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Apr 18, 2008 07:14 PM

Recs for 2 days in SF Nob Hill/financial

Looking for recommendations for espresso in the morning, and a light meal and dessert in the evening near the Intercontinental hotel. Although I'm staying there for work reasons, the hotel itself sounds a little too swanky for my tastes. I don't plan to dress up for dinner, and I'll be dining alone. Any ideas for good Asian, Mediterranean, Sicilian cuisines? Thanks in advance!

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  1. How far are you willing to walk? There are a few choices just down the hill, which I'll list. If you're willing to walk ten minutes or take a cab, the choices open up even more.

    Walk down the hill to Sutter and and Taylor for morning coffee at Sugar Cafe. They roast their own, and I find it quite solid. I haven't had the espresso, but with coffee that good it should be fine (fingers crossed). Sugar cafe transforms into a bar at night, with several choices for light appetizers and desserts.

    Canteen a few blocks away (Sutter and Leavenworth) is popular for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The vibe is very casual and a solo diner won't feel out of place at the bar in jeans, though the food itself is slightly upscale. Reservations recommended for dinner, but my favorite meal there is breakfast.

    Chinatown is also just down the hill in a different direction. There are a lot of casual, borderline divey noodle houses. I like Bow Hon for their fish salad and rice in clay pots.

    Lots of Thai places. Thai House Express is the most popular but a bit of a walk. Closer to your hotel I like Bang San Thai for curries, and Ar Roi is fine for the standards but nothing to write home about.

    Lots of Indian places. Again, closest to your hotel will probably be Shalimar or Chutney, both good.

    The Polk Corridor is chock full of restaurants if you're willing to walk a bit. Mediterranean: try Pesce (Italian with a seafood bent).

    1. Bar Crudo for a light dinner. Bocadillos (Basque tapas).

      Very little Sicilian around here. Italian, Scala's and Perbacco are nearby.

      We usually call that hotel the Mark Hopkins. The Intercontinental is a new hotel south of Market.

      1. When I've stayed at the Fairmont for work, I usually have a meal at the nearby Nob Hill Cafe. It gets mixed reviews, but I like the combination of the atmosphere, service and food when I don't feel like going very far from the hotel and feeling like eating in a neighborhood place. It's not Sicilian, however, nor would I say it's the right place for an intense foodie. This menu will give you a sense of what they serve:
        I'd suggest walking by and checking it out if you get a chance.

        1 Reply
        1. re: souvenir

          We lived a couple of blocks away from the Nob Hill Cafe for 2.5 years and probably ate there once every 4-6 weeks. It's a good spot for a real Caesar salad with raw egg and anchovies and some addictive lasagna on a cold night. Also a bright spot recently was a dry coppa pizza with fresh basil and fontina (a special). If you get there before 7 you're less likely to have to wait.

        2. Walk down Powell or hop on the cable car. You could have espresso at Cafe de La Presse or Blue Bottle Cafe.

          You could also head in the other direction west on California to Polk. There's a Whole Foods up the block and lots of great inexpensive options in both directions on Polk (I'll recommend Tagine for homey Moroccan). I think there's also a Peet's coffee or at least it's sold from a kiosk at Grace Cathedral.

          Sicilian in SF?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Windy

            Just to be clear, Blue Bottle and Whole Foods are a couple of blocks from the ends of two different cable car lines, but both are about 3/4 of a mile from California and Mason.

          2. Reporting back on my trip, thanks to everyone for the recommendations. I wish I had more time to try them all, but here's what I did do. First day, co-workers took me to lunch at Tadich Grill. Had the seared ahi and scallop from the lunch specials. The tuna was tender and delicious, covered with a light sesame oil sauce, the scallop was a little chewy, and the pea vine salad was good with its creamy dill dressing. Very nice business lunch spot. The coworkers knew to come early because it got crowded quickly.

            I found the Whole Foods on California & Franklin, and just picked up some dinner supplies to eat in my room. Very classy to check into the Mark Hopkins with a paper bag in tow!

            The next morning, I walked down the hill to find Sugar Cafe but I must be an idiot because I am pretty sure I walked right by but never found it. The walk back up the hill was invigorating...

            That night, I had dinner at the Nob Hill Cafe. I went early and had no problem getting a table. Had the melon and prosciutto starter (mainly because it reminded me of The Sopranos) and pasta alla carbonara. It wasn't a wow meal, but it was quite tasty and inspired me to make the appetizer at home. I love salt on melon, so I don't know why I have never tried it with prosciutto before. If I lived in that neighborhood, I would probably end up there quite often. The environment was very casual and comfortable.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chipqmunk

              So glad that Nob Hill Cafe worked for you- thank you for posting the follow up!

              1. re: souvenir

                Ditto on the thanks.

                You made me chuckle about the brown bag at the Mark Hopkins. At one time I did a lot of business travel and was put up in some top of the heap hotels like the Mark Hopkins. But after a while you get sick of room service food or nearby restaurants. So I have shlepped into the best of hotels toting a brown grocery bag with chow from local markets.

                Tadich Grill
                240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Nob Hill Cafe
                1152 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94108