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Only two days in SF for the first time! How to choose???

We're from Connecticut, going to San Francisco for the first time. It's part of a colleges-visiting trip, so we only have time for two dinners. We're staying in the Financial District but don't mind a stroll or taxi ride. I love tasting menus, but my husband gets tired and bored, although he's a good sport. My 16-yr old daughter loves good food and special places. Love the local/seasonal thing. Love sushi, seafood, just about all ethnic food, and anything New American/Californian etc. that's creative/unusual and of course, delicious. I guess we all just love great food!

Price-wise, maybe one place for a splurge (up to $100, maybe $150 per person) and one more moderately-priced place. So far, I'm considering Boulevard, Coi, Jadinere, Sons and Daughters, Nopa, rich table, AQ, State Bird Provisions and Slanted Door.

I'm sure there are plenty of places to consider that I don't know about. How can I possibly choose from so many fantastic-sounding places?? Please help! Any guidance appreciated, either feedback on my tentative list or other suggestions. Thank you so much!

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  1. AQ, definitely. More creative than Boulevard and Jardiniere, not as precious as Coi (which I think your husband would hate).

    Nopa I'm not sure it's worth going out of your way for on such a short trip. Slanted Door not for dinner, but maybe for lunch.

    What colleges are you visiting? There might be some good options in those neighborhoods as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      We land at 10:45 and see Berkeley in the afternoon. The next day is Saturday and we'll sight-see and dine at AQ. Then the next day we leave at 3 pm for Porland, OR to see Reed. I'll be looking for dining options there, too, but that's a discussion for another board... :)

    2. State Bird Provisions is a cool concept, food execution is variable, not worth a long wait on a short trip.

      I'd say AQ, Nopa or Rich Table from the list you picked. I wouldn't do Coi or Slanted Door.

      Cotogna, Flour & Water, Incanto or Locanda could be options as well - I really enjoy the Cal-Italian thing.

      1. I'd opt for State Bird, Nopa, Rich Table or Cotogna, as I am not as in love with AQ as many on this board.

        Ruth's query about the colleges you are visiting is a good one as there might be something nearby to give you a better sense of the neighborhood/s.

        1 Reply
        1. re: absc

          Since the OP's daughter is 16, I wonder if she might enjoy Canteen? I've always liked the diner-turned-upscale-dinner feel, and the recentish reno still managed to keep a fair bit of that. Plus the food is deffo New American/Californian.

        2. Honestly, you should choose by picking some of the favorites that you've mentioned. The more elusive "second tier" can be part of your next visit.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bbulkow

            Well, it's really a matter of finances. We can't afford the luxury, high-end places for every dinner. Plus the first night we'll be tired from the trip. (That wouldn't matter to me, actually, but I have to be mindful of my husband, who has less stamina for food than I do.) I am looking for casual, less expensive but still fanatastic places for that first night. Any thoughts? Thanks!

          2. Why not bring the prospect to someplace where a collich stoont could actually afford the tariff. I'd suggest Yuet Lee for dry fried chow fun (any variety) scrambled egg and "prawns" and salt and pepper squid. Real chowhound stuff. Oh yeah, some greens too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: little big al

              Because half the adult family likes tasting menus, and the student likes "good food and special places". Give the kid a few last hurrahs with the parent's dime, that would be my plan with only two dinners. Wouldn't send them to turtle tower.