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May 6, 2008 09:30 PM

Having a hard time streamlining and deciding on dinners in SF. Here's my itinerary... Help! Please!

I apologize ahead of time for being so geographically inept with the SF neighborhoods...

We have two days in SF and, we'd like to ultimately end up at Absinthe Bar one of the nights but, what place is best for dinner before this?
Also, for dinner, I'm having a hard time deciding between Kokkari, Town Hall, and Luella.
What would you guys do?
I'm not sure if this might be too much to do but, I'd also like to hit up Bi-Rite Creamery sometime during the trip and a wine bar after one night's dinner as well. What we're looking for in a wine bar isn't so much "good wine at cheap prices." I don't really care if its cheap or not. I just want it to be really good wine. What can I say... I'm a wine snob on vacation!

So here's my list of questions:
1) Of the three restaurants, what restaurant is closest to Absinthe? If none are close then, which of the three would be best before Absinthe? OR, would you pick another restaurant aside from the three I've chosen?
2) What wine bar is closest to the three restaurants?
3) Which restaurant is best out of three?
4) Is Absinthe even worth going to?
5) Which wine bar fits what I'm looking for best?

Here's what we've planned so far... can you please help me fit in everything that I'd like to do?
Breakfast: Primavera (Ferry Building)
Lunch: Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building
Dinner: (Trying to decide between Kokkari, Town Hall, and Luella)
After Dinner Bar: Absinthe

Brunch: Zuni Cafe
After Brunch Snack: Bi-Rite Creamery (I hear its close to Zuni, right?)
Dinner: (Trying to decide between Kokkari, Town Hall, and Luella)
After Dinner Wine Bar: (Trying to decide between Cav, Bar Tartine, 1550 Hyde, Hidden Vine, Hotel Biron)


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  1. Why did you choose Kokkari, Town Hall, and Luella? I like Kokkari a lot, but it wouldn't be on my list for one of two dinners in San Francisco, and while Town Hall is fine, it definitely wouldn't be on my list (I haven't been to Luella). Bar Tartine is more of a full service restaurant than a wine bar, and I'd go there for dinner before either Kokkari and Town Hall. Bi-Rite isn't particularly near Zuni, it's probably a 30-45 minute walk away. Of the wine bars that you've selected, I'd choose Cav, but then I haven't been to the last two.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      Hi there. Thanks for the tip re: Bar Tartine being more of a dinner place and Zuni's location in regards to Bi-Rite.
      How I came about picking Kokkari, Town Hall, and Luella is this:
      I had a very large list of other restaurants (including all the bars mentioned). I sent my husband this large list and had him look over the menu to see where he'd rather go. Filter #2 was the other couple that will be dining with us.
      So, after all the filters went through, Town Hall and Luella were the winners. Also, they needed to have tables available at the time we wanted to go.

      1. re: banquisha

        I'm not sure how you're judging when tables are available, but be aware that many restaurants often have tables available for reservation by phone that don't show up on opentable.

    2. It might help to know what criteria you used to narrow down your choices to the trio of Kokkari, Town Hall or Luella. What, exactly, are you looking for in your dinner choices?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        What I was looking for was a crowd pleaser. My husband can be a picky eater, and we have another couple joining us. One of the two is not very adventurous.
        Sent hubby and the other couple menus and had them filter out the list...

      2. Bi-Rite is almost exactly 1 mile from Zuni - the walk would take me about 20 minutes at a medium pace, since it's pretty flat. Definitely not more than 25 mins. In a taxi or on the bus, it would be even faster (2-5 mins). If it's a nice day, Dolores Park is a fun San Francisco attraction to enjoy as you eat your ice cream (Bi Rite is located right next to the park).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Dave MP

          For some reason, I had thought that Zuni was across or down the street, less than a block or two from Bi-Rite! Thanks for the heads up :)

          1. re: banquisha

            i believe you're thinking of cav wine bar.

        2. I'd pair Bar Tartine for dinner w/ BiRite since they're very close...and no shortage of places to find somewhere for a drink.

          Likewise, I'd pair Zuni for dinner with Absinthe for drinks, maybe Citizen Cake for dessert, all close to each other.

          I'd also skip Kokkari, Town Hall and Luella and find another place for Sunday brunch.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ML8000

            ML8000 makes good suggestions, inserted into the OP's itinerary (along with my preferences) we get:

            Breakfast: Hayes Street Grill Stand (Farmer's Market)
            Lunch: Slanted Door (Ferry Building)
            Dinner: Zuni
            After Dinner Bar: Absinthe
            Dessert: Citizen Cake

            Brunch: The Terrace at the Ritz Carlton
            After Brunch Snack: You won't need one
            Dinner: Bar Tartine / Bi-Rite Creamery
            After Dinner Wine Bar: Conduit

            1. re: Paul H

              Thanks for helping me update my itinerary!! Here is what I've done, mostly based on yours and ML800's suggestions:
              B: Haye's Street Grill Stand/Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building
              L: Slanted Door
              Snack: Citizen Cake
              D: Zuni
              Bar: Absinthe

              Brunch: Boulette's Larder
              Snack: Bi-Rite Creamery
              D: Salt House
              Wine Bar: (TBD)

          2. Absinthe is a restaurant. It was one of the first places to take cocktails super-seriously, but there are quite a few other places around town doing that now:


            Current topic on wine bars:


            2 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yes, if superb cocktails are the reason for your choice of Absinthe, you could always substitute Elixir (a co-founder and sponsor with Absinthe of the SF Cocktail Week), which is very close to Bar Tartine.

              1. re: Joan Kureczka

                We might need to check both out then! Thanks for the suggestion.
                The reason why I picked Absinthe in the first place, above and beyond the fact that they are very well known for their cocktails is because I've heard they have an amazing and romantic ambience. What is Elixir like, ambience wise?