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Dec 19, 2008 11:53 AM

quirky, good, sustainable and near Nob Hill?

We will be in town for a conference at the end of the month and meeting friends who have a new small child. We all love good food, especially food that emphasizes local, sustainable, or seasonal cooking/harvesting models. While we might on other occasions go the fine dining route, our friends will be bringing their infant with them. He's lovely and quiet, but we also want to make sure that her feeding her child fits ok with the vibe of the place. We would like to be within walking distance to the Fairmont on Nob Hill.

Many thanks in advance

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  1. Nob Hill isn't exactly the central point of "quirky" -- more old money -- but a restaurant called Olea looks interesting. It's about 5 blocks from the Fairmont, which might be longer than they want to walk, but from the outside it looks small, cozy and casual, and their mission statement says:
    "Olea celebrates the real flavors of food — offering Californian fare in a casual setting."

    "Olea is a neighborhood restaurant featuring fresh organic produce from local farms whenever possible. We only use all natural meats and sustainable, wild caught seafood. Our menu changes weekly and sometimes daily depending on seasonal availability."

    Nob Hill Cafe is closer and good, but they don't take reservations and there seems to always be a wait -- not necessarily a good thing with a young one.

    Hope that helps!


    Nob Hill Cafe
    1152 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94108

    1494 California Street, San Francisco, CA

    8 Replies
    1. re: waldrons

      thanks for the recommendation - these both look interesting. And we're definitely ok with hoffing it five blocks. I'll let you know how it goes!

      1. re: jwernimo

        I'm glad you are considering using the cable car. Those five blocks are down one of the steepest hills in the city.

        By feeding, do you mean breast feeding in public? If that is the case some of the recommended places like Aqua, Bar Crudo or Perbacco are NOT the places to go. Tadich does have private booths but it is not high on sustainable, there are no reservations and the line can be long.

        Fish and Farm is a cable car ride away and they are local and sustainable. Don't know how child-freindly they are. They are not on the quirky list ... what does that mean to you, BTW? Quirky to me is Pena Pachamama which is organic Bolivian in North Beach with an optional show. On my visit there a while back someone brought a baby, who was well behaved, but there were lots of snice remarks from other diners so the parents could hear about it being inappropriate.

        1. re: rworange

          quirky: our collective favorite restaurant in Providence (where we all went to grad school) is a place called Julian's ( where the tables are done in laquer-covered album covers, there's a t.v. in the bathroom playing billy idol videos, and all of the servers have gorgeous tattoos. They serve amazing french toast in the morning and crazy good seasonal items for dinner - including vegetarian friendly tofu creations. It's a neighborhood place with great character, its own distinct personality, and beautifully executed food. I'm beginning to worry it may be one of a kind! Thanks for the info on places where breast feeding would not be welcome, that is what I meant.

          1. re: jwernimo

            Hmmm, the challenge out here is finding a place that's -not- like that.

            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

              Well, yes and no. There are lots of colorful restaurants in the city but the area round the Fairmont is not the location of any of them. Maybe Canteen? If you are willing to give up the idea of walking distance, it might open things up a bit. A short cab ride might give some better recs.

              1. re: rworange

                Well ok, maybe I was exaggerating a bit. But the ironic-things-in-acrylic-tabletop cliche seems to have had a pretty decent run out here.

                Still, let's not forget that the Fairmont itself has one of the most colorful bar/"restaurants" in the city. With a lagoon, floating island, and a thunderstorm every 15 minutes. Food is dismal, though, and I probably should have put the word "bar" in quotation marks too. But it's quirky up the wazoo.

                The Tonga Room. Worth stopping in for a brief, weak, expensive tiki drink if they're not charging a cover when you wander in.

                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                  I can see how it might be cliche -- in Pvd it was a relief from the wood paneled bars and white tables with stiff waiters. And the food was always varied, which we liked a lot. With a baby it helps to have a place a bit laid back (however cliche it might be), but we'd like to avoid sacrificing interesting food for comfortable locale. If I come up with something I'll post to let people know. For now we're pondering take-out at Nob Hill.

      2. re: waldrons

        ate at Nob Hill Cafe tonight and had a wonderful gnocchi. Definitely a wait, but worth the ten minutes. A different couple (husband and I went alone to scope out the place) was there with infant and I'm not sure that we'll take our new parent friends there with baby --- but for small groups or couples the place is fantastic Italian with a very reasonable wine list.

      3. You're on top of a steep hill at the Fairmont and surrounded by high end restaurants where I wouldn't take an infant. Think the best way to find what you're looking for is to hop in a cab. If you're open to cabbing it - I would suggest Chez Spencer. It's a lovely restaurant that fits all your other criteria - and is very child friendly.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Trevallon

          unfortunately without a car seat we can't cab it but my husband and I will have several nights on our own and we'll check out Chez Spencer -thanks!

          Anyone have any ideas about things accessible via the trolly?

          1. re: jwernimo

            Taking the trolly/cable car downhill can get you to some nice places, Perbacco, Aqua and Tadich grill. See if you think they are worth going to.

            Tadich Grill
            240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. re: jwernimo

              I'd be really surprised if the concierge at the Fairmont couldn't rustle you up
              a car seat or at least direct you to a taxi company that would provide one.

              That way you could head over to the Mission where you're much more
              likely to find the sort of place you're looking for.

          2. All that really comes to mind is Bar Crudo, which is just two blocks downhill.
            I'm not sure how that would work with a baby, though; the space is a bit
            cramped and, well, quirky. The fish chowder is fabulous.

            Bar Crudo
            655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

            2 Replies
              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                bar crudo with an infant is not a good idea. the place is tiny, noisy and packed to the gunwales. upstairs would not be any better.