San Fran for 2 nights- Single diner dilemma
I am a NY hound heading to San Fran for 2 days/2 nights this summer by myself. Been searching the boards and doing my research as I'd like to have 2 fabulous dinners while I'm there. I would like to do one top-number tasting menu that doesnt exceed 125/150 (not including wine) and one a la carte great restaurant. As for that second restaurant i am leaning toward SPQR, Boulevard, Absinthe. As to the first restaurant, I made a reservation at Atelier Crenn but got the feeling it might not be the best place for a solo diner, who would prefer to sit at the bar.
Other restos I'm considering are Ame, Coi, Outerlands, Park Tavern and maybe Maven but I'm not sure. Ill probably steer clear of thai, chinese, japanese, indian.
Im not sure when I'll get back to san francisco so I want to make it count. I really appreciate all of your suggestions.
At that price point you can eat just about anywhere. Even Coi is only like $165 or something, although I didn't see a bar when I was there.
I've eaten at Maven twice, and I have a fairly low opinion of the food there. Amazing cocktails, though. Definitely not worthy of one of your two meals.
I don't know what your work schedule will be like, and I'm sure you'll get a million excellent recommendations for a la carte restos, but many of them have bars that fill up almost immediately, unless you get there when it opens, and unfortunately that includes SPQR. (although if I recall correctly, for some reason its sister restaurant A16 is less crowded). Nopa will probably come up a lot as a recommendation; that's another place that gets crowded immediately.
I'm going to stay out of the tasting menu discussion, but I wouldn't recommend Boulevard or Absinthe to someone visiting from NY -- not because they aren't good, but because they aren't particularly unique -- I'm guessing there are dozens of similar restaurants in Manhattan. Here's a thread with some ideas about how to make a NYer fall in love with SF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829482
While Atelier Crenn has no bar, i don't think you'd be uncomfortable sitting by yourself at a table for two - i saw someone doing that the night we went. the staff is very warm and attentive, and Chef Crenn makes it a point to come out and talk to the customers a few times during the meal. I loved Coi (by the way, unless they got rid of it during a remodel, they do have a bar), but Atelier outshines it by a very, very large margin. Gary Danko is a distant third, in my opinion.
For your other meal, I would check out Cotogna. Not a fan of Boulevard, and Absinthe can be good but not really a destination place for an out-of-town visitor, to me.
Sit at the bar at Gary Danko as others here suggested. It will be perfect for what you seek and a memorable meal. You won't be disappointed.