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Jan 11, 2012 10:01 PM

Planning a honeymoon in San Francisco and need some help...

I searched and it seemed the "romantic restaurant" thing comes up a lot. Gonna be in San Francisco for my honeymoon. Have started to research and seen that La Folie, Gary Danko and Cafe Jaqueline all come highly recommended. My fiancee is a big fan of nice views. Was wondering if anyone knows how is the view from these restaurants. In the end, better food is a the main thing. She doesn't really drink so as long as their bartenders can put together a tasty cocktail that would be good enough for her(wines not a big deal for the dinner). Looking to spend around $250 with just a few drinks. If anyone had a must go place that cost more, I would definitely consider it.

Also, planning on going to the Slanted Door for lunch one day.

We will be staying at Parc 55 Wyndham around Union Square, so if anyone has any breakfast, lunch or dinner recommendations around that area it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. No views in any of the restaurants you named. I'd suggest you have cocktails with a view and then go elsewhere for dinner. What time of year are you coming? If it's late spring or summer, and you have access to a car, you might want to drive down the coast to Costanera.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I will be there in February. Right after valentines day(V day is a tue, I will be there from wed to fri). So I think getting reservations will be a little harder at the big name restaurants. I won't have a car. I like your suggestion with having drinks at a place with a view, probably somewhere on Nob Hill I am guessing. Got any suggestions for that?

      1. re: theFuj46

        The Top of the Mark is the classic "view" bar on Nob Hill. La Folie is on Russian Hill, which is just up hill from the Wharf, where there are lots of bars with views

        1. re: theFuj46

          After dark, there's little or no view at Costanera or other oceanfront restaurants unless there's a moon, which there won't be that week.

      2. Just read something about Epic Roadhouse and Waterbar. Anyone have any experiences with these restaurants? Seems like it would be a fun spot.

        15 Replies
        1. re: theFuj46

          It's Epic Roasthouse, not Roadhouse. It's an awkward name, but they wanted to emphasize that it is a meat restaurant, in contrast to the the next door restaurant Waterbar, which is seafood. People often mistakenly call that restaurant Waterfront, which is the name of a different restaurant on the Embarcadero, so be clear about the cross street if you are giving a cab driver the location or if you walk.

          Waterbar has great views of the Bay Bridge and great interior views of giant fish tanks. The food is great, the service is great, and the cocktails are wonderful. If you like seafood, go.

          You will not have trouble getting reservations. You will be here mid-week, in February, and we are still in an economic slump. Valentine's day itself is crazy, but just that one night.

          Waterbar is the kind of place where it would be worth telling them that you are on your honeymoon when you make the reservation.

          If we are having sunny weather, take a cab up to the top of Twin Peaks during the day, enjoy the view, and then walk down to Castro and Market and take the streetcar or subway back downtown (where I assume you are staying). If we have a clear night, it would be worth going back up there to see the view again at night (this time keeping the cab for a ride back).

          I don't think Gary Danko has any windows, let alone a view, but the food and service are excellent. La Folie has windows on the street, but no view. I haven't been for a few years, but it was good and it continues to have a good reputation.

          Cafe Jaqueline is often called the most romantic restaurant in San Francsico, but people have had very bad service experiences there - check yelp for the horror stories - and the menu is extremely limited.

          I agree with others that a great meal with a view is not an easy combination in San Francisco. Top of the Mark is the classic view bar and you can take the cable car to get to the hotel (the Mark Hopkins), adding a bit to the romance. There is a great view from the bar at the top of the Marriott hotel at 55 4th Street. If you go at night, they keep the lights low so you can see out (rather than seeing your reflection). The dim lighting makes for a very romantic setting, with the lights of the city outside. It's a 360 view. The part that faces the Bay is where people hang out. If you go to the other side, you will have the city view and possibly the whole area to yourself. The bar on that side may not be open, so get your drinks on the busy side and carry them over to the secluded part and you should have a very romantic experience.

          I hope you are staying in a hotel room with a view!

          1. re: Bay Gelldawg

            Thanks for the info, I will have two nights in san francisco before going to Napa so I think one I will check out Waterbar and the other either Epic Roasthouse or a place like Gary Dank or La Folie.

            I probably will check out that Top of the Mark place for a quick drink one of those days also.

            I will be staying at Parc 55 Wyndham around Union Square.

            1. re: theFuj46

              Waterbar and Epic Roasthouse are neighboring restaurants, so I wouldn't do both in one trip for the sake of diversity. Waterbar is perfect for a lunch or afternoon of cocktails and raw seafood (it's a favorite for my mom and I to do drinks and oyters and waste a couple hours). If you sit outside on the patio you can watch people go rollerblading, biking, and walking past on the Embarcadero. Combine with a stroll to/from the Ferry Building, where you could have that drink at the Slanted Door if you're still keen,

              Restaurants with views in SF are pretty focused on the Embarcadero, in my opinion. There are also other great places that are more of a people watching view scattered around the city. La Mar is a peruvian restaurant on the Embarcadero that also has good water views, particularly if you sit outside. They have a decent cocktail list, obviously with a South American slant. Lots of seafood options.

              Boulevard is another good restaurant where a window seat could give impressive views. Not sure on their cocktails, though.

              1. re: selectiveomnivore

                The cocktails at Boulevard are *excellent*. They only do classics, but all their sour is hand squeezed. There are fun places nearby to start or end an evening, like the Starlight Room with its recent makeover.

                I would characterize Waterbar and roasthouse as good food, not great. Michelin has given stars to 21 restaurants in SF, Waterbar and Roasthouse weren't in the running. It is a restaurant with a view that is not one of the fisherman's wharf rip off joints.

                1. re: selectiveomnivore

                  the causas and desserts at la mar are great. ceviches are good too. they've also got a great-value happy hour menu in their lounge (but not a great view in the lounge.) would definitely be worth a stop if you're into popping into places. i'd choose this place over slanted door in a heartbeat. but probably neither are a traditional romantic honeymoon-like place.

                  mijita in the ferry building has a nice view from the tables outside, and good fish tacos. a nice cheap-eats place.

                  boulette's larder has great breakfast and great lunch, but is very, very expensive for what it is. (eg ~$20 for some scrambled eggs.)

                2. re: theFuj46

                  If either of you like chocolate, you MUST go to the cafe in Union Square (it's the only one that is actually in the park) and experience bliss. If you order hot chocolate you just get regular hot chocolate, but if you order Venetian hot chocolate, you get the thickest best hot chocolate you have ever had. I don't drink it, I use a spoon! It is heaven.

                  I would recommend getting it without whipped cream because it is best experienced while it is hot and the whipped cream cools it down too quickly.

                  1. re: Bay Gelldawg

                    The cafe in Union Square is Rulli. They have several locations, including one at SFO. Very traditional Italian stuff just like in Italy, such as the cornstarch-thickened hot chocolate.


                    1. re: Bay Gelldawg

                      i thought rulli had good hot chocolate, and a nice setting, worth a stop if you feel like some hot chocolate and are in the area.

                      best hot chocolate is probably outside boulette's larder or in richart, both in the ferry building, but i think both are only on weekends, maybe only on saturdays.

                      1. re: Dustin_E

                        Just so's no-one is mislead, you meant Recchiuti not Richart (which no longer has a retail location in SF).

                        1. re: foodeye

                          thanks! lol, for years i actually thought they were the same, and was always confused as to why their in-store selection and website collection were so different! :-)

                      2. re: Bay Gelldawg

                        if you're looking for a decent place to rest near union square, i think the bar at compton place does a nice cheese plate with fresh walnut bread and fruit for ~$20. i preferred this to the cheese course at gary danko.

                      3. re: theFuj46

                        Had the gumbo at the bar at Waterbar last night. It's really cold here right now and raw seafood didn't appeal. The gumbo was great, the bar cozy, and the view of the bridge lovely.

                        1. re: Glencora

                          is there even any view at night? I know its pitch black around 6pm here in the east bay. I figured theres pretty much no view after 6 at waterbar.

                          1. re: theFuj46

                            Oh yes, it's right by the Bay Bridge which is outlined in lights. And there's enough glow to see the small waves on the bay and Treasure Island beyond -- plus the lights in the East Bay.

                            1. re: Glencora

                              They have a live cam that can give a general idea of the lights even though the picture quality is absolutely horrible and won't do justice to the views.

                  2. A friend just told me about a place called Crustacean, where is this restaurant located and how does it rank?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: theFuj46

                      Crustacean is not a place for newlyweds and isn't in the best part of town and also would not be easy to get to from Union Square. Skip it. I would say go to Waterbar for dinner your first night and Gary Danko for the second night.

                      During the day, take a cab to Coit Tower and then walk down the Filbert steps. There are wild parrots and the steps are wooden and go past gardens and cute homes. It is an "only in San Francisco" experience. The parallel Greenwich steps are similar. When you get to the bottom, you can go to Il Fornio in Levi Plaza for coffee or lunch and then walk down to Market Street and back to Union Square (or take the subway for two rides).

                      The tower itself has murals of the history of California. If you can see the view from the parking lot, there isn't much point in going to the top of the tower itself.

                      For breakfast, Mama's on Washington Square is wonderful, but get there when they first open if you can. No offense to the other poster, but Sears is a tourist trap. Lori's diner is nothing special and I thought it closed or is closing.

                      Be sure to walk through the food shops in the Ferry Building some morning or afternoon. You could probably find a place to get great coffee and pastry for breakfast there, and it would be and easy and pleasant walk from your hotel. If you want to ride a cable car, ride the California line (get on at Market Street at Davis). The line is much much shorter than the one at the better known Powell & Market turnaround and it takes you to Nob Hill.

                      1. re: Bay Gelldawg

                        Sorry dawg, Thought my lead in, it's just breakfast, was enough of a qualifier. Apparently my mistake. By the way...there is more than one Lori's near Parc 55

                        1. re: theFuj46

                          crustacean definitely is not a typical place for newlyweds, (they give you little plastic bibs before the meal) but it has a fun, nice, vietnamese-styled interior. service is decent, not great, not terrible. feels a little bit run down. but i think their crab is good, but probably not worth doing for such a short visit. and i'd choose a michael mina lobster pot pie over this. but this place is also near harris', so a crab from here could also be combined with a steak from harris' lounge -- but considering the style, this probably better matches the house of prime rib. crab and garlic noodles are ~$50 all in.

                          but i'd generally agree -- skip it.

                        2. My wife and I generally come to the city 3 to 4 times a year for Giants games or theatre. We have stayed at Parc 55 on occasion and have been to both Epic Roasthouse and Waterbar. You can take the Muni (inbound) from the Powell station and get off right in front of both restaurants. The bar at Epic Roasthouse has nice views of the Bay Bridge especially if you can grab a table on the water side. It's an easy walk from Parc 55 to the Marriott and the views are great.

                          Recently had very nice dinners at Foreign Cinema and Chapeau! (both by taxi). You can also walk to Gitane or Belden Alley (NE of Union Square). The restaurants in Belden Alley are open for lunch and dinner. Wayfare Tavern is a little further, but you can take the Muni to the Embarcadero station and walk from there.

                          It's just breakfast but Sears, Lori's, and Cafe Mason are within walking distance of Parc 55.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: dillweed4

                            Excellent, glad to hear from someone that has also stayed at the Parc 55. It has good reviews online but in most guidebooks like Formmers and others, there was no mention of Parc 55, so I'm hoping its a good hotel.

                            1. re: theFuj46

                              We stay near Union Square twice a year and breakfast is a bit tricky thereabouts. 8 blocks from your hotel is Canteen which would be a nice choice for breakfast/brunch if you are there on a Sunday. One of the few places I really like for a sweet breakfast, and there are always interesting savoury options. The booths are cozy for two people and you can book on Open Table till 10 am now I believe. Not the most salutary walk but not bad in the a.m.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                We will be leaving for Napa on friday after lunch, so we won't get a chance to have brunch there.

                                I am pretty sure I will do Waterbar one night, the other night I am thinking of doing a steakhouse rather than Gary Danko and such restaurants. Whats everyone think about that?

                                1. re: theFuj46

                                  I hang around this board a lot and though there are certainly steakhouses in SF and they have their fans, it seems like they are not super representative of the area if that matters to you. Also I get the impression that the ones that do get recommended are not in the romantic category which you seem to be after.

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    A romantic setting would be nice, but at the end of the day me and my soon to be wife, really only care about the food. Thats why after researching it seems like Waterbar is a lock for one night, the other night is either a Gary Danko or La Folie type of place OR a steakhouse to balance out the fish from Waterbar. I would be interested in a more non traditional steakhouse since they have Mortons and Ruth Chris everywhere in the country. Possibly something like a BLT Steakhouse, where they serve more unique cuts of meat like skirts and flank.

                                    1. re: theFuj46

                                      Take a look at Alfred's. I have never eaten there, but it is not a chain and others have raved about their creamed spinach and appetizers. Harris Ranch on Van Ness might be another option.

                                      1. re: theFuj46

                                        Check out Alexander's Steakhouse on Brannan ...

                                        1. re: theFuj46

                                          if you were crazy, you could go sit at the bar at la folie and share a 3-course meal, focusing mainly on foie gras (which is their strength anyway), then walk three blocks to harris' and sit in the lounge (which i strongly prefer to the main dining room anyway -- soft blue lighting and live jazz) and share one of their steaks.

                                          1. re: Dustin_E

                                            Thats actually a great idea. Would the bar at La Folie and the Lounge at harris be fairly easy to get into? What you suggested is EXACTLY the type of eating I usually do. As you can see by all my different ideas, I am pretty finicky and can't ever decide on one place or one thing to eat. Although I do sometimes like to sit down and have a nice coursed out meal, I usually prefer drinking and just having some random good dishes.

                                            1. re: theFuj46

                                              nice, i like this type of eating too :-)

                                              La Folie lounge might be a little crowded, but if you're willing to arrive right when they open, or wait ~30 mins for a seat, you'll be fine.

                                              Harris' lounge is easy to get into -- and they take reservations if you're paranoid.

                                              And if two stops wasn't enough, and you wanted more seafood, you could start the evening / late afternoon with some seafood appetizers at swan's oyster depot, which is 6 blocks south of la folie on polk street. but on the other hand, that might just make you sick :-)

                                              Swan's for seafood, la folie for foie gras and maybe risotto, Harris' for steak or lamb. i've never done all three in a single evening... but maybe i'll try sometime.

                                              1. re: Dustin_E

                                                thanks for the great info. Now my plans are really starting to get into place. Even for me I think going to three places is a little to hectic. However, I am pretty sure I will do the La Folie and Harris combo. That seems to be exactly the type of thing I would do normally. I just gotta hope I don't get to drunk and happy at La Folie and Harris becomes an after thought.

                                                1. re: theFuj46

                                                  well, the harris' lounge is really great, even if just for a drink -- so if you do end up too drunk / full you still might stop by. but i do strongly prefer the meat at harris' to the red meat courses at la folie, though they are of course done in a very different style. so in terms of food, i'd say it is worth trying to do both.

                                                  1. re: Dustin_E

                                                    oh, also, the pepper steak in particular is a cut worth considering for this journey. it is a large cut, so it is perfect for sharing, and the spicy-cream sauce feels very french to me, so it might be nice to have after la folie. the colorado lamb chops also warrant consideration -- though they are a lot smaller, so if you're still quite hungry, i'd not recommend these.

                                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                                      Again Dustin_E, thank you. I would have gone for my go to rib eye. Now at least I can try something new with a little confidence. Any other apps or sides at Harris that you recommend? It seems you got similar taste and eat like I do, hopefully I can squeeze a few more gems out of you. :-D

                                                      1. re: theFuj46

                                                        i don't think any of the apps are particularly good at harris', which is why it makes sense to combine it with a couple foie gras dishes from la folie, or some seafood from swan's. the caesar salad is okay -- but i might try asking them to go light on the dressing, and include extra anchovies.

                                                        the sides at harris' are included -- so you only choose between baked potato and evening's potato (almost always scalloped) -- i always choose evenings potato. it is a little bit rich, but very good, and matches their steaks very well. Their creamed spinach in particular i found to be rich to the point of being inedible -- just gross. their (always included) evening vegetable -- usually snap peas -- is good.

                                                        the creme brulee and peanut-butter pie are very decent desserts. i really dislike their special baked alaska thing they recommend to people. i probably prefer a cup of rice pudding from loving cup down the street to any of these though -- but only if you feel like a walk.

                                                        regarding la folie, i'd probably avoid the menu items from the lounge menu, and order from the restaurant menu (especially their various foie gras dishes). i haven't tried many things in the lounge, but their gougheres in particular were just terrible and an embarrassment to that lounge -- i think wheat thins with cheese whiz compare favorably to these. and i think if a french lounge is going to do one dish well, it should be their gougheres.

                                                        so i'd say split a 3-course menu, get their foie gras soup, seared foie gras, and either their risotto or yet another foie gras course, then head off to harris' for some red meat. or, if you don't want that much foie gras, if you're in the lounge you can order these things item-by-item at ~$30 each.

                                                        i generally am not a huge fan of the seafood or red meat courses from la folie, because i felt that their preparations over-complicate and distract from what is a very delicious and precious ingredient in the first place -- e.g. chorizo and beans with their lamb, truffle (oil) ravioli with their lobster ... but i'm a dissenting voice against ~500 five-star yelp reviews, so take what i'm saying in proper context :-)

                                                        let me know if you have any other questions -- i live right up the hill from harris', which is why i'm familiar with most of their cuts :-)

                                                2. re: Dustin_E

                                                  "...harris' and sit in the lounge (which i strongly prefer to the main dining room anyway -- soft blue lighting and live jazz) and share one of their steaks.
                                                  Harris' lounge is easy to get into -- and they take reservations if you're paranoid."

                                                  Great tip even for local hounds, thanks.

                                              2. re: Dustin_E

                                                Great idea, Dustin. My husband and I met in San Francisco (we had both been living in the city for many years when we met, he's a bay area native, I lived there for 14 years before we moved to Asheville 4 years ago), and one of our favorite things to do when we were dating was to walk to several different restaurants and have a glass of wine and an appetizer or course at each. Wonderful way to explore and pace the evening. We still do that when we are back visiting the city. We also always go to House of Prime Rib (we call it House of Meat). Classic atmosphere and great prime rib, lots of memories there.

                                  2. i think the michael mina lobster pot pie is great, and has a nice, fun presentation. it costs ~$90, but is big enough for two to share. i've only had it at bourbon steak, but i think they serve the exact same version at the main michael mina restaurant, which is walkable from your hotel, and probably a nicer interior than bourbon steak (but i've only seen it from the outside.)

                                    you could do this for dinner, and have some snacks from waterbar for lunch. i'd suspect the view from waterbar is much nicer during the daytime anyway.