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Solo Diner - Seeking SF Recos for Tuesday 4/24

Hi - I'm visiting town this week and will be alone.

Looking for recos for great atmosphere (eat at bar I imagine), great food, solid and deep selection of wines by glass.

Want something really interesting and high caliber food wise. I eat almost all cuisines. Last time I was out there tried A16 (loved it), and Piperade (great food, atmosphere for solo diner not as great).

Would appreciate any suggestions. Staying near Union Square, willing to hop a cab anywhere within the city.

Thank you very much!

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  1. Since you're up against a quick decision, you'll be using OpenTable. Most higher end places use opentable.

    This topic gets discussed a lot

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/786248
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/782910
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815796

    3 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow

      Can you book a single seat on Open Table? I thought it was two or more.

      1. re: budnball

        Nah, I've done it before. Maybe it depends on the restaurant, but OpenTable lets it happen.

        1. re: dunstable

          most restaurants (but not all) let you book as a single diner on opentable.

    2. Barbacco -- delicious food, huge counter, excellent list of wines by the glass/half glass/taste. A bit more casual than A16 or Piperade.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Second on Barbacco. Best fit for the stated requirements. Great selection of wines by the glass and the 3-oz. option means you can taste more.

        http://assets.dineactive.com/MENU/132...

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Third Barbacco. You may also want to check out Gitane.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            minus 1 on barbacco. I thought it was OK but I'd rather go to Gitane or Zero Zero.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Zero Zero's wine by the glass selection is not that exciting. Good pizza, but for that kind of menu I'd go to Cotogna.

          2. I love the new Claudine in the Financial District, not far from Union Square. Great place for lunch especially, love the salmon gravlax and avocado tartine. It's from the same Claude Lane folks as Gitane. And an excellent horseshoe bar in the front, perfect for solo diners.
            Also, Piccino in the Dogpatch are excellent for solo diners and lately I've enjoyed Local Mission Eatery, which is all communal tables. Any place in the Ferry Building would be great too!

            1. Absinthe in Hayes Valley is very nice for solo diners, especially the bar. I don't know as much about their wine list as cocktails, but they have a lot of half bottle options. Brasserie food may not be cutting edge but it's well executed.

              Wexler's would be my choice for something closer to your hotel. Concept is smoked everything but not BBQ per se. Limited but well edited food and wine list. Dining counter, financial district crowd.

              1. we eat at the cook's counter at SPQR when we go there and always enjoy it. they have an above average selection of wines by the glass (same owner as A16 with diverse regional Italian wines). Excellent house made pastas, fresh seasonal ingredients. On Fillmore in Pacific Heights.

                11 Replies
                1. re: moto

                  I'll second SPQR: good food, good wine. Barbacco is good, too but the mothership, Perbacco, has a bar with very good wines by the glass and a wider menu at a higher price point. All these places are worthy destinations.

                  1. re: steve h.

                    I would say the bar area in Perbacco was rather dead/low-key the one time I was there.

                    1. re: goldangl95

                      Food is very good, wine is very good. The place is in the FiDi and gets huge traffic. I'm talking Perbacco. Are we referencing the same place?

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Yes. We are. Our reservation to Barbacco was falling behind, so we went to Perbacco to wait because Perbacco has a full bar. I was there at 9 pm on a Friday, and it was quite dead. A few people at the bar, one woman reading her ipad in a booth.

                          1. re: steve h.

                            Didn't really have much there before the owner (I believe not sure) came over to usher us back over to Barbacco, so would say it wouldn't be fair for me to really comment on the total experience at Perbacco

                            As to Barbacco, I liked it. I definitely remember enjoying their wine list and the information provided on their ipads. The bar was full and bustling. I, frankly, found the food a little over scorched and salted, and like Flour + Water better for the food (I know I know I am alone on this board for my love of Flour + Water).

                            But it's a fun place (seated or at the bar), the wine list is awesome, and the food is very good. Meets OPs criteria on all fronts.

                            1. re: goldangl95

                              Deb and I have been going to Barbacco since it opened. We like it.

                              Sounds like you don't have much exposure to the mothership. Give it a try some time. It's pretty good.

                              1. re: steve h.

                                Yea it's definitely on the list to give a proper try.

                          2. re: goldangl95

                            I've traveled on business to SF many times as a single (although Steve and I go there regularly together). I find Perbacco during the week as a single is a great experience at the bar. Terrific food and wine and people actually talking with one another, having a great time. Highly recommended for a single diner.

                            1. re: debgh

                              Intriguing I wonder if it's more busy at the bar at Perbacco during the week due to its location, then on the weekend nights. Or whether I just went there on a uniquely low-key night.

                        1. re: goldangl95

                          Traffic at Perbacco's bar varies. Early in the evening it's sometimes so packed I wouldn't even think of going in. Later in the evening sometimes it's quiet. I had dinner there around 9pm last Monday and it was fairly full, maybe partly because Barbacco (where I had planned to go) was closed for a private event.

                    2. First of all, thanks for the recos. Having trouble deciding. Alot of energy for Barbacco, which looks good. Menu at SPQR looks very intriguing.

                      Also read some of the older posts that were linked. Having trouble deciding. Wish I had more than one night this trip.

                      What's the consensus on Michael Mina?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: masnole

                        Consensus: if you want to eat generic international class food, eat there. It's not particularly san francisco.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          OK. Thanks. I'm not a "trophy hunter" as it relates to "name" restaurants. Sounds like that's what I'd be doing at Mina....

                          Prefer to find great food, great experiences.

                      2. Maybe consider the lounge at La Folie. What you lose in wine by the glass options can perhaps be offset by the outstanding food.

                        Edited to add: I love the food at the restaurant proper but haven't eaten in the lounge.