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Solo Lunch, Zuni and other sundry things

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SF Foodies,
You guys are all troopers for answering the constant barrage of "Coming to SF..." questions.

Well, I'm coming to SF from Dec 27-Jan 3. Did the same thing last year. Last year had a nice dinner at Manresa and did a solo lunch at Slanted Door. This time I'm going to French Laundry and doing lunch at Zuni Cafe with the wife and possibly our infant son, any issues bringing such tagalongs for lunch at Zuni?

I'm also thinking of doing a memorable solo lunch again this year. Any particular places I should be thinking about and could get in? Location needs to be near downtown since I'll be coming via Cal Train. Price not a concern. Right now all I'm thinking is Pizzeria Delfina. Any other ideas?

Thanks,
-Troy

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Slanted Door
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Manresa Restaurant
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

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

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  1. Both branches of Pizzeria Delfina are a schlep from downtown.

    Maybe Barbacco, Perbacco, or Boulevard?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Good choices. And no, no problem bringing infant to Zuni, although you should probably tell them when you make the reservation, as some areas of the restaurant are more accommodating of baby paraphernalia than others.

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      Zuni Cafe
      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Thanks, I put in the Open Table reservation notes that it would be two adults and one child, hopefully they read those things.

        I thought a solo lunch at Boulevard would be nice, but there was no open spots on OpenTable, should I try calling, or do they have seats at the bar that are first come/first serve?

        1. re: mchenrytl

          Definitely call. Restaurants don't put all their seats on Open Table, and Boulevard has a counter area overlooking some of the cooking stations that is great for solo diners.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Thanks for the tip. I was able to grab a table at Boulevard for Wednesday at lunch, but that day is iffy right now. For Friday I have a reservation at Perbacco. I saw it listed as a bib selection by Michelin which is nice and was impressed that Boulevard has 1 star which is even better. I think I will try to call and see if I can get a table on Friday since I'm thinking that should be my first choice. Location seems great as well.

            -Troy

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            Perbacco
            230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. re: mchenrytl

              I was recommending Barbacco, Perbacco, and Boulevard for the solo lunch. They all have nice counters for solo dining.

              In my observation, Italian restaurants get short shrift from Michelin. A French-influenced place such as Boulevard will get a star while an Italian place with food just as good or better, such as Perbacco, will get just a Bib Gourmand, or nothing.

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              Perbacco
              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

              Barbacco
              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          2. re: mchenrytl

            Remember, opentable charges a hefty service charge. If you like your restaurant, call them. It's like adding a few percent as a tip, and costs you nothing!

      2. Well I just got back this Monday from my week in San Francisco. I'm always delighted with what a nice city it is and how easy it is to figure out CalTrain, etc.

        Dinner at the French Laundry was excellent. I had them add coffee and donuts at the end which were superb. I went with non-foodie friends and the waitstaff was very gracious with their questions. Drink wise we all started with a glass of champagne and then my brother in-law and I split a half bottles of a white Alsace and a red CdP.

        Wednesday had lunch at Le Boulanger in Sunnyvale. It was great since the kids could watch the people make bread, etc in all the machines.

        Thursday had lunch at Zuni Cafe. Roast chicken was very nice. Good neighborhood vibe and lots of light. Our infant was well behaved which helped. Their Zuni Pinot Noir by Mount Eden was especially nice.

        Friday, I ended up caving to my desire to enjoy another Michelin star and had a solo lunch at Campton Place at the Taj Hotel. WOW. I did the fixed-price 3-course meal along with another course (ricotta cheese dumplings). All the dishes were excellent and the price was really great. The booths were really comfortable after walking around doing some slight window shopping in the morning. The butternut squash soup and the braised beef short ribs were very good. I'm convinced this is a hidden gem in downtown and they definitely earned their star. I'd love to go back for dinner.

        After lunch I headed to TCHO to do their tour. This was probably the biggest disappointment of the trip. The hour consisted of powerpoint for approx 45 minutes and then a tour for 5 minutes and tasting chocolate for about 10 minutes. Very preachy about how superior they are from a sourcing and ingredient perspective. They do make great chocolate and I'm glad they are doing well, but the tour was a waste of time IMO.

        Friday had takeout from Thai Basil in Sunnyvale. Very good.

        Saturday visited the Monterrey Aquarium which was pretty awesome. Sunday, we did a roll your own sushi party since it was my sister in-law's birthday. Lots of fun.

        I'll be back in town in April for a conference and am already thinking about what other meals I can squeeze in then.

        -Troy

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        Zuni Cafe
        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

        The French Laundry
        6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

        TCHO
        17 San Pier, Francisco, CA

        Campton Place
        340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

        Thai Basil
        101 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

        1 Reply
        1. re: mchenrytl

          Glad you enjoyed yourself. If you're going to be around Sunnyvale next time, ask for specific recs to that area. Sunnyvale's a hop-skip from Mountain View, which has some fun spots, and there's some fantastic indian in that area.