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Anniversary dinner in SF: Jacket required atmosphere preffered *AND* a great bar/great cocktails?

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*edited since I didn't word the area about dress code well : ] *

My husband and I are from the Napa Valley but have never really dined much in SF. We were just planning on doing the usual but since it's our 5 year wedding anniversary my husband decided last minute "Hey, let's just go to SF!". Fine by me! But now I'm so overwhelmed with choices.

We like to dress up so I'd prefer somewhere that has a dressed up atmosphere since I seriously hate being overdressed it's just awkward for me. It doesn't have to have a strictly enforced dress code, just where dressing up is the norm. I have seen tons of anniversary dinner posts and have been doing tons of research on great restaurants but can't find any info in regards to having cocktails in addition to wine as my husband is not a wine or champagne fan so I'd prefer to find a place with a great bar. We are staying in the Union Square area so I'd prefer to stay close to there but we can take a cab anywhere so it's not mandatory.

Thank you in advance for your reccommendations!

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  1. They can request it or prefer it but it's reached a point where it's hard to find a place that requires it.
    The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton.
    Dress Code: Jacket Preferred
    Gary Danko
    Dress code: Elegant, dressy attire is requested
    Well you can't always get what you request or prefer.
    Think of the pleasure it would give you to look around and see all those guys looking sheepish because they are underdressed. ;-)
    wolfe on Oct 01, 2010 08:20AM

    -----
    Gary Danko
    800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    7 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      Thank you, I was considering Gary Danko, I just wasn't sure of how their bar was. I definitely don't *require* them to have a serious and enforced dress code, I guess what I was trying to say is that I would prefer to go where dressing up is more normal. I have read that dress codes are usually not enforced too much in SF, just didn't want to look overdressed. There's nothing worse for me than being in an amazing dress sitting next to some guy in a Tommy Bahama shirt, lol.

      -----
      Gary Danko
      800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      1. re: megan330

        I don't remember Gary Danko having a bar.
        Fifth Floor appears to have a bar, but they also say "casual fine dining": http://www.fifthfloorrestaurant.com/
        Never been, so I can't tell you how dressy people really get.

        I do remember Masa being pretty dressy, but not exclusively so. I think you'll get a mix, almost anywhere you go in the City. Would it make you uncomfortable if not everyone else was as dressed up as you? I would say make your reservations later in the evening - to me it seems to suit the mood better - dressy , night-time clothes - and you certainly won't get a second glance.
        Ame has a bar, and appears to be pretty dressy, but then again, my sister went once and she doesn't own one really dressy outfit...
        http://amerestaurant.com/home.html

        again, at most of the places listed here, you'd not be the lone dressed up couple, but there probably would be others near you that were considerably more casual.

        -----
        Gary Danko
        800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        Masa's Restaurant
        648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

        Fifth Floor Restaurant
        12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. re: mariacarmen

          Thank you I will check out Ame, I hadn't seen that one in my research. I don't mind being more dressed up than everyone else I just don't want to be, like you said, "the lone dressed up couple" in a crowd of really casually dressed people if you know what I mean. And we will definitely be doing a later dinner since we are going to try to fit in some touristy stuff after we check into our hotel.

          1. re: megan330

            Ame is a good idea; it tends to get a lot of business diners who are more dressed up, and it's in a nice hotel.

        2. re: megan330

          Gary Danko has a small bar area just off the front entrance. Since you're staying in the Union Square area, how about The Redwood Room, in the Clift Hotel, for cocktails and then a short cab ride to Gary Danko? You'll have the best of both worlds.

          I haven't been to Masa's for several years so my information may not be current but I enjoyed a lovely evening and meal there.

          -----
          Gary Danko
          800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Redwood Room
          495 Geary St, San Francisco, CA

          1. re: Sherri

            Thank you for the suggestion. Doing pre-dinner cocktails elsewhere was what I was thinking of doing originally and I may still end up doing just that. Just thought I'd ask here to see if there was one place that would suit my needs before I made reservations somewhere.

          2. re: megan330

            (I think Wolfe was saying THEY (the restaurants) can request it or prefer it, not that you, Megan330, require it.)

        3. Masa's stated dress code is jacket required. Whether they enforce that, I don't know. To my knowledge, that's the only place with such a dress code in SF.

          -----
          Masa's Restaurant
          648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

          3 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            From the SF Chronicle about 5 years ago.
            "There's something wrong with that," says Todd Stillman, general manager of Masa's in San Francisco, where "jackets are appreciated and ties are optional." "If you meet the dress code, then the whole room should be available to you. Just because you're not wearing Armani doesn't mean you shouldn't get a good table."

            1. re: wolfe

              The dress code has been revised since Mr. Stillman's departure: "Jackets are required for gentlemen and cocktail attire is appropriate for ladies."

              http://www.masasrestaurant.com/masas_...

              That 2005 Chron story on the demise of the dress code:

              http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              To bring it back to the food -- even though it has a much lower profile than it did 20 years ago, I've heard nothing but good things about the food at Masa's recently. Here's recent blog posting from Michael Bauer: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

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              Masa's Restaurant
              648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

            3. Masa! and the food is spectacular.

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              Masa's Restaurant
              648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

              1. Could I ask what you would be comfortable wearing and not your husband?

                12 Replies
                1. re: c oliver

                  I was planning on wearing a nice cocktail dress.

                  1. re: megan330

                    Could you define that a little more please? San Francisco is not a real "dress up" kinda city generally. There are those who go to the opera in jeans. I'm not saying that's right or wrong. Nice black pants or skirt with a low key top will take you almost anywhere.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      So I've heard. I guess I should say that the whole dressing up issue is really not me since I would be fine with wearing anything. My husband is a very loud dresser so I usually dress according to what he decides to wear. He just got a new suit and he says he wants to wear it in SF... it's SILVER (if that says anything to you, lol.). I don't think I could convince him to wear anything else and I would feel silly being all dressed up in a very casual setting. I don't mind being a little more dressed up than everyone else just not drastically so KWIM?

                      1. re: megan330

                        You'll be the belles of the ball! Enjoy!

                        1. re: megan330

                          Dress up and enjoy yourselves. There is no downside to dressing up to go out to good places.

                          1. re: megan330

                            What about Bix? They have a noire / dressy attitude, where with a silver suit you might get some strange looks at Masa. I mean, there's a difference between a tasteful armani and a loud silver lame suit. I'm not saying you described a LOUD silver suit, but if you're looking for a touch of old vegas, Masa might not do the trick.

                            -----
                            Bix
                            56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                            Masa's Restaurant
                            648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                            1. re: bbulkow

                              No it's not loud like lame, it's a more tasteful muted silver suit but still a bit out of the ordinary, it looks very dressy. It would definitely stand out amongst a crowd of black suits but not obnoxiously so. I think I've already ruled Masa out though. I wasn't sure about Bix, I will check it out! Thanks!

                              -----
                              Bix
                              56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                              Masa's Restaurant
                              648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                              1. re: bbulkow

                                I originally recommended La Folie. But assuming the food is still as good as it was last time I ate there (10 years ago!), I'd recomment Bix as well.
                                The vibe is a more fun style of dressy than la folie.. And if you like cocktails, it's an excellent choice -- has that deco-fancy-cocktail vibe.

                                1. re: pauliface

                                  Also - no one really thinks bix is in the same category as the very high end tasting menu places like Benu (close #2 for best new restaurant in america in the beard awards last week), Saison, Ame .... just you're asking for a certain vibe with good food, Bix might be it. I was also thinking about One Market, which is one-star michelin and gets more business traffic.

                                  -----
                                  Bix
                                  56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                                  Saison
                                  2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                                  Benu
                                  22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                  1. re: pauliface

                                    FWIW we recently went to Bix for our "grown up" night out while visiting SF. Agree about the vibe (faux but lovely Art Deco style, very low lighting) and the jazz trio was smooth The food and drink were just good and not really special, which was fine for us as we went with that expectation.

                                    Sample size of two meals is obviously small but I'd want the food to be more stellar for my anniversary. And while some folks were dressed up, there was a big table of Tommy Bahamas right next to us :-).

                                    1. re: grayelf

                                      i would tend to agree with GE - it's good and a nice place but, to me, only if you live in the City and are not looking for a celebratory dinner. Not a destination place, and not super special.

                              2. re: c oliver

                                How much more is it possible to define "a nice cocktail dress"? That pretty much describes the attire.

                                For the OP, any of the fancier places that are options (Danko, Masa's, maybe Fleur de Lys), there will be plenty of people dressed up, and some underdressed. You won't look out of place in a cocktail dress.

                                -----
                                Masa's Restaurant
                                648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                          2. La Folie.

                            As people have said, restaurants don't tend to require any kind of formal dress.
                            But people dress well there, they have a full bar and great food, and they are fitting for a special occasion.

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

                            1. I think Quince would meet your needs and is easily reached by cab from Union Sq.

                              1. I agree with previous posters who suggested Quince and La Folie. You may also want to consider Benu, Acquerello, Jardinere and Atelier Crenn.

                                I've been to all of these places overdressed (by SF standards, in cocktail dresses and heels) accompanied by a man who at best might throw on a jacket but usually opts for jeans and a dress shirt. I don't think anybody cares if you are overdressed and you're likely to get compliments and free stuff because everyone assumes it's a special occasion.

                                Hope you arent offended if you DO end up seated next to someone in a Tommy Bahama shirt though.....it might be my dad...that's fancy for him...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: poppycho

                                  LOL. No definitely doesn't offend me, I don't care what other people wear it just makes ME feel weird. I always feel like everybody is sitting there staring at me when I'm dressed up and nobody else is. I know, it's silly. My husband doesn't mind it nearly as much as I do.

                                2. Thank you for everybody's suggestions. Right now I'm actually leaning towards La Folie because their menu looks like fun but still not 100% on that.

                                  Dressing up in CA has been awkward for me a few times since I've been here but I guess I'll just have to get used to it. I am originally from Las Vegas where it never feels "weird" to dress up. I think a guy in a tux could walk into a Denny's at 9 a.m. and nobody would even take a second look at him out there, lol. So it's definitely different, but like one poster said I guess we'll just be the belles of the ball : ]

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

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: megan330

                                    I've often seen people in black tie at Zuni, particularly after an opera or symphony performance lets out. And sometimes at the next table there are a bunch of hipsters in T-shirts, or a punk with a mohawk. That's San Francisco, dress to please yourself and your friends, nobody except Michael Bauer is going to pay any attention.

                                    Personally I find it depressing when I'm at an expense-account place and most of the guys are wearing boring, conservative suits and ties as if they came straight from work at a bank or law firm, or from a funeral. It's not fun like a crowd of Italian dandies in fashionable suits, which I've seen sometimes at Perbacco.

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

                                    Perbacco
                                    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      i agree, it can feel very soulless eating in the Financial District at times.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Thank you for that : ]. It's nice to hear that variety is very normal and that nobody will really pay attention to it. As I said before I'm not familiar with SF but I've gone out around here being what I would call overdressed and I felt... awkward.

                                      2. re: megan330

                                        I'm a fan of La Folie. Perhaps request the corner table in the back on the right. It's cozy and romantic. Depending on what night you go, some of the previously mentioned places are populated by the expense account crowd but you pretty much never find that at La Folie.

                                        The lounge next door is a nice place to hang out before dinner. I ate too much truffle popcorn before dinner there last time!

                                        (I was wearing an Herve and Choos and didn't feel out of place at all, have a great time!)

                                      3. Jardiniere has a great bar and an upscale vibe. Many people dressed for the Opera, Symphony and Ballet.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: sfeater

                                          Thank you! I was looking at Jardiniere but I couldn't figure out if it was a dressier place or not.

                                          1. re: megan330

                                            Unless they've had a recent rebound, the food at Jardinier has really slid since they opened.
                                            They were a favorite many years ago but I stopped going because the food gradually got weaker and weaker.

                                            1. re: pauliface

                                              jardiniere is certainly one of the dressier places in SF, esp. if you go before/after an event at hte opera/symphony hall.

                                              i wouldn't necessarily call the food weak per se, but more just "boring", in the line of boulevard. they can get away with charging $40+ for an entree because it's obvious that they're using superlative ingredients, but the preparations just aren't particularly exciting.

                                        2. Fleur de Lys is beautiful and I'd had amazing meals there, though some say it has gone a bit downhill in the past few years. You cannot go wrong with the Dining Room at the Ritz.

                                          If willing to take a cab for a few minutes I would say La Folie. It isn't a "dress code" type place, but you will not feel over-dressed at all. Probably my favorite restaurant in SF. If you are doing 5 courses, *bring an appetite* it is worth it, though... love the food.

                                          1. I would suggest Spruce (also has a lovely bar area) and would second the recommendation for Quince.

                                            1. Locanda, Spruce or Frances for dinner. Then make a reservation at Wilson and Wilson for cocktails inside Bourbon & Branch....and stumble back to the hotel after.

                                              -----
                                              Locanda
                                              557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: MeredithR

                                                Frances has good food, but is so not a dress up atmosphere, and while I haven't been to Locanda yet, it seems to be pretty midrange price rise, and is on Valencia, where most of the crowd will be in jeans if they're dressed up.

                                                -----
                                                Locanda
                                                557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                1. re: MeredithR

                                                  I looked in Locanda last night, and it seemed like your typical Valencia St. crowd, not dressy.

                                                  -----
                                                  Locanda
                                                  557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110