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Mom needs roadtrip help into the city

I will be driving into the city on a Tuesday prob around 7-8 in the evening from So Cal. Driving up the 5 to the 580 toward SF. I would like a recommendation for dinner on that Tuesday evening for me and my two boys. We are staying in the Civic Center/Tenderloin area (Phoenix Hotel) which I heard isn't the best walking area.

We will have our car so a restaurant with easy parking would be great. In the city would be good or on the way is ok too. Brenda's French Soul Food is nearby the hotel but is closed for dinner on Tuesday. Maybe a fun diner with inventive food or gastropub or a Pizza Delfina (with out the wait).

We have reservations at Zero Zero on Wednesday once my husband flies into the city.

Thanks!

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

Brenda's French Soul Food
652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Zero Zero
826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

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  1. Easy parking and San Francisco tend to be mutually exclusive.

    You asked about Saigon Sandwich on the other thread. One of the best Vietnamese restaurants is about three doors up Larkin St. from the Phoenix: Bodega Bistro.

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    Saigon Sandwich Shop
    560 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Bodega Bistro
    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    1. If you're having pizza at Zero Zero Wednesday, then you don't want Pizzeria Delfina. And gastropub would tend to rule out kids. Nearby, aside from Bodega:

      Cafe Zitouna on Polk and Sutter serves very accessible Tunisian food including bastilla and couscous. Japantown is very close, on Geary and Laguna: noodles, sushi, tempura. Parking isn't hard in either location, and Japantown has a garage. Great Thai at Lers Roi; you can walk there or Bodega from the Phoenix.

      But if it were me, I'd probably stop for dinner in Oakland before driving over the Bay Bridge. Traffic on 580 can be pretty unpredictable. Lots of good Korean food near 45th and Telegraph Avenue: Sura, Coriya, Sahn Maru. If that's too exotic, Aunt Mary's has Mexican and southern food, and great cake. Then you can hop back in the car for a (with luck) quick 20 minute drive into the city.

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      Cafe Zitouna
      1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Aunt Mary's Cafe
      4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

      1. I am Korean and we eats lots of Asian food since we live in OC near Irvine and Garden Grove. I was trying to steer away from Asian since we eat it so much. Aunt Mary's seems like a good choice but they are not open for dinner.

        Any other recs similar would be great!

        No kids at gastropub in SF? In OC, there are a couple that have good burgers, fried chicken & steaks that are kids friendly. None in SF that would be appropriate?

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        Aunt Mary's Cafe
        4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        8 Replies
        1. re: janeyoc

          There's a separate thread on best burgers.

          Gastropubs aren't really a San Francisco thing; the places that qualify are mostly bars with good food menus like the Alembic. I wouldn't take kids there.

          Grubstake on Pine has burgers and a few Portuguese dishes.

          Same area of Oakland has a lot of good Ethiopian, Cafe Colucci being the best. Grand Avenue/Lakeshore would also be an easy exit off 580 with a lot of good options.

          1. re: Windy

            I agree with Windy that traffic might get really ugly if you project to get into the city around 7 or 8. A fun place to stop off that isn't Asian might be Barlata, a Spanish Tapas joint in Oakland.

            Most of the good places near your hotel are Vietnamese. Exercise caution at night in that neighborhood. I'm not a fan, but Tommy's is a hofbrau type place that is nearby.

            Also

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            Barlata
            4901 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

          2. re: janeyoc

            Orange County (where I used to live) has Asian food at least as good as SF. However if you did want to walk from your hotel Lers Ros Thai is very good - equivalent to Thai Nakorn.

            Parking is a challenge in SF. I was thinking you could go downtown to Tadich's, a very old school SF establishment.

            But you could also go to the Embarcadero location of Perry's. It has the type of menu you described: good burgers, steaks, etc. http://www.perryssf.com/menu_embarcad.... And you can park in the Rincon Center garage or valet park.

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            Rincon Center
            121 Spear St # B18, San Francisco, CA

            Lers Ros Thai
            730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

            1. re: janeyoc

              Commonwealth Pub, Lanesplitter, Mua, and Pizzaiolo are good and not far from 580.

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              Pizzaiolo
              5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              Lanesplitter Temescal
              4799 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              Mua
              2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

              CommonWealth Cafe & Public House
              2882 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I wouldn't take kids to CommonWealth (except in a stroller) -- the seating is really inadequate. Pizzaiolo is great, but not an easy place to walk-in, and who wants to wait with tired, hungry kids? Plus, Temescal isn't really off 580 -- it's off 24, which is an admittedly short detour off 580. I think the Grand Lake area is a better choice (Sidebar, Boot and Shoe Service, Holy Land, Enssaro, etc.) and very easy on/off from 580.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Boot and Shoe usually has more of a wait than Pizzaiolo.

                  Lakeshore is very easy from the freeway. Sidebar's another good option there.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Lakeshore is very easy from the freeway. Sidebar's another good option there.
                    ****

                    Isn't that what I said? :-)

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I missed Sidebar. Relatively easy parking down that way.

            2. You'll be actually arriving around 7-8 pm? By the time you check in it'll be 9 before you get to eat. Why not eat on the way? I'd suggest you stop at Koi Garden in Dublin. Exit Santa Rita Rd. off 580. Go north to Dublin Blvd., make a left turn, and Koi Garden is on you left after 1 block. It's very good Chinese food, albeit a little on the expensive side. Or you can go to the Just Koi in the same mall for more reasonable priced Chinese.

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              Just Koi
              4288 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568

              Koi Garden
              4288 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568

              5 Replies
              1. re: PeterL

                Or stop in Livermore. I saw a very recent post with some good Livermore recommendations. That might give you options if you are running later than expected.

                But I agree with the above poster that recommend Lakeshore. There are several good restaurants just off the 580 in Lakeshore.

                1. re: myst

                  Livermore downtown has several options. It's off 580 south on North Livermore Ave. Or downtown Pleasanton, off 580 going south on Santa Rita Rd. Although both downtowns are a bit off the freeway.

                  1. re: PeterL

                    Neither Pleasanton nor Livermore is much of a food town compared with Oakland.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      That said, Dublin's Koi Garden is better than any Chinese restaurant I've been to in Oakland.

                      And I'll mention that Dublin and Pleasanton are good places to gas up the car even if the OP doesn't eat there. It can be hard to find a filling station and prices are much higher in San Francisco.

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                      Koi Garden
                      4288 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        janeyoc said in her second post that she's trying to steer away from Asian.

                        Oakland is weak in Chinese, that's true.

              2. The original gastropub, Tommy's Joynt is walking distance, hardly inventive but my kids, 1 and 5, always like it. Walking is fine during the daylight hours. Phoenix is a known as a party hotel, bring your earplugs.

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                Tommy's Joynt
                1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                1 Reply
                1. re: trespinero

                  Tommy's Joynt is not a gastropub, it's a hofbrau.

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                  Tommy's Joynt
                  1101 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94109

                2. In terms of kid friendly places with parking lots, there's Mel's Diner on Lombard, Joe's Cable Car on Mission and Pacific Catch on 9th Ave in the Sunset and Park Chalet out at Ocean Beach. Traffic coming into the city shouldn't faze you since your from So Cal.

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                  Joe's Cable Car
                  4320 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

                  Pacific Catch
                  1200 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mlutsky

                    Joe's is not adult friendly, price-wise.

                    1. re: mlutsky

                      I don't think anyone would go to any of those places for the food.

                    2. I'm not sure why folks are so worried about traffic into San Francisco at 7-8:00 PM on a TUESDAY. Friday or Saturday might be trouble, but that late on a Tuesday is unlikely to be a problem. That said, I would still stop for dinner before San Francisco. Once you hit your hotel you will want to collapse after the long drive, not figure out where dinner is. The Dublin and Oakland suggestions sound good to me.

                      p.s. How old are the kids?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: lexdevil

                        Traffic on that bridge is always erratic. The issue isn't driving over it, it's hitting that last wall after 6 or 7 hours in the car, when you're tired and hungry.

                        1. re: Windy

                          Agree. Which is why I would stop in Oakland (or before) for dinner. If she's willing to make a detour into downtown Oakland (not much of a detour at all), she could do Luka's, which my son loved when he was younger (I think we might have had his 12th birthday dinner there). This might meet her "gastro pub" desire.

                          She could also make a pit stop in the Fruitvale and get dinner at Taco Grill. If they arrive before 7:00, the kids could have ice cream from Nieves Cinco de Mayo as an "appetizer." It might also serve as a good distraction while their food is prepared at Taco Grill.

                          -----
                          Nieves Cinco de Mayo
                          3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                          Taco Grill
                          3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                          1. re: lexdevil

                            I think the food at Luka's has slipped.

                      2. Thanks everyone for your help. I would like to stop in my car and eat before I head to the hotel. I know the boys (7&9) would like to eat the city.

                        I will check out your suggestions.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: janeyoc

                          There's parking at Presidio Social Club and the food is good. Look at the menu and see if your kids will like it. It's located across from Lucas Films in the Presidio. If you get into town early enough, you can take the kids down to Crissy Field which is about two blocks from the restaurant. It isn't in your hotel's neighborhood, but it's a lot closer than Oakland and the parking lot is right in front. As safe as if you were in the suburbs.

                          -----
                          Presidio Social Club
                          563 Ruger St., San Francisco, CA 94129

                          1. re: JojoSF

                            Oakland is on the way to SF from I5.

                            1. re: Windy

                              Yeah, they're driving through Oakland on 580. The Presidio is 10-15 minutes past their hotel.

                          2. re: janeyoc

                            Maybe stop and eat on your way into the city (I think that the Pizzaiolo suggestion is a good one, or you can go with Trueburger or Luka's), and then once you check into the hotel, go back out for ice cream with the kids -- some fun and very San Francisco ice cream places are Bi-Rite and Humphrey Slocombe, and then they can have their city treat without you having to wait forever.

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                            Pizzaiolo
                            5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                            Trueburger
                            146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612