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Inexpensive near Union Square with difficult people

Oh help. I know someone here knows "just the spot." Several relatives are visiting soon and I have to find a place for a Sunday dinner for either 5 or 7 people. They are staying near Sutter @ Taylor. Taxi or car really not an option. Walking up or down too much of a hill gradient is going to be an issue.

For an idea of the further problems, i.e., I mentioned to mom La Scene, where I recently had a lovely 3 course for $36. This will be too expensive for some (and it seemed like by at least $10). While she'd be happy at Tu Lan (albeit closed Sunday), or a similar place, some of the others either (1) won't eat in that sort of establishment because it isn't super clean looking, or (2) won't vary off the "if it is Asian, it has to be Chinese "beef and broccoli" type. So, must of the "loin's tastiness is pretty much OUT. Mexican or similar would probably work.

I am really beside myself - I don't want to eat at the Cheesecake factory, although 2 of the people would be in hog heaven there. Between the distance, food type, and price restrictions, I am hoping, just hoping that someone here knows of a tasty gem that I just can't think of right now. When mom said "so and so doesn't eat fish," I reassured her that at our price point, this wasn't going to be a problem.

Maybe even the other way down Sutter, toward Van Ness? (It is pretty flat that way, no?) Thanks for your help.

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  1. Scala's or Kuleto's? Not really inexpensive, but not too expensive either, menus on the safe side. Hope some locals can give you advice as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: curiousgeo

      If $36 for 3 courses is too much, you can see what I'm dealing with. Unfortunately, your recommendations are out, by a long shot.

    2. How about Lefty O'Doul's, hof-brau so they can pick whatever they want -- kinda raucous as I recall , maybe they'll get into the piano bar scene -- and it's right there on Geary.

      1. Oh, I feel your pain! How about the White HorseTavern?

        1. Try Sears Fine Food, the touristy breakfast pancake place that is now open for dinner (for a while). I have no idea what the dinner is like but it's in the right price range...pretty much diner fare but it's a nice enough place. Sorry, no tasty gems in that price range near USq.

          1. Pearl's Deluxe Burgers on Post is open till 9. Too informal to fit the bill? The only Mexican I can think of around there is Colibri, but it's likely too expensive for the crowd.

            I think Yemeni's Restaurant at Sutter and Larkin is excellent, hospitable, and not divey...but suspect your group will never go for it.

            1 Reply
              1. Fino on Post is a good option. I would also take a look at Restaurant Jean D'Arc in the Cornell Hotel on Bush, just off Powell.

                I believe they offer a 4-course prix fixe menu for under $30. The food is pretty good too!


                3 Replies
                1. re: DavidT

                  The Daily Grill in the Handlery Hotel on Geary is another option, although it is a chain operation.


                  1. re: DavidT

                    +1 on Daily Grill... it's like the Cheesecake Factory (broad American menu with something for everyone) but somewhat better (and they take reservations).

                    Otherwise maybe Fish & Farm or Jasper's Corner Tap -- both do modern, quality versions of American comfort food.

                  2. re: DavidT

                    The prix fixe at Jeanne D'Arc is $38.00.

                  3. I managed to have a reasonable lunch at The Cheese Cheesecake Factory on Good Friday. Not my 1st choice restaurant but the Firecracker Salmon appetizer with red cabbage slaw was tasty. Of course, the Long Island Iced Tea (also not my 1st choice) and reconnecting with good friends bore some responsibility.


                    SF prices can be a hard on out-of-towers. Sometimes I just have to "man up" and go with the group choice; being a fellow tourist with good folk usually ends well. Good luck with yours!

                    1. I used to live in that neighbourhood and you have a few options. Towards downtown, there's Cafe Mason - Mason at O Farrell. It's inexpensive Italian food, with a nice homely atmosphere but you would have to look it up to see if it suits.

                      In the other direction, walking towards Van Ness (you're right, it's pretty flat), hit Polk St. Modern Thai is gorgeous Thai food (that has varying degrees of how Asian you want your food). On Polk st. is Myconos also, cheaper than Santorini downtown but proper slow cooked Greek food in a real Taverna atmosphere.

                      Further up Polk St, towards California (but Polk is pretty flat along here also), is Bamboo Hunan & Mandarin - it's cookie cutter chinese food that fits the mould, but it's executed well, has a nice atmosphere and is extremely cheap. It's my favourite chinese in SF! Across the road is an Indian Restaurant also that's pretty good.

                      Polk st. is definitely cheaper than downtown, and often the food is better so maybe it would be better to just head in that direction.

                      1. Just noticed that La Scene is part of Opentable's 30% discount offer. Maybe that puts it in range for you.

                        1. Lefty O'Doul's sounds like the ticket..

                          1. I'd be very curious to know where you wound up going and how it worked out. Please let us know. Thanks.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: DavidT

                              Thanks, all. I think Lefty O'Doul's will likely be the outcome - this isn't for another month. The night before is tentatively at Commis, for 3 :)

                              1. re: lmnopm

                                Love the piano bar too...have fun with your 'difficult' people.