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Restaurant suggestions for SF weekend 1/27 - 1/29

Hi SF'ers,

LA / OC'ers Heading back up to SF again for our annual trip with some friends, late January 1/27 for two nights. I am looking for a few suggestions for dinner for Friday and Saturday night.

The wife and I go to SF annually and have over the years have tried many of fantastic dining destinations that SF has to offer. Zuni Cafe, Aziza, Bar Tartine, Slanted Door, Flour + Water, SPQR, A16, Bar Crudo, Commonwealth, Foreign Cinema, Range, Delfina, Canteen, and a few others.

We are all fairly adventurous eaters and open to mostly any cuisine. Although we are not looking for Asian cuisine. Asian influenced is fine though. Not looking for restaurants in the $$$$ range, more like $$ to $$$ which to me means entrees in the high teens to $20's.

Saw an article on SF Eater about new restaurants and was intrigued by a few of them. What are you thoughts on these Parellel37 and AQ Restaurant? The article mentioned that Bar Tartine has been re-invented as well. Last time we went we enjoyed it but didn't love it.

Any other recommendations?

We will be at the Ferry Market building on Saturday morning and the Tomales Bay Oyster Farm in the afternoon. Tartine Bakery our favorite Sunday morning before going home spot.

Thanks for any insight you can provide.


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  1. If you haven't been to La Ciccia yet, that would be my must-try given the list of places you've enjoyed in the past. It's great Sardinian food in a friendly setting.


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

    1. AQ is great. Bar Tartine got a new chef in March and is basically a new restaurant. Have you been to Cotogna or Barbacco?

      1. I agree that La Ciccia is very special.
        But I would not recommend AQ. Everyone else seems to like it, but I found the flavors not-so-good, the portions tiny, and the presentation highly overwrought (I only like tweezer cuisine when the food is excellent).

        Asian is not on your list, but my favorite place right now it Izakaya Yuzuki.

        And, have you tried Lolo's? Love them, very unusual.

        4 Replies
        1. re: pauliface

          The presentation at AQ didn't seem fussy to me, nothing like tweezer cuisine. The toasted barley with Dungeness crab, mushrooms, and spruce was one of the best things I've had this year. Portions aren't large but the prices are pretty modest for the quality by SF standards. There are some really great values on the wine list.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I tried the crab/barley on your recommendation. It was the best thing served among the 4 of us, but I would not go there to have it again.

            I want to like this place and will return when the season and menu have changed to give it another try. But I was really disappointed.

            Most people seem to like it. I'm trying to temper expectations especially among people selecting AQ as some kind of special destination restaurant. How's this? "If you like Frances, you'll love AQ!"

            1. re: pauliface

              I've been treating AQ more like a wine bar than a restaurant. The selection of wines by the glass is as good as at my favorite wine bars, which have only cold cuts and simple things.

              1. re: pauliface

                I just went back to AQ again and have to disagree - it's easily one of my favorite new restaurants this year. Two new dishes on their winter menu stood out: duck breast "aged on the bone" and blood sausage with chestnuts. They also kept the 2 standout dishes for me, the barley/crab and the charred avocado.

                While Frances is great, I wouldn't really compare the style to Frances. Where Frances is homey and comfortable, AQ is slightly edgy and clever. Depends on what you are looking for. Anyway, I think AQ is a great choice for a "SF style" meal in the city.

                Parallel 37 is also very good, and quite different. The food is top notch, with French-influenced technique I'm not sure many other places can pull off. It's almost like the redesigned the restaurant without changing the food, which is a good thing in my book. That's an exaggeration of course, but Ron Siegel's style is still apparent and the attention to detail in each dish is a cut above.

                Still -- maybe I'm a sucker for novelty -- but I really like what AQ is doing.

          2. mdg - La Ciccia has been on my go to list for quite some time since reading all the great reviews here, but we will be saving that for another trip. Thanks for the rec though.

            Robert - Haven't been to Cotogna or Barbacco. I was considering those as well.

            Looking for a restaurant with a cool SF style for lack of better words. We are a mix of early 30's and early 40's. Food is more important though.

            5 Replies
              1. re: wolfe

                Wolfe - Thanks for the rec but Bix looks a little more old school SF than what I was looking for.
                Like the style of foreign cinema, bar tartine, range, and bar crudo to give you some examples.
                But like I said food more important that ambiance, but both would be nice.

                1. re: TNT Adventures

                  What about a touch upscale to Saison, Ame, COI, Quince, Crenn?

                  Or hop the bart over to Plum. I haven't tried with the new chef, but word is the place isn't changing much.

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Or do something entirely new and hit Haven in Oakland. Barely open yet, and I have not been, but Kim Alter's food is great.

                  2. re: TNT Adventures

                    It sounds like you would be happy at Barbacco. It's a spare-ish room but quite stylish at the same time. The angled tables are kinda cool. And the food is a bit of all right as well. We enjoyed our lunch there on our November trip but were thinking it would be even better at dinner. Just a tad noisy if that is an issue at all, not bone rattling but not quiet either.

              2. bbulkow - I would love to do all of those you mentioned. A bit out of budget for the group we are going with on this trip. Looking for entrees in the high teens to mid 20's. Dying to try out the Chef's table at Saison.

                I have been wanting to go to Plum or Camino and check out some Oakland restaurants too. Could be a possibility, but was looking to stay in SF.

                lexdevil - Kim was at a restaurant in Sausalito before that right?

                2 Replies
                  1. re: drewskiSF

                    Yes, for what seemed like mere moments.

                1. Nopa seems like it might fit your list.

                  560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                  1. What about Bar Jules in Hayes Valley? Certainly a cool SF style and good food to boot!

                    Bar Jules
                    609 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                    1. Civil Bear - Nopa was on my list of places to go too. Thanks for the reinforcement.

                      Jim - I will check out the menu. Thanks!

                      Decisions. Decisions. So many places to eat with so little time.

                      1. Marlowe is fantastic (I prefer it to the newly opened Park Tavern), with straightforwardly delicious food AND interesting takes on old favorites.

                        In my mind, Perbacco is pretty much the best restaurant in the city--affordable but always knocks it out of the park. Yummy cocktails too. I did not have a good experience at Barbacco (laughably paled in comparison to Perbacco), although since it was so bad I never went back, so I can't say whether it was a one-time fluke or not.

                        Best of luck!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: mmclandy

                          Barbacco's food is simpler and more casual than Perbacco's, but I've found the quality of ingredients and execution to be similar. The salumi are the same.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            That was going to be my next question. Thanks for the answer. So the main differences are the food is simpler and ambiance more casual? Prices seem to be a tad cheaper at Barbacco too.

                            Which one would you guys choose?

                            1. re: TNT Adventures

                              The food prices at Barbacco are really modest by SF standards. Perbacco's prices are similar to other top-quality non-French-influenced Italian places. I'd pick based on what kind of meal I wanted, Barbacco for casual sharing small plates, Perbacco for a serious multi-course meal.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                I agree with Robert. Barbacco, in my opinion, is best for casual lunch or a light dinner. Perbacco is where I go when I want to spend the time and a bit more money to have a really great meal.

                                Check out their menus to see the difference. Also, Barbacco only has beer and wine, if that matters.

                          2. re: mmclandy

                            that's interesting - i've found the opposite to be true. Perbacco has hits and misses for me, but Barbacco is always consistently very good.

                          3. I'd suggest Incanto and Absinthe and second those who suggested Cotogna, Perbacco and La Ciccia.

                            I have been wanting to try Txoko, Radius and Bar Bambino, those might fit and maybe other people here would have thoughts as to whether any of them are worth a visit.

                            1. Made reservations to Cotogna and NOPA.

                              Any must order items?

                              Thanks to all who helped with input. I will report back when I get a chance.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: TNT Adventures

                                I'd say the gnocchi at Cotogna--my hubby ordered gnocchi, and they were the best I'd ever had. The other pasta (mine) was not as good, but I ate enough of his to make up for it.

                                1. re: mmclandy

                                  Awesome!! I love a good gnocchi. Thanks!

                                2. re: TNT Adventures

                                  I love the raviolo filled with egg yolk at Cotogna. Make sure you get some bread to sop up all of the brown butter / egg yolk deliciousness. In any case don't miss the pasta there (pizza can be skipped IMO, compared to other options around town).

                                  Nopa I feel it's hard to go wrong. Of course, it's really hard to go wrong if you get the pork chop. Don't miss the excellent wine list. If you like sherry--or especially, if you think you DONT like sherry--they almost always have some Equipo Navazos by the glass. One of the most amazing sherry / wine / liquid I have ever tasted. Try it.

                                  1. re: tomotsu

                                    I like Cotogna's pizza the best of that local Cal-Italian style (Delfina, Zero Zero, Flour+Water, Beretta, Delarosa, and lots of other places).

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      tomotsu - Thanks for the rec on the raviolo filled with egg yolk. Sounds like pure richness. Will definitely get some bread with that. Funny you mentioned the pork chop, I was already eyeing it on the menu.

                                      Robert - We might just have to order a pizza just to try it out. Thanks!

                                      1. re: TNT Adventures

                                        since you're from OC, you'd be fortunate indeed if you found any Cali-Napoletano style wood fired pizza up here that equals what you have in Costa Mesa at Pizza Ortica. A handful of places do it well here, including Cotogna, but in our experience Ortica was just a notch better [granted, some might prefer their crust with more irregularities and the occasional big blister].