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this weekend in SF

My husband and I are in our 20s visiting for the weekend and are looking for some suggestions on where to eat, drink and explore! I have searched through the message boards for the past few days and nothing is really popping out at us. Anyone to help?

We are staying at the Serrano Hotel at 405 Taylor on Fri and Sat night. We won't get to SF until almost 11pm, but would like to maybe get a drink or two somewhere close to the hotel. Any suggestions? Maybe something not too crowded with good music and a not so club type atmosphere.

Saturday we have the whole day to explore and eat and would like suggestions for lunch and dinner and the best places to sightsee on our whirlwind tour. We are up for walking. That night we are seeing a show at the Masonic Auditorium at 10pm and would like to find a place for dinner around there and possibly drinks before and/or after.

Sunday we leave and head to Napa for the day/night. We have family in Napa, but any suggestions on a cool place to eat over there would be great. Drinks I'm sure will be easy with our wine tasting trip :)

Thanks for the help!

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  1. Also we heard one of our favorite local bands may be playing in the afternoon on saturday at the pirate radio cafe and may try to see them... how is this place? thanks again!

    1 Reply
    1. re: jirze216

      You likely mean Pirate Cat Radio, and it was featured on No Reservations for its Maple Bacon Latte (or something like that), which should be enough cred to be worth a stop.

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      Pirate Cat Radio Cafe
      2781 21st St, San Francisco, CA

    2. At that point in the evening, you are less likely to find live music; Ruby Skye and Biscuit and Blues might still have some live music but those are places with covers for the music. Bourbon & Branch is the best place nearby for cocktails but you need to call and make reservations and get the password to get in.

      Hard to believe you've been reading the boards and NOTHING has popped out; food styles? budget? Where are you visiting from? (I wouldn't recommend Mexican food to people visiting from San Diego, for example).

      The obvious Saturday choice is the Ferry Plaza in the morning for breakfast/brunch, wandering, and the complete foodie scene. Walk there and get a complete experience.

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      Bourbon & Branch
      501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA

      4 Replies
      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Thank you for the info. Biscuits and Blues was actually one of the places we thought about going to as well as the Ferry Plaza. We are visiting from Bakersfield. When I search for restaurants or cocktails, a lot comes up in Berkely and Bay area and not so much in SF. We would like to walk to most of the places since we will be trying to park the car for the whole weekend in one spot. I've noticed quite a few posts about Zuni cafe, A16, and Tadich grill. Also heard possibly Cantina is a place for drinks? Would you recommend a possible late cocktail at the Top of the Mark or is it just not worth the hype?

        I am new to this site and trying to figure it out and am noticing I get excited about a place because of reviews just to be dissapointed in the next couple posts I read. I guess it is true everyone is different. Thanks again for helping

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        Zuni Cafe
        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

        A16
        2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

        Top of the Mark
        Number One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108

        1. re: jirze216

          Top of the Mark is better in daylight for viewing purposes. Otherwise you are just seeing a lot of lights and if you are not familiar with the city, you may not even recognize certain landmarks.

          San Francisco is a very walkable city as it is just over six miles from end-to-end. Park your car when you arrive, don your shoes, and don't look back.

          Zuni, A16, and Tadich are all great spots, but I am personally unsure how late they serve cocktails or food. Unfortunately, San Francisco is not as much of a late-night town as it should be... I do know if you head to Fillmore, you could hang out at Yoshi's or 1300 Fillmore for cocktails, but the kitchen will have been closed for some time.

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

          A16
          2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

          Top of the Mark
          Number One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108

          1. re: CarrieWas218

            Thanks again for your input. We were thinking about the Top of the Mark for an afternoon cocktail just so we can have a look at the city from the top :) The dinner places we were thinking about checking out before the show maybe around 8 on saturday, however I'm sure they will be packed so we will see. Thanks again and can't wait to visit!

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            Top of the Mark
            Number One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108

          2. re: jirze216

            Chowhound has opinionated people who are fond of sharing. There is never a consensus about any restaurant; you can't let that put you off. The best way to use the site is to learn the people you trust, which takes time. But the people here know their stuff - unlike yelp, which is a bit of a rabble. I find their stars similar to what Zagat's has become - and echo of the popularity of a place, not the quality of a place. If you get my drift.

            Anyway - you're getting better drinks recommendations. There are a ton of great cocktail places. A tourist-ish place that's worth the hype is the bar at Slanted Door, where you've got a water overlook, and a fairly SF crowd. I'm a big fan of Gitane, which is even more of the local flavor, and the multitudenous places in the mission - which take some picking and choosing.

            This isn't a music board, but smaller places in the mission - like the Elbow Room, the Makeout Room, Mighty, have no food inside but lots of food nearby. The old club area - 11th Street, where the DNA and Slim's are now - doesn't really have food right there, so it's more of a cab over there after dinner when you know something's going on. The Fillmore has 3 clubs right near each other, the Boom Boom Room, the Filmore, and Yoshi's. The food at Yoshi's is pretty good, and there's a number of other choices - like 1330 - that are nearby and very satisfying. In general, using The Guardian's music page, finding cabs, and having a few nearby food picks for each neighborhood is the way to have a great night out in SF. Blocks with a club don't often have a cluster or restaurants within view, but something 4 or 5 blocks away that's really tasty, if you know the area and walk the right direction. Having a good mobile mapping application (google maps, yelp mobile) can be a godsend. Other examples are the Regency, which has bigger shows and it's a 5 minute walk to Lers Ros and the Tandoorloin, but you have to know which way you're going. Same with the Great American and the Independant. You might walk the right direction (north) from the indepndant and hit NOPA and Little Star, but if you go south there's nothing of note.

            If you have a car, ditch it for the evening. A local who knows where to park can do OK (and know when to simply buy parking), a non-local will spend a lot of time frustrated and wandering around.

            And - Top of the Mark - skip it. I have a fondness for the place, but the only drink I trust them with is a Martini, and there's so much better mixology going on in SF if you're on a limited timeline, it's a skip - unless there's a dance night there, and you like the style - the SF "Lindy Board" covers the kind of Swing scene that is often good at TotM. Food is a definite skip. The nearby Razz Room is getting good reviews though, although I don't know how good the cocktails are. Perhaps someone else can comment.

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            Slanted Door
            Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

            11th Street Cafe
            371 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        2. Near the hotel for late Friday: Cafe Royale, Rye (sketchy block, good cocktails), maybe Bourbon and Branch or Tunnel Top. Cantina's okay. Comstock Saloon or Gitane might be more fun.

          Many of the most interesting late night places will be in the Tenderloin, so be cautious about your surroundings.

          Saturday is Tet (Vietnamese celebration of Lunar New Year) at Civic Center.

          I think the best food in walking distance to the Masonic is down the hill on California on Polk and Larkin. Or just head there afterward for donuts at Bob's.

          Most restaurants mentioned on the board are in San Francisco--that's why the city isn't called out in the titles, but more often the neighborhoods. Search on "nob hill" or "union square" or "russian hill."

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          Tunnel Top
          601 Bush St, San Francisco, CA

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

          Cafe Royale
          800 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Comstock Saloon
          155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1 Reply
          1. re: Windy

            Thanks! I will try narrowing my search down, but I think you guys have definitely all given us some great pointers and direction. I'm learning a lot about the city before I even get there which is good I guess. thanks again! I will check out these places.

          2. First bit of advice, when leaving the Serrano head east as everything you are looking for is east of you, if your looking for a "good bar" for later drinking go to the Gold Dust on Powell just south of Union Sq., good spot, laid back, all ages and not pretentious. If I were you in the a.m. I would get up and just start walking east, get a map (so you'll have a sence of direction) and go to Chinatown which is good for a stroll and North Beach is a great walk as well and abuts Chinatown to the north and then make your way towards Embaradero the water is always a good spot to be. SF is a pretty safe city if one is not stupid, after dark just stay together and walk like you know where you are going, try to avoid the Tenderloin just because it's kind of a crappy area at night, lots of panhandlers, etc. but your pretty much safe where you are, have fun...another thing, since your going to be at the Masonic The Fairmont, Mark Hopkins and The Huntington are all great grand hotels near there and are pretty cool, The Fairmont is just fun to walk around in and has a great kitschy bar the Tonga Room (Trader Vic's copy) that is fun and the Huntington has the Big 4, a fun stuffy bar/restaurant that is a special romantic kind of place. Have fun!.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CJJENSEN

              Ok good to know... head east. We do have a map (a couple actually since my mother-in-law decided to hook us up with all the perfect tourist equipment sans the big camera and fanny pack) so I have been looking through them and marking off where we are and the interesting places are that have been mentioned.

              We definitely are planning to just get up early and walk to the walk going thru Chinatown and North Beach, so thank you for that suggestion :) I just realized we are pretty close to Union Square so we will definitely need to check out a place for a drink when we get there, I will look into the Gold Dust. I wanted to check out Bourbon and Branch, but it doesn't look like it will fit into the schedule and I'm thinking we won't have time for a reservation this late.

              thank you again for all the suggestions! Looks like we have a plan now. look forward to exploring your beautiful city!

              1. re: jirze216

                As far as I know, you don't need a reservation for Bourbon and Branch if you head to the "library" (basically the back room). You would only need a res if you were trying to get a table to sit down, but if you just want to stand around and get a drink in the library, you can just go straight back there after giving the appropriate password at the door. By the way, the library has a different password from the table area.

            2. Another good spot to see a great view and have a drink is in Union Sq at the Grand Hyatt, top floor (36th) and Hienekens are only $6.00! Have fun and thanks for your thanks.

              1 Reply
              1. re: CJJENSEN

                That sounds perfect! We might be able to walk there when we get there tonight and catch a drink or two. Checked and they're open until 2am so thats a plus since we will be arriving late.