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Jul 2, 2010 11:34 PM

ISO a restaurant with a great view of the SF and under $50 per person

I'll need to take out 3 of my ex-coworkers on a Wednesday night in couple of weeks. One of them can't stand any seafood and another one isn't too adventurous with her food. I'm seeking some recommendations with some restrictions below:

1) less focus on seafood
2) great view of the city, either downtown or something that's symbolic to SF (golden gate bridge???)
3) $50 including tax (let's just say 2 courses with a glasses of house wine included)
4) easy parking, preferably free if possible

i'm new to the city and only really been to chapeau! and town hall (back in 2007) for a nicer meal. I was really amazed by the quality and the price for chapeau! but the scenery was lacking a bit. Town hall had a nice ambience and setting but the food was a bit disappointing and again, lacking the view once you get out of the restaurant (well, unless I want to include the 2 hobos that were asking me for money right outside the restaurant).


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  1. Haven't been in a while, but Guaymas in Tiburon serves up spectacular views along with Mexican food and drink. Also, just down the block, there's Sam's serving burgers and whatever. Both have outside decks for al fresco dining. Parking is not the greatest, and it costs.

    You can, however, get there by ferry and add another dimension to the outing.

    Guaymas Restaurant
    5 Main Street, Tiburon, CA 94920

    1. Can't be done.

      If you want food better than Town Hall (sounds like you were there on a bit of an off night), you'll spend just about $50/pp with tax. Add the restriction of a view, and it's fully impossible. The common price for decent restaurants in SF is $25 mains, $10 apps, $10 wine, which puts you either on the line or over if you meant tax+tip. All the places on the embarcadero (waterbar, slanted door, chaya, rn74) charge a premium (rn74 is 15/30)

      Looks, views are along the waterfront. There's no free parking along the waterfront. There are very few view restaurants in SF anyway. I don't know where you're from, but what other city (boston, ny) could satisfy such a request? The only restaurant I know with views of the GGBR is Greens, which I can't recommend.

      You could eat at Fog City. It'll hit your price, you can go for a nice walk afterward down to the ferry building, but there's no views from the restaurant, and the food's probably slightly less good than Town Hall. You could eat at Salt House, which is probably in your price also, but the food's only slightly better than town hall, and there's no view (less view, even). Yank Sing, Mexico DF, none of these places have views. A back table at Boulevard? Yes on all counts - and will break your bank, even if you can get one of those tables. La Mar? Maybe, but all seafood.

      There is exactly one place that might fit, butterfly on Pier 33. The prices just barely fit, and they have a view. There has been no word of the place on this board, so I can't assume the food will be OK.

      Regarding parking - just do valet. For your $200 pre-tip bill it'll add $20 at most. Think of it as a 10% tax for not having to mess with parking. Split 4 ways.

      The Guaymas rec is questionable, as they do focus on seafood. I haven't been there since the 90's, when they weren't bad, and went downhill. The idea of going to Tiburon isn't bad, increasing the view aspect and decreasing the food aspect. Might be right for that trip - you're going to have to relax a constraint.

      Mexico DF
      139 Steuart Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Town Hall Restaurant
      342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

      Yank Sing
      49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

      Guaymas Restaurant
      5 Main Street, Tiburon, CA 94920

      Salt House
      2 Shaw Aly, San Francisco, CA 94105

      6 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        I was surprised and interested by your comment on Greens, bb, and on searching I found one discussion here about the place, with your succinct 2008 comment "Bland is no longer synonymous with vegetarian. When I think Moosewood, I think of precise and interesting flavor balances that I stopped finding at Greens. " I'm interested because although local to the region I've never tried Greens, and as you'll recall, years ago (well before Chowhound's advent), when it was newer it was the hip SF destination restaurant for a while, the one eveybody talked about. I hear occasional in-person reports, generally positive. (Incidentally I know Moosewood well, in fact for a time I lived in one of the apartments above it.) Just wondering if you can add anything now about Greens.

        1. re: eatzalot

          I stopped going to greens over a decade ago, after a string of average meals. I used to like it. I looked at their menu just now, and I don't see much changed in style - and some warhorses still on the menu. I haven't heard any uphill reports. Thus my carefully chosen comment "I can't recommend it" - given I haven't been there in so long, I can't *disrecommend* it either.

          If you're interested, why not check it out yourself?

          1. re: bbulkow

            I think the same as you about Greens. I can't recommend it, although I can't really disrecommend it either. Although being a vegetarian restaurant, the prices are cheaper than at other fancy restaurants (although by no means a bargain) and could easily fall under $50/pp with wine.

            The best part about Greens is the view, IMO which is spectacular and all else considered, could make or break the place if that's what one's looking for.

            The food, on the other hand, is pretty average. I know it's been around awhile and it does seem to be one of the most highly respected restaurants in SF -- but that considered, I have found their menu extremely disappointing. Tofu and jasmine rice stir fry? Portabella sandwiches? Gimme a break. They do get props for using all organic vegetables, though.

        2. re: bbulkow

          First of all, I just want to thank everyone for all the recs! My manager ended up choosing Butterfly as our dining destination. With the happy hour menu from 4-7, we were allowed to mix and match and stayed within the budget :)

          food - a bit on the fusion side. Most dishes have an asian kick to it. We ordered pork, beef brisket, stuffed chicken and duck for mains. Most people enjoyed their food but I definitely have to say the pork was probably the best. My beef brisket was too fatty and rice that came with the meat was on the sauggy side. As for app, shanghai garlic noodle was good, not so much the fried calamari (too much batter for me).

          Service - Our server was like a robot, never bother smiling the entire night. Just looked like he really hated his job. Anyway, maybe a bad day, i hope.

          probably won't go back anytime soon as there are too many other places to try in the city.

          1. re: oohlala

            Sounds like it worked out. How was the view?

            1. re: bbulkow

              not the greatest, lol~ the view was sandwiched between 2 piers so it felt a bit compressed. The restaurant does have a lot of natural light during the day.

        3. One Market has a three-course prix fixe dinner for $39, with wine pairings an additional $13. That puts you over budget, but for a pretty decent dinner at a one-star Michelin restaurant, I'd make the splurge. You can also just order mains (no apps) and a glass of wine to make it under your $50/pp rule. The restaurant doesn't have an immediate view but is next to the Ferry Building and you can wander around the waterfront afterwards.

          I also agree with the Boulevard rec (just don't order apps or dessert and request a table with a view of the Bay bridge) and will throw in Lafitte even though I personally didn't care for my meal (others have had better luck). None of these suggestions have "easy parking" though, although if you get an early reservation you may have an easier time getting street metered parking.

          Boulevard Restaurant
          1 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

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

          5 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

          1. Don't think you can find a combination of Chapeau!-class food and good views on that budget. With that price target, the best you could do is probably to eat in the lounge at either Palomino or Chaya. Both have views of the Bay Bridge and Palomino also has a nice outdoor patio. Both restaurants have happy hour menus all evening if you sit in the lounge and if you take sufficient advantage of those menus (in combination with their regular menus) you should be able to meet your budget goals. For instance, Palomino has $5 pizzas on the happy hour menu that are decent value at that price. So is the wild mushroom salad at $6.50. On the regular menu, the chop chop salad and rigatoni bolognese are usually good dishes that might fit your budget. You can probably find free street parking after 6pm if you are willing to walk a couple of blocks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nocharge

              I know the event is passed but didn't a Perry's open right down by Chaya? Do they have a view of the Bay Bridge? Haven't been in years but remember the menu as varied, if basic, low priced and the food satisfactory.

            2. Take a look at Leathernerck Steakhouse in the Marines Memorial. Pretty good food and a view of downtown SF towards the Bay Bridge. They're on the 12th floor, so there are a lot of rooftops.