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SFO layover, need accessible solo cocktails & early dinner close to BART

Boston guy here, and my question involves logistics as much as it does chow. I have a 5-hour layover (late afternoon/early evening) at SFO Saturday, and I was hoping to ride BART to a nice spot where I could have a good cocktail or 2 and a nice early dinner before my onward flight. I'll have to be back at SFO by 8:30 PM. I have temporary mobility issues and will need a place within a block or 2 of a BART stop, and on street level or with elevator/escalator because I currently don't do stairs well. I've done this thing before in San Francisco and ended up at Tadich Grill, which was pretty okay, though somewhat lacking in the barcraft area. (I know that Rickhouse is near Tadich in FiDi, but that would take me farther from BART and I'm hoping for a 1-stop.) When dining solo, I'm most comfortable eating at the bar.

For price range, mid-priced would be ideal with entrees mostly under $30. I have a wide interest in different cuisines, but I'd rather avoid genres that I can easily get in Boston, such as East coast seafood, Italian, Irish and Portuguese. If you're familiar with analogues in Boston, places like Eastern Standard, Coppa, Sel de la Terre, Craigie on Main and Erbaluce have that combo of really good barcraft, well-executed food and good solo dining at the bar. I'd love to get suggestions for a similar place in SF.

I'd appreciate your ideas, since my situation is somewhat singular. TIA!

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Tadich Grill
240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Rickhouse Bar
246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA

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  1. My gut reaction would be to get off at Embarcadero and head to One Market or Boulevard.

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    One Market Restaurant
    1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

    3 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      I wouldn't discount Slanted Door. Underrated cocktail program, very nice bar area, view, within sight of Embarcadero. But Heaven's Dog, Beretta all good.

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      Slanted Door
      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

      Heaven's Dog
      1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

      1. re: bbulkow

        I woudl discount slanted door because of the likelihood of a wait to get seated at the bar

        1. re: bbulkow

          I agree on Slanted Door -- I love their cocktails, I like their bar food a lot, and I think that for a solo diner you wouldn't have to wait long to get a seat at the bar, especially since you'll likely be getting there well before the happy hour crowds arrive. It's about 2 blocks from Embarcadero BART (the Spear St. side).

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          Slanted Door
          Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

      2. How about Heaven's Dog? It's a couple of blocks from Civic Center Bart station (you might want to confirm at SFO Bart that the Civic center escalators/elevator are working that day). http://heavensdog.com/bar/

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        Heaven's Dog
        1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. Maybe Beretta, it's a block from 24th St. (so 20 minutes less time on BART than going to Embarcadero).

          Heaven's Dog is just around the block from Civic Center BART.

          Out the Door is right on top of Powell St. BART.

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          Out the Door
          845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          Heaven's Dog
          1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

          8 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            If you're willing to walk just a few blocks more from a BART station, Range is 4.5 blocks from the 16th/mission BART, and has better food and cocktails than Beretta

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Does the 24th St Bart have an escalator? I remember going there once when my knee was having problems and it was one hell of a climb up those stairs (and down can be worse). For the same reason, I'd avoid 16th street for anyone with obvious mobility issues such as a cane or crutches ... or even displaying difficulty walking. It is like sending a lamb to slaughter. Too easy pickings for people in that area ... especially someone not locally street savy.

              I'd do the Embarcadero and either Boulevard or Slanted Door. With the bar at Slanted Door you get some view of kitchen action, a view of the bay, great cocktails and food that is different than Boston. My advice is to stay away from classic Vietnamse and concentrate on Cal Vientamese. Shaking beef ... not so much .. grilled range brother' berkshire pork chops with shallot-ginger-soy and crispy potatoes and an order of zuckerman farm asparagus with pioppini mushrooms ... yes.

              http://slanteddoor.com/dinner.html

              The Embaradero is a busy area so even if there is some problem with the escaltor there is always someone nearby to get the elevator going. It is just more friendly than most to somene with a mobility problem

              1. re: rworange

                Both the 16th and 24th stations have escalators and elevators...yes, both can get dicey at times, esp. the 16th street BART, but if they need to be back to SFO by 8:30, it shouldn't be too bad

                1. re: vulber

                  The elevators at 24th street BART are often out of service or can take some time to find an agent to assist. One of the two escalators to street level goes in either direction, but again, quite often out of service.

                  Embarcadero is a safer bet for working escalators with so many entrances, and a lot of good choices for dinner and drinks.

                  From 16th Street BART you could walk half a block to Bar Bambino.

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                  Bar Bambino
                  2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  1. re: Windy

                    If the OP is planning to use any elevators at any BART station, he should certainly check the elevator status board at fare control before boarding at the SFO station. The escalators at both Mission stations seem to be out a lot.

                2. re: rworange

                  Both 16th and 24th have escalators from station to street level, not sure about platform to concourse, but that's not a big deal: all BART stations have elevators both from street to concourse and from concourse to platform. There are digital signs on station agents' booths that say if they are out of order.

                  I do think Slanted Door is a nice option, though, for the reasons you and others have cited, as long as OP is there early enough so he doesn't have to wait long for a seat.

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                  Slanted Door
                  Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    true, but if there is a wait at the slanted door, there are less options in the area than in the mission

                    1. re: vulber

                      La Mar would be an alternative to Slanted Door. Good cocktails, great ceviches, cool atmosphere and a patio area.

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                      Slanted Door
                      Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

              2. Or you can get out at Mission BART and have some Mexican food, or try Andalou, Foreign Cinema, Picaro, or Medjool.

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                Medjool
                2522 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Andalu
                3198 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                Foreign Cinema
                2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                Picaro Cafe
                3120 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                5 Replies
                1. re: myst

                  Andalu wouldn't be a great choice for someone with mobility issues -- it's only two blocks from BART, but those two blocks are uphill all the way, so that may make it more difficult.

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                  Andalu
                  3198 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    Are you sure you're not thinking of somewhere else? 16th street is generally pretty flat; maybe a very slight incline

                    1. re: vulber

                      I know just where Andalu is, it's definitely uphill from 16th and Mission.

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                      Andalu
                      3198 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        If he was comfortable going to Tadich Grill from BART in the past, then the elevation change going to Andalua from 16th/mission BART will be about the same, if not less

                        That being said, I think there are places with far more interesting cocktails and food than Andalu in the Mission; unless it's a Tuesday, when it's fun to be gluttonous and get a bunch of their awesome $1 ahi tuna tacos

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                        Tadich Grill
                        240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        Andalu
                        3198 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                        1. re: vulber

                          Taditch isn't at all uphill, and Andalu is, so I don't think that they're comparable. I agree that the food and drink at Andalu is fine, but there's a lot better out there.

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                          Andalu
                          3198 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                2. You guys are awesome! Thanks very much for the recs, I'll let you know where I end up after my trip.

                  1. Take BART to Embarcadero, escalator/elevator up to Market St., then one short block to Perbacco.

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                    Perbacco
                    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: zorrosf

                      I was just thinking that. Perbacco is a great choice (and right next door to Tadich, so marais already knows how to get there).

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                      Perbacco
                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        While Perbacco has a full bar, it doesn't seem to have a serious cocktail program

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                        Perbacco
                        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    2. How about the 5th Floor Restaurant in the Hotel Palomar? The Powell St. Station is a block away or you can access it though Bloomies ladies shoes department. The Powell St. Station will put you in the basement of Westfield mall and from there you can get to Bloomies or go around the corner. I had some nice cocktails there and apps. I was solo too and was well taken care of.

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                      Fifth Floor Restaurant
                      12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                      1. I'm a bit late with this update, but the result was so extraordinary I should let you guys know. I ended up choosing Slanted Door in the Ferry Bldg, and it was a good call. When I got there at 6PM, the bar area was packed and I ended up standing (and leaning on my cane) at the far end of the bar. My bar pro Tamir served up an awesome, rich & delicious Vieux Carré as I perused the menu, and seeing my cane he suggested I take a low seat in the handicapped/wheelchair section at that end of the bar. Fantastic call! Those primo reserved spots at the far end of the bar are there for a reason, he said. I was so grateful and impressed! Slanted Door cares about differently-abled customers!

                        On to the food. I chose Manila clams as an appetizer, and got more than I ever would have imagined. I started out with the marriage of clams and pork belly...kinda Right Coast (= New Bedford style) with that Left Coast refinement, meaning all the lovely bright herbs. I was literally licking the shells between sips of Vouvray.

                        For the entrée, I had caramelized prawns. If you cook prawns enough to truly caramelize, you're gonna get some rubberly overcooked shrimp, but somehow Slanted Door did it right. Deep flavors with toothsome shrimp, bravo!

                        I am now an unabashed fan of Slanted Door SF, and can't wait to return. Also, as an other-abled person, I'm grateful to have been accommodated so well.

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                        Slanted Door
                        Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: marais

                          Thanks for reporting back! Glad to hear you had a delicious and accommodating meal. Good info for others on the special-access reservations at Slanted Door's bar.

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                          Slanted Door
                          Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                          1. re: marais

                            Thanks for reporting back. All other things being equal, I'd want to spend a layover between long stretches crammed into an airplane seat in a lovely setting overlooking the water.