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Need help with a few meals---staying near Union Square

We are going to be in SF area for just 2 days. We love food and are from New Orleans. Need suggestions for restaurants near Union Square and surrounding area. Will take cabs at night and maybe public transportation during the day.

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  1. budget?
    cuisine likes / dislikes?
    any other well-known places you've tried in other big cities?

    i went to some well-known places in new orleans a few months ago, so have some idea what i think is better in sf, but would need to know a bit more about your tastes and what you're looking for.

    1. Italian is big right now in SF (experimental/new takes as well as uncovering rare (for americans) regional cuisine). Near Union Square is Perbacco (more formal) and Barbacco (casual).
      A cab ride away is Cotogna (bustling mid-priced)

      1. Claude Lane is a small side street near Union Square, you can choose from:

        Gitane, north African and Mediterranean influences and a great bar, stop in for a cocktail even if you don't decide to dine here
        http://www.gitanerestaurant.com/

        Cafe Claude, French bistro classics, but lightened up a little for California
        http://www.cafeclaude.com/index.html

        Claudine, a more casual spin-off of Cafe Claude. You won't need transportation it's an easy walk from Union Square.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pamf

          I would say, coming from New Orleans, you probably have access to plenty of restaurants like Cafe Claude and Claudine (French bistro type places).

          Gitane is unique, and cool atmosphere, though wasn't blown away by the food.

          1. re: goldangl95

            Yes I do have access to french bistro types restaurants. I do like the suggestions of Barbacco and Cotogna. We also like that they are casual. We are on vacation and would prefer not to dine at a formal restaurant. Again, we get that at home in New Orleans. Thanks for these and all suggestions.

        2. Canteen might fit the bill. It is small and casual with great food and near Union Square. You'd need a reservation. I like sitting at the bar and watching the kitchen.

          1. Well we have one more night in San Francisco. So far I have us going to Barbacco and Perbacco for dinner. I need one more restaurant. Thinking about Cotogna. Would that be too much Italian? Or are they all different in their own way?

            7 Replies
            1. re: south foodie

              Don't limit yourself to Union Square or to Italian. Try Luna Park in the Mission- fun moderate, good American food (don't miss the DIY s'mores with house made marshnmallows and graham crackers. Or, go try the Slanted Door Vietnamese at the Ferry Building - a little upscale but oh so worth it. Great views and you can stroll the Ferry Plaza Marketplace befor dinner. And, if you have not had Dim Sum, go to Yank Sing near the Ferry Building.For fine seafodd in a classic SF setting (oldest rest in SF) go to Tadich Grill on California near financial district. None of these are formal places.Or, take a ferry ride to Ttiburon and eat at Sam's with a drop dead view of SF. Enjoy.

              1. re: south foodie

                Barbacco, Perbacco, and Cotogna are all different. There's a little overlap in the salumi department at Barbacco and Perbacco but otherwise they're two very different restaurants. Cotogna's pizzas are among the best in the area. Italian food in SF is so great and varied that I don't think there's anything wrong with eating three meals.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I'm still thinking about the gnocchi I had for lunch at Cotogna two months later. And if there is a farrotto on the menu at Perbacco, get it! SF has an embarrassment of good Italian, indeed.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    I agree! and I would choose Cotogna over the other two, but not because i dislike the other two - they're all great. Cotogna just wowed, especially at its moderate prices.

                    i have to disagree with the recommendation for Luna Park above - it's very hit-and-miss, and even the good things aren't really noteworthy.

                    Range is very good. Canteen is great. I'm trying St. Vincent myself for the first time on Thurs., so I can't comment there....

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      went St Vincent last night - loved it, returning again in a couple weeks. don't know when the OP is coming to town, but if it's not this week, you won't be able to try their foie with farm fresh egg and bread - delicious! or any other foie in CA, for that matter....

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Walked to Barbacco from Hilton Union Square, about 20 minutes including getting led astray by my cell phone map app. Couldn't decide, and enjoyed both the "angry mussels" and orichette with kale and sausage. And Giants are 6-0!

                    I also really enjoyed the seafood risotto at Mocca on Maiden Lane today. Quick in and out, and got a seat, which I've never been able to do on a weekend, which is probably the reason I''ve looked but not eaten there over the years.

                  3. re: south foodie

                    There are lots of options in the Mission, as others have noted, that would fit the bill and allow you to mix things up. Range for one. St. Vincent for another. I like Perbacco, Barbacco and Cotogna, but would not want to eat at all three places in a row.

                  4. Colibri, near Union Square could be a great little lunch time sampling of Mexican food for you.

                    1. I've quite liked Flour and Water which is an easy cab ride away from Union Square. I've also liked Prospect but haven't been for awhile (I think the same chef is there but I know the pastry chef left).