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Help Needed: in San Francisco, specifics

Jack Flash Jul 21, 2013 10:02 PM

Hi all,

I'll be coming up from L.A. in a couple of months and need a few suggestions for some specific criteria. There will be two locals, a few of us up from L.A., and one from Guadalajara by way of Zurich. We'd like to find something that is very much San Francisco, with a heavy emphasis on local, farm-to-table cuisine. Equally important, though, is that we're able to actually have a conversation. Down in L.A., there are few places where one can actually be heard (at least for those of us not in our 20s) yet with a menu that pleases both the under-40 and over-40 set. We're family, and don't get to see each other very often (check out our geographic range and you'll understand), so being able to talk is important.

Yet equally important (or only slightly less important) is going somewhere that we'll know we're in SF.

Price: $40/PP (food only; or less, if that's possible).

In the city, as that's where we'll all be, basically without a car.

On a Saturday night in October.

Thanks so much!

  1. o
    od_sf Jul 23, 2013 09:22 AM

    I would recommend Local's Corner in the Mission.


    1. m
      mlutsky Jul 22, 2013 10:15 PM

      2nd on Outerlands.

      Chowhounds may balk but for a SF classic how about the Old Clam House. You'll need to take a taxi since its in an industrial area.

      I also recommend Local Mission Eatery.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mlutsky
        Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2013 08:39 AM

        The Old Clam House is in an historic building but that's the only thing classic about it. The same corporation that recently bought it and did a makeover owns several other places including the Franciscan, Crab House, Stinking Rose, and Calzone's. They all have the same executive chef.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          mlutsky Jul 23, 2013 09:27 AM

          As predicted, the Old Clam House gets dissed on Chowhound but I still like it.

          1. re: mlutsky
            Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2013 10:54 AM

            What's good there? From what I've heard that group's places all have a tendency to overcook the seafood.

      2. t
        tranewreck Jul 22, 2013 09:09 PM

        They can reconfigure tables for six
        Meets the over 40 under 40
        Can be a fun family ride on the N
        Not overbearing noise
        They are now taking reservations

        1. j
          Jack Flash Jul 22, 2013 10:46 AM

          Thanks already for the quick responses!

          Realizing that $40 may have been a bit of wishful thinking, let's say it was $50 pp for two courses (some don't eat dessert, others don't eat appetizer).

          The menu someone posted for St. Vincent sounded good, for example.

          Being able to have a conversation without shouting is more important than the price point.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Jack Flash
            Robert Lauriston Jul 22, 2013 02:19 PM

            AQ, Zuni, and Bar Jules would all work in that price range. AQ and Bar Jules have menus with prices online. Looking at my receipt from Zuni the other night its prices are similar to Bar Jules's. At AQ and Zuni, mention that you want a quieter table when reserving.


            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Ruth Lafler Jul 22, 2013 03:41 PM

              I don't know about Zuni, but on a Saturday night, I think even the quieter tables at AQ would be too noisy for this group.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Robert Lauriston Jul 22, 2013 03:48 PM

                I've been seated in the back when AQ was completely full and it didn't seem loud, didn't have to raise our voices.

                At Zuni, the back room upstairs over the kitchen is quiet.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Ruth Lafler Jul 22, 2013 04:08 PM

                  This sounds like a group of at least six people, which requires more quiet than two or four.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Jack Flash Jul 23, 2013 12:42 PM

                    Five or six people.

          2. Ruth Lafler Jul 22, 2013 09:40 AM

            I think all the "name" SF restaurants would be out, based on your price and noise level criteria.

            I'm thinking something like "The Richmond" might fit your criteria.

            1. b
              BAnders Jul 22, 2013 09:21 AM

              Heirloom Cafe might work. Foreign Cinema can be a good option in terms of being able to hear if you sit outside, but probably is over your budget.

              1. Robert Lauriston Jul 22, 2013 08:30 AM

                St. Vincent:


                2 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  absc Jul 22, 2013 08:49 AM

                  I like all of your choices (and Zuni was my first thought) but 40/pp or less is hard at all of them. Maybe if they are interested in either appetizers or sweets and not both?

                  if Slow Club were not so loud, I'd suggest there, but years later my mother still complains about the noise.

                  1. re: absc
                    Robert Lauriston Jul 22, 2013 09:09 AM

                    You're right, $40 sounded like a lot but an appetizer and main course at AQ, Bar Jules, or Zuni would put you over that.

                    Farm to table + not noisy + know you're in SF + under $40 is tough. Pauline's Pizza?

                2. hill food Jul 21, 2013 10:23 PM

                  outside on a picnic table at Suppenkuche

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: hill food
                    Frosty Melon Jul 22, 2013 09:10 AM

                    Do you mean Biergarten? Do they serve full meals or just snacks?

                    1. re: hill food
                      hyperbowler Jul 22, 2013 11:49 AM

                      I think you'd be referring to : biergartensf.com/

                      I've been wanting to get to Biergarten for a while, but I'll note that their indoor restaurant Suppenkuche is one of, if not the, loudest place(s) in SF and the food, though great, isn't particularly emblematic of SF. See this recent post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910224

                      Zuni would be my best suggestion foodwise. Foreign Cinema is lots of fun, but the food less exciting. I've never felt rushed to get out of either place, so great for family.

                      FYI, I tried doing a search on sfgate for restaurants fulfilling the criteria (California cuisine, 1-3 star sound level, and price). After eliminating places that are too pricey, nothing came up that I've both been to and would recommend. "The Richmond," recommended by Ruth below, is on there. The sound requirement mixed with farm-to-table is a tough one. Most farm-to-table places in SF are pretty loud given their aesthetic.

                      Someone with a properly calibrated sound meter needs to survey SF's restaurants and report the dB level...

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