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Range or Firefly

I realize that these are not the same type of restaurant. Regardless, I have some visitors in town in two weeks and I was hoping to go to both of them while here; but their stay is gonna be one night shorter than I originally thought.

That being said, which would you recommend and why?

Also, it appears that neither restaurant's signature dish, the fried chicken at Firefly, and the coffee-rubbed pork shoulder at Range, appear to be on the menus...any chance they will make in appearance in the next two weeks?

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  1. I've eaten at Firefly--it's a glorified coffee shop. Bustling, loud, food nothing special. On the other hand, I've heard nothing but good things about Range.
    Just choose whichever's more comfortable for them. Cheers!

    4 Replies
    1. re: plainfood

      Homey, yes, but "glorified coffee shop"?

      1. re: plainfood

        I don't get the "coffee shop" reference either. It's a casual neighborhood place, but not that casual. The menu's nothing like you'd get at a coffee shop, and they're not open for breakfast or lunch.


        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I think you mean breakfast or lunch.

          1. re: bdl

            I would definitely pick Range. The food at Firefly is ordinary and unmemorable, but the food at Range is fresh, delicious, and worth talking about.

      2. About the Fried Chicken at Firefly, you can call them and ask. They have a "fried chicken email list" that you can sign up for and they notify you when it comes back on the menu. I'm a member of that list and the last night they had the FC was August 25th. Probably won't be back for a while. Love both restaurants but like the coziness of Firefly more.

        1. Range is almost always the answer. I've been there a few times and have never been disappointed.

          1. If your group likes to drink: Range. Because it has cocktails, great cocktails at that.

            For that matter, Range gets a big edge for the food, though it is more expensive.

            1. Range! Go to Range! I recently had one of my top SF dining experiences ever there. I expected good food, but was unprepared for damn great food. Better than the last few times I've eaten at Chez Panisse and Delfina. I had a summer squash soup that I was not going to get, it sounded bland and boring - but took the server's advice and experienced the essence of the vegetable and the essence of summer in a bowl.

              Shrimp a la nage was exquisite - just-cooked shrimp in a delicate yet intense broth, with bright green herbs, so fresh and alive. Cojo salmon with broccoli rabe - again, sounds pedestrian - was elevated by its depth of flavor. What I loved was how each dish seemed almost casual in its preparation - nothing too fussy - and yet the level of skill and accomplishment it takes to get each element tasting so much itself, while playing together in a little magic tune with the other ingredients - is intense.

              Service was great, too. On it, informed, there when we needed them. Professional but not uptight, relaxed but totally focused.

              Oh - and the desserts were superlative. Best I had was a peach leaf panna cotta (yes, they steeped the leaves in cream) with a double cherry coulis - a silken slide of barely sweet cream, with a little river of tart/sweet cherry essence pooling into its crevasses-- it haunts me still.

              1. I think I'm going to do Firefly. I get the impression that it's a little more casual, cozy, less stuffy (though it still seems that Range is one of the least pretentious restaurants in its category); and we're doing Ubuntu the night before so it would be a good contrast.

                5 Replies
                1. re: vulber

                  Ubuntu is very casual in its atmosphere. More like than unlike Firefly. Big common tables, no tablecloths, fairly loud and clangy, people in fleeces and jeans are as common as folks in collared shirts. If a your priority is a contrast in atmosphere for your two nights, Ubuntu/Range will give you greater contrast than Ubuntu/Firefly. But if your priority is casual atmosphere over all, then I'd go w/Firefly.

                  And you can still stop in at the bar at Range to try their seasonal cocktail of the day (or any of their other expertly made potions) and check the place out. Note that there are 3 different rooms for dining, (front, middle, back) each with their own subtle variations in vibe.

                  1. re: originalfig

                    Hmmm...interesting point. I guess I just inherently assumed Ubuntu to be pretentious because it's a vegetable restaurant sourcing its produce from its own biodynamic garden. I have also read mixed reviews of the service there.

                    1. re: vulber

                      As Tracy said to Hepburn in Desk Set while lunching on the roof as he quizzed her: "Never assume!" It is walk in off the street unpretentious and we found the service just fine.

                    2. re: originalfig

                      while Ubuntu is certainly not pretentious, I have to disagree that the atmostphere is more like than unlike Firefly. Firefly feels small, sort of cozy, and quite casual in an almost divey sort of way. In other words, like the neighborhood-hangout-with-just a-bit-of a-slightly hippy/ bent type of place that it is. Ubuntu, otoh, has much more of a modern, expansive and city feel to me (even though it isn't in the City, of course).

                    3. re: vulber

                      The food is better at Range but I much prefer the ambience at Firefly. There's something about Range that has always put me off--not sure what it is exactly.

                      Firefly doesn't remind me of a diner at all. And I've always found it quiet, not loud. Odd because I think of Range as a bit loud, as one enters certainly.

                    4. Firefly, without a doubt!


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bbqman

                        Can you elaborate? I'm still debating switching to Range; while I think it's great that Firefly does menus around Jewish holidays, the Jewish dishes on the menu right now (kugel, pot roast) don't look especially appetizing and reduce the choices on an already small menu, as well as reinforce Firefly's most common criticism in that the food is fairly ordinary.

                      2. Ended up going to Firefly tonight. For the most part, despite seemingly conflicting reports, everyone here was right.

                        I thought the food at Firefly ranged from good to very good for the most part. The squash latkes were incredible. The duck confit was a little oversalted, as were the heirloom tomatoes in the salad (we had also had an incredible heirloom tomato dish at Ubuntu the night before so it was hard to compare). The dessert was all right. Overally, mostly good food. The bread was quite good, as was the black bean puree they served with it.

                        However, we weren't super hungry as we had eaten a snack earlier so we ordered mostly appetizers; and it seems like Range's strength is in their entrees.

                        Firefly ended up being a good fit for the circumstances, and we'll try Range next time.

                        Also, strongly recommend going to Ubuntu before heirloom tomato season ends, far and away the best vegetarian meal I've ever had, and one of the best meals in general that I've had.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: vulber

                          Also, strongly recommend going to Ubuntu before heirloom tomato season ends, far and away the best vegetarian meal I've ever had, and one of the best meals in general that I've had.

                          And also unpretentious?

                          1. re: vulber

                            Thanks for reporting back. Firefly is on my to try list. It seems like they do something special at the end of October. Anyway, looking forward to your report on Ubuntu.

                            Firefly Restaurant
                            4288 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114