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Sep 28, 2009 09:51 AM

Proposing in San Fran (flying up from L.A.)

Hey all:

So I am surprising my girlfriend with an unannounced flight from Orange County to San Fran for dinner and a marriage proposal. Any suggestions for very classy/great food/intimate setting restaurants within reasonable range of the San Fran airport? (I don't know the city very well at all).

Any ideas for after dinner--espresso/dessert with a great view, etc.?

Thanks for the help!

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  1. All of san francisco is about 30 minutes from the airport, so just pick anywhere in SF proper.

    Napa & Sonoma have good fancy eats but are too far. Don't propose in burlingame or Daly City, it'll spoil the mood.

    My choice would be Aquerello. Awesome food, tables really far apart, the right atmosphere. Down side: no booths. If you want to go "of the moment" the answer is Coi.

    Knee jerk reaction for afterward is top of the mark, but I'm always disappointed because the city's usually fogged in. The bar at slanted door is senic, or you could try the new improved cliff house. Check when Sutro Tower is open too. Offbeat: the water harmonium.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bbulkow

      "I'm always disappointed because the city's usually fogged in"

      This is true for summer, but Fall (End Sep till end October-ish) is the exception -- during fall, the evenings are usually always fog free, especially on the south and eastern part.

    2. Is she remotely outdoorsy?

      If the weather is clear, you could say you want to 'make a brief stop on the way to dinner' and take her up to Twin Peaks. You could pack the trunk of the car with 2 sweatshirts and 2 blankets, an ice chest with a bottle of champagne and two flutes, maybe some chocolates and a thermos of hot coffee, and drive up to the top of twin peaks, the best most romantic sweeping view in the city.. But it can be foggy and cold, and might be impractical for a surprise visitor. You could also to the same down at Fort Point (where Kim Novak jumped in the water in Vertigo).

      Then, take her to Fleur de Lys (which is one of the most romantic rooms in the city), the Ritz (have not been but by all acounts it's fantastic) , or La Folie to celebrate.
      Or I suppose you could just propose at the restaurant.

      5 Replies
      1. re: pauliface

        Depending on her personality I'd go with the Ritz or La Folie.

        The Ritz is...the Ritz. You drive up to the huge hotel, bellhops greet you and open the door, and the whole experience is very upper crust.

        La Folie is on a busy restaurant/bar street. The restaurant itself is intimate, but the vibe outside is much more urban and noisy.

        Acquerello and Fleur de Lys, while getting great reviews for food, are both on what I consider more residential streets. A local might have a great time proposing as either, but if I were flying someone up from OC for a proposal I'd want them to see a little more of the city than either of those sparse blocks.

        Boulevard, which is right on the water, is also one of the city's mots popular restaurants and seems proposal appropriate.

        1. re: Pei

          What I like about Acquerello is how you go from a rather bland neighborhood street to whitewashed sunny italy with hovering waiters. It's a jacket and nice dress kind of place. The interior space seems to be transplanted brick for brick from somewhere very, very nice. Depending on taste, I'd probably do the three course in either place.

          What I don't like about the Ritz is it's I'm A Hotel atmosphere. Can't really get around that - has its plusses, as you say.

          In either case, go someplace else afterward for some of that SF charm and atmosphere - if they say yes. Or do a little before - taxi ride up twin peaks is classic, lesser known is go out to Treasure Island and enjoy the view back to SF. Going all the way out to the GGBR is a bit time consuming. The TI thing is cool because it keeps 'em guessing. ('ha ha, you thought we were going to san francisco? I can only afford oakland! jinx, we're going to SF.")

          If proposal fail, catch the next taxi to the airport.

          The benefit of the Mark Hopkins for later drinks is you make sure you've got a room reservation there. All the more reason to not go hotel for dinner.

          If you go boulevard, try to talk them into reserving you a table in the back by the window that overlooks the bay. That's where the rock stars sit.

          All of this is assuming near-infinite money. None of this is remotely the cheap part of SF. If money's a concern, you might try Tu Lan (very SF) and the Hi Dive (good view)

          1. re: bbulkow

            Oh, don't joke like that about Tu Lan and Hi Dive. They are not hitch-hiking to SF, Um, have you been to Treasure Island after dark recently?

            I think the Ritz would be wonderful especially if he splurged on a hotel room there. I'm guessing they are not taking a flight back that night. Everything about the place food, dining room, service screams you are special and wonderful.

            Then it is only a block (though uphill) to the Mark Hopkins. The nice thing about the MH is that it will probably still be there on their 25th, 50th, 75th anniversary and they can recapture the moment. Hmmm ... did I just talk you out of proposing?

            The chef that made The Cliff House new and improved just left. After dark there's nothing to see and the drinks are not at all special.

            1. re: rworange

              Agree that Ritz would be great. You are surrounded by luxury, the food is awesome, and spending the night would just be the icing on the cake.

              If you were to propose at the restaurant, this would be a good place as well as there is a lot of room between tables and it's not noisy at all (at least not from my experience).

        2. re: pauliface

          This is a great suggestion -- I would rather be proposed to in private -- on top of Twin Peaks, not in a restaurant as a big spectacle. Moreover, unless there's an unbelievable earthquake some day leveling Twin Peaks, it will always be there to return to, unlike restaurants that come and go.

          So, propose on top of Twin Peaks and then have dinner at the Ritz, La Folie, Fleur de Lys, Acquerello, I wish you the best.

          La Folie
          2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

          Acquerello Restaurant
          1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

        3. Second (third?) on Acquerello. Great food, romantic, great service, but not overly formal or stuffy.

          I find the tables for two along Boulevard's north wall very romantic, the rest of the place not.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Love Acquerello, but...

            There are a fair number of hard surfaces in the restaurant. If you're seated next to a wall and have a rambunctious party nearby, the acoustics can work to your detriment. Odds are against it being a problem, but if the response to The Question is "WHAT?" - well, you get the point.

            I'd go for La Folie.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I've never found that room noisy, it doesn't seem like the kind of place that inspires boisterous behavior.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Last time my wife and I ate there we were seated at a table mid-way back against the wall that's to the left as you walk in the door. There was a party of six in the middle of the room. They weren't obnoxiously loud; they were just talking and laughing as groups are wont to do (especially after a few bottles of good wine). But something about the acoustics made it distinctly uncomfortable. Fortunately the group left between the amuse and the first course.

                This kind of experience is certainly the exception, but I figured that for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner, the OP might want to be aware of the possibility.

          2. I would definitely not propose at Boulevard - a huge restaurant and lacks the intimateness of the proposal. I do think that the Twin Peaks idea was cute and not too cliche.. assuming not a foggy day! =) Never been to Acquerello so I cannot comment on that... Presumably a restaurant where the tables are not too close together if you go the restaurant route (i.e. the only reason I would not recommend Gary Danko).. Napa prob does win on that front of great scenery ...

            4 Replies
            1. re: jlfoodie

              Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I've got a lot to work with. Still mulling the many good "the moment" recommendations.

              Has anyone been to Epic Roasthouse? Acquerello still sounds preferable to me (a little more interesting and I can count on great service which is a huge plus).

              I've also heard that Kokari is excellent. Do either of these stand up to Acqu.? I realize that Kokari, at least, is a big cuisine change.

              1. re: rpwilliams

                I recently ate at Epic. I thought it was fine. Nothing special, at all. I recall it being very loud, and the food was ok, but not for the price. I would have rather spent less $ for better steakhouse food at Ruth's Chris. I definitely would not have been impressed if I had been proposed to there.

                1. re: rpwilliams

                  I like the food at Kokkari a lot, but it's not a good engagement or post engagement place. A little businessy.

              2. Michael Mina
                Minimalist, monochrome environment focuses the attention on your lovey without putting her in the spotlight.

                Food's pretty good too.
                You could stay in the hotel there or one of the many other stellar houses in town.

                Maybe Danko. Right nummy bites there, mate.

                MeatBoy wishes you luck.

                4 Replies
                1. re: BigMeatBoy

                  I would rule out Mina because of the noise levels, and because part of the restaurant feels like it's sitting on top of the waiting area outside Clock Bar. Also, if the OP thinks he will ever want to re-visit the restaurant for nostalgia's sake, it's already known that MM is closing soon. Of course, this being SF, anything might close soon. But chances are Acquerello, La Folie, and the Ritz still have plenty of life in them. Of the many responses I think those are still his strongest contenders.

                  Epic feels like a casual steakhouse, despite the gorgeous view. More of a place to take a group or have a "casual but fancy" night out.

                  1. re: Pei

                    I hadn't heard that Michael Mina is closing. Where did you hear this?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I thought there was a post a few weeks ago on Chowhound that MM was closing, or at least moving out of the St. Francis? Perhaps I miss read. The post was entitled "RIP Michael Mina" and there was understandable panic on the board due to the missing "Restaurant" to distinguish the man from his business. I just did a search and the post is either gone or re-named.