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Help!! Need advice for a 1st Anniversary Trip to SF/Napa

We are making a whirlwind first anniversary trip through California and are looking for a great place to eat on a Wednesday night in Napa and a Thursday lunch and dinner in SF. In Napa we are staying at the River Terrace Inn and would like to stay within walking or cab distance of the hotel (prob downtown Napa). Also would like downtown Napa tasting room recs and possibly some nightlife on a Wed PM (prob a longshot!). On Thursday we will be in SF all day-we are staying at the Hilton Financial District and will probably walk around on our own during the day. Looking for a good lunch in Chinatown and a nice dinner not too far from the hotel. We like most kinds of food-probably prefer asian fusion, mexican, italian, american or french or sushi. Again Thursday night nightlife recs for the Financial district or surrounding area would be appreciated. Would like to keep the budget for the two dinners at about $300 total. Would like at least one to have a little more romantic atmosphere without having to don a coat and tie. Thanks for your help!

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  1. If at first... La Mixteca and Ubuntu, Napa.. Coat necessary only at the French Laundry and what was that other thing, ah a tie. Usually found in San Francisco around the top of a bread bag.


    Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
    1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      Thanks for the recs. I had thought about Ubuntu but I was not real excited about the vegitarian menu. I am definitely a carnivore! I will look into La Mixteca though.

      Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
      1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

      La Mixteca
      2580 Jefferson St, Napa, CA 94558

    2. Since you are staying at River Terrace Inn and are looking for something walking distance, Angele is excellent as is Cole's Steakhouse (for steak, naturally).

      1. Downtown Napa has lots of options. Cole's is an excellent choice if you are a dedicated carnivore. It's one of my favorite places to go for a special meal. They are in a beautiful location, have upscale service - a great bar, and the food is excellent. If you like potatoes with your steak - try their "hashbrowns" with dinner . . . fabulous! This shredded potato dream comes out in it's own sizzling cast iron skillet - cooked in clarified butter and is perfect to share. Sometimes I sit at the bar and make a meal of it by myself (potato lover here). They are also an easy few blocks walk from your hotel. The owner of Cole's also has Celadon which is right next to your hotel. Angele is also right next to your hotel. Both are also excellent choices. They are all upscale - great ambiance, great service etc. Be aware La Mixteca serves great food like authentic mole, but it is very casual and is off the beaten path - part of what I call the underbelly of Napa. Good food, awesome freshly prepared south of the border sauces, no ambiance.
        As far as entertainment, the newly remodeled art deco Uptown Theater has been having entertainment throughout the week . . . I recently saw Boz Skaggs there and they have had other amazing shows on non-weekend nights. Definitely go to their website and check on performances for the date you will be in town. The theater is beautiful, is only a short walk from your hotel, seats less than 1,000 people and provides a welcome venue to the downtown Napa scene. Also, check the Napa Opera House which hosts all kinds of entertainment - again, just a short walk from your hotel. The Lincoln Theater just up the road about 10 miles in Yountville also hosts some good entertainment.

        La Mixteca
        2580 Jefferson St, Napa, CA 94558

        1. here's the link for the Uptown in Napa - careful not to get on the wrong website for another theater of the same name elsewhere . . . I've gotten off track there before


          6 Replies
          1. re: vday

            Thanks for the extremely helpful post! That was exactly the kind of help I was looking for. Are Coles, Celedon, and Angele all reasonably priced?

            1. re: cackler21

              have you tried going on their websites and looking and doing a bit of the legwork for yourself? I know that Cole's lists prices on its website. Your idea as to what is reasonable might differ from that of others, and a $300 total budget for two dinners might mean $20 one night, $280 the other...or...

              1. re: susancinsf

                by the way, since you would like helpful advice from others, the most helpful thing you could do in return is report back on your dinners at some of these places. We look forward to your reports.

              2. re: cackler21

                Have eaten at both Coles and Celedon, and both meals were very good. Coles is just what is says it is - a Chophouse - Big cuts of meat. Celedon has a more diverse menu. If you definitely want steak, I’d go to Coles.

                1. re: cackler21

                  I agree that you would have to define "reasonably priced". I don't eat at places like The French Laundry because of the huge price tag . . . Cole's, Celadon, and Angele are all reasonable to me. It's easy to spend $150-$200 for two people to eat and drink at Cole's. They encourage sharing of some of their large steaks and you might be able to comfortably spend less than that if you go without wine for example and have a nice cocktail. I feel it is a great value compared to other nice places. Celadon and Angele are about in the same price range - maybe a little less for entrees compared to the steaks at Cole's. both have bars and make good drinks. To me, Cole's has it all . . . location, ambiance, great waitstaff, cocktails, food.
                  Also, I went to the Uptown site to see how the Wednesday shows were looking . . . Cindi Lauper Aug 18th, Lucinda Williams Aug 25th . . . Lyle Lovett played there a few weeks back on a Wednesday. Yes, I would definitely get dinner reservations wherever you end up - and take into account if there is a show you will want to see so you can plan dinner to work with the show.
                  Good luck!

                  The French Laundry
                  6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                2. re: vday

                  I really like the looks of Celadon's menu and their dessert menu is making my mouth water. Do I need to make reservations there a long time in advance?

                3. I had a great meal at Ralph's Bistro in Healdsburg. More than anything I loved the service and atmosphere! http://www.bistroralph.com/ Totally fun spot and in a really cute town! Much less touristy than Napa. In San Fransisco you have to go for dinner at Flour and Water. Just divine!

                  Flour + Water
                  2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                  1. There is no nightlife in the Financial District. If that's what you want, hop on BART and head to the Mission, you'll find plenty of nightlife on a Thursday night (and restaurants that are a lot more fun). Ideas in the Mission are Delfina or the Pizzeria, Maverick, Dosa, or Range, among others. If you want to stay in the FiDi, you could go to Slanted Door or La Mar (both of which are good), but you'll have to go elsewhere for nightlife.

                    Slanted Door
                    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Delfina Restaurant
                    3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                    1. in SF, walking distance from you is R&G lounge for Chinese food. It's famous for its salt & pepper dishes.

                      For dinner there are plenty of options that are reasonably priced as well:
                      - Chez Papa Resto at the Mint Plaza for French bistro
                      - Bix - great "american fare" restaurant with a nice bar as well
                      - Perbacco - excellent Italian place on California St. (i prefer this spot to 54 Mint but that's another option nearby as well)
                      I also hear good things about Gitane but have never been.

                      As far as nightlife - how do you define that? Bar/lounge with house music/dance club/piano bar in a hotel? you may want to check out Bourbon and Branch - it is a speakeasy concept that is very popular in town. you make a reservation on line, you get a password and it's relatively hard to find. if you don't have reservations you can still get in but you will be drinking in "The Library"...

                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                      56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                      Chez Papa Resto
                      4 Mint Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94103

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

                      54 Mint
                      54 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: vis

                        Thanks for all the help Chowhounds! I am still narrowing down my list but I am thinking Hunans Home or R&G Lounge for lunch in Chinatown. I would like to do happy hour at Hog Island for some fired oysters and a couple beers or Maru Sushi for rolls and saki. Then I am thinking Bix, Maverick, Frascati, Ristorante Milano, or Slanted Door for a late dinner and finish by heading to Bourbon & Branch for drinks. Any more help or other suggestions would be appreciated. I will be sure to report back with the results of our dining adventures.

                        Slanted Door
                        Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        Frascati Restaurant
                        1901 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                        Ristorante Milano
                        1448 Pacific, San Francisco, CA 94109

                        Bourbon & Branch
                        501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA

                        Maru Sushi
                        529 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94108

                        1. re: cackler21

                          Here's another vote for R&G Lounge. Excellent. Must be as it's always full of Chinese families celebrating this or that festive occasion.

                          And definitely stop at Golden Gate Bakery for some of their legendary egg tarts. Quite an interesting experience.

                          In Napa, you might not want to go through the French Laundry rigamarole, or pay those prices, but you can eat Thomas Keller's food at Bouchon, his less-pricey and more accessible bistro in Yountville. The Bouchon bakery is right next door, baking bread for the other restaurants in the Keller group.

                          As for wineries in Napa and environs, I personally love Prager Port Works. Small and family-owned, and their ports are terrific. We always buy at least a case of the Noble Companion.

                          The wine bar at the River Terrace is a wonderful place to relax, and the breakfasts there are outstanding. Know you'll enjoy your stay.

                          Rancho Gordo (the famous heirloom bean purveyor) has a store in Napa that is well worth a visit. I know you can buy his beans at Ladonna's in Tulsa, but the store is fun and, if you're lucky, Steve himself will be there. He's a hoot to chat up.


                          Golden Gate Bakery
                          1029 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133