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Where should I take my parents?

Dave MP May 31, 2012 12:11 PM

My parents have visited me in San Francisco before...

Feb 2009: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597445

Oct 2007: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/453544

Feb 2007: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/372556

And they're coming again in a few weeks. I'm trying to choose a "nicer" meal to have with them, and am looking for ideas. On previous visits, they LOVED Aziza, and thought Incanto was good (but not as good as Aziza).

Things that should be the focus: Good service, emphasis on local produce/products, ability to easily share dishes (small plates might be great), price range in the same vein as Incanto, Aziza, etc.

Things that should not be the focus: Seafood (so, even though I love La Ciccia, we probably won't go there), Wine (we probably won't drink much, if any), East Asian (we will probably be eating a lot of Chinese/Vietnamese/Burmese food during our other meals


I would be equally happy to eat in Oakland or San Francisco....Berkeley or Sausalito could potentially work too!

Some ideas that sounded intriguing, so thoughts would be appreciated:

Nopa - SF - I've been here before, but parents have not. I think they'd like it, but I'm not sure they'd be wowed.

Barlata - Oakland - The menu sounds good, but not sure how it compares in terms of ambiance and food quality to somewhere like Aziza?

Bocanova - Oakland - I know very little about this....

Barbacco - SF - Not sure if this would be the right scene for us (will probably be dining on a Saturday night)

SPQR - SF - A bit pricier than some other options? But maybe good?

Comal - Berkeley - ??? Does this place even belong on this list?

Anywhere else that comes to mind, particularly if it's Cal-Mediterranean, Cal-Italian, Cal-Spanish, etc., would be great.....La Ciccia would actually be perfect if there wasn't so much emphasis on wine and seafood.

Thanks in advance!
Dave MP

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  1. g
    goldangl95 RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 12:30 PM

    I would say not Barbacco, the atmosphere is like a very high end, bright cafeteria (to be clear this is not true of the food just the atmosphere). Loud and fun and casual.

    1. wolfe RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 12:31 PM

      Gather in Berkeley.
      I don't think Barlata has anything like the ambiance of Aziza.

      1 Reply
      1. re: wolfe
        wally RE: wolfe May 31, 2012 12:38 PM

        No, it doesn't.

      2. Civil Bear RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 12:36 PM

        State Bird Provisions sounds like the hot new place that might fit your bill:

        1. h
          hyperbowler RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 12:50 PM

          I love Barbacco, but it's squished enough, especially with the iPads on the table, that you should consider whether that would be an issue at all.

          If they're cool with the noisiness, Nopa sounds like a good idea, especially since there's no pork chop on the current menu to distract from smaller plates.

          Barlata serves very good tapas, but, at least what I've eaten there, isn't different from a higher quality tapas place you'd find in any other city. It certainly doesn't have that experimental feel you'd get from Aziza.

          If you can score a reservation, Statebird Provisions would fit the bill.

          If you're in the East Bay, Adesso might make a nice prelude to something else

          1. Ruth Lafler RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 12:52 PM


            I thought Bocanova was very good -- and it's excellent for sharing, since the portions are designed to be big enough to share. I'm not sure it's quite the atmosphere you're looking for, nor is the food cutting edge (you might try nearby Haven, though).

            Maybe A Cote?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              Caitlin McGrath RE: Ruth Lafler May 31, 2012 01:25 PM

              Last month, I had meals at both Bocanova and A Cote within the same week. A Cote definitely has the edge on atmosphere, food at both is very good, both are good for sharing, and both fit into the Cal-____ mold, but I don't think they probably satisfy the wow factor Dave MP is looking for. If wine or cocktails were an important part of the equation, A Cote would be a great rec, since its lists are so interesting.

            2. r
              rubadubgdub RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 12:59 PM

              If they thought Incanto was not that good, I don't think they'd be wowed by Nopa, Barlata, or Bocanova. These places offer nice variety for everyday dining but not enough for a single wow meal. I agree that State Bird might be just the ticket. I also quite enjoyed a couple of recent visits to Wexler's (weekends are slower due to FiDi location and much nicer IMO), which offers intriguing menu incorporating smoked flavors in most dishes but not BBQ per se. Ippuku also would be so nice.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rubadubgdub
                Dave MP RE: rubadubgdub May 31, 2012 02:23 PM

                Hmm, I just re-read my post about Incanto, which is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/453544

                I guess we did like Incanto quite a bit....it just wasn't the best meal of our lives. But my post says that my mom thought it was "her ideal restaurant ambiance" and that the salad and salumi were both fantastic.

              2. k
                katnat RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 01:02 PM

                Barlata has terrible service. Every time I've been there, I've either been ignored, rushed service and/or attitude. The food is ok but not good enough to overcome the service.

                1. Dave MP RE: Dave MP May 31, 2012 02:27 PM

                  I made a reservation for Bocanova, which I think might be good! Both State Bird Provisions and Nopa are pretty much booked and not available for the dates I want (although, granted, I didn't call either of them)

                  Thanks for the info on Barlata....sounds like we'll pass on that. A Cote could be a good choice too...so I'm thinking about that.

                  I suppose we could go back to Aziza...after all, our last meal there was in 2007!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Dave MP
                    rubadubgdub RE: Dave MP Jun 1, 2012 03:00 PM

                    I went to State Bird last night, 8p, about 1/3 of the tables and all of the counter were open. They filled up later on ~9-on. So if you're curious, it would be worth a call. It's an all small plates format. We had an interesting meal with some treats + some ok tastes.

                  2. nicedragonboy RE: Dave MP Jun 1, 2012 03:48 PM

                    Just had a great meal at Haven in Oakland. You could do the tasting menu together or just order off their menu. Either way, don't think you can go wrong.

                    The Tasting menu is probably one of the better deals I've had this year.

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