly comfy banquettes away from the dining area).

              Tadich is old school and the bar scene is loud, boisterous, and busy. Just walk by - I'm not sure you need to stay as the food is not very memorable. It is just reminiscent of days gone by.

              Someone is bound to recommend Boulevard. It *does* have a view as well as a bar that one can dine at, but I personally think the menu is beyond mediocre.

              Other thoughts might be Nopa - great bar scene (although a bit loud) with fabulous food. Aziza; AMAZING cocktails, stunning food, and nothing like it anywhere else in the country.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Carrie 218

                Since the OP mentioned reading the "new to this board thread" I assumed one word would be enough since that thread also mentions how to search for repeated requests. The OP even has an excellent link to a recent Zuni report with pictures.

                There was the view option maybe the new Epic Roasthause or Waterbar with fishes swimming in the columns. There are a few reports on those places too, but being new, not many. There is also Orson ... also new with only one report so far.

                Yes, I forgot Aziza which is the daily response to this type of question. For some reason I don't consider this high end ... or at least in the same end as Zuni. But it is a good answer to this question.

                Hope the OP will report back about where they went to keep info fresh on the board.

                1. re: rworange

                  Aziza is great and unique, but I don't think there's anything quintessentially San Franciscan about it. If Mourad Lahlou had opened it in Los Angeles, it could have been pretty much the same restaurant.

                  Zuni, on the other hand, could never have evolved anywhere else, and the crowd is very distinctly local. If Judy Rodgers had taken over a place in Los Angeles, it would have become a very different place. That's more or less what Campanile is, and while there's some similarity in the food, you know you're not in San Francisco.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I don't think Los Angeles would embrace Aziza the way San Franciscans have. Los Angeles just doesn't do cutting edge and while Aziza as a restaurant might very well be the same restaurant, it would not have the staying power and following in LA as it does here. (This is coming from an 18-year Angeleno veteran and knows its dining scene very well.)

                    1. re: Carrie 218

                      Maybe so, but I still don't get the strong sense of place at Aziza that I do from Zuni, Boulevard, and Tadich.

                2. re: Carrie 218

                  thanks, i agree with your take on your choices. and i must try aziza at some point.

                3. Quintessential, one night only, Zuni. Of the couple of dozen only-in-San-Francisco restaurants, it's the best. Classic local mix of customers: hipsters in black leather, T-shirts, and jeans at one table, post-opera black tie and designer dresses at the next. One of the best bars in town.

                  Nopa is to me something of a Zuni knockoff. Food's not as consistently good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    thank you appreciate your feedback and description!

                  2. 1550 Hyde

                    You can take the cable car to the restaurant. Food is very good and local. Russian Hill is a fantastic neighborhood to experience SF.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Shane Greenwood

                      Dang ... you're right. Also, the cable car runs right in front so that could give it a little fun twist.