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Jul 7, 2008 02:52 PM

Teen Scene? Lunch spot around Union Square?

I'm treating my teenage niece and her BFF for a day of shopping and lunch in San Francisco soon. Trouble is, I'm out of touch with what's new/fun downtown. I'm hoping someone could toss a few dining ideas my way. I'm taking these HSM fans (High School Musical to the uninitiated) to SF to escape suburban mall food. Nothing too $$ or palate-challenging, please. (For context, I think sushi might be pushing it for these girls.) Thanks!!

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  1. Well,if you care to do an urban mall, Out The Door in the basement of Westfield Mall is the first thing I thought of. If they like walking, you could take a stroll down to the Ferry Building and there are many options there ranging from Taylor's Refresher to a smaller, more limited 'Out The Door' (plus, the real deal- Slanted Door).

    I thought of Scala's, but I think that might be too much $$$, especially for lunch.

    6 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      Out the Door is still closed, unfortunately. A stroll down to the Ferry Building (or a quick ride along Market St. or on BART) for Taylors would be fun, especially on a nice day.

      1. re: whiner

        Out The Door is still closed due to water damage. Probably best to head to the Westfield food court and let them choose what they like. It is a GREAT food court, with something for every body.

        1. re: Carrie 218

          I agree. I've scared a few people with the "let's go to the food court" suggestion, but once there they are always wowed. This is not your common mall food court; there are a lot of unique choices, and you barely have to take a break from shopping to enjoy everything. You could do a lot worse around Union Square.

          1. re: Pei

            I still think a trip to the Ferry Building is the way to go.

            BUT, if closer to Union Square is preferable, then I will echo the others' sentiments. Even with Out The Door closed, the food court in the basement of the Westfield is easily the best food court I've ever been to -- really in a class by itself.

            1. re: whiner

              It depends on the high schoolers. Some would like the Ferry Building, but others would not. It's hard to imagine for food lovers like me, but I've seen teens complain about being dragged through the FB. On the other hand, I would be surprised if a teen weren't wowed by how the Westfield food court blows suburban mall food out of the water.

              The Nordstrom Cafe is also a nice choice, if you want something quieter with table service. Lobster bisque, a plate of fries, and some hot tea was my "have to get away" lunch when I used to work nearby.

              1. re: Pei

                In that vein, the Rotunda at Nieman Marcus is a nice place for a fashionable ladies' lunch -- I bet the girls would love the popovers.

                Anjou has a lunch deal that's pretty good.

                Anjou Restaurant
                44 Campton Pl, San Francisco, CA

      2. I am sure it'll get skewered on here, but our teenage daughters always liked the Cheesecake Factory atop Macy's in Union Square. Seems to me it is like the very suburban mall food you're trying to avoid, but that's what our version of that demographic enjoyed. They even liked waiting endlessly for a table and teen-watching, which I hated.
        I guess it's not new either, but one for the list.

        2 Replies
        1. re: NoeMan

          Cheesecake Factory is literally suburban mall food. There are branches in Brentwood, Corte Madera, Palo Alto, Pleasanton, and San Jose.

          1. re: NoeMan

            I thought of the Cheesecake Factory, too - we don't have one local for us, so it would be a treat for my teens....

          2. Westfield mall basement food court. It's a mall food court but nothing like any suburban mall food court.

            1. My girls loved Sorabol BBQ, a Korean place at Westfield/SF Centre as well as the gelato/crepe place.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ceekskat

                Sorabol's a chain with branches in suburban malls in Emeryville, Milpitas, Newark, San Bruno, and San Jose, among other places.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  My daughter always loved Scala's (still does). Is it possible to set a limit on what they spend there? It can be done without going completely over the top. Check the menu on line to get an idea.

                  1. re: Oakland Barb

                    Scala's turned out to be a good place for lunch with a teen before ACT. The room is nice enough to feel fancy (for my birthday), yet the menu has safe choices for a picky eater. Yes, it's a hotel restaurant but not much else is open on a Saturday around there.

                    To start, the different housemade breads were pretty good. SO and I also tried the tuna tartare. Nice.

                    Then son had pizza margherita ("no basil, please") from the wood burning oven. It was kinda greasy but he ate it. I had the gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Good but very rich, old school; I only ate half. SO seemed happy with the duck rigatoni.

                    I noticed two giggly, squirmy little girls in a nearby booth, but the place was too noisy for them to bother anyone.

                    Our lunch came to $120 including tax, tip, three glasses of wine and one coke. Note: they had no root beer. This is SF; they should have alternatives to Sprite or Coke!

                    1. re: Glencora

                      Adding a link:

                      Scala's Bistro
                      432 Powell St., San Francisco, CA 94102

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I realized that as soon as I looked it up but hey, who knows with teens? Too bad they are not located in Valley Fair San Jose since I usually time my shopping there so I can drive down to Falafel Drive In afterwards:-)

                    My vote is probably Taylor's at the Ferry Bldg. but not exactly convenient if you want to shop, eat, & continue shopping.

                    OP, what's your radius? I just remembered Thirsty Bear but am not sure if it would be too expensive or if the food might be too "exotic".


                2. I'd take them to a place on Belden Lane, B44, Cafe Bastille...maybe Plouf. and eat outside. It should seem international, grown up and cool and they won't get that in suburbia even if it can be a bit of a cliche. You'll be able to get something decent as well.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: ML8000

                    I thought of Belden Lane, too. They might as well go to a real restaurant. And the setting is nice.

                    For the record, my teenage son hated the food court at Westfield Mall. Too crowded, too many choices, claustrophobic... However, that was at Christmastime. Maybe it's not always that bad.

                    Taylor's is a safe choice, but sorta boring.

                    1. re: Glencora

                      I think eating outside would be the point of going to Belden. You know, a bit of scene, festive, different, not suburbia and real restaurants too. Like many things teens...they're probably love it or hate it. My guess is girls would like it more then boys but frankly who knows.

                      1. re: Glencora

                        Yeah, I find the food court at Westfield to be too crowded and claustrophobic too, and it's not areally a fun eating together experience. And you're eating in a basement -- it's just not that fun of a San Francisco environment. You're right, Taylor's is a little boring, but the setting is great, and if the teens have relatively safe palates, they'll like it. Belden would be fun too.

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          I've not been to any of the places on Belden, but I hear they are cool... that might be another good option for your niece.

                          THREAD DRIFT: Does anyone have a rec for best Belden Lane place for NON-TEENS (although, to be fair, I am still solidly in my twenties) -- I'm meeting an old friend for a casual dinner down town next week...

                          1. re: whiner

                            I'd pick B44 for tapas or Plouf for mussels, and Voda if either of you is a vodka fan. Tiramisu has never impressed, and I haven't really heard enough about the others to really want to try.

                            1. re: whiner

                              For non-teens and more adventurous eaters, I would recommend Bar Crudo just up a few blocks from Belden. Everything there is consistently stellar. The seafood chowder is mindblowingly rich and tasty and a bargain at $14. The crudo sampler, salads, and hot dishes are also great (I think I've just recited most of the menu). If you like beer, they have a terrific selection of Belgian and international beers, some of which can't be found elsewhere.

                              Bar Crudo
                              655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                        2. re: ML8000

                          Thanks for all of these great ideas! I have to admit, I am drawn to the suggestion for the Cheesecake Factory. As much as it pains me, I think the gals would love to sit outside on the patio and watch the scene down below. That said, Belden is an excellent alternative. Great food and a grown-up, city-style street scene. I'd thought of Taylor's initially, but honestly, I think the girls are up for shopping hard, so staying close to the shops is tops. I will bank that idea for the future. Thanks again to everyone for their tips!

                          1. re: diablita

                            I'd also recommend going down to Belden Lane or the nearby Cafe Claude. It's great fun for out-of-towners and young foodies to see and experience all these European restaurants packed together and browse through their menus. The food may not be the best in the city but it's quite good and fairly priced. We frequently take the new college interns at work there for their first lunch and they're always impressed. B44, Bastille, and Plouf are recommended. After lunch, drop by Best-O-Burger for a small scoop of gelato.

                            That stretch of Kearny Street has plenty of other great international options. On a single block, there's Bangkok Best and Banana Leaf (Thai) and Paladar (Cuban).

                            1. re: junesix

                              Second on Cafe Claude. Closed for lunch on Sunday.

                              Most of the places in that two-block stretch of Kearney are closed on the weekend.

                            2. re: diablita

                              How about Mocca on Maiden Lane. Just off of Union Square. Great sandwiches, tasty berries for dessert, tables outside in the middle of Maiden Lane, and (often) live jazz.

                              Mocca On Maiden Lane
                              175 Maiden Ln, San Francisco, CA 94108