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Restaurant ideas in Hayes Valley

I'm looking for a decent mid-priced restaurant in Hayes Valley -- walking distance to Ballet/Symphony. I think I've identified all possibilities but perhaps I'm missing something. Want something less costly than Hayes Street Grill/Indigo/Absinthe. Don't care for the Boxing Room or Delle Stelle, and can't get into Zuni; we don't want sushi. I'm between Canto do Brasil and Mazzat -- a new place I haven't tried yet and it gets mixed reviews. Wondering if anyone has any other suggestions . . . I know I must sound picky but there really is slim pickins' unless you're looking at the high-end places -- thanks!

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  1. Not true about slim pickins! I have season tickets to the Symphony and my most frequent dining establishment is Arlequin Cafe. Their lamb burger is fabulous and the beet salad is exceptional. I love the fact that they have the garden area in the back and a wide beer selection.

    I would also recommend La Boulange for their large and affordable Nicoise salad, Hayes and Kebab for a mixed meze platter, or Supenkuchen for German food!

    Living in Napa, I so look forward to heading into the city for the Symphony just to be able to trawl through my favorite eateries in Hayes Valley!

    1 Reply
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Seconding Arlequin Cafe and the lamb burger. It's a bit of a hidden gem in the neighborhood and my go to place pre-event for a quick bite and a glass of wine. I also love Stelline (way more than Delle Stelle) for simple pastas done well and served quickly. Frjtz can hit the spot with a dinner salad or crepe with an order of Belgian fries. Suppenkuche is excellent but usually has a wait and is very loud.

    2. There's also Lers Ros, the Hayes Valley outpost of a popular Tenderloin Thai restaurant. They accept reservations, and on a Symphony or weekend night, you'd probably want one.

      1. Is Il Borgo (Fell & Laguna) in Hayes Valley? Good Bolognese sauce; love their lobster ravioli. Very friendly staff.

        3 Replies
          1. re: intomeat

            I haven't been in years but I once loved Il Borgo. Their homemade fettuccine with Bolognese, lasagnette, gnocchi...We did a Chowdown there like 6 years ago. Here's the link:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/43365

          2. What about nojo at Franklin and Linden? I've been intrigued by their menu, but haven't heard much about them. Japanese-style skewers among other small plates.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Spenbald

              We were unimpressed. I really wanted to like it, since it would be a great pre-Opera spot, but many dishes were undersalted or just bland. I haven't been to many of the often discussed Bay Area izakayas, but I can tell you that Ippuku in Berkeley is orders of magnitude better.

              1. re: Spenbald

                Nojo has some excellent dishes (chawanmushi to die for) but surprisingly their skewers don't do it for me. I think it's because they don't actually grill over charcoal. I've never put in the pre-event rotation however because they don't take reservations and there's usually a wait.

                1. re: rubadubgdub

                  I found the chawanmushi at Nojo watery, but maybe it was an off night. The chawanmushi at Izakaya Yuzuki is miles better and much more consistent in terms of texture.

                2. re: Spenbald

                  I've had very good food at Nojo. But the price is high, service is weird, and their reservations policy is problematic. Best for 1 or 2 sitting at the bar without a performance.

                3. Thanks very much, everyone. I should have mentioned that we are treating someone to a celebratory dinner, so some of the places mentioned won't work for one reason or another. I am a regular at Frjtz and Arlequin, but they don't have table service, and Nojo doesn't take reservations. I was interested in Lers Ros, but the review I read said it's the loudest restaurant in the city (and that's saying something), so figured that would be a bad choice. Same for Suppenkuche. Interesting re: Stelline -- I was there once many years ago -- not sure if it's worth trying again. Also wondering if anyone has tried Dobbs Ferry -- got a bad review. I still miss Breezy's, though the service was bad. And am still pining for Vicolo!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: annieoak

                    I've been served food at Stelline that should not have left the kitchen. I didn't have to say a word for my server to take it away and off the bill. Il Borgo is more modest but considerably better.

                    If you're willing to walk a few blocks, Bodega Bistro isn't far. I didn't think Lers Ros was that loud.

                    1. re: annieoak

                      How about Paxti's for pizza? I don't like deep dish so I've never been but others seem to like it.

                      1. re: rubadubgdub

                        If you're hungry and nearby, sure. But not for a special occasion dinner.

                      2. re: annieoak

                        I checked out Dobbs Ferry last night. We shared the mussels and bloody mary sea food cocktail. both were just okay.

                        The drinks are good, the space is nice, although it seems too "Franchise-y" for my taste (with very little work it would be an olive garden if you catch my drift).

                        As a long time hayes valley resident - if want good / great italian EL Borgo is the place. There nice folks, totally Italian - the food's great. I always get the bolgnese

                        1. re: annieoak

                          I stopped by Dobbs Ferry tonight as well, as I happened to be in the area. I thought it was okay -- perhaps nothing special, but not bad, either. I had the sweetbreads, then the zuppa di pesce. Nothing earth-shaking, but pleasant and tasty. I was satisfied. If I have any complaint, it's that I thought everything was a wee bit salty, but I have a very low tolerance for salt -- I don't even put it on my eggs.

                          I wouldn't recommend it as destination dining, certainly not if you're specifically looking for Italian food (I've never been to Il Borgo, so I cannot compare), but I could see myself going there from time to time if I lived in Hayes Valley.

                        2. are you counting bar jules as a high end place? because assuming your group isn't huge, that's really nice food and perfectly appropriate for a celebratory dinner. a bit farther than some of the other places you've mentioned, but certainly walking distance.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: possumspice

                            +1 for Bar Jules. Just had dinner there this past weekend before heading for the symphony and the meal was delicious. They will accept reservations for half the room so might work for you.

                          2. Went to Mazzat last night actually. A bit pricey compared to others serving similar cuisine in SF, but mostly quite good. Their baba ghanoush is the best I've tried in the Bay with the exception of Turkish Kitchen's. Next time I'm trying some of the more unusual eggplant mezes.