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Great SF Lunch Spot - Somewhere between Powell and Embarcadero

The pressure is on for this year's lunch - party of 4 (likely), not more. Previous lunches have been La Mar, Salt House, Perbacco and Boulevard. I don't get over to SF for better lunches very often. Any great suggestions in that general quality, price range, and location would be appreciated.

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  1. What day are you going on? Monday-Friday vs. Saturday/Sunday makes a huge difference in that area.

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    1. Seems like you have already done some of the better places in that part of town. Not an easy act to follow, but here are some ideas: Kokkari (Mon-Fri), Bix (Fri), Town Hall (Mon-Fri), One Market (Mon-Fri), Aqua (Tue-Fri), RN74 (Mon-Fri), Yank Sing (daily), Ozumo (Mon-Fri).

      4 Replies
      1. re: nocharge

        Think twice about Aqua. Serious changes in the staff there and ownership issues have put that place in jeopardy of closing. Haven't heard any recent reports about the quality there now, but this kind of turmoil does not usually bode well for the chow. At the prices they charge, I'd think about another place.

        1. re: Shane Greenwood

          I've dined at the bar at Aqua a couple of times recently. If I didn't know about ownership dispute and the staff changes, there is no way I would be able to tell that there was something going on given how nicely things seemed to be humming along with the dining room full and the bar busy. I talked to the GM about the large exodus last year that affected both the kitchen and the FOH. He said that they still had some very good people around and that they were trying to maintain continuity and to do business as usual while under court supervision. Based on my recent experience there, they are doing an impressive job of it on all counts. I haven't had enough food to have an opinion as to whether they have lost a step compared to their glory days, but every meal I've had there recently has been good. The GM also acknowledged that everyone was aware of the uncertainty that affects their entire operation. Given that the Bacchus Group deal seems to have collapsed in the last week or so, it will be interesting to see if Michael Mina takes over this place or if someone else does. All in all, I might be marginally nervous about booking a major special occasions dinner at Aqua given the circumstances, but I wouldn't hesitate for one second to go there for lunch or for a dinner at the bar.

          1. re: nocharge

            Looks like Michael Mina did indeed take over the Aqua space.
            http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

            1. re: nocharge

              Whatever it is, Mina says, "It will be something spectacular." -- gotta hand it to MM, he's not lacking in the ego department.

              Also from that article: Michael Najjar, a Los Angeles restaurateur, ... has a stake in West Hollywood's glamorous Crown Bar - one of those velvet-rope kinds of places - and also owns Green Bar in the 3 Embarcadero Center. ...
              Najjar has his eye on at least one more restaurant project - putting something similar to Green Bar in San Francisco's Financial District, maybe within the next three months. -- I'm confused. Isn't Embarcadero 3 in the FiDi?

      2. I just had a good lunch at Barbacco, the spinoff "small plates" offshoot of Perbacco. Lots of choices and most of them were good. Only downside is somewhat crowded 6-top tables for semi-communal seating. But lots of choices of plates to share which can be fun for a group of 4.

        Perbacco is also great, with more typical menu construction, and great homemade pastas are the stars.

        One dark horse to consider is Sens, upstairs at Embarcadero overlooking Justin Herman Plaza. I have had several lunches there in the past year, and it's consistently good, with a bonus that it's not as noisy as some of the others.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RichInMV

          Thanks for mentioning Sens. I haven't been back since there were some changes a couple of years ago, but the space has so much going for it that I'd happily recommend it if I knew the food was still good. Plus, given the weather, it's easy to get to from BART without getting too wet (exit Embarcadero BART at the Drumm St. exit right next to the Hyatt Regency, duck into the hotel and take the escalator to the atrium lobby, cross the lobby to the far side and there's an exit and walkway connecting to Embarcadero Center, just outside Sens).

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            It's a great location. Drinks are pretty good there, too.

        2. No reservations can be a hassle but I have had lunch at Tadich with a group. It was 34 years ago and I don't think Tadich has changed.

          1. Lunch everyday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm - we've enjoyed the San Francisco Louis Salad with Dungeness Crab, Grilled Organic Salmon salad with asparagus, Spicy Tuna Tartare, and a duck confit at Seasons at the Four Seasons Hotel at 757 Market Street - with tea service.
            http://www.fourseasons.com/sanfrancis...

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            Seasons Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel
            757 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103