Brooklyn hound fears the worst.....
Please fellow hounds, help a brother out. I've done a lot of digging on this site and others, but am unable to find the info I so desperately need. Here's the skinny.....
My lady and I are coming to SF for our first visit in a long time. Unfortunately, we will be there only Sunday and Monday night (which I'm guessing are probably the two lamest nights to got out in your fair city).
The only nighttime commitment we have so far is Lucha VaVoom (Mexican wrestling + burlesque, who knew?) at The Fillmore on Sunday night. Here's where you come in....
We need recc's for cool spots for both dinner and drinks, that won't be totally lame (or closed) on Sunday or Monday night. Ideally, we would love to have dinner in a lively environment with great food and then hit a nearby bar for drinks and music, possibly dancing.
Sunday night we'll be in Japantown, Monday we'd like to be in the Mission.
Ideally, all places would be comfortable, outstanding places that we would not ordinarily have access to in NYC. FYI, we're both in our low-30's, love dive bars (and fancy cocktail joints too), indie rock, backpacker & 90's hip-hop, and organic grinds. Some of our fave resto's in NYC and BK include Dumont, Applewood, Zum Schneider, Frank, Yakitori Totto, Little Giant and Azul. Fave bars include Motor City, Studio B, 119, No Malice, and Hi Fi.
Right now we have A60, Zuni, Range, and Town Hall on our list. No ideas for bars. We need serious help (in general, but specifically with this).
I would highly recommend Range for Sunday night. It's one of the few restaurants that I go to at least one Sunday a month and it's always on track - my boyfriend and I think it's one of a couple places in the city that can actually rock your world on a Sunday (the other places being Cortez and Boulevard). I'm a wine drinker, but everyone I know loves the cocktails at Range (there's a famous SF chef that I see drinking there too on occasion and he says the cocktails are some of the best in the city). Range is also in a great neighborhood for bar hopping afterwards. Valencia Street is loaded with fun places to drink, explore, and occasionally get your groove on. I would recommend walking between the blocks of 20th - 14th after dinner and just popping into whatever place catches your eye.
A16 is near kind of interesting bars (note: kind of...). You'll mainly see the typical jock, preppy types that roam the Marina part of San Francisco.
Town Hall is not in a fun location for a Sunday night, but I would recommend going there on a Monday and then hitting up some of the downtown bars that are open for all post-work drinks.
If you go to Range, here are some of the dishes that I've recently tried that are beyond tasty:
1. Roasted chicken with beets, goat cheese, and walnuts
2. Any pasta dish, or fish entree (changes nightly but is some of the best, consistent food they have)
3. Desserts!!! Meyer lemon pudding cake, any tart, strawberry cream puffs...
I just noticed that you noted being in the Mission on Monday night and not Sunday ... I still think Range would be a good spot for you to try. The bars are still accessible and lively on Mondays in the Mission.
Another option for Sunday, in Japantown, would be Bushi Tei. The food is French-Californian-Japanese fusion. They have an amazing Sake selection and it's not far from the Fillmore. Also, on Sunday's they are doing a Spring Menu (check out the website for more information).
On the dive bar tip, I recommend Zeitgeist. It has fanTAStic bloody marys, plus a lot of great beers on tap. Its beergarden in the back is totally SF. The burgers are supposed to be good, but I've never had. Just letting you know they have a small menu too.
It's open every day from 9am-2am.
199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103
What's so great about the beer at Zeitgeist? If I recall correctly, they had around 16 taps, of which a handful were various common flavors of cider (pear, peach, etc.). The remaining beer options were fine but not particularly unusual for the bay area, and I have to say that our pitcher was a touch on the skunky side. Everyone else seemed to be ordering bloodies, which did look good but we purposefully ordered beer to see what the fuss was about.
re: Robert Lauriston
Agreed - no one does beer better than Toronado. But for dive atmosphere and beers that the OP might not find in Brooklyn, I think it's still a good suggestion.
If OP really wants a range of killer beers on tap, Toronado should definitely be added to the list! Hours: 11:30am to 2:00am daily
547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA
For cocktails I would definitely recommend Alembic (in the Haight) and Beretta (in the mission). Both of these places also have interesting menus, the appetizers and pizzas at Beretta I can personally vouch for, but at Alembic I have unfortunately eaten only with my eyes.
I third the rec for Range. Their chocolate souffle was perfection.
If you want to be in Japantown on Sunday you might check out O Izakaya, there's lots of feedback on this board, but I haven't been yet.
Enjoy SF, as a recent NYC resident myself I'm sure you won't be disappointed!
I'd scratch A16 (what I think you meant by A60). I used to enjoy it quite a bit, but a recent meal there was utterly lackluster. The restaurant is lively, but not fun in the way that Range can be.
More specifically, the things I didn't like about A16 this time were:
1) way over-salted salads. I like salt, but I couldn't taste much that wasn't salt in the two salads we had
2) confused pizza style. It used to be Neapolitan, cooked fast with blistered edges and a soft middle that you had to eat with fork and knife. It also used to taste good. Now the crust is thicker, somehow less flavorful, and I ate my slices by picking them up and folding them--which shouldn't have been possible if they were Neapolitan. The edges were charred, not just blistered, to the extent that all I could taste was char and I didn't eat my pizza crusts for the first time ever at A16. Toppings were also hit or miss; the funghi pizza was fine, but the pizza bianca had nothing going on except 2 or 3 large olives. If you managed to get an olive in a bite, it completely overwhelmed all over flavor with an intense burst briny-bitter olive flavor that reminded me of cheap cocktail olives. Better olives cut into a dice to sprinkle over the pizza would have worked better. Strangely, the cheese on the pizza bianca managed to stay totally white (i.e. no caramelized bits) while the edges of the crust burned. Perhaps the air temperature in the oven was too low but the deck was still hot?
3) awful pasta sauce. It should have been a simple tasty tomato-based sauce, but instead it was strangely flavorless and sour. No love went into this sauce.