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Casual restaurant/lounge with good vegetarian food, drinks for bday gathering

A friend's birthday is next Wednesday, and I'm trying to choose a spot for our group. I'm looking for a spot that:

1) Is in San Francisco

2) Has good food, particularly some good veggie options (bday girl is vegetarian)

3) Has a lounge/bar area with casual seating, so people can come and go....probably there will be 8-15 people total, but not all necessarily at the same time. So looking less for a sit-down meal, and more for a place where people can order as they want to...good drinks (i.e. cocktails) would be a plus, but not 100% necessary

This friend really likes Nopa....if they had a lounge, then it would be perfect (but they don't). I was thinking maybe the Alembic could work too? But I haven't been there. Another idea is Jasper's near Union Square, but again, I haven't been there. Any other ideas that could fit the bill?

Dave MP

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Does Barbacco have tables or a lounge where you could just pop in? Or would we need to make a reservations. My impression was that it was the latter....

      1. re: Dave MP

        Oh, right, Barbacco started taking reservations.

    2. Alembic is small and doesn't seem to be a good fit for your fluid 8 to 15.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cynsa

        Okay, good to know. I think Jasper's might be in the lead at the moment. Has anyone been recently?

        I'd still love other ideas too

      2. B might work. It's usually not busy, probably due to the rooftop location. Good cocktails, good food.


        5 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Hmm, cool idea! Definitely an interesting option. Thanks!

          1. re: Dave MP


            if not B, then B44 has a paella Hortelana for the b'day gal
            or, 1300 on Fillmore
            or, Farmer Brown?

            Chambers Eat+Drink has Bar Bites and Sides for the birthday vegetarian

            1. re: Cynsa

              B44 has a full bar? That would probably work really well.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                perhaps not a full bar... "We’ll help you choose the perfect bottle of wine from our extensive Spanish list, or you can pick out your new favorite drink from our house specialty cocktail menu..." http://b44sf.com/

        2. I recommend it a lot, but it's because it serves these type of purposes. La Mar has plenty of seating and so can accommodate groups/flexible parties, has cocktails. ..the only thing that is iffy is how veggie friendly it is.

          1. Maybe Thirsty Bear though not sure how busy they will be next week due to DAT.

            Don't know about seating arrangement but heard food & atmosphere is good at Zero Zero.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ceekskat

              Zero Zero's a good fit except that the bar might be too full, similar to Nopa.

            2. I think the previously mentioned Farmer Brown could work atmosphere, food, and busy-ness, as mentioned in a previous post. The whole discussion of busy-ness seems key to me. This brings back an incident ~3 years ago--I met up with some friend for such a purpose at 15 Romolo, which seemed like a good option for good drinks, good snacks, and in and out to me based on a previous happy hour experience, but ended up being completely packed and annoying (though we found out it was Yelp drink week or something from some flyer, so I don't know if this is normal or timely) and moved on to Comstock Saloon, and the bar area was completely free, though I could imagine the situation reversed on any given day (though the overall quality/price of food at Comstock is likely always greater), though I don't really know, as I rarely to to North Beach, as I found it difficult to get to, even when I lived in the city.
              Also, in my experience, Barbacco and Zero Zero, while great, will almost definitely be too busy for you to feel comfortable with your plan.
              On a different note, I still haven't tried Broken Record, as the one weekend night I tried to stop by after picking up a friend from the airport and it was packed and neither of us are crowd people, but it seems like the type of place that might be good for this sort of thing.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ...tm...

                Funny you should mention Comstock, since that's another place we're thinking of....what do you mean about the quality/price ratio there? Is it higher prices and better food? Or higher prices and equivalent food to Farmer Brown.

                1. re: Dave MP

                  Re: Farmer Brown. It's a good choice, on paper, but I had some serious issues with the noise level. It was also a birthday dinner, we had a table for eight, but you could only converse with the person next to you. Really loud music and really loud, crowded bar. The server made several errors, probably could not hear what was being ordered.

                  It's centrally located, has adjacent parking and the prices were reasonable. Everybody seems to love their fried chicken. The current on-line menu (sample menu) doesn't list prices (so I don't know if they have increased) and only offers one vegetarian entree.

                  1. re: pamf

                    Yeah, I ate there in 2008. Here's my report, which I just re-read: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/500528 I feel similarly to pamf.

                    I don't think it's the best choice for this group, since it's dark and loud in there, and not super veggie friendly.

                  2. re: Dave MP

                    The food I've had at Comstock has been first-rate, but the menu's pretty carnivore-oriented.


                2. Just wanted to report back and say that we ended up at Comstock, although not all of us ended up eating there. We arrived during happy hour, and snacks were 2 for 1. The snacks I tried were all really good: olives were warmed; soft and sweet; corn fritters were hot and crispy and addictive - my biggest complaint was that there weren't enough!; bbq chips were also excellent: thick, homemade potato chips with a rich homemade Ranch dressing.

                  A few people enjoyed a soup with clams in it, which might have been a special? And cocktails were decent as well. Nice space, and I'd definitely return if I was looking for something in that neighborhood. It wasn't crowded during happy hour on a Wednesday.