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Jun 7, 2008 10:47 AM

Tried-and-True, Casual, Institutions

My husband and I are first-time visitors to San Francisco. We'd love to dine at some tried-and-true, casual, institutions. We'll be visiting for three days at located at Union Square. Thanks so much for your recommendations!

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  1. Zuni. Great food, pretty restaurant and definitely a SF institution.

    Zuni Cafe
    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    1. What constitutes casual for you? Shorts and flip flops/no table service casual or more fine dining but no dress up needed? California is a pretty casual place but definitions are different. I'd say go to some taquerias...Cancun, San Jose, La Taqueria...all casual but maybe that's not what you're looking for.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        Thanks for the suggestions!
        By casual, I mean table service but no need to dress up. Hope that clarifies.

        1. re: civetdaly

          Honestly, there are very very few places in the Bay Area where you would need to dress up -- there are only a few places that I can think of where I wouldn't wear jeans.

          1. re: JasmineG

            You are correct...heck jeans and a clean/nice shirt will get you into 99% of the places, and you'd only feel weird at the other 1%.

            Any to the OP...try Zuni Cafe.

      2. Chez Panisse (Berkeley)*
        Jai Yun*
        Helmand Palace
        Yank Sing (dim sum lunch)
        Zuni Cafe*

        *reservations essential

        1. Canteen
          Bar Crudo

          1. Agree with all the above suggestions. Zuni for sure. If you can't get a reservation, they leave 1/3 of the restaurant for walk-ins, but get there early - 5:30, not later than 6. It's also one of the best places for lunch.

            For dinner I would add the following to the list:
            Delfina - in the Mission, great neighbrhood to explore.
            Tommaso's in North Beach - for the wood-fired brick oven pizza, very casual by any standards, fun atmosphere, an SF institutuion.