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Casual, but Memorable rec's for 1 night in S.F.?

Okay, I'll keep it brief as possible. 3 guys (one is 17), arriving in S.F. on a Thursday late morning, and leaving the next morning. We're staying in Japantown, but will have BART passes to get us around. I've searched the boards high and low, and have found lots of rec's for places like Delfina, A16, Slanted Door, etc. Those places look nice, but the experience would be wasted on 2 of the 3 of us. We like good food, but we aren't snobby about it.

I'm after a recommendation for a "nice, memorable meal" - not the best meal in town. If those places above are considered "10's" then I'm looking for 6-8's. Nothing too fancy, though we aren't picky either. I was hoping something like Lou's Pier 47 or Scoma's, but seems like everyone says NOT to eat along the wharf. As far as type of food goes, I'd say it doesn't matter too much as long as it's good and it's a neat place, or has a neat view, etc... I don't want the kid thinking the meal was memorable because he had to eat oysters or something "weird".

I'd even be open to a chain type restaraunt as long as it was consistently good, and memorable. Sorry so vague, but at this point I'm just ready for someone to say "Go here ____" OR - any rec's of where to NOT go (like Joe's Cable Car, apparently!).

Thanks!

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  1. Trattoria Contadina might fit the bill. It puts you in in a fun part of town. Or maybe consider one of the Chinatown standards, like Great Eastern.

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    Trattoria Contadina
    1800 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1. A16 and Delfina are very casual, lively, unpretentious places with great food. What specifically makes you wary of them?

      Maybe you could name some restaurants in other cities that are what you're looking for?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        A16, the menu seems a little "esoteric" for our tastes - though I'm sure it's good food.

        Delfina looks like a possibility, but where's the lasagne??? I'm just afraid that it'll be one of those places that charge $30 or a 3oz piece of meat and 2 sticks of asparagus. Is it "reasonably priced for what it is"???

      2. You fellas might want to try Cha Cha Cha on Haight St. In my opinion, it's a place where I take my buddies to everytime we head to the city. They don't take reservations though. As for the atmosphere, it's pretty different from the spots you listed. It's hard to explain, but maybe their website has pics. The experience will be memorable. Cajun Shrimp is a must order. www.cha3.com

        -Lando
        www.SpotsForDates.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lando

          As fun as Cha Cha Cha is, the 17 yo might feel left out as the Sangria is what makes the food better.

          Some suggestions would be Thai House Express on Larking or Shalimar at Polk. Those will probably not break the bank but still offer delicious food options.

        2. Excellent! This is more the kind of recommendations I was looking for! Thanks a million!

          1 Reply
          1. re: honda21

            http://www.chow.com/places/1614
            Tommaso is in a fun part of town, North Beach and Chinatown,
            and has lasagna and good pizza.

          2. I think you could have a great meal at Houston's (near Fish Wharf) along the Embarcadero. The menu has something for everyone, great steaks, great ribs and they are generous so you will not leave hungry. In the bar area, there are screens tuned to sports but it's not intrusive.
            If you really want to go to the wharf, Scoma's has really fresh fish, generous, right on the water but they don't take reservations.
            For great lasagne (fresh made pasta!) go to Umbria at the corner of 2nd & Howard.
            (My daughter took her friend to Bar Bambino -- it was $120 -- small plates, and they left hungry -- I don't go to those places.)