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Jan 27, 2009 09:36 AM

Visitor seeking good food and FUN

Hi SF,

My boyfriend and I will be coming to town from Boston next weekend and I'm looking for recommendations for places that have good (but not serious or fussy) food and vibrant, lively atmospheres and clientele. We have had a very stressful few months and are in dire need of an escape. I care more about the food than he does, and I don't want to waste my trip to SF by missing out on great meals, but it's not the time for complicated menus or ambitious flavor pairings. I'm looking for delicious food in a festive setting--crowded and loud are good. Not focused on trendy, and nothing too young (we are late 30s and early 40s, respectively)--just want someplace where we can eat and drink and feel celebratory.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Where are you staying, and what neighborhoods are you interested in visiting? Off the cuff, I'd say Delfina in the Mission--nor. cal/italian, busy and festive in a nice way (make a rez for sure). Beretta, also in the Mission, is always jammed, but if you come on the early side, you might score a table. They don't take rezzies but you can call them and ask to be put on the wait list. Fab cocktails, good pizza and general cal-med-italian. Definitely go cruise the Ferry Plaza market on Sat. AM--you will be AMAZED at what's growing locally here in the middle of winter! There's also a good indoor market hall with lots of food stands and restaurants. My favorite SF escape is going to the Hog Island cafe in the market, sitting outside and eating oysters and drinking a nice glass of white wine. You won't ever want to leave! People also seem to like Nettie's Crab Shack, up in the Marina, for Dungeness crab dinners. If you like to walk, the area around Crissy Field in the Presidio is beautiful--right along the water, great views of the GG Bridge. There are several small cafes in the park, plus a fancier place nearby in the Presidio called La Terrasse that's nice for lunch/brunch. Skip the horrible Fisherman's Wharf and all the gross tourist junk around it. People also like Town Hall and Salt House, both South of Market--both big, festive, good places. If you're in the Mission, don't miss hanging out in very pretty Dolores Park with a ice cream cone from Bi-Rite Creamery. Yes, it's been warm enough to eat ice cream outside lately. (Generally it's around 50 degrees these days). Let us know where you go!