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Parentals in Town - Need Help

We have parental types in town for the weekend and need suggestions to where to take them. As these restrictions/ their needs is not typical of what we like to eat/places we go to, I'm at a complete loss of where to take them.

Must be some sort of American or Italian-American (no Cal-Med, Delfina, Perbacco type places)
Must not be too old or musty in decor (I had brought up Sam's Grill and was shut down b/c they would think it looks *too old*)
Must not be in a *colorful* part of town (ie no Tenderloin or grittier parts of Mission)
Must not be more than mid 20s per entree. In the teens would be preferable as they are uncomfortable with us spending money on them.
Must not be trendy or a place where most of the clientele is in their 20, 30, 40s
Must be in SF

Really appreciate any help I can get on this...

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  1. Fog City Diner? Parental types like it and are impressed by it, and the food is still pretty tasty.

    Fog City Diner
    1300 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

    1 Reply
    1. re: JasmineG

      +1 Fog City Diner. Should be just normal enough.

      Also, I feel your pain. My parents are extraordinarily adventerous now, but 20 years ago they wouldn't eat a burrito.

      Fog City Diner
      1300 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

    2. Bacco in Noe Valley. My parents like it especially because there's a prix-fixe menu Sunday through Thursday so it's not too expensive. I don't think they've kept up with the cost of living in SF even though they have lived here since the 60s and they are always shocked at the final bill. You may want to call and verify that they still have the prix-fixe (approx. $35 for 3 courses if I recall correctly).


      2 Replies
      1. re: Mari

        One other place my parents like is Chow near Golden Gate Park.

        1. re: Mari

          both good ideas. we've taken grandparents to bacco for similar reasons.

      2. Oh... btw, we have fri night, sat day, sat night, and sun day's eating to fill up.

        1. Beach Chalet (has parking, view of the ocean) Outer Sunset District

          Q Restaurant (comfort food, funky decor) Inner Richmond District

          Bar Jules (New American food, fresh ingredients) Hayes Valley

          5 Replies
          1. re: SMI55

            Beach Chalet could be a good option...

            1. re: vliang

              If you don't want bad food, don't go to Beach Chalet.

              1. re: JasmineG

                Or if you don't want bad service, don't go to Beach Chalet.

                1. re: 512window

                  Ironically, I've heard Park Chalet is actually okay from a reliable friend...but I haven't verified. Might be too casual or better for lunch/brunch. I've never had anything worth remembering at Beach Chalet and I've been more then I care to remember.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    The Park Chalet seems like a fun place to go during the daylight, especially if you want to sit outside with your dog. Inside, on my single visit, there was a terrible band playing (and selling their CDs) and a lot of youngish people -- so I don't think that would work in this case. The food was somewhat better than the Beach Chalet's.

          2. Il Borgo?

            Il Borgo
            500 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

            1. Possibly strikes out on the "too old", although they did have to redecorate 6 years ago when someone tried to park in the dining room, but Gold Mirror would seem to fit most of the other requirements.

                1. re: vulber

                  I think if Sam's is "too old" then Tadich is, too.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I feel that Tadich's interior feels a little less old than Sam's, especially given the window facing the street, whereas you can't really see into Sam's from the street

                2. How about Alfred's
                  It has only been at new place 10plus years

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: celeryroot

                    Hmmm... their deficit dinner special could work... Thanks!

                  2. A16 might fit all your constraints.

                    2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nicedragonboy

                      Thanks for your reply, but A16 is exactly the kind of place that we like but that the parentals would feel VERY uncomfortable in. The menu is *too* Italian (and thus weird for them versus being Italian-American and what they're used to), the loudness level is very high, and the crowd is "too fashionable" and young for their comfort. This is why choosing restaurants for this wkend (without resorting to bad food or chain restaurants) is so hard for us.

                      2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                    2. Perry's on the Embarcadero might work if you avoid Friday night when the afterwork crowd can make it kind of loud. Most of their entrees are in the teens although their best dish, the NY strip steak is high 20s. On Sundays, they have a Maine lobster special -- 1 1/4 lb for $22.95. Half price wine on Saturday nights.

                      1. How about

                        Allegro Romano

                        If Bacco in Noe Valley is the sister restaurant (someone I recall reading they are related in one way) of Divino in Belmont (given the very similar menu's) I'd say +1 for Bacco....it's authentic Italian but not so weird and foreign Italian, and of course more refined than the tourist traps along North Beach.

                        Also, Chou Chou. But only if you're willing to consider French and it is within budget

                        968 Ralston Ave, Belmont, CA 94002

                        Allegro Romano
                        1701 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        1. Maybe Puccini & Pinetti? The food's not great, but it's nonthreatening Italian and it's cheaper than Scala's or Kuleto's. (All places my parents favor) The Brits staying at the hotel there can get loud.

                          Puccini & Pinetti
                          129 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          221 Powell St., San Francisco, CA 94102

                          1. If you're okay eating at a chain restaurant, I would pick Hillstone on Embarcadero (formerly known as "Houston's) over Fog City Diner. They have the same owners and menu as before (the same group owns Rutherford Grill in Rutherford), but recently changed their name from Houston's to Hillstone.

                            During the week they often have a small jazz ensemble that adds to the atmosphere. We took my husband's parents there when we faced constraints very similar to yours and they loved the place. Do try to call ahead for reservations, as there's often a long wait unless you eat before 6pm.

                            Fog City Diner
                            1300 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

                            Rutherford Grill
                            1180 Rutherford Rd, Napa, CA 94558

                            1. Maybe Bix or Firefly?

                              56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                              1. How about Rose Pistola in North Beach...i was thinking Bix as well but it will push your budget envelope a bit. another spot (but in the Sunset) is Chow...

                                56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                                Rose Pistola
                                532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133-2802

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: vis

                                  I know you said only in SF but how about the Pelican Inn for lunch? some of my family is like your parents and loved the Pelican plus some time at Muir Beach.

                                  Also, we have had sucess with friends with turkish food. For example Ala Turka on Geary st between Hyde and Larkin. Some very unadventurous family friends did not think the place for intimidating and enjoyed the kebabs and pide. They arrived at our place thinking that Italian would be great and left the restaurant really happy to try something different. We know the menu well and that helped to explain everything in advance.

                                  the Turkish meal turned into the conversation piece back home and now anyone who visits a) want to try it and b) asks for other types of places to try.

                                  Pelican Inn
                                  10 Pacific Way, Muir Beach, CA 94965

                                  1. re: vis

                                    I don't think Rose Pistola will work -- definitely NOT traditional Italian-American. No veal parm, no spaghetti and meatballs. It's one of my favorites, but not what I would understand from the original post.

                                    Rose Pistola
                                    532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133-2802

                                    1. re: waldrons

                                      How about Ernesto's on Clement? Old school italian, quite hopping on a weekend night but not trendy at all. Used to go like 15 years years ago, loved the stuffed baked clams, one particular chicken artichoke linguini dish. Went again recently, the place had had a face-lift, so not quite so old-homey as i remembered it, but the food was the same - really good, reliable, not fancy, reasonably priced. I can't find a website, but here's a Yelp link:

                                  2. Hmm... how about one of the steakhouses? Although that might be too expensive.

                                    1. This is challenging. The demographic limitations are more of an issue than the food. It's difficult to think of inexpensive places in SF where the majority of diners are not under 50. Touristy places like Kuleto's keep coming to mind but then it doesn't fit the price limit. I would think about neighborhoods like Russian Hill, Laurel Heights, Pac Heights. Some suggestions:

                                      Blue Plate - neighborhood might be considered on the grittier side, not sure about demographics. It's a smaller place so perhaps the other diners at the restaurant won't be an issue.

                                      Antica Trattoria - haven't been in a while but it serves traditional Italian and the serves a whole range of clientele. As does its sister restaurant Pesce.

                                      Osteria - near Pac Heights.

                                      Ella's - for bfast or lunch.

                                      Bistro 9 - straightforward menu, not trendy, but the crowd might be younger than desired.

                                      Good Luck

                                      2227 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      Antica Trattoria
                                      2400 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                      Blue Plate
                                      3218 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                      221 Powell St., San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      Bistro 9
                                      1224 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                      1. Oh, how about Mel's Drive-in? On Lombard.

                                        1. Fino at 624 Post, near Union Square. Traditional Italian-American, with house-made pastas, good versions of veal scallopini, etc. Most pastas around $20; meats around $25-30.

                                          Daily Grill on Geary near Union Square. Yes, it's a chain, but for your requirements, it's pretty much spot-on.

                                          Maybe John's Grill on Ellis near Union Square. It's old, but don't know if it would be "too old".

                                          Bobo's on Lombard (near Van Ness) for steak. Or Izzy's on Steiner near Chestnut (although it's a bit pub-ish, ie loud).

                                          Second on Allegro, although it might be a bit more than your price point. But your mom will be charmed by Lorenzo and the roses he gives to all the ladies. If Dad's conservative, he might like the fact that this is George Schulz's neighborhood restaurant. BUT the menu might be a bit too "Italian" -- not traditional New Jersey Italian.

                                          Maybe Firenze by Night or Trattoria Contadina -- both in Russian Hill/North Beach, both well known for pastas.

                                          Trattoria Contadina
                                          1800 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                          John's Grill
                                          63 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                          Izzy's Steaks & Chops
                                          3345 Steiner St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                                          1450 Lombard St., San Francisco, CA 94123

                                          Daily Grill
                                          347 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102

                                          Firenze by Night Ristorante
                                          1429 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                          Fino Restaurant
                                          624 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                          1. here's the Ernesto's menu; http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...
                                            it's making me want to go, parents or no!

                                            1. Thank you to everyone for all your suggestions. We ended up takign them to the following:
                                              - Lulu. They loved the food. This was the *fancy* meal of the trip. Grilled meat and simple, sides. No hard to pronounce or wouldn't be found in a surburban Safeway produce aisle.
                                              - Rocco. They liked the old-fashioned, red sauce Italian menu and zeroed in on eggplant parm.
                                              - Taylor's Refresher (or Gott's or whatever they're called now). Again, good quality and basic American food.
                                              - Park Chow. Nice day for the roof deck. Made for easy afternoon snack and beverage after the park.

                                              Park Chow
                                              1238 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122