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Warm ambiance for mom's birthday

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My parents are visiting from the Midwest, and I'm looking for a great restaurant at which to celebrate her birthday. My mom is particularly sensitive to pretension/attitude in restaurant atmosphere, so I'm looking for a warm ambiance and friendly staff in a classic, fine-dining setting, with a San Francisco vibe. I prefer a place with well-sourced (sustainable, ethical) meat, seafood and produce. Italian or Cal/American cuisine would be best, but a warm, celebratory, comfortable ambiance is the most important factor, with tastiness a close second.

I have a reservation at Perbacco, but haven't eaten there - would that be suitable? Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

Also, for context: we're having dinner the following night at L'Auberge, and lunch the day after that at Bouchon.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I think Perbacco is a bit loud and too much of a "scene" for what you are looking for.

    I would recommend Hyde Street Bistro or Alamo Square Seafood for warm ambience, great staff, and lovely food.

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    Perbacco
    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Hyde Street Bistro
    1521 Hyde St., San Francisco, CA 94109

    Alamo Square Cafe
    711 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94117

    4 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Thanks! I will check those out!

      1. re: CarrieWas218

        I'd say that Perbacco meets the "classic, fine-dining setting" while Hyde Street Bistro and Alamo Square don't'.

        Acquerello and La Folie are a couple of other places that are elegant yet warm and don't go overboard into pretentiousness.

        I can't think of any classic fine-dining place that's as warm as La Ciccia.

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

        Perbacco
        230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

        Hyde Street Bistro
        1521 Hyde St., San Francisco, CA 94109

        Acquerello Restaurant
        1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

        Alamo Square Cafe
        711 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94117

        1. re: CarrieWas218

          I wouldn't consider the atmosphere at Perbacco warm. That said, when I had a birthday dinner there (noted when I made the reservation) they actually gave me a card thanking me for choosing to celebrate with them, which definitely made it feel special.

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          Perbacco
          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          1. re: CarrieWas218

            alamo square seafood doesn't really make any sort of effort for sustainable seafood sourcing (not that i don't like the place)

          2. Another idea - Aziza? Would that be suitable?

            I am quite new to SF, so appreciate your suggestions!

            3 Replies
            1. re: raybird

              Aziza has lovely ambience and incredible food. If your Mom is adventurous towards Moroccan spices (not SPICY), then go for it!

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                These are great suggestions - thank you, all. Much obliged.

              2. re: raybird

                I took my mother, who hates restaurants and unfamiliar spaces, to Aziza, and she loved it. Be sure to get a cocktail.

                And ask for a table in the back room. I always end up seated in the dark alley, which is the worst part of the place. The front room is brighter but not warm.

                Agreed, Perbacco's a bit business dinner in ambiance.

              3. Some more "food for thought": Spruce or Garibaldi's in Laurel Heights, Frances in the Castro, Bix downtown and Acquerello in Nob Hill.

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                Bix
                56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

                Acquerello Restaurant
                1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                1. The first place that came to mind when I read your title was La Ciccia. I can't imagine a warmer, friendlier place. I don't know if it would meet your "fine dining" criteria, but the food is excellent.

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

                  1. We went to Kokkari and loved it. It is very warm and the atmosphere is extremely pleasant. Its contemporary greek/Mediterranean and we loved everything we ordered.

                    1. While I often recommend Perbacco, based upon your requirements, I think Delfina would be the Italian best to suit you. If you are willing to up the price a bit, Boulevard would also work on the Cal/American front.

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                      Perbacco
                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

                      1. I'd also suggest Zuni Cafe. If you ask to sit upstairs, it's quieter from the downstairs area which is where the bar is at. Though I think Perbacco fits your ambiance needs better, I just think Zuni would be livelier for a birthday dinner. Great for people watching, street lights streaming into the floor to ceiling windows. Quintessential San Franciscan restaurant!

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                        Zuni Cafe
                        1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                        1. Boulevard, particularly if they'll give you a table in the back of the restaurant. The service has always been exceptional: refined, friendly and obliging, the room is Beaux Arts beautiful and the food is excellent and interesting I'd take my Mom in a heartbeat.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: artychokeasana

                            Thanks everyone! I have a reservation at La Ciccia and at Aziza for the moment and will decide as it gets a little closer.

                            Appreciate all the suggestions - this gives me ideas for my own dining adventures as a new SF resident!