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Narrow down my choices considering mundane criteria

My husband and I will be vacationing in San Francisco with my parents for a week beginning 9/21...which is my father's 77th birthday. I'm going to subject him and my mother to the likes of Sotto Mer, Frascati, Off the Grid, and Lers Ros while we are there, but want to please him on his birthday...I wasn't expecting his birthday dinner to be so difficult! We will want to eat fairly early because of jet lag, but I want reservations definitely....unless you think we can get in at 5:30'ish without one. the atmosphere should be on the warm and cozy side, allowing for conversation (not a modern, open space that is loud). Not more than $35 per entree ideally. No need for crazy techniques. He likes ordinary solid food ~ steak, seafood, chops. I'm having some difficulty deciphering atmospheres. I have found Bix, Baker & Banker, or L'ardois Bistro. We are staying near Union Square and plan to take public transportation. Your suggestions/choice are greatly appreciated!

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  1. Baker & Banker fit your criteria. For rather casual atmosphere (but cozy and not loud) Canteen also works. For a little more formal - Perbacco.

    1. Sam's Grill, it's traditional San Francisco. Known for simple fresh seafood, but also does steaks and chops.

      Depending on your exact location and walking tolerances it is either walking distance or a short cab ride from Union Square.

      Ask for one of their private booths when you make a reservation.


        1. Had similar criteria (though parents more adventurous I think) with my P2s in SF at the same age. They loved Canteen, thought Perbacco was good but too loud (we sat upstairs). If you do choose Canteen, be sure to make a reservation ASAP.

          Bix was so dark when we went that they handed out flashlights to read the menu but that was a bit later (7:30) so maybe they turn the lights down? Also the food/drinks were just so so and quite expensive for what we got. Room is fun though with the faux Art Deco look and staircase.

          4 Replies
          1. re: grayelf

            Canteen's menu is inacessible to me. They will not be interested in duck, veal, or short ribs. San Francisco is a town of the unusual! Joyous for some......exhausting for me trying to plan! :) What were you able to order?

            1. re: mhcpita

              If you want really classic go to:

              Tadich Grill

              or maybe:
              Wayfare Tavern

              or a little further away (cabing)

              Sam's or
              House of Prime Rib

              There's always the cheesecake factory...

              1. re: goldangl95

                The food's hit or miss at Tadich, you can have a pretty dreadful meal if you order the wrong things, e.g. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/850791

                Similar but less so for Sam's.

              2. re: mhcpita

                Yeah, no Canteen for your dad's bday with those limitations. Robert's list below looks do-able. I'd be wary of Sam's or Tadich's for the stated reasons -- we've had nice meals at both but you have to follow pretty narrow guidelines, and of course there's the wait at Tadich also (Sam's takes reservations for dinner).

            2. If you can get in the front room at Kokkari, that might be a good option. It is comfortable and I have found it relatively easy to converse there with a group of four. I never have ordered these, but people have raved to me about the lamb chops.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BAnders

                I have searched out the menu - it looks like a wonderful spot with delicious food, but I'm afraid Chicken Solavki will deter my parents! I fear I'm searching for Applebees in a foodie paradise!

              2. Some good places for foodies who want to enjoy themselves while dining with people with deeply unadventurous taste:

                Epic Roasthouse
                Hayes Street Grill
                House of Prime Rib

                Maybe Original Joe's, I haven't been to the new location.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  he above are great options for what you are looking for.

                  You will not find an applebee's meal in this city.

                  I am a huge fan of Bix

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Here's my report on Epic, which would be my choice for this sort of thing:


                    The steaks are expensive but the other stuff is quite reasonable given the luxe surroundings and service.

                    Menu: http://www.epicroasthouse.com/pdf/men...

                  2. Town Hall...I can picture taking my parents here.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ceekskat

                      Town Hall can be incredibly noisy, though. I wouldn't take my elderly parents there.

                      I think Robert's suggestion of Epic Roasthouse is excellent.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        OP is dining fairly early so noise shouldn't be an issue in the dining room (they can ask to sit towards back, away from bar area).

                        Nothing wrong with Epic Roasthouse but some parents may be put off by the pricing even when not paying.

                    2. You can get that sort of protein-with-side dinner at just about every resto in San Francisco; there's no need to head specifically to a steakhouse. With only two or three exceptions, you're not going to get crazy Ferran Adria stuff happening anywhere. If anything I wish there were more of that sort of thing here.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: dunstable

                        That simple food is available doesn't stop some people from being uncomfortable because they find the menu weird.

                        1. re: dunstable

                          I have noticed, and I understand the uncomfortable-ness, with having to ask the waiter..what is this? what is that? how is that prepared? In a lot of SF restaurants that is the norm now (what with menu descriptions being a list of 3 obscure ingredients in another language in a row). I think it's great to open up people to new styles of foods and ingredients, and these menus invite that type of dialogue - but many find it too intimidating.