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Couple from Dallas visiting SF

My wife and I are visiting San Francisco for 5 days in the end of June. Long story short, we love food and trying out different things, and we love food network and restaurants featured on TV (not limiting ourselves to those though). We need suggestions as to where we can eat? I don't know much about the town or many great places; we are staying near Union Square and proximity isn't the MOST important thing, but should still be considered. Its our anniversary trip, so maybe 1-2 nice dinners? (<$100 total w/o alcohol, not big drinkers). Also-

-No sushi or fish
-Not huge fans of steaks, so unless there's one that will blow our brains out...
-Aside from the few nice meals, the cheaper the better

Thanks for the help and suggestions!

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  1. San Francisco excels at that kind of $100 total w/o alcohol kind of dinner, maybe you could give us a few ideas of what you're looking for. My favorite place in Union Square is Gitane. Union Square isn't a hotbed of great dining, though, you'll have to go a little farther away, but it's easy to get to a lot of places via public transportation or a quick cab ride. A few places in SF by people you may have seen on TV: Wayfare Tavern (Tyler Florence), Incanto (Chris Cosentino), I'm sure there are a lot more that I can't think of now -- are there any that you've seen that you're curious about? For your budget meals, this current thread might be helpful for you to get ideas http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/788263

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

    Wayfare Tavern
    558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

    2 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      Jasmine makes good points. I'd just emphasize that you really don't want steak or really anything red-meat centric -- SF isn't known for steak, and someone from Texas would be disappointed with even the better places. I'd skip Mexican, too.

      So for your cheap eats I'd suggest Thai (Lers Ros is not far from Union Square), or Vietnamese (Bodega Bistro, ditto) or Burmese (SF has probably the best collection of Burmese restaurants in the US).

      If you like "famous" places you might also want to check out Tony's Pizza Napoletana (Tony won the first Food Network Pizza challenge -- plus the variety of pizza styles is amazing).

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      Larkin Express Burmese Kitchen
      452 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Bodega Bistro
      607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Lers Ros Thai
      730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

      Tony's Pizza Napoletana
      1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        I am looking for lunch places nearish Union Square on a Sunday for a friend visiting and I just stole your second paragraph, Ruth :-). When I went to LR's site to check on Sunday opening, I noted they are opening a branch in Hayes Valley, which I'm sure is old news. Will be interesting to see if they can recreate the magic in that 'hood.

    2. I would say Perbacco is a must for you. (Northern Italian, Piedmont, specifically, truly exceptional.)

      Get burritos in the Mission. My favorite are at Papalote, though La Taqueria is more traditional.

      L'Osteria del Forno has amazing, simple, Northern Italian food at an amazing value.

      Helmand Palace (Afghani)

      If you find yourself in the Richmond, Troya (Turkish) is phenomenal.

      For a true SF experience, go to NOPA... ask to sit upstairs when you make reservations... that way you will be able to hear each other. The food is outstanding and there are very few cities in this country that could accommodate a *casual* restaurant of this caliber, so just that experience could be worth while.

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      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      L'Osteria del Forno
      519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

      La Taqueria
      2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Helmand Palace
      2424 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

      Troya
      349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

      3 Replies
      1. re: whiner

        Thanks a ton for the help. Sorry for lack of specifics, first time poster, long time reader. After doing some research, I've come up with these as our potentials... add to it and critique it as you like, let me know if there's anything I should def. scratch off, etc.

        Tony's PIzza
        3 sum eats
        Sears Fine Food
        Dottie's
        Buena Vista
        Boulevard
        Bullitt (b/c I have a groupon)
        First Crush (another coupon)
        Wayfare Tavern

        Thanks again, really appreciate it

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        Sears Fine Food
        439 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

        Buena Vista Cafe
        2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        Bullitt
        2209 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        Wayfare Tavern
        558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

        1. re: ajridgeway35

          Boulevard is exceptional but potentially out of your price range.

          Bullit makes some of the very best burgers in the city... but it is also a dive bar. I get take out burgers from them all the time, probably every other week... but inside, it is a dive bar. None of the others is really on 'foodie' RADAR... maybe First Crush a little, and I know of Dottie's, but I don't personally know anyone who has been there. I've never even heard of some of these places. There have been recent long threads about visiting SF on a budget, I would look at those.

          1. re: ajridgeway35

            Out of your list I would go with Tony's Pizza and Dotties for breakfast (beware of long lines). Maybe Buena Vista too for an Irish Coffee

            I would love to try Wayfare, but the $25 price tag for fried chicken (without sides) has kept me away.

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            Buena Vista Cafe
            2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

            Tony's Pizza
            440 E Todd Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407

        2. I would suggest going to the upper right hand corner of this page and doing a search for "Union Square." You will find a large number of prior discussions on dining in & around Union Square and elsewhere in town with dozens & dozens of helpful suggestions.

          1. Pier 23, Incanto, Tee Off and Tommy's Joynt have all appeared on FN. I like them all.

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

            Pier 23 Cafe
            The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            2 Replies
            1. re: Nopa

              I would caution the OP about Pier 23 as it for the tourist walking along the Embarcadero.

              Tee Off is fine if you don't mind paying $20 for a great Pork Chop in a dive bar way out in the Avenues.

              Incanto is great and may be a good idea for one of their splurge dinners.

              Tommy’s Joynt is a SF institution and worth a lunch hit, particularly on Thursdays when they have lamb shanks.

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              Pier 23 Cafe
              The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

              1. re: Civil Bear

                Is there a better outside bar in SF than Pier 23? I don't think so.....

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                Pier 23 Cafe
                The Embarcadero and Union St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            2. I would also suggest Absinthe. It has excellent atmosphere and good food for the price. Their menu is accessible to a range of tastes and levels of adventurousness.

              Another suggestion is Bar Agricole. Fantastic food in a beautiful building.

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              Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
              398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Bar Agricole
              355 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103