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Jan 30, 2013 09:04 PM

Help with nice SF food and wine venues

It's been awhile since I've been to San Francisco. For a prospective visitor I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts/ rankings on the following destinations. My primary interest is in the quality of the food and wine pairings available at each as the cuisines all work. Also if you know something about their BYOB/corkage friendliness that would be very helpful:

Absinthe Brasserie
Bob's Steak and Chop House
Cafe des Amis
Epic Roasthouse
First Crush
Harris' Steakhouse
Il Fornaio
La Ciccia
Lark Creek Steak
McCormick and Kuletos
One Market
Twenty Five Lusk

If you could only pick 3 to 5 of the above to focus on which would they be? Ambiance is not a major factor one way or the other; I'm more concerned with food quality, consistency, wine list and BYOB options. Staying around UCSF MC but location not particularly important. Thanks in advance!

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  1. My favorites from your list - in order...
    - SPQR
    - Absinthe Brasserie
    - Cafe des Amis
    - La Ciccia

    Should be off your list completely:
    - Il Fornaio (chain)
    - Harris Steakhouse (over-priced)
    - McCormick & Kuleto's (really bad)
    - Matterhorn (total kitsch)
    - Crustacean (can't believe this place is still open)

    It looks like you are interested in some fish. Consider:
    - Anchor & Hope
    - Bar Crudo

    3 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      I thought there were some good reports about Crustacean recently? Personally I'd go to the original, Thanh Long.

      Forget about Bob's as well, that's a branch of a Texas chain and they don't dry-age their beef.

      Steak's not really an SF specialty, but if you're coming from somewhere where you can't get a good steak, I highly recommend Alfred's. Local, old-school, quality beef, aged in-house, grilled over mesquite.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I second the SPQR and Absinthe mentions above.

        How did you select these restaurants? They are majority chains or places that are not known for their food.

        On the beef front, boboquivari's is worth checking out. It's kitschy but the beef is of good quality and cooked well. Their winelist isn't the best but there's only $15 corkage.

        On the high end, Quince has an awesome sommelier and winelist and Cotogna the casual sister has a good wine list as well.

        St. Vincent's is building their reputation around their varied wine list. If you are up to new regions/new producers etc. it's definitely a place to try.

        1. re: goldangl95

          So amazingly helpful, thank you all. Hopefully this info will be of benefit to others also. While locally-owned is preferable, I'm fine with a chain if the chef in charge is very talented and on the premises. Thanks again!

    2. The most interesting wine lists I've seen in SF in the past year were at AQ, St. Vincent, and Bar Tartine. They have way too many interesting wines by the glass for me to think about corkage. St. Vincent will also pour a half-bottle of almost any bottle on their list.

      I haven't been yet, but the list at Keiko à Nob Hill is remarkable, lots of great old French stuff. Same except Italian for Acquerello, where I had one of the best wine pairings ever. La Ciccia also has a great Italian list with perhaps the best selection of Sardinian wines outside of Sardinia.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I agree with Robert's suggestions.. I also would suggest taking a look at Rich Table and Nopa.

        1. re: absc

          This is really useful and timely advice, thanks again!