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From Toronto, looking for hot spots in SF

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Hi SF CHers! I'm from Toronto and visiting SF with a friend this weekend (Fri-Mon) and am curious as to what are the best, super-lively restaurants (no-reservation, 2-hour lineup places are totally fine).

Any cuisine, any price range, preferably in the city. They need not be "too cool" places. For example, if Chez Panisse had an upbeat vibe (and might have a table on short notice), please recommend it.

I've been to a few spots on previous trips - Fleur de Lys, Baker & Banker, Incanto, Michael Mina - but only B&B or Incanto *might* fit the bill.

I'll be checking out Mission Chinese one night, but would love your suggestions on other spots. Thanks very much!

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  1. Cotogna for sure. Maybe less so on Sunday when they do a prix-fixe.

    1. Second Cotogna (if that is inconvenient adequate substitutes could be Locanda or Flour + Water). Off the top of my head you could also try: State Bird Provisions, Nopa, Rich Table, and/or Frances.

      1. Barbacco, Cotogna, Upstairs at Chez Panisse (downstairs will put you to sleep), Zuni Cafe puts aside a third of their tables for walk-ins, meanwhile, you can graze in the bar, Ragazza, almost anywhere in the Mission will give you the wait you seek, especially on the weekend. For the ultimate wait and cram, Delfina. Great food, but you'll be sitting in someone's lap.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mr_morcilla

          Chez Panisse, although it's better than people say, is not worth a trip across the bay for excitement. Zuni is quite tired these days.

          Another publication has the following list of "now" places:
          Capo's
          Hakkasan
          MY China
          Saison (3.0)
          Rich Table
          Rickybobby
          Kronnerburger
          Hi Lo BBQ
          Lolina
          Trick Dog
          Ramen Shop

          Of these, MY China has been reported here, Lolinda, Rickybobby is from the Brocken Record people (highly regarded). Saison is out (needs res)

          I would put AQ and Bar Agricole and maybe NOPA on your list

          1. re: bbulkow

            I don't think MY China or Hakkasan belong on that list. They're new but from most reports the food's pretty disappointing.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Rickybobby seems like a fun, drunken affair featuring fast food with top notch technique. Love it. And CH reviews of Mission Chinese seem mixed to mediocre so I may drop that off. Have done Hakkasan in Miami and was not impressed (except for their insanely good steamed BBQ pork truffle buns).

              Got Bar Agricole for Sat evening. Menu seems from the same "family" as State Bird (both sounds great).

              AQ is booked all weekend but I've snagged a Sunday lunch reso.

              Sad about Saison - menu looks tremendous. Next time.

          2. For State Bird (menu looks most unique and exciting), their website indicates no availability for the next 60 days so I'm guessing some tables and/or the bar are reserved for walk-ins?

            If we're keen on Italian, seems like Cotogna, Locanda, or Delfina will fit the bill. For more modern American/French, Zuni, Rich Table, Frances or Nopa.

            Very helpful. Thanks all!

            1 Reply
            1. re: vidkid

              For State Bird - they do walkins - it used to be somewhat crazy (e.g. get there half an hour before it opens - will be seated sometime in the next 2 hours). Not sure if the wait is better now, but it sounds like you'd be up for that kind of wait anyway =).

              Of all your choices, for me Zuni is the most pedantic. They do a well executed roast chicken, and have a nice selection of oysters - but it's not a step above - and doesn't convey a neighborhood feel. On the other hand, it is an SF institution.

            2. As i am NOT a big fan of going anywhere that i need to wait in line, and SF residents love reserving tables,i don't have a lot of experienc or patience, but if i did, i would start at 16th and Valencia and start heading south, you will have the folllowing restaurants all within a 4 block radius of you:

              Locanda
              Abbot's Cellar
              West of Pecos
              Maverick
              Limon
              The Sycamore
              Wo Hing General Store
              Bar Tartine
              Hog and Rocks
              Hi Lo bbq (new and lots of excitement on this board about it)
              Tacolicious

              also in this vicinity you will find Range, Commonwealth, Delfina (all of these are slightly more upscale and would probably need reservations, but are highly regarded)

              While i can't vouch for all of these, i can say, that you will be in the center of the hot spot action with lots of booze, hipsters, good food and partying people. You can pretty much drink and snack hop at your whim as most of these places have bars, bar snacks, and specialty cocktails. Sounds like a fun night.

              1. Hey Videkid! So in the end, where did you go? I'm also from Toronto, going to SF for a few days when I visit family in LA