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Honeymooners coming to San Fran! Looking for a unique local spot.

My friends are coming to the area for their honeymoon in August, but I want to get them a gift certificate to a restaurant for my friend's upcoming shower. I hear San Francisco has a really good food scene, and I want to send them somewhere slightly upscale, but not generic. Does anyone know any cool, unique spots that the locals favor? The gift cert. will probably be for about $100, which I hope will cover most of their meal. Thanks!

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  1. I couldn't recommend The Plant more highly. For out-of-towners, it will be a real treat: there's delicious food (often from local ingredients); beautiful, fresh decor (light wood, huge windows, fresh sunflowers in vases); and a view right into the water! It's called a "cafe," but it's much classier than the name suggests. Just writing this review, I want to go back!

    I think $100 will cover a good chunk of their meal--but not all, if they order drinks, apps, and dessert.

    http://www.theplantcafe.com/index.htm

    6 Replies
    1. re: EmilyH2100

      Welcome to chowhound Emily. This appears to be your first post. I have to say, in my years on this Board, I have never heard of The Plant.

      $100 doesn't go nearly as far in San Francisco as it does in most of the country, especially upon factoring in wine, tax, tip, and the health insurance surcharge. Still, there are many gems to be had. Delfina could work - I prefer their wonderful pastas to their mains, and usually have only one glass of wine with dinner. Zuni or Nopa could also work. I'm also partial to Chapeau!, which offers an incredibly good value in their prix fixe options. Canteen would be spot on as well, and always is great, but not really "slightly upscale" - no tablecloths if you're keen for that. Barbacco, too.

      This recent thread has a tourist couple capping their dinners at $100: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/776259 - they had success with slightly under $100 at Kokkari, and slightly over $100 at Perbacco, but the honeymooners' eating style may differ from these reports.

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      Zuni Cafe
      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

      Nopa
      560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

      Barbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      1. re: artemis

        Thanks- in re to "slightly upscale," I guess I just mean on the nicer side, since I'm giving this as a gift. I didn't want "unique and local" to be confused with hole-in-the-wall, since I tend to do that myself sometimes, and it's what I usually prefer!

        1. re: artemis

          I believe Emily is referring to The Plant Cafe Organic on the Embarcadero.

          For honeymooners, La Ciccia might be a nice idea -- cozy with very warm service.

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          Plant Cafe
          Pier 3, San Francisco, CA

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Second La Ciccia, it would be great for honeymooners, and it's the kind of place that a lot of tourists wouldn't usually find. That above thread that artemis linked also has some good ideas.

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            La Ciccia
            291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

          1. re: EmilyH2100

            The Pier 3 branch of The Plant mini-chain is very nice, but to me it has too much of a business-district cafe feel for a special occasion—though I haven't been there for dinner.

            It's mostly vegetarian, just a few seafood and poultry dishes, no red meat.

          2. I like Town's End restaurant on Townsend and Embarcadero. The menu is very reasonably priced, location is near the water (across the street) so a pre or after dinner stroll along the bay and/or marina area is a bonus. Parking is usually not a huge problem unless there is a game going on as it's near the ballpark. The food is very good quality, reasonably-priced wine list, and the staff is extremely nice. If your friends call ahead and let them know they are on honeymoon the staff or chef/owner will likely reserve them a window table with a view. I keep my boat at South Beach and eat here often.

            1. I agree with the Kokkari recommendation. Let the couple know to get reservations. There's a table for 2 upstairs overlooking the oven at Zuni Cafe that I thought was really romantic. Chez Spencer is getting rave reviews for its romantic atmosphere.

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              Zuni Cafe
              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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

              2 Replies
              1. re: mlutsky

                I agree with Kokkari. It's local, classic, but "nice" enough to give as a gift. I don't think The Plant, Town's End, or Nopa are nice enough that I'd give meals there as wedding presents.

                $100 won't cover dinner for two at Zuni, but it's a great choice. Other places to consider: Piperade, Perbacco, Delfina...all have great food and great vibes and can be had for $100/2.

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

                Perbacco
                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Piperade
                1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

                Nopa
                560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                1. re: Pei

                  I don't think Piperade's any cheaper than Zuni. Delfina and Perbacco are, slightly. I wouldn't get out of any of those for close to as little as $100 for two.

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

                  Perbacco
                  230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                  Piperade
                  1015 Battery St., San Francisco, CA 94111

              2. Cafe Jacqueline is a souffle restaurant. Very romantic and set in the middle of North Beach, which is a fun area for tourists to walk around. It is certainly unique. Not sure it's cool though. I really liked it, and you could definitely eat/have wine for $100.

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                Cafe Jacqueline
                1454 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                1. I agree on La Ciccia. I would say no to Kokkari - i find it not romantic at all - too bustley, too many business people. I would also say yes to Delfina - even if you don't cover the entire bill, you're covering a lot of it, and your friends will be pleased to only have to contribute a small sum to make a really special dinner. Perbacco, Range, even Canteen, which tho it isn't fancy, is special, and unique. Again, you don't have to foot the ENTIRE bill - $100 is a big chunk for most places.

                  -----
                  La Ciccia
                  291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                  Perbacco
                  230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    One consideration with La Ciccia is where the honeymooners are staying and whether they have a rental car. If they are staying downtown or at Fisherman's Wharf, taking a cab could add $50-$60 to the cost of the dinner. (For instance, taxifarefinder.com has a one-way estimate from the Hyatt Regency of 17 minutes and $30.89.) And I don't think you'd want to take muni to that special honeymoon dinner.

                    1. re: nocharge

                      I wouldn't encourage driving to La Ciccia though, especially for a special honeymoon dinner; if they'll want to drink wine, driving back wouldn't be fun. And parking around there is a pain anyway, while it's a pretty quick and easy (and cheap) Muni ride from downtown.

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                      La Ciccia
                      291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        I totally agree with the drawbacks of driving, but while Muni may be cheap, it may not be that quick and easy. From Fisherman's Wharf, for example, it would be 30-40 minutes on different Muni buses plus an additional 10-15 minutes walk time. That's in each direction. Not my idea of a special honeymoon dinner.

                        I guess my bigger point is that people routinely tell out-of-town visitors, who often stay downtown, to go to La Ciccia because the food is good and the prices are reasonable without mentioning the cost and effort involved in getting there.

                      2. re: nocharge

                        The J streetcar stops at La Ciccia. No need to waste money on a cab, and great views of the city and bay from over Dolores Park.

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                        La Ciccia
                        291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          As a visitor who loves La Ciccia (though not a honeymooner, alas!), I'll pile on to recommend that restaurant. Also the J Church ride is quite easy and not too long.

                    2. Thanks for the tips! What do you know about Waterbar?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Bentzle44

                        I think Waterbar is tied with Boulevard for the most expensive a la carte menu in SF.

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                        Waterbar
                        399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

                        1. re: Bentzle44

                          It's an expense account restaurant.

                          1. re: Bentzle44

                            Waterbar is recent, and has very little san francisco specialness to it. Kind of a generic waterfront place.

                            I agree that most of the "usual suspects" around here won't get in and out for $100 with wine. Most nice places - and I don't mean the expensive places - are between $130 and $180 with tip, unless you order frugally.

                            An example: chicken for 2 at Zuni: $49.
                            two glasses of $10 wine: $69
                            a single shared desert: $77
                            10% tax (approx) - $84
                            20% tip - 101.64

                            but I can't go to zuni without some of those house-cured anchovies and a half dozen oysters and a cocktail, so --- way over.

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

                          2. Specifically at the $100 price point, I would recommend Radius in SoMa - http://radiussf.com/. I think the food here is on par with Zuni and many other of the awesome restaurants already mentioned, but their prices are ever so slightly lower. I think you could make $100 just about cover a meal for two people here. I have always experienced impeccable service here and it just feels fancy, even though the prices are reasonable.

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

                            1 Reply