I'll be staying at the Huntington. Are there any good lunch spots within easy walking distance?
The bad news: you are at the top of one of the highest, steepest hills in SF. The good news: the cable car runs along California.
As himbeer posted, if you walk down the hill toward polk, there are lots of restaurants on that street, but takes 5 blocks just to get there. I used to like Nob Hill Cafe. It is not greatness but it is goodness.
Down the hill towards Union Square is Canteen which is very highly regarded. It was the main reason I asked what days since it isn;t always open for lunch. It is on Friday. There's brunch on Saturday.Seasonal, local, very San Francisco..
Down the hill toward the bay you are only a few blocks from Chinatown. Stockton is the closest Chinatown street which is mainly Chinese delis. Grant is the main tourist drag with more restuarants. Here's a list of Chinatown restaurants. http://www.chow.com/search?Search.x=4...
Don't have a gread suggestion, but if you click on those links, many have attached reports. Maybe someone can give a suggestion.
Walking down the hill toward Chinatown, the Ritz has lunch at their Terrace restaurant. IIRC, last report was 'meh'. The reason to go to the Ritz is for dinner in The Dining Room.
Unfortunately, any uphill will be after the meal, getting back to your hotel. Swan Oyster Depot at Polk/California is an SF institution [never eaten there myself though]. It is bar seating only.
There is also Nob Hill Cafe close by on Taylor. Italian.
About twelve years ago, the company I worked for had its holiday dinner at the restaurant that is actually IN the Huntington, and it was quite nice. Haven't been there since, so I can't fully endorse it, but it might be worth checking out. At least it would be an easy walk down the elevator and across the lobby.
And I concur with others posted above who have said that while you're in the epicenter of some exciting culinary opportunities (both posh and hole-in-the-wall), it will almost certainly necessitate hills. You are nearly at the junction (Powell & California) of the various cable car lines. And you've stated that you don't mind hills, but you don't want great distance. There is much to love in almost any direction, particularly down Powell towards Union Square, down California towards Chinatown, or down California towards Polk.
Oh, and you're a block away from the Mark Hopkins and the Fairmont. The "Top of the Mark" is famous and charming. The Tonga Room at the Fairmont takes kitsch to a level that virtually transcends kitsch. These are places for the evening, to soak in a little booze and a little classic atmosphere.
While you're there on top of Nob Hill, be sure to pop into Grace Cathedral, which is gorgeous, and into the lobby of the Masonic Auditorium, which is quite grand, with fascinating stained glass windows. (Both are across the street from the Huntington.)
The Big Four is tThe Huntington Hotel's restaurant -- Lots of early California railroad and pre-1904 earthquake photos & prints on the walls, cozy, clubby atmosphere. Here's their website with a picture of part of the Big Four bar:
At the recommendation of my former boss who lives on Nob Hill, we had dinner in the bar area. We were casually dressed which was no problem. Had the burger (quite good), crab cake (okay -- tasty but with some filler). A chicken pot pie was brought to our table in error and looked really good (wish I could have kept it; turns out to be one of his favorites).
The Nob Hill cafe is a good lunch spot, they do have great pasta, some pizza and exellent salads, they've been there for a while. nice terrsse lunch, one block from the huntington on Taylor st. right around the corner from the Grace cathedral.
There are also a bunch of restaurants on Hyde Street, between Clay Street and Pacific Avenue (about 4 to 5 blocks from your hotel):
1550 Hyde Street -- very tasty, sometimes crowded, awesome pork chop
Milano's -- great neighborhood Italian restaurant. Aldo recreates his granny's recipes. The lasagna...
Hyde Street Seafood House and Raw Bar -- all of the offerings "en papillote" are delicious
But if you want something closer to your hotel, Rue St. Jacques on Taylor and Jackson is great for French bistro cuisine.
You might want to check out Nob Hill Grille on the corner of Hyde and Pine. I had a good dinner there over the weekend and will definitely be back soon to check out the lunch options.