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Relocated from Vancouver, want to treat hubby

We moved to the Bay Area from Vancouver this year, which is to say we're stuck down on the Peninsula and are missing the city. I want to treat my husband to a relaxed anniversary dinner in San Francisco, somewhere warm and fun and delicious, but not $150 per person and not too much talk about the elevation at which the cows graze to produce the cheese ... (it's my husband who dislikes this, not me!) At home we always agreed on Vij's, not because of the Indian food so much as the yumminess and atmosphere, disagreed on Lumiere (me, yes, hubby, no, too precious and the prices just killed the fun for him.) I'm looking for the kind of place you can lose yourself in champagne and conversation and good food, bonus points for fun walking neighborhood, hoping to come in at $200 - ish. Happy to sit at the bar and chat with people. So far we've only eaten at Delfinas which was close to what I'm looking for, and Gary Danko which was a bit too claustrophobic and foodie for us (or maybe our mood that night.) Italian, French bistrot .. friends have suggested Foreign Cinema, Zuni, and Boulevard .. any input welcome!

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  1. Would definitely agree with the recommendations on either Foreign Cinema or Zuni for the food and drink, if not necessarily the neighborhoods.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Joan Kureczka

      Thanks! I'm kind of interested in A16 as well - have only read about it online but it looks good and also fun.

      1. re: Mairzy

        Obviously Mairzy dotes on her husband.

        1. re: wolfe

          And does he dote on little lambs eating ivy?

          Anyway ... ancient Bing Crosby songs aside ... Zuni would seem to be a good fit ... though not much of a walking nabe. At Boulevard there would be a nice walk along the Embarcadero but the restaurant may not have the atmosphere you are looking for.

          1. re: rworange

            Sorry to shake your tree, but that was a Pied Pipers song. The Groaner just covered it about 15 years after it hit the charts.

          2. re: wolfe

            Oh I just got the Mairzy dotes joke, am I dumb! That's very funny.

      2. Zuni could fit, depends on which table you get. The various dining rooms have very different noise levels.

        If Delfina was close, Incanto might be right. Neighborhood's residential but nice for walking.

        A16's very noisy, not a place I'd go for a relaxed meal.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I looked at the posts about Incanto and was kind of put off by the description of the room as uncomfortable and lots of kids - maybe not a fair interpretation?

          1. re: Mairzy

            We tend to go at 8:30 or later, rarely see kids. When there's only two of us I like to sit at the bar and chat with the sommelier. It's the most comfortable bar seating I know--comfortable seats and a large step for your feet.

            If Oakland's doable, I recommend À Côté. Ask for the (covered) back patio when reserving.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              That bar scenario at Incanto sounds great. I'm going to see if they can get us in. Thanks!

            2. re: Mairzy

              Incanto is a bit noisy and crowded for what I think you are looking for. Not a lot of children, though.

              I think Boulevard would be perfect - though at the top end of your price range. The food is good without it being too precious or foodiefied, plus the neighborhood is good, you can catch a drink in Shanghai 1930, some sake in Ozumo, drop into The Slanted Door for appetizers and walk along the waterfront.

              Zuni also seems it would be a place you would like, though there isn't a lot to walk to before or after.

              Two other places you should consider are Bix and Absinthe.

              Zuni Cafe
              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Boulevard Restaurant
              1 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

              Ozumo Restaurant
              161 Steuart Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

              56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

              Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
              398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Shanghai 1930 Restaurant
              133 Steuart Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

              1. re: Paul H

                I have seen a fair number of kids at Incanto, but then I tend to dine early. I agree with Robert that the bar is very comfortable, and the best location for one or two...

          2. Sounds to me like Bar Tartine would fit the bill.

            Bar Tartine
            561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1. How about Firefly? Noe Valley is nice to walk around.

              Firefly Restaurant
              4288 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

              1. Kokkari is a terrific restaurant, very atmospheric/romantic, and nice area for walking afterwards. Not outrageously expensive. Food is Mediterranian, and wonderful. Recommend it highly.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lisappel

                  Kokkari's food is quite specifically Greek. The decor's pretty fancy, some people might find it a bit stuffy.

                  The surrounding area is pretty dead at night (empty office buildings), but the Embarcadero (bay-side promenade) is four blocks away, as is Columbus Avenue.

                2. Kokkari's address: 200 Jackson St
                  San Francisco, CA 94111
                  Phone: (415) 981-0983

                  1. Unless La Ciccia has gone downhill, it would be a wonderful, wonderful experience with lovely welcoming people. Perhaps with prosecco replacing the champagne. It's in south Noe Valley on the border with Glen Park and full of hills-or-not walks in pretty little Victorian streets. I had a house about 6 blocks away up and slightly off Church. Also less of a drive for you (tho parking is tough!) in a very safe neighborhood with, quite often, more pleasant walking weather in an early evening than downtown.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lintygmom

                      I love La Ciccia but it might be too crowded and noisy for this sort of occasion.

                    2. Just to throw one more into the mix I'd also recommend Bong Su. :-)

                      1. It sounds like you are interested in bistro-y places, so I would suggest L'Ardoise, a new restaurant on Noe. No, not in Noe Valley but in the Dubose triangle about two block north of the messy intersection of Market/16th/Noe. (For the locals, this is the site of the late Los Flamingos.) It is a small, comfortable room and not too noisy. There are about 6 appetizers and 6-7 entrees, all under $20. We had the charcuterie plate, almond crusted barramundi, and the hanger steak. It was all good.

                        151 Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mc2

                          Good to know, I've been wanting to try it. Thanks

                          1. re: mc2

                            What's on the charcuterie plate, and do they also have a choucroute garni?