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Jun 18, 2009 09:54 AM

One night only in SF

Hi SF Chowhounds,

I'm in SF for one night only and with well travelled friends from Europe. I'd love to take them somewhere that will blow their socks off - both in experience and food. Price is no issue.

Can you please suggest up to 3 places ?

We'll be staying in the Embarcadero area, but we have a car.


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  1. Manresa, Ubuntu, Jai Yun, Kappa.

    Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
    1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

    Manresa Restaurant
    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

    Jai Yun
    680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Kappa Japanese Restaurant
    1700 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      A 2nd on Manresa if the drive/distance isn't an issue.

      It's the most unique mix of French, Asian and California influences with a lot of local ingredients. Add California wines and the very California digs and I think it has the most wow factor if you go with the "unscripted" chef's tasting menu.

    2. Coi

      373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. I think Gary Danko is the play here. Manresa and Ubuntu are both great recs but I assume you would prefer to stay in the city because you are only here for one night. Coi is also a good call but if I was in your position, I would lean towards Danko.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PulledPork

          Or Masa's.

          Masa's Restaurant
          648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

        2. Camino is the current epitome of the local tradition, with Zuni a close second.

          Frenchy places like Gary Danko and Masa's don't make so much sense to me if you're trying to impress Euros.

          Zuni Cafe
          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

          3917 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

          7 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            If price is no issue, why choose Camino over Chez Panisse? At the very least, it's famous and they can say they've eaten there. But I don't think any of those Cal Cuisine places would particularly impress a European, since they're very strongly rooted in traditional French/Italian cooking (local ingredients, simply prepared).

            I'd go with something completely different, like Coi or Ame. Or even Slanted Door.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I love the idea of Ame for people who may have had plenty of French food but perhaps never with a strong Japanese twist.

              If price is no object I would not choose Slanted Door.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Camino's the best restaurant in the area. Russell Moore has taken the Chez Panisse aesthetic to a new extreme.

                Coi and Ame sound like good options, though the menus seem pretty Frenchy to me. Slanted Door is good as far as food, wine, and view, but to me it's cold, noisy, and generally not very convivial.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I agree that the Slanted Door is good, not great, nice view, cold and noisy. My all-time favorite restaurant is Farallon in Union Square. Have dined there several times, never have I been disappointed. Be sure to eat deep inside, in the main dining room. Marvelous ambiance, intriguing history. It will impress your friends.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Chez Panisse (and its progeny) are "Frenchy" (thus, the name). As I said, I don't think people who have eaten in Europe would be particularly impressed by a restaurant that basically mimics a small bistro in the French (or Italian) countryside. They would probably be puzzled as to why it was considered special.

                    And yes, Camino has taken the CP aesthetic to an extreme, which is why a lot of people dislike it. It's not a good bet for *one* meal to impress visitors, unless you want to impress them on how pretentious and doctrinaire people can be about food.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      The food at Chez Panisse is, with occasional exceptions, not much like what I've had anywhere in France or Italy. They've evolved their own style, which Camino has taken a step further.

                      I don't find it pretentious at all. For some reason the style pisses some people off, but for better or worse that IS our local cuisine.

              2. Coi, Boulevard, Ame.

                To be fair, while Coi may be the best restaurant in SF, there are at least 2 or 3 restaurants other than Coi better than Ame or Boulevard -- but I think Ame and Boulevard provide experiences unique to SF and are both so excellent that they are where I would consider going if not to Coi.