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Midwest friend needs to be convinced that San Fran is a food destination!

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Hi Everyone,

I have a friend from the mid west who visited San Fran once and has a totally warped vision of the city. Out of crazy circumstances he only visited the Mission and Tenderloin and is now convinced the entire city either smells like piss or is covered in junkies. I would like to take him to some must try places that will win him over. His budget is not large so the cheaper the better I think. His food tastes are kind of conservative but he is starting to branch out a little. Let me know if you have any ideas for places that could change his mind.

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      1. San Francisco just might be the antidote to a modest/conservative palate.
        Sanddabs this time of year can be tasty, a Hangtown fry, too. Neither will break the bank. Tadich can do both pretty well (ask your waiter at the restaurant bar first). There are cheaper alternatives.

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          1. What type of "vibe" does your friend like? Off the top of my head, I would say Cotogna A-16, Baker & Banker and Frances are all in very nice neighborhoods - and have a number of conservative options (they are CA local sourced type places with a buzzing atmosphere - not steak houses from the 60s vibe places like Tadich to be clear Tadich is not a steak house). A-16 is in the best walking neighborhood of the ones I listed.

            8 Replies
            1. re: goldangl95

              Tadich has never been a steak house.
              It is, however, quite old (over 100 years in various locations), quite quirky and quite authentic. In short, a San Francisco institution.
              Martinis and oysters, at the restaurant bar, always work for me. The waiters are well-dressed, knowledgeable and willing to tell you what's tasty for lunch that day. There's no phoniness here. It's a serious FiDi stalwart with a serious FiDi luncheon following. Some of us like to keep the same waiter there like we do in New Orleans.

              1. re: goldangl95

                Unfortunately, his "vibe" is normally something like a Chili's or Applebees. I have had luck pushing him to some new places but places that even smell of "hip" are a hard sell.

                1. re: Dybno

                  When I hear they like Chili's or Applebees I suggest Park Chow, or similar. The prices are similar to those chains, the food is way better...and at worst you can get something edible. Anything more is probably futile.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Pier 23, at the bar, might work. Ideale up in North Beach has good food at a good price.
                    I like both places: Pier 23 for it's bar/live music vibe and Ideale for its modest Roman sensibilities and solid food.

                    1. re: steve h.

                      I've only eaten at Ideale once but loved it. We had a good sized party for a pre-wedding dinner for our daughter a few years ago. Great vibe and food.

                      Ooh, I just remembered La Trappe if OP's friend likes beer. At Washington Square.

                      http://latrappecafe.com/menu/

                    2. re: ML8000

                      I think Park Chow is a really good idea. Nothing scary about the menu or the place.

                      Just thought of Fino, two blocks up Post from Union Square. Pretty. Easy Italian menu. We used to eat there a lot when working and then later staying in the area.

                      http://finoristorante.com/

                    3. re: Dybno

                      I think that he might like Fog City Diner then. It's certainly
                      much better IMO than Applebees or Chili's.
                      Tadich was my favorite SF restaurant for years
                      and I still love the service, atmosphere, and martinis,
                      but the last couple of meals here were very
                      uneven food-wise.

                      1. re: jinet12

                        I've always found Tadich uneven. Sam's has a very similar menu and might be more consistent, slightly cheaper too. Some other old-school places:

                        Swan Oyster Depot if he likes seafood.

                        Capp's Corner (Italian)

                        Maybe Original Joe's, I haven't been there since it reopened in the new location.

                        Tommaso's for pizza (oldest pizzeria west of the Mississippi).

                        Tommy's Joynt (hofbrau)

                        Schroeder's