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Seeking quiet, mellow SF restaurant for 8

Parents and in-laws are meeting on May 17 for the first time, and I'm looking for a good spot for 8 adults, including a couple with hearing on the decline. Ideally I'd like a restaurant with a round table, since that'll make hearing one another easier, but those are hard to come by. A loud place is not going to work for this group; it's important that people can hear and get to know one another.

Some other criteria/issues:
Cuisines: We like pretty much everything, though are not inclined to do fancy French, German, or another very heavy food. An all-sushi place would not go over well, nor would a place that relies heavily on corn products, as one of us has a corn allergy.
Price: Prefer places with entrees $25 and under.
Location: San Francisco proper, preferably on the eastern, central, or southern sides of the city. Mission, SOMA, Noe Valley, Glen Park, downtown, Castro would be great, but if the perfect place is in the outer Richmond, it's a contender.
- Fanciness: Not too. Think NOPA and Delfina more than Michael Mina and Gary Danko. We may do a less expensive ethnic restaurant, too (Indian would be great, as would Mexican, Thai, or Chinese.). Some members of this group love the Slanted Door, SPQR, and Town Hall, and others tend more toward Chinatown dim sum, Chaat Cafe, and La Taqueria. It would be great to find a place where everyone felt comfortable.

We have considered:
- Tadich Grill, for the fun factor. But I'm concerned it's too loud. Food would be perfect. Or a steak house?
- Delfina. One of my favorite restaurants, and I've considered booking the back table on the patio. I'm still concerned it'll be hard to hear.
- Chenery Park. It's close to home, a nice selling point. Was thinking the upstairs area might provide a quiet space. Not my favorite, food-wise, but totally serviceable for this crowd.

I've looked on Open Table, but I'd love this community's input as well. And I would be happy to book a private room if I could find one that isn't too large; 8 seems on the small size for that. Worst case scenario: take-out for 8 in our dining room.

Thanks to everyone, in advance, for your thoughts.

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  1. This is a random idea: How about Sozai (16th and Irving). It has easy parking, is quiet (but fun), and has a bit of everything (from sashimi to meatballs).

    Also, EOS, Absinthe, South, or Colibri.

    1. How about Incanto? If you're near Chenery Park, you're near this too, on Church St. They have a sectioned off space in the back, almost a private room, across from the kitchen, near the wine storage that is very quiet when you have it all to yourself, which you might with your size reservation. Incanto is nice, but also neighborhood-y and decidedly grown-up - good for parental types. Have a nice meeting of the families!

      4 Replies
      1. re: omnivorouslady

        I like Incanto but fear the food may be a bit out there (too much offal, unusual ingredients etc.) for some of the people... Is EOS quiet? I can't remember it being particularly quiet. I've always wanted to try Colibri, and the menu looks great. Anyone know if it's quiet?


        1. re: stonefruit

          I love Incanto but find it to be VERY loud. I would recommend Vivande -- I have had parties of nine there very comfortably (not a round table, but a long, family-style one) which was very conducive to conversation. You have great pasta and hearty roast meats all within your price range.

          Vivande Porta Via
          2125 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

          1. re: stonefruit

            A quick thought on Incanto - I'm actually looking to book a similar group event to yours, and I just spoke with them on the phone. The private room is for 10 or more people, with a $65/person set menu, and the minimum food and beverage charge is $1500. It was a little outside of my personal budget, and it sounds like it might be for you, too. Good luck!

            1. re: veraciousjess

              If the back room isn't booked for a private party, you can request to be seated there. It's much quieter than the front room.

        2. In my experience, upstairs at Chenery Park is not any quieter than down. The quietest area would be by the front window to left as you enter, if they could fit 8 in there. Worth calling to ask, but the rest can get noisy.

          What about Bacco or Firefly?

          Ristorante Bacco
          737 Diamond Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

          Chenery Park Restaurant
          683 Chenery Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

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

          1. If everyone is OK with Vietnamese food Lotus Garden would fit the bill. The restaurant is generally quite quiet, the food is delicious and not heavy, and the prices are reasonable.

            I don't believe they have any round tables, though you might want to call and ask.

            Lotus Garden
            3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            1 Reply
            1. re: Euonymous

              No round tables, but yes, actually, otherwise that is a very good suggestion! (though one cautionary note: the wine list is almost non-existent, so if you care about that, bring your own and pay corkage)

            2. Firefly in Noe Valley could work. I think they have a few random round tables but I could be wrong. I think there are enough "normal" pastas and entrees on the Incanto menu and that small back room would be nice, it's not a favorite of mine though.

              1. The quietest, senior-friendly, able-to-talk restaurant I know in SF is Hayes Street Grill, a seafood place (see I don't hate PU). No round tables. Decor out of a 60's UK nunnery, green carpet, very good but on the pricey-side

                1. This might not sound exciting, but I have had extrodinary luck taking seniors at Delancy Street. IIRC, they have some round tables in the back and the food was always reliably good. It is not cutting edge or anything but good.

                  I wouldn't go to Tadich. Besides being loud they don't take reservations.

                  1. Was just looking for the same thing and found the same problems. The private dining rooms are very expensive and regular tables are very loud. IF, and this is a big IF, you want to spend some more money Cafe Majestic in the Majestic Hotel at Sutter and Gough is very quiet and lovely. The entree prices are probably the notch above that, but the restaruant is great. I wonder if you could work something out about a menu with them?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sfdoc

                      I was thinking of Cafe Majestic as well and agree that the entree prices are above your price point, but definitely check it out. The food is very good and the room is very pretty and nice and quiet!

                    2. Kokkari has a great round table in one of the windows (maybe more than one, I can't remember), where I've sat with 7 people (at lunch, not dinner though) and we could all talk well. I don't know if they're louder at dinner, but the food is good there, and it's been mellow the times I've gone.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JasmineG

                        They're louder at dinner. I haven't been to Kokkari in a couple of years, but it was REALLY noisy last dinner there.

                      2. Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese) is quiet and they're used to groups that size and larger.

                        If Indian would work, Afghan probably would, too. Helmand Palace is quiet.

                        Mandalay is quiet. It's Burmese, but the bulk of the menu is Thai and Chinese dishes.