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Dec 2, 2011 11:58 AM

Last minute trip - poor planning! Help SF hounders!

I will be in San Francisco, staying in Nob Hill, tomorrow (sat 3rd) through Wednesday early evening. This trip was decided upon somewhat last minute, and since this week has been madness, I haven't done my due diligence. Normally I have my foodie itinerary finalized well in advance.

I have been trolling the boards yesterday and today, and have had some ideas, but after checking for reservations on open table for Atelier Crenn, Coi, Saison, Canteen, on tuesday night and turned up empty handed. And thats tuesday! So now I am really perplexed what I am going to do Saturday. I was thinking monday we would do Italian, since I have found many to be open monday. A16, Perbacco, and delfina have come up a lot on my search... I would ask which I should try but at this point it might just be which is open. I want to go to swan oyster depot, probably for a lunch probably monday or wednesday. We always go to Shanghai Dumpling King for xiao long bao, although I am open to suggestions for other places. We have no problem traveling for food, as I said we are staying in Nob Hill, and don't mind public transportation, but it has to be somewhat reasonable.

This is a celebratory get away. (I just passed the last part of the CPA exam) I hate doing thing like this last minute, and I know that we will have a lovely time, but I would really hate to waste a trip up to such a great foodie city!

So hounders... any last minute suggestions for
saturday brunch/lunch
saturday dinner
italian dinner, most likely monday
casual but memorable lunch spots...
tuesday night tasting menu that we have a chance of a walk in
and good coffee within walking distance of Nob Hill


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  1. The Ferry Building on Saturday for lunch. Aziza has openings on Saturday night.

    Mr. Pollo is typically crowded at night, but its 14 seats are usually pretty empty during lunchtime--- he makes a $20 4-course prix fixe everyday, but has some staples on the menu. It's very casual.

    I don't know if you can get Piedmont food near LA, but if not, Perbacco would be a good choice.

    5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Mr. Pollo
    2823 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
    One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

    1. if you care to have the northern cali-ital cioppino with the local dungeness crab, Sotto Mare in North Beach -- it's an excellent version.

      1. Always try calling a restaurant if there isn't a reservation on opentable. More often than not, there IS actually something available. Opentable is a very finicky system that can reserve itself into a corner

        6 Replies
        1. re: plaidbowtie

          More importantly, check open table then call the restaurant. OpenTable charges a lot.

          1. re: plaidbowtie

            I am very tempted to "like" your post, plaidbowtie! When I travel to SF, I make all my reservations by phone even though it's long distance.

            My favourite Italian (so far -- there are so many!) in SF is Sardinian at La Ciccia but it fills up quite far in advance. Still might be worth a call if you can do Tuesday (it is closed Monday).

            I preferred Barbacco to Perbacco (only been to each once, the latter for lunch) and would go back to try dinner. Open Monday.

            1. re: plaidbowtie

              We just had the opposite experience.

              We tried to walk-in to Plum when we saw a few open tables @ 7:30. After much consulting by the waiter with other staff, we were told it would be a 45 minute wait. After we were seated at Ozumo across the street, I looked on Open Table and it said Plum had availability 5 minutes out.

              I wondered if they were short a server or something so wouldn't seat us without a reservation.

              Still, I do try and call vs. Open Tabling so the restaurant isn't hit with the OT charges, as bbulkow mentions

              1. re: drewskiSF

                What plaidbowtie's talking about is that many restaurants do not put all of their tables on OT. Also, OT is not always smart enough to know that two two-tops can be put together to seat four and so on. So if you see no availability on OT you can often get a reservation if you phone.

                Normally, if you walk into a restaurant around the dinner rush and the host tells you a 45-minute wait, any open tables you see are being held for reservations. If you walk in at 7:30 and some of the 7:30 reservations turn out to be no-shows, they will probably release those tables at 7:45. They could also get a cancellation just after you walk out. The host has no way of knowing that kind of stuff in advance.

                Huh, Plum switched to OpenTable. Interesting. They used to use Urbanspoon.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I know what he was saying. I just thought it was interesting to have the opposite experience.

                  Maybe there was a cancellation right after we left, but the waiter didn't check any system or reservation book. He just went to the back and was conferring with what appeared to be another server for a couple of minutes before coming back to give us the time estimate.

                  Yeah, it seems like it changed to OT when they rolled out their revamped website w/ menus when before they used to link to their Urbanspoon page with sample menu pdf's.

                  1. re: drewskiSF

                    It's also possible that the hosts at Plum weren't using OT correctly and it was showing openings for tables they'd already seated.

                    Many restaurants disable short-notice OT reservations to reduce the possibility of conflicts.

            2. I agree with Aziza - great idea. A bit out of the way (well, maybe not to an LA denizen) but worth the ride--there's nothing like it in LA (or anywhere else) as far I as know. Get the tasting menu!

              For Saturday brunch, Cotogna would be a good option- they reserve spots for walk-ins and brunch is fantastic.

              For Italian - A16 is great, you could also try Flour + Water, which is also open on Mondays and, like Cotogna, reserves spots for walk-ins. If you go early you won't have to wait long. Its pizzas get more press but the pastas are even better IMHO. Delfina is a classic, you can't really go wrong there. Of the 3, I'd put Delfina first, as it's an institution at this point - one of those must-check-off-the-list spots in my book.

              Swan Oyster Depot is perfect for a casual, memorable lunch - it's a tiny spot so you may have to wait for a seat.

              A last-minute tasting-menu reservation could be very tough.....Too bad Coi is booked, I did that back in June and was blown away (our reservation was very last minute (made the day before), as it happens, but it was for 9:30 seating, which I understand is probably too late for many people...) If you wanted to be on the cusp of what's new right now and spend a lot of dough, you could try Saison's new tasting menu. $198 base per person, according to the Chron (link below). Apparently they were to start the format this week (they do a single service a night, feeding just 18 people for the whole evening! Unbelievable...

              Good luck, have fun & congratulations on passing your exam.


              373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

              2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

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

              Swan Oyster Depot
              1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

              Flour + Water
              2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

              2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

              490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

              2 Replies
              1. re: originalfig

                In regards to Saison, their $198 tasting menu is not new, it's the $498 Chef's counter tasting that's new (even more dough). . . and the one seating per night with half the seats previously.

                1. re: drewskiSF

                  Thanks for clarifying. I still can't get over the introduction of the $498 chef's counter tasting. That just seems so incredibly tone deaf right now. I wonder how long it will last.....