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3 nights with a group, moderately priced

I am a NYer looking for tips on SF restaurants for 3 nights of family gatherings in mid-November (Thurs-Sat).

Here are some criteria we're working with:

-The number of people will vary a bit from night to night. Thursday will probably be about 10, Friday the largest at maybe 14, and Saturday perhaps as few as 6 or 8. As for time 7 or 7:30 is ideal.

-Price per head for food shouldn't exceed $40 (drinks, tax and tip are extra).

-Location isn't a huge factor. Our hotel is in Pacific Heights. Walking distance would be lovely but it's not essential. We've got a couple of older folks that probably won't walk anyway. (I don't have the sense that Pacific Hts has a lot of options, but maybe things have changed since I was last there).

-As for cuisine we're pretty flexible. I'd say one night should be something like Vietnamese or Thai. One maybe Italian or Mediterranean/Cal/American.

-We don't need a private room, but a place that's not super loud would be nice.

-I've been to a few of SF's greatest hits like Zuni, Delfina, and Slanted Door. I think others would love these (and the chance to go to the Ferry Bldg). Are all out of our price range for food? Also what are their policies on group reservations?

Many thanks for any tips!

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  1. On Fillmore, I have done a dinner for 9 at Vivande de Portola with great success at about your price range. Their fettuccine is incomparable.

    1. Helmand Palace (Afghan) isn't far and it's quiet.

      Bodega Bistro (Vietnamese) gets a lot of parties that size.

      1. Of the three you mention, Delfina should be in your price range, but I'm not certain they accept parties larger than 6. Zuni and SD are pushing it but not so far out of your price range that they ought to be automatically written off. (I mean, if it comes out to $41/p before tax, tip, drinks, you're not going to flip out, right?)

        I'm a huge fan of Helmand Palace (Afghani) on Van Ness. Quiet, easily affordable (I think the most expensive thing ont he menu is $18) and just really really good food. Probably close to where you are staying.

        Aziza (Moroccan) may be a trek to the Richmond but is worth it.

        I'm a huge fan of A16, and its Southern Italian food is unique in the US, I havbe found.

        I haven't been to Fringale (French - Loire - with a few slight Basque hints) in over a year, but I always really liked it. Should work.

        1. Does anyone have opinions on Aux Delices? Slanted Door is a bit too expensive I think but this one seems like it might be a good alternative for upscale Vietnamese.

          A16 looks like it might work, so I think we'd do that for Thursday. I've wanted to eat there on past trips to SF so that would be great. If it doesn't work out, I came across Sociale -- opinions?

          Fringale also looks like a good option. Can anyone attest to how they handle large parties? Also how far is that from Pacific Heights by cab?

          Unfortunately Afgani and Burmese food are probably a bit scary for some members of this group, much as I'd like to do something like that.

          5 Replies
          1. re: robotcoupe

            Hi!

            I've been to Aux Delices dozens of times (if you include take out). It is good. Not great, but good. I would reccomend it *within the context of wanting Vietnamese* but it isn't particularly outstanding within the context of all SF restaurants.

            Sociale is a good local spot -- A16 is a destination.

            I've been to Fringale with 8... they actually treated us very well... better than when I went ther with 6. It is about 8 to 15 minutes by Cab from Pac Heights, depending upon traffic and where in Pac Heights you are.

            FWIW: The *idea* of Afghani food might be scary to some membes of your group, but it is nearly impossible for me to imagine actually objecting to the wonderful food. I've not et a single person who couldn't find a lot to like at Helmand Palace...

            1. re: whiner

              I've been to Three Seasons (in Palo Alto). I thought it was just okay. If you've been there (PA or SF), how does Aux Delices compare?

              I'm not so committed to having Vietnamese, but I do think something Asian would be be nice amid the French/Med/Italian the other two nights, and particularly, something close to our hotel. It gets challenging trying to move a multi-generational group of 12-14 around a big city...

              1. re: robotcoupe

                I've been to Three Seasons many many many times... the one in SF.

                I'd say Aux Delices is a little less modern/unique... no better, though. About the same qulity, imo.

                The best non-super expensive restuarant in that area, imo, is Helmand Palace. I love it...

                1. re: whiner

                  I guess you do love it!

                  I promise to give it serious consideration.

            2. re: robotcoupe

              I second the notion that Afghani food is completely accessible. It is one of my kids favorite cuisines! Think middle eastern - kebabs, rice, yoghurt sauces. Yes there are some hot sauces and some specialty dishes that may look scary, but the majority of the menu is very tame and easy to eat.

            3. I would suggest South Park Cafe - I have seen larger tables there in the past. It is a mid size place, where the occassional group table fits right in.

              The food is French Bistro inspired, with a daily changing menu - and the 3-course prix fix menu is a steal: $36 - you get to choose from any of menu item.
              Same goes for the wine list, always some nice offerings by the glass and a fair amount of affordable bottles...

              Another major plus: parking along South Park is very easy at night, a small hidden park in San Francisco's SoMa/South Beach area ...

              -----
              South Park Cafe
              108 South Park, San Francisco, CA 94107

              2 Replies
              1. re: JulesSF

                South Park Cafe looks like it's a good bit more interesting than your average neighborhood bistro.

                My only concern is distance. On google maps it says it might take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes from our hotel in Pac Heights, depending on traffic. Are we likely to hit traffic heading downtown at 7 PM or so on Thurs-Fri-Sat nights? (We'll likely be in a few cabs).

                1. re: robotcoupe

                  yes, you could, particularly on the weekdays, though the bulk of the commute traffic may be thinned out by then. In November, the Giants game won't be an issue (South Park Cafe is near the ball park).

                  (Traffic would be much less of a concern heading up to Helmand Palace :-))

              2. for pan Asian Vietnames I suggest Le Colonial, they have a beautiful setting and on week ends they have live music. I've been there several times for celebrations and they do have ample space for large groups

                1 Reply
                1. re: samyskin

                  Thanks. It looks great, and lovely, but it's a bit to expensive for these purposes. Another trip perhaps...

                2. Wondering about Nopa...Looks about right food and price-wise, and was recommended by a friend. But it also looks big and open and therefore maybe loud? Anyone gone there with a group?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: robotcoupe

                    I love the food at nopa, but it is not realistic downsatirs for a group of more than 6 due to volume. Apparently, upsairs is quieter and could probably be more accomodating to a larger table, volume-wise. nopa actually takes the prize for the loudest restaurant in SF that I voluntarily visit...

                    1. re: whiner

                      Yeah, that was my hunch. Of course, I couldn't get them to just come out with that! It's not like they're hurting for business....Thanks.