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Oct 2, 2012 11:02 AM

Memorable Dinners During a Quick Trip to SF

Hi there –

Attending a conference with a co-worker in November.

We are staying by the Moscone Center and will be looking to book a dinner for Thursday and Friday nights. We’ll be limited by the hours of the conference and won’t have much free time unfortunately. We have both been to SF before but not in a few years.

I have been combing through the boards but am overwhelmed at trying to maximize these two nights in such a wonderful city.

Restaurants that have piqued my interest: Slanted Door, AQ, Bar Tartine and Canteen.

I am thinking Thursday night we may do dinner in SOMA/surrounds and Friday possibly head to a different neighborhood. We are open to any and all cuisines, looking to spend about ~$100-$120 max for two people with drinks. Ideally restaurant wouldn't be super noisy. Would be perfect if the restaurant location was near a few bars or pubs for after dinner drinks.

Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. Near Moscone that I enjoy:

    Zare at the Flytrap (Persian-influenced and well-loved by locals)
    Ame (stunning Asian-influenced and amazing crudo)
    Anchor & Hope (Probably the best seafood in the city - don't miss the sea urchin!)

    1. Slanted Door is VERY noisy when full, which it usually is.

      Sorry, I had listed Fifth Floor as it's quiet and the bar is excellent, but then I realized you were indicating $120/2 people not $120 each! For SF downtown that's, ummm....kind of a low budget.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jaiko

        Yeah - re-reading what Jaiko wrote, $100/$120 for two WITH drinks *is* pretty low for dinner. Canteen is probably your best bet in the price range, but only if you order their cheapest glass of wine.

        I'm a Slanted Door detractor and find their food a bit too sweet for my tastes and it is always very noisy.

        Zare at the FlyTrap might still work. I have certainly gotten out of there for $60ish.

        For totally old school and off-the-wall, there is Sam's Grill. I adore this place as it is definitely out-of-time retro but quiet, quality fish, and in your price range.

      2. AQ, definitely. It's just a couple of blocks up Mission. Might go a little over your price point, depending on how you order, but worth it, IMHO. Lively but not so noisy you can't have a conversation.

        1. We usually spend about that at Canteen with a bit of sharing and a glass of wine each.

          2 Replies
          1. re: grayelf

            Thank you all so much for the feedback! We will be on company dime during dinner, so will probably limit to 1 - 2 drinks and try to be a bit judicious otherwise but still want to enjoy great food!

            Any thoughts on non-SOMA dinner for Fri night? Same criteria would apply, looking to check out a great restaurant in a different neighborhood in central SF, maybe the Mission or North Beach? Hope this is not too vague.

            1. re: MeghanP

              I would say head to the Mission or Hayes Valley. Both are easy cab rides from downtown (5-10 mins) or you could take public trans (BART). In the Mission, Locanda, Pizzeria Delfina, Mission Chinese Food, Izakaya Yuzuki, Schmidt's all come to mind as places where you can order plates/food to share and have a great meal without the entree per person expense. In HV, Suppenkuche, Lers Ros, Nojo, Boxing Room, Rich Table (I haven't tried this place but I'm dying to) come to mind and offer good drinking venues nearby (Absinthe, Two Sisters, Smuggler's Cove).

          2. One last thought re Moscone Center: Bluestem Brasserie. I went for lunch and we liked it, but one of the two chefs left (as reported by the Chron's Inside Scoop on 10/03). My foodie brother from LA, who had dined with us at Aziza (and loved it), sent me this review he posted to Yelp on Bluestem. I'm not sure if it will quite fit your budget, but I'd agree with him that the charcuterie was amazingly good. Portions for us were on the light side except for the roast chicken, so it may depend on how many starters you order!

            His review:
            "Great charcuterie platter, with innovative pairings (like chorizo with mango chutney), and the special today was lardo with little marinated figs.

            Now it helps that I was with my friend (the undisputed champion of amnesty lawyers in the US) who happens to eat there weekly, for great reasons, to guide along the menu - but really, there isn't a non-great thing on the whole menu.

            In additon to the platter, we had generous servings of their seasonal butternut squash puree soup, which was lighter than most without the heavy dollops of creme fraiche to weigh down the really flavorful early fall golden veg, which was highlighted by the barest of nutmeg and cinnamon sprinkles.

            We also had a sous-vide chicken with pan-roasting finish accompanied by broccolini and their famously good brussels sprouts on the specials. The pulled lamb shoulder with tomatoes, cucumbers yogurt and mint pesto was an excellent take on a Greek favorite. And the steak sandwich didn't last but 15 minutes of solid devouring, because a near 12 ozs of super-tender happy beef goes that fast.

            The staff was thoroughly exhausted after the second straight week of giant conference attendance at the nearby Moscone Convention Center, but still refreshed and attentive."

            1 Reply
            1. re: jaiko

              I second the Aziza rec. amazing food.