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Good place to take 16 year old gourmand

My DS is really into food. We recently took him to Coco500, and he was absolutely agog over the food. My DD is going away at the beginning of August, and we're looking to take him some place fun and delicious. So far, we have reservations at Boulevard and Rivoli. Turns out that both places get mixed reviews, and at the high-end of our "budget", I'd like to find a sure-fire winner.

He's more of a meat person than a fish person but eats almost everything.



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  1. By gourmand you mean generous portions required?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      The old connotation of the word "gourmand" -- but not an accurate one -- was that it referred to someone who ate copious (gluttonous) portions.

      More about this here:

      For the Chowpup: Incanto. Hope that's within your budget.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Maybe I should have said Chowhound? He loves good food. Of course, he's 16, so he does have a large appetite :-)

        1. re: jocelyng


          Your intention was obvious from your post. For reasons that I still cannot understand, some people seem to come to these boards to "teach" rather than to help.

          As I said, I think A16 is your place -- also, the portions are pretty large :-D (and if you share a pizza between apps and main courses, you will all be ABSOLUTELY STUFFED!) Plus, he may really like hanging out in the Marina if he doesn't go there already.

          Also note: I tend to trust Maria on things, but I haven't been to Incanto

          1. re: whiner

            I really chuckled when I saw the recommendation for A16 because we were at Outstanding in the Field on Saturday night, and Nate Applemann was the chef! I have always avoided A16 because it seems so young (for DH and me) and noisy. I'll definiitely consider it if it's worth dealing with that :-)

            1. re: jocelyng

              The front of the restaurant is loud and singles-y. The back of the restaurant (where you sit if you make a reservation) is still pretty young (good for your kid) but not particularly loud and there is ample room.

              If loud/young/trendy is not on your son's "to-do" list, avoid, you might scratch my Laiola suggestion. It is one of my very favorite restaurants in the city, but the atmosphere is deffinitely "going out" rather than "dinner" -- it just so happens that the food is amazing.

              1. re: jocelyng

                When you make the A16 reservation (I do that on Open Table), make a specific location request. My favorite place to sit is the bar, and it may be fun for your son to see the action - though a tad awkward for 3 people to sit there (it's perfect for 2).

                If not the bar, ask for the back patio. It's enclosed, and much quieter than the rest of the restaurant.

              2. re: whiner

                Incanto is a great choice is exotic meats and experiences is his game.

                I would also recommend Blue Plate because it has great rooms with cool art including custom skateboards - things that would have appealed to me when I was 16. The food isn't fancy or inventive but it's tasty and high quality. It's my go-to place for out of town guests because of the ambiance and food, and not just because its three blocks away.

                Boulevard is going to be overly stuffy I'm afraid.

                Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
                1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                Blue Plate
                3218 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

          2. It has been my experience that since people are picky eaters and anyone can screw up at some point, no where gets 100% non-mixed reviews. (The only reason I mention this is because I don't think of Boulevard as being a particularly 'mixed-review-y' type place.)

            That said, if he wants to try a lot of different things, Laiola http://www.laiola.com/ (note: that the small plates are small and we normally wind up ordering 3-4 small plates per person, total, or else about 1 1/2 per person then each person orders a large plate -- we leave stuffed to tthe gills, but you should just be aware of that


            Alternatively, A16 -- ESPECIALLY as a meat-eater, I think he would love it

            5 Replies
            1. re: whiner

              >is because I don't think of Boulevard as being a particularly
              >'mixed-review-y' type place ...
              agree. surprised to see it described thus.
              expensive, and some people might not want to spend that much,
              but nobody says "it's a gimmicky, place with ridiculous portions" etc.

              in fact i'd say boulevard is the opposite: you are paying a "risk premium"
              for known solidity ... like say you had an important business meeting
              or were meeting your prospective in-laws etc.

              i wouldnt do rivioli with the Grand Gourmand. to me that is a adult date
              night place [not to be read as a diss of the food].

              how about pizzalio as an alternative to rivoli or A16 ... although one of
              the strength there are the interesting alcoholic offerings.

              if "generous portions required" there's always the churrascaria option ...
              although that more speaks to the inner carnivore than gourmet.

              ok tnx.

              1. re: psb

                I'd be happy (ok, not exactly happy) to pay for a guaranteed great meal. I'll still consider Boulevard. I'll check Pizzalio.

                1. re: jocelyng

                  Think this should be Pizzaiolo (to help your search)

                  5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              2. re: whiner

                There have been both negative and positive reviews about Boulevard here recently. That's true for almost all of the most expensive restaurants in town.

                1. re: whiner

                  If the requester is worried about noise at A16, then Laiola is definitely not a good idea. It's one of the loudest restaurants I can think of.

                2. Chez Panisse Cafe, upstairs...good value relatively speaking and a place with culinary roots in the U.S. and Bay Area. If you get ("make") him to do a little research, it could be downright educational.

                  If volume, variation and value are bigger factors, maybe another tapas/small plate place like Bocadillos or Zarzuela.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ML8000

                    I checked CP, and i think they are closed on Sundays....That may be an issue with the other places recommended.

                    1. re: jocelyng

                      Try Wood Tavern. They are open on Sundays. Don't bother w/ Open Table--it never shows them w/ availability. Call and they'll be more likely to be able to set you up with something.

                      And do not fear Rivoli. We liked to take our son their when he was really young, due to the parade of critters dining in the back garden. Never felt that it was age inappropriate.

                      Wood Tavern
                      6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                      1. re: lexdevil

                        How many nights do you have? You'd really want to cover a variety of bases.

                        Wood tavern is an excellent rec.
                        Slanted Door.
                        Upstairs CP.
                        A Cote and Caesar
                        Jardinere has its moments, might be stuffy
                        I thought of Zuni, but withdraw, unless s/he would like oysters. Go for apps and oysters, have dinner elsewhere.
                        I'd probably take oliveto over rivoli, the menu's just more interesting

                        I might even say upstairs CP is a must, because he's seen rooms and restaurants and menus like that, but CP *delivers* - what sets them that far apart? Say, Baywolf vs CP cagematch? That should get the tyke thinking.

                    2. I like Rivoli, but it is no Coco500. A little staid, IMO, for a 16 year old.

                      I'd try the new Orson down the street. Very fun and though they are known for cocktails, they have some very cool non-alcoholic drinks on the menu.

                      While I'm thinking of it, before it was Coco500 it was Bizou which was a slightly more formal restuarnt. In terms of food, 1550 Hyde reminds me a lot of the old Bizou in terms of food and cuisine. If he likes Coco500, he will like 1550 Hyde.

                      Aziza is a wonderful Cal-Morrocan place and a unique restaurant. A recent and one of the many, many positive reviews.

                      In the East Bay, Sea Salt is another option if he likes seafood.

                      I would definately skip Boulevard.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rworange

                        I was at Incanto last month with my 17 year old daughter. The menu felt limited, especially for a picky eater (avoid the antipasto plate unless you are into some very unusual animal parts and textures), and the room was nothing special. The service was fine. I fail to see the excitement.

                        1. re: rworange

                          A 2nd on Aziza. I think it would expand his palette the most, capture his imagination.

                        2. How about Cafe Rouge for your young carnivore? Followed by dessert at Sketch.

                          Cafe Rouge
                          1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                          1. I'll also second "A16." Make reservations and seating will be fine.

                            If you don't mind driving a little, "Chez Alexander's" in Burlingame, on Broadway, will also fit the bill. It's not too expensive but Ibrahim sets a good table.

                            If you find yourself in the South (SOUTH) Bay, "Le Papillon" in San Jose is excellent as is the Basque restaurant in San Juan Batista, "Matxain Etxea." This is a carnivore's delight! Beef, lamb, chicken, pork... <sigh> Clan Ranger's sure-stop when we find ourselves in Prunedale during the Fall soccer season.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: The Ranger

                              My husband and I love Le Papillon, but we would never take our teenager there - too formal & expensive (she loves good, expensive chow, but the service and ambience would be lost on her - she calls that "old fashioned" - yikes!).

                              1. re: Claudette

                                We _just_ took Daughter-units Alpha and Beta there; they loved it and now understand why we waited until they could understand the experience. :) They've already started a list: Chez TJ's, Chez Alexander, Manrissa's, yadda yadda... I'm no longer worried about three weddings; my fortune'll be gone LONG before any of them get married...

                                As for tagging Le Papillon "old fashioned," I'd prefer "traditional" since I enjoy pampering of that level. ;)

                            2. Incanto is one of my favorite places to eat in the city. Not my 19 year old son's. He is a foodie through and through - not afraid to try new things but wouldn't order an entire meal of it. We've been there 3 or 4 times together and he likes certain items on the menu but doesn't get enthusiastic about the special items that we get. I wouldn't recommend it for the under 21 crowd. Perhaps it is because part of the appeal is the wine list and they can't enjoy that.
                              He does however enjoy Bix, Fog City, Chou Chou, Plouf, Fresca, Farallon, and Absinthe.

                              1. Boulevard is expensive and quite frankly, boring. Fun and delicious do not apply. I really like Rivoli but not if I was a teenager and the critters mentioned earlier are no more (neighbor complaints). . . If he really is into ingredient driven food, he might like Pizzaiolo (ask for a booth across from the kitchen, A Cote (ask to sit in the back patio if the weather is nice), Wood Tavern, Cortez, Canteen, Orson (altho I am not crazy about the preciousness of some of the portions, it is on the cutting edge and fun). Incanto is good but not for an unadventurous eater. . if offal is awful to him, he won't like it. Kokkari is another option as well.

                                1. Has anyone put Delfina into the mix? That's another great option.