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Help a fellow procrastinator out... [San Francisco]

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Anniversary is coming up on Monday and I haven't done my homework. The plan is to go out to dinner after work in SF before heading home in Marin, so anything more formal than clean jeans and a sports shirt is out. That said, we would also like to go somewhere more upscale than our typical bargain-bite lunch spots.

So the criteria are:
Casual with great food.
Open Monday's and able to get a reso this late in the game.

Open Table shows the following open for 5:30
Perbacco - possibly too formal?
Barbacco - do they have individual tables for two?
Zero Zero - don't really want pizzas
Gitane - Chowhound reviews seem hit or miss
Cafe Claude - ?
Range - too cramped?

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  1. I'd go for Perbacco--don't think it's too formal--and it's delicious and maybe more special-feeling than some of the other options. Happy anniversary!

    1. I find Perbacco casually elegant. Some customers dress up, others are in developer casual.

      Barbacco has individual tables for two and could probably hold you one if you mentioned your anniversary when making your reservation.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Thanks. I find the price difference at Barbacco difficult to pass up. Or is the food at Perbacco that much more refined? Looking at just the large Sulami plates it is $18 vs $28.

        1. re: Civil Bear

          The food at Perbacco is more refined. Plus Barbacco is very casual, noisy, more of a bar atmosphere (including TVs). For an occasion like an anniversary I'd definitely go for Perbacco.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Unless something has changed at Perbacco it is one of the noisiest restaurants other than La Ciccia, but great food. Have never tried Barbacco

            1. re: stanbee

              I don't know what day you were there, but I had a business dinner there - upstairs - and the noise level was just fine. It wasn't quiet, and all participants had to speak clearly, but after the fact I don't remember it as loud - just good conversation.

              1. re: bbulkow

                upstairs is a lot quieter than downstairs.

          2. re: Civil Bear

            I personally much prefer Perbacco over Barbacco even though Barbacco is definitely very good value. For a special-occasion dinner, Perbacco is one of the best deals you can get if you are looking for high-quality food in a white-tablecloth setting with entrees in the $25-30 range.

            1. re: Civil Bear

              Some of Perbacco's food is more refined, but the salumi is shared with Barbacco. Perbacco's platter might be larger with more variety. Otherwise I think the menus speak for themselves.

              I haven't found Perbacco all that noisy. The side section of the dining room that's under the stairs is quietet.

              At Barbacco the seats are closer together, you might get seated at a communal table, and there are TVs with sports.

          3. From your list, I'd go with Perbacco. If you don't mind going farther from downtown, Delfina has an opening at 5:30, and Aziza has availability as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Rapini

              If they're heading home to Marin, Aziza isn't that far out of the way.

            2. I wouldn't discount Gitane. It changed chefs last year. I had a memorable meal there a few months ago. Recently I sent some friends who live in the North Bay there for an early dinner on their anniversary and they adored it. They had a late night flight to catch out of SFO and were concerned about being dressed too casually, but I told them not to worry. Gitane's a place where you can dress up or dress down. The atmosphere is quite romantic.

              I've been wanting to go on a Monday night because that's when they have more unusual dishes as specials. Some of the tables with bench seats might feel cramped, you'll want to inquire about this when you make a res. As with most places, the small plates were more interesting then the larger ones, and that's what I'll focus on next time.
              http://www.gitanerestaurant.com/

              1. +1 on Perbacco from that list

                My GF has a late-monday standing meeting so we've gone up and had dinner a couple of times on a monday. Would not recommend Bar Agricole.

                State Bird is that fun hotspot kind of way, and is NOT that expensive. If you're hanging around with your partner, the wait for opening is kind of fun, it is very informal ---

                Here's other elements for your possible list:
                Kokkari, NOPA, Quince, Aziza, FC, Hakkasan, Flour & Water, Commonwealth, Maverick, Skool

                Maybe that'll jog some thoughts of others...

                1 Reply
                1. re: bbulkow

                  State Bird, closed for renovations, alas....

                2. Range is super cramped and really pretty loud. Not romantic. Barbacco also pretty cramped and loud, at lunch anyway. Perbacco didn't strike me as romantic (bit corporate actually). We were at a fourtop on the mezzanine which was warm and loud. Food was good but not as good as Cotogna. This was a few years ago. Love the suggestion of Skool, especially if you can get a deuce by the windows...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: grayelf

                    range - cramped and loud
                    barbacco - cramped and loud
                    perbacco - not romantic, more corporate

                    i agree with all of these descriptions.

                    cafe claude is decent, i like sitting outside there.

                  2. I'd like to help you, but could I do it next month?

                    1. My visits to Gitane were both very good. One was as a friend of the restaurant so possibly atypical, but the other was not. Food was great, atmosphere kind of sexy, and I've been a big fan of their cocktail program for some time.

                      Barbacco is another good choice. It's not going to be quiet, but they put out a lot of great food. Very limited on 2 tops but at 5:30, I bet it could happen.

                      Another poster mentioned Maverick. More intimate and quiet than Barbacco. Nice more than romantic, but food is solid and wine is very thoughtful.

                      1. Some friends and I went to Cafe Claude a few months ago and loved it. Romantic also.

                        1. Thanks all. I ended up at Barbacco and really enjoyed it. Was able to reserve a private table for 2 and it wasn't all that noisy at 5:30. In fact I felt the diners next to us may have been eavesdropping! TV's were playing old Italian movies with the sound off and subtitles on.

                          Food was great and pretty much what we were looking for (higher end casual), however a couple of the dishes were a bit pedestrian and I was a bit disappointed that they only offered one house made pasta (lasagna). Service and suggested wine pairings were excellent, although the waiter "absolutely loved" every dish we asked about. Prices were very reasonable.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Civil Bear

                            Perbacco's great for house-made pasta. I think it's too labor-intensive for Barbacco's lower price point.