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Oct 1, 2012 08:04 AM

Booking last 2 dinners in San Fran, Help needed...

Headed to SF and Sonoma in a few weeks and I'm behind on planning! We've been to SF and to Sonoma before so interested in trying some new spots. We're spending the 1st 2 nights at Hotel Healdsburg, dinner reservations @ Scopa and Bistro Ralph. Haven't planned the wineries yet..... Then we move to SF where we're staying at the Hotel Vitale for 2 nights. Looking for great seafood one night and then just a "fun" dinner...tapas, maybe? After all the wine of Sonoma, my guess is we'll be ready for some cocktails, too. (recs for bars/nightclubs?) We love great food and service but also an upbeat vibe is nice. Can't remember all the places we've eaten on prior trips but I know we've been to the Slanted Door, Farallon and First Crush. We're 2 couples in our 40's-50's and we'd like to keep our budget to ~ $75 each. Thanks so much!!

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  1. For your non-seafood night, take a look at Gitane. Cocktails, sexy atmosphere, food...Gitane is a great place to go with friends. We were there recently & loved the lamb tagine & the flank.

    1. Sadly, Sonoma is really lacking in a nightlife that includes cocktails... A lot of locals hang out at the Swiss Hotel but it is VERY old school. I've had fairly decent cocktails at The Ledsen, but it is far from a nightclub. I think the best would be Meritage - I like their cocktail list better than their wine list.

      1 Reply
      1. re: CarrieWas218

        While the town of Sonoma may be short on cocktails, Healdsburg is cocktail central especially if one is seeking fresh flavors from homegrown fruits, herbs in infusions. Here's my post from last summer which lays out several options at Spoonbar, BarnDiva, Medlock Ames Alexander Valley Bar, Mateo's Cocina Latina, Cyrus (soon to close), Bistro Ralph, etc.
        I'd add to that the wine-based cocktails at the newly opened Campo Fina too and the tequila bar at Agave.

      2. For your seafood dinner, I'd recommend Prospect. They also have great cocktails.

        1. Healdsburg cocktails - Spoonbar, also I believe in the evenings Medlock Ames has cocktails.

          1. I would recommend Aziza. If you order from their apps it will be like "small plates" and they are well known on here for having good cocktails.

            6 Replies
            1. re: TeacherFoodie

              The other couple we're traveling with called our concierge and made the following reservations;

              Friday night - La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
              Saturday night - Boulevard


              1. re: krumley

                These are standard places to recommend - they're conveniently near hotels, near a nice walking area - on/by the water. Neither I feel is particularly "of sf" or inspiring besides for the great views if you go early enough and luck out on the weather- but both places serve good food. I often recommend La Mar to large groups as they have a lot of room and serve cocktails.

                For seafood alternatives to La Mar there is Anchor and Hope or Bar Crudo. Bar Crudo is my favorite of the two but is not near union square/fidi. Neither serve cocktails.

                Instead of Boulevard, I second the Aziza idea (but again not near your hotel) other options would be Quince or La Folie (closer to your hotel but probably not walking).

                Things open up in the ultra fine dining restaurant level if you are willing to do a tasting menu.

                1. re: goldangl95

                  Boulevard is definitely more SF than either Quince or La Folie. When it opened in the early 90's, it was nice addition to the California cuisine scene of that time. Since then, with evolving food trends, it's kind of turned into an institution that is far from cutting-edge but with solid food. Plus it's right across the street from Vitale.

                  La Mar is also conveniently located if you feel like Peruvian food. It's not the best Peruvian food I've ever had, but not bad.

                  I went to Anchor & Hope a couple of days ago for the first time in a while and was reminded why I don't go there too often. In addition to the food being unremarkable and the lack of a full bar, the place uses anti-loitering chairs, and, perhaps more surprisingly, doesn't use check holders. So when the check came, it was this curled up roll of paper that ended up in a tiny puddle of spilled water getting soggy. When the credit card slips came, they, too, promptly curled up and fell to the floor. Unbelievable, given that a check holder shouldn't cost the restaurant more than a buck.

                  I, too, much prefer Bar Crudo where the quirks appear more genuine than at A&H, which is merely yet another concept in a budding restaurant empire. However, Bar Crudo is pretty far from the hotel.

                  For a seafood alternative that is walkable from the hotel, consider Waterbar. The food is quite decent (same chef/owner as Farallon) and the ambience is very nice. (Full bar, of course.)

                  1. re: nocharge

                    I guess Boulevard doesn't really remind me of the SF dining scene as it exists today - is probably a better way to express it.

                    While you may be right about La Folie, I think Quince is very representative of the great food scene in SF right now. The types of ingredients, cooking style, wine list. The "vibe" of the restaurant is representative of SF/California as well.

                    On the location note, I do believe convenience should factor in but picking two restaurants across the street-ish from where you are staying doesn't give much exposure to the culture of the city. If you have the time/energy, I'd say pick one restaurant that's near by (La Mar/Water Bar/Boulevard are all solid choices) and for the other one venture further out.

                    1. re: goldangl95

                      I would have to disagree about Quince, partly because of the Italian/French food, but primarily because of its stuffiness. It's definitely a notch or two stuffier than Boulevard and that kind of stuffiness doesn't remind me much of the current dining scene with its emphasis on more casual, midrange places. Cotogna would be a much better representative of what's currently going on.

                      1. re: nocharge

                        I'm not sure I understand the "stuffiness" thing you're talking about. Boulevard has been around awhile so it's no longer fresh to 'hounds but service is always friendly, food good and wine selection decent. The new Quince, in my book, is a home run. I like sitting at the bar. Stuffy? Not in the least. Cotogna is comfortable shoes for my wife and myself but the mothership, Quince, is a worthy destination, too.