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My first foodie adventure in San Francisco

w
wingman Oct 3, 2010 09:47 PM

Hi,

I've moved to San Francisco from NY after a quick 2 year pit stop in Virginia for my MBA. In NY I was a huge supporter and fan of chowhound reading and posting reviews of as many meals as possible to spread culinary knowledge among those who feel that food is the soul of a city. I hope to be as knowledge about the food scene in SF as I was in NY; although I'll be happy with half the adventures!

Friday night will be my first real food adventure in SF; right now I have reservations at Canteen, Absinthe and Town Hall - will also be a date night with someone who I think is pretty great so that's under consideration. One of the big reasons I'm so excited about the food scene here is the prevalence of local ingredients and clean cooking. I know Canteen would fit that bill but I fear it's not romantic enough for a great foodie date. Not as thrilled about Town Hall as I am about Absinthe. Would love to go to Range but reservations aren't available until about 10 pm.

Any other places you suggest I check out? Wine list is a must as is fun and inventive cooking - outside of some good ambiance there aren't any other restrictions (hole in the wall ethnic is great but won't work for Friday). And of course I'll report back with thoughts.

Look forward to chowing with you all!

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

  1. a
    annabana Oct 7, 2010 01:06 PM

    Bar Crudo. Fun, but not really romantic. The food, however, is wonderful. Among the best fish chowder I have ever had. The happy hour deals on food and drink (including wine) will make your wallet very happy. Maybe not for a big date night, but do try it. Enjoy!

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    Bar Crudo
    655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

    1. v
      vulber Oct 7, 2010 12:34 AM

      call range and see if they have anything else

      3 Replies
      1. re: vulber
        mariacarmen Oct 7, 2010 02:13 AM

        wait, what? we're saying the chicken is good at Range....

        1. re: mariacarmen
          v
          vulber Oct 7, 2010 01:19 PM

          haha no, i meant reservationwise, to see if they have earlier slots available, like many places, they don't display all available times on open table

          1. re: vulber
            mariacarmen Oct 7, 2010 02:05 PM

            ohhh gotcha.

      2. lucymom Oct 6, 2010 01:34 PM

        i've always enjoyed my meals at town hall. my friend recently went and raved about the ribs and said the accompanying corn bread was the best he's ever had. haven't been to absinthe but i think range has the best food compared to town hall and canteen. and imho i think they have the best roast chicken in sf.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lucymom
          mariacarmen Oct 6, 2010 08:25 PM

          agree about the chicken at range.

        2. Scott M Oct 6, 2010 01:28 PM

          If you are looking for fun and romantic you should consider Gitane (which has been mentioned) and Aziza.

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          Aziza
          5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: Scott M
            Euonymous Oct 6, 2010 01:49 PM

            +1 on the Aziza recommendation. It's quite romantic and the food is wonderful.

          2. Robert Lauriston Oct 4, 2010 09:09 AM

            Absinthe just got a new chef in August so older reports may be out of date.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              tvham Oct 4, 2010 10:13 PM

              How about Bar Jules?

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              Bar Jules
              609 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

              1. re: tvham
                grayelf Oct 6, 2010 01:05 PM

                As much as I love Canteen, it does have limited choice in food and wine. I don't find that a problem but just so's you know :-). It's also in and out in about two hours, if that is a problem, as they have three seatings most nights.

            2. j
              johnq Oct 3, 2010 10:26 PM

              Of the three, Canteen is easily the best food, but the atmosphere is somewhat ascetic. Town Hall is good, but not great. Absinthe has a new executive chef, so is currently a wild-card as far as food goes, but definitely has a more happening air to it than either of the other two. On a nice night, the outside tables might be quite romantic.

              Beyond that, it's difficult to advise you without knowing what your definition of "romantic" is. If you're looking for a classy, white tablecloth type of place, OpenTable currently has reservations Friday night for Ame, Dining Room at the Ritz and La Folie. All upscale and all with very good food. The food at Bix is very good, but probably a cut below those three, but it has a classic old-time San Francisco vibe and some of the best martinis in the city.

              Personally, my recommendation would be Canteen if your date's into food, or possibly Benu. If you're looking for quiet, high end dining, I'd go with the Dining Room at the Ritz. And if you'd like a fun atmosphere, I'd recommend Bix.

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              La Folie
              2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

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

              Bix
              56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

              Benu
              22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              1. bbulkow Oct 3, 2010 10:17 PM

                Absinthe's food just isn't all that, although, I have to say, if you order well you can have a very good meal. Or could, new chef and all. Town Hall has a funny Americana thing (but great food). Salt House is about on the same level, food-wise, but it much hipper and more romantic. Especially if you like oysters.

                Your list is pretty limited. There's a lot more out there. You'll enjoy discovering the city.

                Try Delfina (which isn't on open table, you'll have to call), Gitane, Namu, Orson, Globe, Luce, SPQR, Thermador, Zero Zero, just reading down the open table list for this friday with openings before 9pm. But it's people like you who hold 3 reservations for the same time and cancel 24 hours before that cause problems.

                I haven't been to a couple of those so I'm guessing about the romance factor, and it's personal. For a first date I would never blow out on an Ame or TDRATRC just because you can't start at the top. Of that entire list, I have a very soft spot for The Globe's romance factor, and Gitane's fun factor.

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

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

                Namu
                439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                SPQR
                1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

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

                Salt House
                2 Shaw Aly, San Francisco, CA 94105

                Zero Zero
                826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                3 Replies
                1. re: bbulkow
                  w
                  wingman Oct 3, 2010 10:55 PM

                  Trying to discover the city as best as I can; have canceled all but the Canteen reservation at this point. This isn't a "first date" it's a first date in SF but I'm also not a huge fan of blowing the monthly food budget in one night.

                  Will check out some of the others you mentioned, looked into SPQR and Flour & Water, but having had my last meal at Otto in NY didn't want to go Itallian again so quickly.

                  Thanks for checking out Opentable for me.

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                  SPQR
                  1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  1. re: wingman
                    bbulkow Oct 4, 2010 09:46 PM

                    My mistake on misunderstanding *first* vs subsequent, and don't take it personally about the multi-res thing; it's a pet peeve.

                    If you don't want to do Italian, check Namu, Gitane, or Luce. Luce is a little formal but not as stuffy as some - wine list is online and looks pretty tasty.

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                    Namu
                    439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

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

                    1. re: bbulkow
                      bbulkow Oct 5, 2010 12:35 AM

                      But namu's wine selection is lousy, so perhaps best take that out of the running.

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