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Mar 10, 2011 03:03 PM

A little stressed! Last-minute foodie in town, need a place for tomorrow (Friday) night

Hi CHers: The title says it all. I'm a little frazzled! A friend *just* told me she was coming in from DC and is now staying with me tomorrow (Friday) night. She's only been in the city twice before, and has eaten at Foreign Cinema and Nopa (loved them both). I want to take her somewhere that epitomizes the San Francisco dining scene. (For instance, I pretty much know I will be taking her to Bi-Rite Creamery for some dessert!) I'm looking for something along the same lines for dinner — I just don't know where to go/how the hell I will get in anywhere like that on such short notice. I scoured OpenTable, but found little inspiration.

I'm at a loss. I'm sure I won't be able to nab a table at, say, Zuni. I was thinking she would like Outerlands (because she loves Nepenthe in Big Sur, and the aesthetic reminds me of it), although I don't know what the ambiance is like there on a Friday night. Or should we pick a place that's got a no-reservation policy — like Pizzeria Delfina — and run with that instead? Any thoughts? They'd be greatly appreciated!

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Pizzeria Delfina
2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

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  1. Restaurants that take reservations but not through OpenTable sometimes have more last-minute openings:

    1. is time flexibile? you can generally walk-in to MOST sf restaurants right when they open without a problem; sf is much more of a late-dining crowd

      1. I would call a bunch of places; sometimes they have openings that they don't put on Open Table (or will work with you on the phone). Check Zuni, SPQR, maybe Contigo, which isn't too far from Bi-Rite, and see what availability they have.

        Zuni Cafe
        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

        1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

        1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

        1. Places I like with tables:
          Lolo has a table for 2 at 8:45 tomorrow night.
          Nihon whiskey lounge is wide open.
          Chez Spencer has 6:30, 7:45, 8:30
          La Folie has 6:30, 8:30
          Aziza has 9, 9:30

          If you want to go no reservation, maybe:
          Kappou Gomi?
          Sushi Time?

          Chez Spencer
          82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

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

          Sushi Time
          2275 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

          Kappou Gomi
          5524 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

          3 Replies
          1. re: pauliface

            There's a lot more quick snags on OT, depending on how you feel about price.
            Atellier Crenn has a 6. Barbacco has a 6 and an 8:30. Benu has a 7:30. And I'm just down in the "B"s. Comstock Saloon is wide open. So is Orson. Prospect has a 6:15 and an 8:15.
            But really - lots of places will have openings they don't put on OT. OT takes a fairly huge cut of the bill, so places just put a few tables. Absinthe, for example, likely has space - they have a huge restaurant. I snagged a talbe on OT a few weeks ago when they had one two-top listed, and the place was nearly empty when I arrived.
            Marlowe, Maverick, Range.
            COI lounge.

            Everyone from out of town loves Slanted Door. Water, walking, good alcohol. I would never, ever take some from DC there - DC has great Viet.

            230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            Comstock Saloon
            155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

            22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

            1. re: bbulkow

              yum... much better than ABC in the sunset district.

              1. re: MonkeyJazz

                "Already Been Chewed"? Like, the gum?

          2. Thanks all! Robert, that list is really helpful. I couldn't afford something like Benu, Chez Spencer, or La Folie — but we did wind up getting a reservation at The Liberty Cafe, which was perfect. I tend to like their brunch better, but the dinner was decent, too, and I have to say I think the environs were pretty representative of San Francisco. My companions ordered the the steak frites (awesome, perfectly medium rare), and I ordered the pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin (okay, but I think I could have made it at least as good at home.) A nice variety of people were having dinner that night, and we discovered the fabulous music at the wine bar in the back — highly recommended. A great night in all. Thanks for all the suggestions!

            Chez Spencer
            82 14th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

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

            22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103