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One night in San Francisco

c
chewbie Sep 27, 2010 05:11 PM

And unfortunately only one dinner. I’ll be staying in the downtown area and dining alone, so those are factors (although I’m more than willing to take a moderate taxi ride for a great meal). I’m from NY and have visited SF on one occasion where I dined at French Laundry and Auberge du Soleil. I’m not looking for a fine dining recommendation, but rather a recommendation for a place that is a strong representation of SF’s dining scene. Excellent (not necessarily fussy) food, preferably casual and open to a solo diner (bar dining is perfect here, although not critical). The recs I’ve gotten from friends so far are:

SPQR
Commonwealth
Ame
Flour & Water
Nopa
Prospect

Based on my read of their menus and looking at their website pics, I’m leaning toward SPQR. If you have a strong recommendation in favor of, or against, any of the names on this list I’d love to hear it. Alternatively, if there is a place that you feel strongly about that fits the bill and isn’t on my list, I’d love to hear it. Thanks very much in advance.

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The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

Nopa
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

SPQR
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

Soleil Restaurant
625 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

  1. w
    whiner Sep 27, 2010 06:27 PM

    I have a STRONG rec for Ame. Not only because it is heads above the other restaurants you mention and downtown. But because there simply is nothing like it outside of SF.

    Not super casual, but this is SF... a decent shirt and khakis is perfect.

    Go to Ame. Easy choice, imo.

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner
      j
      johnq Sep 27, 2010 07:10 PM

      Incidentally, the bar at the St. Regis has recently begun serving from the Ame menu. Or you can eat at the sushi bar in the restaurant. Both work well for solo dining. And there should be no trouble about a table for one in the restaurant itself. It is, after all, attached to a hotel, so they're used to that.

      You might also want to think about Canteen. The food's not quite as unique as Ame, but in my opinion Canteen is right now one of the top two or three restaurants in the city. Canteen has a diner-type bar, so I'm assuming they'll take a reservation for one, though it's a very small space and reservations can be hard to come by. Excellent food and relatively casual, so may be just what you're looking for.

      1. re: johnq
        mariacarmen Sep 27, 2010 10:55 PM

        +1 for Canteen. Dennis Leary is the MAN. I just went to Commonwealth - really disappointed, so I'm voting to steer you away from that.

    2. pikawicca Sep 27, 2010 06:37 PM

      IMO, Masa's does not get the respect it deserves. The food and service are outstanding.

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      Masa's Restaurant
      648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

      3 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca
        grayelf Sep 28, 2010 06:31 AM

        Hey pica, tell us more. This board doesn't have a lot on Masa's. We stay in the hotel above it and have never ventured in, mostly because it looks quite formal, and like the OP, we prefer casual ie. nice jeans/sweater places when on vacation. TIA.

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        Masa's Restaurant
        648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

        1. re: grayelf
          j
          johnq Sep 28, 2010 08:51 AM

          Masa's has excellent food and excellent service. What it doesn't have is anything that will surprise you, or would surprise anyone who's eaten at high-end restaurants for the last 10 to 20 years. Here's the menu: http://www.zagat.com/Verticals/Menu.a....

          All good stuff, and well done, but not very interesting. Plus, it's relatively formal, at least for San Francisco, and I'd guess that puts off some people. It's kind of unfair, but I see it as the type of place you'd take your parents for their 50th anniversary. Shows you've made it and have taste and sophistication, but absolutely won't push anyone out of their comfort zone.

          If Masa's were in almost any other city in this country I'm pretty sure it would be at the top of most foodies' must-try list. Around here, it tends to be overlooked.

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          Masa's Restaurant
          648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

          1. re: grayelf
            mariacarmen Sep 28, 2010 10:40 AM

            Personally, I found Masa just ok. A bit stuffy, tho the servers were nice enough. I can't even remember what we had, which may tell you something. I liked Gary Danko better, but that's not even my favorite high end restaurant. Coi is. Can't remember if you'd been to Coi, Grayelf...

            edit: just read johnq's post, above. you got it exactly right.

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            Gary Danko
            800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            Masa's Restaurant
            648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

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