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Inexpensive Private Dining - SF... or nearby

A good friend is coming back in town to propose to his girlfriend and is looking for a venue to hold a small (10-12 persons) engagement party. His initial specifications were: restaurant with a private dining room, great food (preferably Italian or steak), with a view, in SF proper... and range of $30-50pp (lower side of that scale preferred). Given those parameters, I told him how very skeptical I was that it could be done. So he's willing to budge on the view and the restaurant being in SF proper. Can anyone suggest a restaurant with a private dining area and great food on a Sunday evening in that price range? He's quickly running out of time to come up with something.

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  1. Alfred's has a $500 food + beverage minimum for their room that seats up to ten and you can order off the regular menu. The restaurant is closed Sundays but they do book private parties (though maybe not ones that small).


    1. How private is private? I've been to the Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley for a privateish party. There is an upstairs loft type area that can be reserved. Although there are people downstairs, it's relatively private. The food is pretty good and they have steak. No idea on price.
      Alioto's in Fisherman's Wharf has a private room. Personally have only been there for the private room with one of the owners kids, so can't vouch for their regular food. Again, no idea on price.

      1. Thanks for the replies so far. I'm also assuming Alfred's won't open for such a small group, but I'll pass on the info nonetheless. Mill Valley might also be a bit too far, since most people are going to be coming from the South Bay, so the limits would probably be SF, Peninsula, and perhaps Berkeley/parts of Oakland/Alameda. I'm thinking that although private dining room would be preferrable, private-ish area would work in a pinch. I'll also pass on the info about Alioto's.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kcchan

          If you are coming from the South Bay, you might want to consider La Costanera in Montara (between Half Moon Bay and Pacifica); they have an outdoor area right on the beach as well as a sunken lounge area with an ocean view. I've been eating here a lot lately and they aren't getting a big crowd on Sunday evenings so while not necessarily a private room, I'm sure they would be willing to sequester an area for a group of ten and there is a 95% chance you'd be alone.

        2. Try Left Bank in Menlo Park or Donato Enoteca in RWC...we frequent & enjoy both of these restaurants for casual, neighborhood meals. Food & service are solid and consistent. Went to a wine tasting function at Donato & they did a nice job with pizzas, cheese & house made(?) prosciutto.

          1. These are not high dining, but it sounds like you may be runing out of time, so I'll suggest a couple places that are inexpensive, have 'rooms in the back' that you may be able to take over, and that are open Sundays.
            Not fantastic but good enough that I go regularly...

            -- Sausage Factory (castro, italian)
            -- suppenkuche (hayes valley, german)

            1. How about a reception rather than seated dinner?

              1. Thanks again for all the feedback! Montara is a bit out of the way. I've sent along the other suggestions. Sausage Factory is an intriguing option. I've never been there; my friend (after realizing the impossibility of finding a place that meets all the originally given criteria) wondered if there was a place like Buca di Beppo, but better. Perhaps Sausage Factory fits the bil.

                I had also floated the idea of a cocktail reception previously, but he nixed he idea.

                3 Replies
                1. re: kcchan

                  Okay if you are considering Sausage Factory I need to make sure you understand what you are getting into.
                  The food is definitely inexpensive. It is tasty enough for a neighborhood place (I like their chicken parm) but a foodie could rip it to shreds if they were using michelin standards.
                  Part of the reason I go often is because they are just so darn easy. Always open when I want to go, comfortable space, nice neighborhood wait staff, almost never a line, etc. And they have several dishes that I like: chicken parm, their cold-cut anitpasto, manicotti, chicken cacciatore.

                  The decor is comfy old-style victorian castro. Booths, old photos and nicknacks on the walls, wallpaper with old victorian advertisements for snake oil and aspirin and garters and such.
                  The room in the back definitely feels like a room in the back. Long and short tables I'm sure they can rearrange as you like. You may find it comfy or you may find it horrifying. I *definitely* think you should check out the room first. I do believe it will provide a space for you to have a great time, but the space will provide the setting as opposed to doing the work of making the time great for you -- does that make any sense?

                  I *think* it will fit the bill if you are having a hard time.finding a venue. But pay them a visit before committing...

                  1. re: pauliface

                    Thanks so much, pauliface, for the caveats. Sausage Factory sounds like a great neighborhood place, like you suggest - I'll have to check it out sometime when I have a hankering for some old-school American-Italian comfort food. I'll be sure to pass them along and see what kind of vibe my friend wants. The decision isn't ultimately up to me. I'm just on a reconnaissance mission here.

                    1. re: kcchan

                      Stuck on SF is he? :). For something like Buca but better may be Frankie Johnnie & Luigi or Ristorante Don Giovanni in Mountain View. At least the latter is on Castro St. providing for some kind "destination".

                      He could try Nola's in Palo Alto which always seems festive though not Italian. Check their private dining menu.

                2. have you check the cost per head at Absinthe for their dining room and AQ's smaller space downstairs. both will probably be in the high end. Since it's a smaller party have you considered just doing a dinner in a semi-private area. Triptych in Soma also might be a place you want to look into.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tjinsf

                    I thought of AQ but the private room is $50 per person minimum plus $100 service.


                    Absinthe is more. http://www.absinthe.com/pdf/DinnerMen...

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Yes, he was really interested in AQ, but it was way out of the price range.

                  2. Gamine on Union St. has a private room and reportedly doesn't charge extra for it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Ah, good one. I saw the private room that's tucked in the back on the way to the rest room. I think there were about 8 people seated there. Might be snug for 12, but 10 could work. Certainly worth checking out. Here's a thread with reports on Gamine's food.

                    2. Another option, if the group likes Korean food...

                      I just ate at Seoul Garden last night. A closet favorite of mine. Korean food, they have my favorite pickles/banchan.

                      I noticed they do have a couple of private rooms, one smaller one larger.
                      Staff is very friendly and accomodating, and I bet you could arrange something nice in your price range.