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Does SF have good midrange neighborhood restaurants that are not loud/overcrowded?

This may seem like a dumb question but bear with me.

I am new to SF from Seattle, but have lived all over, in larger and smaller cities. One thing I'm noticing in SF is that it's very hard to find restaurants I can go to, on the spur of the moment, and get a table. Even a Tuesday night requires a reso. And once I do get a table, the restaurants themselves are so busy and noisy that I don't feel like I can necessarily relax, wind down, stay awhile. It's often too loud to just sit and chat.

Have I just not found the right neighborhood spots yet? Or is SF too big and foodie-oriented, so that these places don't exist? In Seattle, even in NYC there are great Midrange restaurants that are not packed to the gills, feel more relaxed, and where you can easily get a weeknight table, maybe even become a regular.

Recent meals in SF, for reference: Locanda, Coco500, Foreign Cinema, Serpentine, ZeroZero, Chez Mama, Piccino.

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Coco500
598 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Foreign Cinema
2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Locanda
557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. Lers Ros, Bodega Bistro, Maykadeh, Troya, Angkor Borei, Helmand Palace, Mandalay, Mochica, Osha Thai, Palio d'Asti ...

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    Bodega Bistro
    607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Mochica
    937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

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

    Troya
    349 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

    Osha Thai
    819 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Lers Ros
    307 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    1. I'm sure there are. But if you're going by a list of restaurants made by someone else and put on the web or in a guidebook, then you're going to be heading for the same restaurants as everyone else. If you want a neighborhood restaurant where you can potentially become a regular, I suggest you start in your own neighborhood. Walk around, read the menus, peek inside, maybe go in for a quick drink to check out the atmosphere. If you don't want to try them without any further info, you can then look them up online and see if you want to actually eat there.

      1. Welcome to San Francisco!

        My thoughts on your question-if you are looking to eat at 7 pm most places will be crowded and loud. There are exceptions, when lived in the neighborhood Bacco in Noe Valey never seemed loud to me nor did Incanto. I don't go often enough now to know. But if you go earlier or later and frequently the pace will be slower and you'll establish relationships.

        In what neighborhood are you living and/or planning to dine frequently.? Are you solo dining and are you comfortable sitting at the bar? or are you mostly interested in a table?

        6 Replies
        1. re: artychokeasana

          Thank you! I think my neighborhood is part of the problem. I live in corporate housign on Berry and 5th. Not much nearby. 18th on Potrero seems like the best bet but it's not right out the door (I don't have a car). So I walk or can to different neighborhoods and try places that look interesting or have been mentioned here or elsewhere.

          1. re: caraely

            I work nearby and I agree, there isn't a lot that is appealing close by. Consider Town's End ;it doesn't get a lot of mention but it is a solid, neighborhood spot in a neighborhood without many such. Over on the Castro/Mission border I really like Eureka! The owners have serious SF restaurant credibility but have chosen to run a neighborhood spot andthey do relish their regulars. For an ice cream fix go Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous (across the street from Serpentine) had great ice cream and tremendously friendly owners.

            Let us know what you find. Will you be in corporate housing for the entirety of your stay or is it a jumping off spot?

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            Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
            699 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

            1. re: caraely

              South Park is pretty close but it's more lunch based although South Park Cafe. Nears 3rd/Brannan like Brickhouse, Koh Samui & the Monkey. At 4th/Brannan there's Zuppa.

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              Zuppa
              564 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

              South Park Cafe
              108 South Park, San Francisco, CA 94107

              Brickhouse Cafe & Bar
              426 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107

              1. re: ML8000

                2nd the recommendations for both south park cafe (can always just walk in) and Zuppa (same). actually all the recs above are great. If you venture a little further, there's Turtle Tower on bryant and 6th and Citizen's Band and Radius on Folsom & 7th.

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                Zuppa
                564 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                Turtle Tower
                501 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                1. re: margieco

                  I agree that South Park Cafe and Zuppa fit the requirements, and would also add Fringale in the same neighborhood.

              2. re: caraely

                your options multiply exponentially if you can get to the MUNI metro.

            2. when we've eaten at Pesce ((Polk St, on the Russian Hill end) we could converse easily, and its overall ambience is that of a neighborhood trattoria/oyster bar,

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              Pesce
              2227 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              1. In the vicinity of your location is Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant. It's a neighborhood restaurant and wine bar on Rincon Hill. The menu is rustic Italian. It's always easy to hold a conversation. They take reservations but it's also possible to walk in and find seating.