If it were me, I'd tailgate at the Opera beforehand - takes the worry out of a)finishing dinner on time b)unpredictable traffic c) finding parking.
Enjoy your meal with a beautiful view, chat with other tailgaters.
Angelfood Catering is onsite (pre-order) ; these are the Zia Diner folks, so the food should be good.
Or bring a picnic from Whole Foods or Montanita Coop.
And chile? I don't think I've ever had bad chile. (I' m a fan of red). Pleasant memories from The Pantry, Counter Culture, Santa Fe Baking Company.
The Chocolate Maven This was really good. We had lunch there. It had a great menu with a variety of items and it was hard to choose. DH had a risotto with feta, shrimp and basil. It was very good, but it took a really long time for it to come out of the kitchen. They were busy, but this was the special and one would have thought it would be out a bit faster. I had bagel, lox and cream cheese. It was very good. The desserts are why people flock to this place. We took some chocolate almond croissants with us. They were very good. [it is a bit out of the way, but worth finding]
821 W San Mateo Rd Ste C http://www.chocolatemaven.com/
La Choza This was a really good spot for lunch, away from the plaza. Same owners as The Shed, but less expensive and a bit more local with New Mexican food. I had chile rellenos with posole which was excellent. DH had a carne burritos. Sopapillos were served on the side, nice and light and fluffy.
905 Alarid St www.sfshed.com/lachoza.htm
Andiamo! for wonderful Italian done simply and at reasonable prices. This was a really good experience. DH had fried oysters with aioli, I had gravlax and arrugula salad. We both had rack of lamb for dinner. DH had flourless chocolate torte and I had profiteroles with fudge sauce and ice cream.
322 Garfield St http://www.andiamoonline.com/
La Boca for tapas . We ordered a few plates to start. Olives, almonds, duck. All were very good. I was sure we were going to have to order so many plates because the portions were so small. The service was slow, so by the time we got the first round of plates, we were full and didn't order anymore.
72 West Marcy St, http://www.labocasantafe.com/
We had lunch at Torino's 227 Don Gaspar Ave., Inside Santa Fe Village and again, away from the crowds. You wouldn't know it was here if you weren't looking for it..Italian/French home style cooking at great prices. DH had a caprise salad and I had a salad nicoise. Both were really good and great price.
Paris Cafe on 31 Burro Alley Street, around the corner from Lensik Theatre for a bistro meal that is very good.
First off, what kind of price range are you looking at? SF has a large range of options in many different $ ranges, so its easiest to narrow it down based on that.
For lunch I would say The Shed and Coyote Cafe (at the rooftop Cantina). Both are good, I really enjoyed the burger I had last time I was at CC.
For dinner some good ideas are the Compound-$$$ and not the best idea for the early evening, but goooood.
For your early evening perhaps try Los Potrillos on Cerrillos, its nothing fancy but it is delicious. mmmmm I'm drooling right now thinking about it!
Fuego was great as well the last time I ate there, or you could also consider Geronimo...
there are actually tons of threads on this board about SF with lots of recs on them, if you want to browse through those~
Thanks ma_bell_deve. I actually had posted this under the wrong forum and the admins kindly moved it into the right forum.
The ones that I've had on my list are the usual suspects:
Coyote Cafe (though I'm more interested in the restaurant, I think)
Trattoria Nostrani (seems very polarizing)
I will have to look up Compound. I hope they have a website.