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Brunch w/ BF's Parents - has to be more old school than trendy

This is bad news. They are threatening Fisherman's Wharf. I'm from San Diego, visiting SF for the weekend. I have all kinds of places I'd love to go (Canteen, Foreign Cinema, Chez Panisse, Zuni, Azzaria), but this isn't about me. Parent are SF natives. We went to Beach Chalet before which was very nice, but all this Fisherman's Wharf talk is making me gag.

Pretty traditional, they like nice restaurants but not too trendy or expensive (entrees topping out at 15-20). Brunch or lunch. And must be in SF proper.

How about:

-Town's End
-Mama's (which may be too much waiting and hassle for the fam)
-Canteen (would love to hear how this would go over)
- Cliff House (last resort)

Help before I am eating fried fish with sea lions as my one nice meal in SF!

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  1. I love Town's End. Good ol' fashioned homey food, complete with a complimentary basket of fresh-baked mini muffins and scones. As with all good restaurants in the Bay Area, go early or be prepared to wait.

    I haven't been to the others, but Mama's and Canteen see to get good reviews.

    1. Well, I think the menu at Foreign Cinema satisfies traditionalists and fits the price range, I love the brunch there. What about Zuni (may be too expensive)? I caution against SPQR b/c of the wait.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Candice

        I'm not sure about that: I think someone who lives in San Francisco and is considering the wharf would consider Foreign Cinema way too trendy. I didn't think the menu was particularly traditional, and it is a mostly young, hiply dressed, loud clientele when I was there for brunch.

      2. I actually think that Canteen would go over well -- they have traditional brunch stuff on the menu (eggs benedict, etc.) just in a slightly upscale way, and the price point should be fine. However, if you want a booth and not counter, you might have to get there on the early side. Also, the reports of Foriegn Cinema for brunch seem to make it seem relatively traditional too (though the neighborhood might not be the BF's parents favorite, if they're more in the Fisherman's Wharf/Beach Chalet frame of mind).

        1. Give them Fisherman's Wharf but slightly upscale. Here is a lukewarm report by rworange.

          1. If no meat is OK, how about Greens? A good parental place. Solid food, nice views.


            Greens Restaurant
            Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123

            1. They live here and are suggesting the wharf? If you want to please them, let them choose and maybe request a neighborhood.

              Town's End is ideal for what you've described. I think Canteen is too small for comfort. And personally, while it has its charms, I find the food overrated.

              Brunch isn't usually edgy or expensive. I'd also look into Cafe Majestic.

              If they have any sense of adventure, suggest dim sum. Yank Sing is quite lovely, esp if you sit in the lobby by the waterfall.

              1. Oooh, my vote is for Foreign Cinema or Town's End. If you go on a Saturday, you could even start off at the Ferry Building Farmer's (Farmers' ???) Market, which may be a good "ice breaker," and then walk down Embarcadero to Town's End for a mid-morning brunch. Let us know where you end up going (and if you need to be "rescued" from the Wharf)!

                1. SPQR's brunch is great but they take no reservations and the wait could be worse than Mama's.

                  SF natives who want to go to the Wharf?!?!?

                  1. Lulu is actually a good brunch choice and a good compromise. The menu is very accessible. Wood oven roasted poultry and meat w/ a med twist, but also interesting stuff for brunch.

                    Everything is well prepared, dinner might be a little dull in a hyper SF environment but brunch has interesting choices, eggs benedict on brioche, corn on the cob with truffle butter, BLT, plus the roasted items from the dinner menu. For brunch it's rarely busy. Nice environment, open and airy, but not bleeding edge hip.

                    1. Moose's seems like it would be nice. It's historical and a great location. I read that they will be changing owners soon, so it may be the last opportunity to go. Town's End is a little informal. It seems like more of a cafeteria place. Plus, I didn't think the food was any good.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: rocio415

                        Towns End is far from a cafeteria and not that different in atmosphere than Moose's. I liked it. Ate there monthly for a decade.

                        One place I haven't tried but is high on my list is La Terrasse. It might fit the bill.

                        Try not to do the Cliff House.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Unless things have changed in the last week (the last review date on here), I definitely would not recommend La Terrasse. A vast majority of the reviews here are very negative. Terrible service, absurdly small portions, and quite pricey.

                          Canteen is wonderful, with traditional brunch items as well as lunch options, simply prepared and delicious, but the wait can be long (20 min to 1/2 hour sometimes), especially since you would want a booth. The only thing that might be off putting for your BF's parents is the music - it varies but sometimes can be a little loud and edgy.

                          Ella's has good food too, but again, the wait can be, and usually is, long. I think you are going to run into a wait no matter where you go.

                          Ella's Restaurant
                          500 Presidio Ave, San Francisco, CA 94115

                          1. re: meggie t

                            The report was by a one-time poster who didin't comment on the food but took the opportunity to rant about dinner service. I don't find that a credible report.

                            Yes the reviews are mixed, but it is supposed to have a lovely view (yeah a deal breaker in terms of finding good food). It might not have long lines and I can't imagine anything being worse than Cliff House if that is in consideration or one of those awful wharf spots for brunch ... however, if it comes down to Fisherman's Wharf, for Sunday brunch the cafe on the second floor at Boudin is probably the best of a mainly sorry lot.

                        2. re: rocio415

                          Moose's already changed owners. From the story in last week's Chron, remodeling could start any time.

                          1. re: rocio415

                            I agree with rworange. You order from menus and a basket of carb-loaded muffins are brought to your table. No standing in line and yelling at the woman in white to throwdown a ladle full of mush onto your plate! I've been to Town's End several time and have always enjoyed myself. If you're lucky, you may be able to snag a table outside. If it's easier, you can make a reservation (either through Open Table or over the phone).

                          2. With parents I'd definitely stick to places that take reservations so you don't have to go through the awkward standing around waiting for a table situation. How about Maverick? Granted the Mission is trendy (the same would apply to Foreign Cinema et al), but at least you can reserve the table and the food is really good with a southwestern twist. Plenty of lunch options and a great eggs benedict (my personal yardstick for brunch places). Let us know how it goes!

                            1. Could you find out what neighborhood they live in? It might be nice to suggest somewhere near them with a 'I want to get a sense of what YOUR San Francisco is like'. That might keep you out of the tourist spots without putting down their choices. And we could hopefully steer you to some suggestions in that area.

                              1. Someone else mentioned Cafe Majestic - I agree - check it out! Not sure about prices, but the room is very nice and the time I went the food was very good. Plus you can make a res! (On Open Table)