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Jul 13, 2013 12:30 AM

Great food for solo woman near Union Square [San Francisco]


I am travelling to San Francisco for a conference, and staying at the Grand Hyatt near Union Square.

I would rather go into a "sure thing" restaurant than walk into one that looks interesting - which I'm sure they almost all will.

I will have 2 dinners, and am ok taking a cable car from my hotel to a place, or walking, although I hear your hills can be brutal. I have a budget of $40 per dinner, including tax/tip/drink. I don't have to spend that much money, though - I just want to eat great food.

I do love Xiu Long Bao, but am a little concerned about going to get it alone... If I can get a group of people from the conference to go for Dim sum with me, I'd be okay with Yank Sing. But are there any places I can get great XLB where I can comfortably eat alone? I'm ok with a hole in the wall.

Thanks for any help you can give!

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  1. Sounds like it'll be worth it to have Chinese food for at least one of your meals, especially if you're visiting from somewhere that doesn't have as much.

    One place that comes to mind for xiao long bao is Bund Shanghai in Chinatown, which is walking distance from your hotel. I haven't been there in a long time. Anyone have a report on how it is these days? I do think you'd be totally fine eating there alone, or with a small group. But the latest report in this discussion is from 2011:

    For your other meal, there are tons of options. Any other particular cuisines or types of food you are looking to eat?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      We have good Chinese food where I'm from but no one makes XLB. Sadly.

      For the second meal... I'd say West Coast? Or maybe really good Italian. We only have one decent Italian place.

      Actually, I'd like to have some really great seafood. I'm more into refined flavours in a brasserie style than, say, huge portions or intimidatingly formal.

      I hope that makes sense...

      1. re: miss_bennet

        "Actually, I'd like to have some really great seafood. I'm more into refined flavours in a brasserie style than, say, huge portions or intimidatingly formal."

        Are you open to Mediterranean cuisine? There is a place about 1 mile from Union Square called Kokkari. They have among other things great seafood and you can eat at the bar alone and not feel uncomfortable. They also have a nice wine list and you can get in and out within your budget.

        1. re: Fowler

          I've never felt "uncomfortable" eating alone and don't feel obligated to sit at the bar, although that can give you someone to talk to if that's what you like.

          1. re: c oliver

            Thank you for letting us know that.

      2. re: Dave MP

        I ate at Bund Shanghai, by myself actually, in April and the XLB were as good as always. To OP, one order is easily eaten by one person. I also then ordered braised pork belly. Now THAT was too much for me. I ate some and carried the rest back to one of the front desk guys at the hotel. He and I had been talking about Chinese food. Unlike some Chinatown spots, it's quite attractive. From your hotel, it's an easy LEVEL :) walk. Just one block down to Grant and then enter the Chinatown gates. Walk down to Jackson, turn right and it's just a few storefronts down on the left.

      3. I've eaten alone at Yank Sing and it was fine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I just find when I eat dim sum along I get a little depressed cause I can only eat about two things before I'm full :)

        2. Fino is a small Italian place in the 500 block of Post Street, two blocks west of Union Square.

          Perbacco and its more casual offspring, Barbacco, are in the 200 block of California, perhaps a 12-15 minute walk from Union Square.

          You would be comfortable dining solo at any of the above.

          12 Replies
          1. re: DavidT

            Barbacco is a fun place to eat solo. I'm sure Perbacco is fine, but it's quite a bit more formal.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Perbacco's pretty casual if you eat at the bar.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                So which of the two (Barbacco/Perbacco) would you recommend for high teens low 20's?

                1. re: arepo

                  Barbacco. I don't know what measure of "formal" Robert is using, but Perbacco has a large financial district clientele, and the atmosphere is commensurate.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    But there are usually several people dressed casually.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I don't feel out of place at Perbacco's bar wearing developer casual (T-shirt, hoodie, wrinkled Dockers) and I'm not sure I've ever been the worst-dressed person there.

                      I'd dress a little better if I were eating in the dining room.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yes, but someone "high teens low 20's" as in the post I was responding to might feel out of place. It's just not a fun, hip hang-out for young people, no matter how they're dressed.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I took arepo's question to be about price, not age.

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        While Perbacco is more formal as a restaurant concept, it's not stuffy, especially not the bar. I go there all the time casually dressed and I've never felt uncomfortable or out of place. It's enough of a destination restaurant that there will be plenty of people there who are not Financial District suits. I don't think that "formal" should be a factor when deciding between Perbacco and Barbacco. Michael Mina would be a different story.

                      3. re: arepo

                        Barbacco's definitely the cheaper of the two.

                  2. re: DavidT

                    We haven't eaten at Fino in a few years but also loved it.

                  3. If you like Mussels then I'd like to suggest Plouf. It is in your price range and the ambiance is lovely. I have eaten there about three times on my own and have had a great time/meal. It's a short walk from where you are staying. I have also dined at Perbacco and cannot say enough about the food and service. Another suggestion is Kokkari. Their small plates/apps are generous. Last time I was there I saw a couple of solo diners in the bar area. It's on my list of places I'd like to return to.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                      Second the rec for Plouf. And Belden Alley is fun.

                    2. Very recent report on Bund Shanghai XLB. Sounds like they were pretty good: