HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
What are you cooking today? Share your food adventure
TELL US

Our Anniversary -- Union Square Area and Not the Cheesecake Factory :)

n
newstarr Jul 29, 2010 11:23 PM

I had such great ideas from this board while in Boston and was hoping I could get some great ideas for my own back yard.

It is our anniversary and we splurged on a room in Union Square. We want a fun place to eat while we are there. I'm not looking for high end (don't want to relive Prom), just a great meal. My husband can eat, so large portions are a must. It doesn't have to be fancy or romantic, just not a chain. We like all types of food. We are taking Bart in and will not have a car. I have lived 45 minutes outside of Sf and have never stayed in Union Sq. or been on a cable car. I want to do some free tourist things like walk to the top of Coit tower, any ideas would be great. It's sad to say I make a trip in every two weeks to Rainbow to buy food but never dine there.

Early Lunch-- A good Dim Sum Place?

Early Dinner-- Large Portions. Fun!

Late Dessert and drinks-- The Equinox used to have this wonderful baked brie, is there something like this anyplace else?

Breakfast-- Great Italian Bakery in North Beach?

Oysters and sea food for lunch--- ?

  1. n
    newstarr Jul 30, 2010 12:06 AM

    I keep trying to research my questions on the board and just keep coming up with ideas outside of SF. We live outside of SF, we can try these places any time. We need places within walking distance of Union Square. We can walk to North Beach or Embarcadero or south of market. It shouldn't be this hard. Help please!

    1 Reply
    1. re: newstarr
      Melanie Wong Jul 30, 2010 02:17 AM

      Here's the search result for spots in the Restaurants & Bars database that are tagged for Union Square. It's sorted by Most Discussed. You might Scan thru those to see what jumps out at you.

      http://search.chow.com/search?query=U...

    2. d
      DavidT Jul 30, 2010 05:49 AM

      You should probably do a "Search this board" search for Union Square as well. You will find many, many prior posts made over the past 6-12 months.

      1. Ruth Lafler Jul 30, 2010 11:29 AM

        You didn't specify what day of the week, which might make a difference.

        Since it seems like you want the real tourist experience (and why not?), then some of my suggestions would be:

        Dim sum: Dol Ho in Chinatown. Great little hole in the wall with good, cheap dim sum.
        Early dinner ... I'm going to say Perbacco.
        Oysters and seafood for lunch ... Swan Oyster Bar.

        -----
        Perbacco
        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

        Dol Ho
        808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          n
          newstarr Aug 2, 2010 12:13 AM

          I have Dol Ho on my list, Thanks!
          We are getting there on Wednesday and just staying one night.

          -----
          Dol Ho
          808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1. re: newstarr
            Melanie Wong Aug 2, 2010 09:22 AM

            If you click on the Restaurants & Bars links (in blue and also listed below the map on the upper right side of this page), you'll find additional info and archives. Such as, Dol Ho is closed on Wednesdays.

            -----
            Dol Ho
            808 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              n
              newstarr Aug 2, 2010 10:35 AM

              Thanks for that! I think we might just do a grab and go place on stockton street. It's cheaper and no one judges if I eat 9 sesame balls! :)

        2. bbulkow Jul 30, 2010 11:43 AM

          Since you said "drinks" and "walk to union square" I knee-jerk recommend Gitane. Bar is excellent, small plates are great, cozy yet busling atmosphere.

          -----
          Gitane Restaurant & Bar
          6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

          3 Replies
          1. re: bbulkow
            Pei Jul 30, 2010 05:07 PM

            I heartily second Gitane. I just made it there for the first time this week and was totally enchanted. And I'm not waxing poetic, it really is the kind of lush, opulent setting that seems totally magical when juxtaposed against the exterior surroundings. Sit at the bar, the bartenders are warm and friendly and will direct you through the very chic menus.

            photos to convince you: http://www.chezpei.com/2010/07/gitane...

            Zuni serves food, drinks, and desserts until pretty late at night. Whenever I go just for desserts, I find myself wondering why I don't go more often. The desserts sound simple on the menu, but when they come out I almost always marvel at how perfect they taste.

            Bourbon and Branch is really fun if you can reserve a table and only want drinks (no food).

            I second Perbacco for your meal. It's not a "big portions" restaurant per se, but if you order correctly you can end up with a ton of food. My husband, for example, ordered the stuff quail and had half left over. And I think the restaurant strikes a nice balance between fancy and fun.

            $1 oysters at Waterbar every day (incl. weekends) from 11-6. I would much rather sit with a glass of white wine outside under the patio umbrellas overlooking the Bay, or at the huge circular raw bar, than line up for an hour outside Swan Oyster Depot on dirty Polk Street, just to crouch on a bar stool and feel rushed to leave.

            1. re: Pei
              n
              newstarr Aug 2, 2010 12:10 AM

              Waterbar sounds like it would be better than Swan. I think we will walk down there after we go to the Ferry Building Farmers market on Thursady.

              1. re: newstarr
                n
                nocharge Aug 2, 2010 01:14 AM

                Even better, you could do an early dim sum lunch at Yank Sing in Rincon Center, walk one block to the Ferry Building for the farmers market, and then walk a couple of blocks along the Bay to Waterbar for oysters. It's a nice and scenic part of town to be in with lots of dining options. At Waterbar, I usually start by ordering a few of the $1 oysters to see how much I like them that day. (They are usually quite good.) I then decide the proportion of different kinds of oysters for the next order. (I like the Kumamoto and Island Creek on their current menu, but at three bucks, they are a different value proposition.) Many of the other dishes are quite good as well.

          2. wolfe Jul 30, 2010 11:44 AM

            The Cheesecake Factory is rarely recommended on this board except when a poster is looking for Navajo fry bread.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5865...

            1. steve h. Jul 30, 2010 01:59 PM

              Here are some modest thoughts.

              Dim Sum: Yank Sing at the Rincon Center. Don't let the naysayers distract you. Try to get there by 11:30 a.m..

              Early Dinner: Epic Roasthouse has LARGE portions. I usually sit upstairs in the bar for late afternoon drinks, nibbles and the view. Sunsets on the deck are pretty cool. Again, not a Chowhound favorite but a worthy destination nonetheless. Downstairs is not cheap but the portions are large and carnivores leave happy. Ask about the prime rib.

              Late drinks: Bix

              Breakfast: I usually pass.

              Oysters: Acme, Tadich, Zuni (take the "F" up Market) and Scoma are all good.

              I'm sure you know that San Francisco is one of the few cities in California that "gets" mass transit. Get yourself a "passport" and travel becomes easy, cheap and fun. It includes cable cars. You might be able to expand your dining reach significantly.

              -----
              Zuni Cafe
              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Bix
              56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

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

              Rincon Center
              121 Spear St # B18, San Francisco, CA

              2 Replies
              1. re: steve h.
                n
                newstarr Aug 2, 2010 01:10 AM

                Epic looks great. The meat platter interested my husband. It just seems like a lot for $39 for just the prime rib then $9 for your potato then another $9 for your veggie.

                1. re: newstarr
                  Euonymous Aug 2, 2010 04:31 PM

                  $9.00 for a potato? That's ridiculous.

              2. s
                sfgirl22 Aug 1, 2010 01:32 PM

                Not in North Beach bu Scala restaurant in the Sir Francis Drake has a really good breakfast with house baked pastries - great atmosphere and generally not horribly crowded.

                1. n
                  newstarr Aug 2, 2010 12:36 AM

                  I'm thinking that we are going to do our own little walking food tour of Hayes Street on Wednesday from 11- 2pm.
                  Frijtz
                  Dellessio's
                  Arlequin
                  Samovar
                  Miette Confiserie
                  Artisinal Chocolates
                  Is there anywhere else I should add or take off ?

                  Then Going to House of Prime Rib for dinner around 7pm.

                  Then grab some dim sum for breakfast the next day in China Town on a cable car.

                  Then we'll head over to the Ferry Building and sample some food, then have oysters and wine at the Water Bar.

                  What do you think?

                  -----
                  House of Prime Rib
                  1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                  Miette Confiserie
                  449 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: newstarr
                    bbulkow Aug 2, 2010 12:44 AM

                    Are you really saying that with only one dinner in SF, you're choosing HOPR? Why bother asking our advice?

                    1. re: bbulkow
                      n
                      newstarr Aug 2, 2010 12:59 AM

                      Is it that bad? I saw it on Food network. My husband thought it sounded good and historical. My second choice would be Michael Mina for the Lobster Pot pie. Or back to Hayes Valley for the churrascaria.

                      I can't see spending $48 for a roasted chicken at Zuni.

                      -----
                      Zuni Cafe
                      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      1. re: newstarr
                        a
                        artemis Aug 2, 2010 01:14 AM

                        "Is it that bad? I saw it on Food network." <-- you just answered your own question.

                        1. re: artemis
                          t
                          Truffle Dog Aug 2, 2010 11:20 AM

                          For what it's worth, when I read the original post, House of Prime Rib was the first place I thought of. I think it would be a perfect choice for the big dinner. The prime rib is excellent, it's a fun destination-y place, and the portions are certainly large. The sides and salad and style of the restaurant are a little bit dated but overall it's a nice place and the prime rib is as I said outstanding. You can also take the California Street Cable Car line to get there which might be fun for you.

                          Newstarr - I think you may actually have seen the place on the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" San Francisco episode. It may have been featured on Food Network as well, but I have a specific recollection of that Bourdain show because I remember thinking "it's nice to see HOPR getting some recognition."

                          Be careful not to overeat at lunch. The portions at HOPR are in fact really big. I think this new plan (a snacky lunch in Hayes Valley) is better than doing Dim Sum and then HOPR. I don't know about you but I am never up for a big dinner after a Dim Sum brunch.

                          Lastly unless HOPR has raised its prices considerably since I was last there (which is about 2 years) the cost of a meal for one is not $48. More like $38 if I recall correctly, which includes salad and sides.

                          -----
                          House of Prime Rib
                          1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                        2. re: newstarr
                          v
                          vulber Aug 2, 2010 05:47 AM

                          you realize that the $48 is for two people, whereas the $48 prime rib dishes hopr are for one

                      2. re: newstarr
                        d
                        DavidT Aug 2, 2010 09:27 AM

                        If you enjoy eating prime rib, the HOPR is very old-school and very, very good! Don't let any food snobs talk you out of going there. You will need to book a table well in advance.

                        1. re: DavidT
                          n
                          newstarr Aug 2, 2010 10:29 AM

                          Thanks! We ate at the touristy Prime Rib Place in Boston and loved it. Sometimes the history makes up for the food.

                          $48 for half a chicken is crazy. I can roast a mean chicken for $7. It still would cost me upwards of $40 to make a prime rib at home for 2.

                          1. re: newstarr
                            t
                            Truffle Dog Aug 2, 2010 11:26 AM

                            I don't think it's half a chicken. I believe you get a whole (small) chicken cut up into pieces for $48. It's definitely designed to be eaten by two people.

                            Also please note that while I think your choice of House of Prime Rib is a good one it would be a mistake to dismiss Zuni solely because you are put off by the price of the chicken dish. The rest of the Zuni menu is excellent and there are plenty of main course options that use premium ingredients like steak or squab.

                            -----
                            Zuni Cafe
                            1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                            House of Prime Rib
                            1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109

                            1. re: Truffle Dog
                              n
                              newstarr Aug 2, 2010 06:31 PM

                              I'm torn now. Zuni, HOPR, Michael Mina, or Espetus.

                              -----
                              Zuni Cafe
                              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                              1. re: newstarr
                                b
                                Bakersfield Hound Aug 4, 2010 08:49 PM

                                We ate at Espetus a couple of years ago and thought the food was excellent and a large selection from the salad buffet table.
                                Danny

                        2. re: newstarr
                          grayelf Aug 2, 2010 10:19 AM

                          If you are walking along Hayes Street, be sure to check out True Sake. Even if you don't like sake, or you don't want to bring home bottles in your suitcase, you should see the store, which is absolutely beautiful.

                          Also if you like coffee at all, you will be walking within a block of my favourite Blue Bottle outlet, on Linden. Stand at the little bar and drink a Gibraltar (not on the menu). Or take something else to go and continue on to Miette via the lane. There is an awesome sculpture in the little park one block further.

                          Once you have walked to the "top" of Hayes Street you will also be very close to Alamo Square (albeit a straight uphill walk on the way there) where the famous Painted Ladies are. Yup, it's touristy but with good reason. Great views and definitely worth checking out.

                          -----
                          Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk
                          315 Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          True Sake
                          560 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          1. re: grayelf
                            n
                            newstarr Aug 2, 2010 10:23 AM

                            Thank's. I will do all of those things! We love Sake and my husband loves coffee. I'm not a fan but I can do decaf. I have never actually seen the painted Ladies. That should be fun!!!

                            1. re: newstarr
                              grayelf Aug 2, 2010 02:44 PM

                              FWIW I've also heard that True Sake does web-based ordering if you're really into sake. If you don't like caffeinated coffee, don't order the Gibraltar -- it has to be high test to taste right! Also only order it for there, not to go -- trust me on that. It's a short drink so your SO can down it fast, but it just doesn't work in a paper cup :-).

                              -----
                              True Sake
                              560 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                              1. re: grayelf
                                n
                                newstarr Aug 2, 2010 06:23 PM

                                Thanks! I'll make sure he tries it there, sounds great.

                                1. re: newstarr
                                  m
                                  mrs bacon Aug 4, 2010 12:07 PM

                                  In the Hayes Valley area, there is also Smuggler's Cove, a really fun bar that specializes in rum-based cocktails.

                                  -----
                                  Smuggler's Cove
                                  650 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                        3. f
                          Foodie.wannabe Aug 3, 2010 03:13 PM

                          We took my mom to HOPR and it was great. It's definitely not fine dining but kind of pre-dates all these other steakhouses like Capital Grille etc. My mom is addicted to steak and honestly steakhouses are their own breed. You will enjoy it!

                          I also second drinks at Bix. Bix is just a fun a lively place to hang out.

                          -----
                          Bix
                          56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Foodie.wannabe
                            n
                            newstarr Aug 4, 2010 12:23 AM

                            Thank You! I think my husband will enjoy it. We are gonna play it by ear and see how we feel and if we get 1/2 price tickets to a show, whats available at that time. I will post our food adventure when we get home!

                            1. re: newstarr
                              n
                              nocharge Aug 4, 2010 01:36 AM

                              HOPR is a far more interesting and fun experience than any of the regular SF steakhouses, which tend to be generic steakhouses that you can find anywhere. (Some are more generic than others, of course, but even those that aren't chains feel like variations on a fairly generic concept.) I would happily do HOPR anytime I'm really hungry. My only concern about HOPR is that it's so popular that it can be a little bit of a zoo compared to your generic steakhouse, but if you are going to do cable cars and Coit towers, you'll likely be exposed to zoos that are much, much worse.

                          2. m
                            mrs bacon Aug 4, 2010 12:06 PM

                            Here's another vote for HOPR. As long as you understand exactly what to expect, I don't think you will be disappointed. Zuni is fine, but you need to stick to the oysters, Caesar salad and roast chicken (and the burger for lunch). I've never heard anything particularly good about Espetus, and I don't think Michael Mina is what you're after at all.

                            -----
                            Zuni Cafe
                            1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mrs bacon
                              v
                              vulber Aug 4, 2010 02:04 PM

                              given that it's closing temproarily, especially not

                            2. c
                              cerealpancakes Aug 10, 2010 01:58 AM

                              I'm probably late to the party, but I recommend North Beach! These are spots that I always hit up whenever I head into the Union Square/North Beach area, without fail, everytime I'm in SF.

                              Breakfast/Early Dinner - Caffe Puccini. Great coffee, a locals place where writers and conversationalists often nurse their just-said coffee, and large portions of pasta. I remember enjoying their papardelle with rabbit ragu, and while I often ate their vegetarian sandwich for breakfast, their omelettes looked very tempting as well.

                              Bakery - Stella's Pastry. Outstanding sacripantini (only bakery I found that has this) as well as decadent chocolate hazelnut cake/everything else is amazing. The chocolate hazelnut always gets my soft spot, because it's like a cracked-out version of a Ferraro Rocher.

                              Lunch: There is a seafood spot called Sotto Mare, that's located next to Goldenboy Pizza. Cioppino is great and shareable for two, and they have plentiful oysters.

                              All the businesses are family-run, and I see very old patrons regularly at all three spots.

                              -----
                              Caffe Puccini
                              411 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                              Sotto Mare
                              552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                              Show Hidden Posts