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Aug 29, 2013 12:32 PM

3 Nights in SF

Dear SF Hounds,

I am coming to San Fran for 3 nights in early Oct in conjunction with my 10 year wedding anniversary. So I am requesting your top “must dine” restaurants when visiting the area.

Any type of food is fine, I will probably do a mix of cuisines over the 3 nights.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you

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  1. Your post could literally get hundreds of responses, which probably wouldn't be much help to you.

    Answering just a few of these questions will help:
    Where are you coming from?
    Where are you staying?
    Will you have a car, or are you willing to take public transportation?
    What kind of foods are you interested in?
    Do you prefer cutting edge cuisine or more basic offerings?
    Is atmosphere important?
    Do you like to order wine or cocktails with dinner?
    What is your budget?

    And of course not referring to SF as San Fran may also get you more responses. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Civil Bear

      I do think that the threads that get the most responses are the ones with more specific questions in the title, like "I've done my research and need help deciding between A vs. B" or "I really want to find the best ________."

      Your questions about top 3 are literally asked almost every day. While we could cut and paste answers as some folks do, you should do a little work on your own first and search the board, read some reviews (SF Chronicle or Michelin guide for a start) or websites like

    2. Civil Bear, Sure:
      1.Coming from CT / NYC
      2.Hotel TBD, but probably on Bush street.
      3.Happy to cab it within 15min or so.
      4.Anything on the upscale end. Well known places, there are just too many to choose from when you google top restaurants in SF. Maybe something with a well know SF chef. Also there could be a local secret.
      5.Cutting edge and basic both work
      6.Yes we would like a nice atmosphere
      7. We order drinks at the bar to warm up and then wine with dinner.
      No real budget, but I don't want over the top expensive like Per Se in NYC.
      Got it on the SF.
      Thanks on all

      3 Replies
      1. re: InderB

        Inder B: If I didn't know better, I'd think I wrote that post myself. You've touched every single point that I also have when coming at the end of September.
        So here are my final choices after tearing my hair and rending my chest.
        First night: Rich Table
        Second night: Kokkari Estiatoria
        Third night: Perbacco
        Fourth night: Farallon
        Breakfasts near my Bush St. hotel: Cafe de la Presse
        Lunches open, with 1 dim sum at the ready.
        I might also mention that last year around the same time we tried Seven Hills (a small, kind of neighborhood Italian charmer with only maybe 10 tables or so) and it was a true winner. Highly recommended.
        Have fun perusing and choosing.
        Bon appetit!

        1. re: arepo

          I wouldn't say not to go to any of them except maybe Farallon, but as a group it's a kind of narrow slice of SF's restaurant scene.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I actually like Rich Table and think it deserves its incredible popularity, but just that difficulty of getting a table has made people's expectations unreasonably high. I really don't think Sarah and Evan Rich are trying to make a "destination" restaurant, instead a really good and somewhat casual local spot that will be around for a while (think Zuni's).

            But I agree with Robert that none of arepo's other choices would be remotely close to my top 5. Not that they are bad, just not representative of the best of what I think of, having lived in San Francisco for years.

      2. W42, I posted on here to cut through the long research. Why don't you tell me for top 5 restaurants in SF. And that will be enough. Your personal "must dine at". Thank you

        5 Replies
        1. re: InderB

          Some people have lists of favorite restaurants on their profile pages. Click my user name above this post to see mine.

          There are too many great restaurants of different kinds for me to imagine an overall top 5.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I may be out of line trying to speak for InderB but I suspect if you think about it another way, "If you had friends visiting from CT/NY area and they wanted you to take them out for 5 restaurant meals in SF where would you take them?". May be a question like this would work better for responses than top 5 restaurants request.

            1. re: Scott M

              The "top 5" list on my profile page has 21 places on it.

          2. re: InderB

            Sorry, like Robert, my map of places I recommend is close to 30, and that's just for the San Francisco portion (ie. not including the rest of the Bay Area or wine country).

            I'm not a vacation planner, so I don't have time to rewrite the same suggestions every day and I really think it would be a disservice to recommend a place when I have no idea whether it is the kind of thing you like. If I knew you, I might be able to give specific recommendations, but even your follow up response doesn't really narrow it down at all—the only place you've eliminated is Saison due to cost. If you really want to know particular recommendations, I've written them all out before several times on this board, so that's just a few extra clicks of work for you.

            Look, I do a lot of research when I plan food trips, but it doesn't have to be that hard. Even if I don't agree with all of it, try Eater's Top 38 for a start and see what strikes your fancy. After that, if you have any questions that haven't been asked before on this board, I'm sure lots of folks will be happy to help out.

            1. re: InderB

              I simply don't have a list like that. I customize it, always, depending on who is asking.

              Of the standard sites, Eater's coverage is very solid.




              There is no way in a scene as broad as SF to construct a single top 5 list, just like NYC or LA. Top 5 sushi joints, maybe. Top 5 restaurants, nope.

              Last time I counted, SF had more michelin stars than NYC with fewer 3 and 2 stars, and a lot more 1 stars. That makes it even tougher.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. Thank you to all so far. How about this to all of those that still are looking for more info from me:
                Can you please recommend 1 fantastic restaurant that I can go to on the actual night of my 10 year wedding anv. My wife is not into Asian and I we wouldn't eat Indian on a night like this. Any other type of food I am fine with.

                Thank you to all.

                13 Replies
                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Doesn't want over the top expensive like Per Se.

                    1. re: wally

                      Although this menu is a bit too sophisticated for my taste, this restaurant consistently gets good press and is definitely upscale.

                      1. re: arepo

                        My meal at Quince a couple of weeks ago was pretty forgettable. The amuses were inspired, but all the other courses were below what you could find in a cheap place in Emilia-Romagna or even less heralded regions of Italy.

                        Also, if you care about service on special occasions (I usually don't short of outright hostility) but the staff made a lot of mistakes—forgot to bring a desert course, another course was served to only 3 out of 4, mixed up drink orders or poured red wine in a half full glass of white etc.

                        Not liking Asian knocks out what would be my top 2 picks: Benu or Keiko Nob Hill.

                        What do you mean by Quince's restaurant is too "sophisticated"? Sorry for all the questions, but I'm struggling with what other place could be upscale but less sophisticated food.

                      2. re: wally

                        That was the top of thread request, not this one.

                        This request was simply where to go on a 10 year wedding anv, no asian no indian.

                    2. re: InderB

                      Which night of the week?

                      I'd suggest Acquerello but there was a recent report that sounded like they might be off their game.


                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        One thing I will say, despite the top reputation of Gary Danko's, we were very disappointed last year.
                        We chose it as our one upscale place that we were really looking forward to. We both found the place and mainly the service, pretentious.

                        1. re: arepo

                          Yeah, the two times I've been to Gary Danko's I thought it was a total waste of money. The food was bland and the staff acted as if they were a much better restaurant than they ever will be.

                          Sorry we couldn't warn you away from there. A quick search would have revealed that it gets a pretty bad rap. I would question your sources—Gary Danko's hasn't had a top reputation in almost 20 years and I think he lost his only michelin star for a bit a few years ago. He's still making lots of money, though (I live near his house).

                          1. re: W42

                            Gary Danko is always on Bauer's top 100 list, tied with Coi for #2 on Gayot's list, has a Michelin star, and always comes out on top in several Zagat categories, so it's reasonable to describe it as having a top reputation.

                            The usual talk here isn't that it's bad but that you can find places like it all over the world so why not go somewhere that's more only-in-SF?

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by "top", but I sort of had the OP's top 5 or place for a 10th wedding anniversary. Merely being 1 of 100 or 1 of 39 michelin 1-stars (not to mention the 2 and 3 stars that actually managed to hold onto them) didn't really come to mind. I admittedly don't consult Zagat and the fact that they misspelled San Francisco on the spine for 2013 seemed revealing, and Gayot doesn't seem to get much love (that could just be my sample bias). But honestly, Gary Danko's heyday was 1995-2000 when he was winning the Beard awards and before there was stiffer competition in this town.

                              1. re: W42

                                SF has15 Michelin one-star and four two-star, so that's a top 20. Michelin has a soft spot for restaurants that are stuck in the past, so long as its a Frenchy part of the past.

                      2. re: InderB

                        Fifth Floor, La Folie, maybe even Michael Mina ( I have heard good things since Ron Siegel took over the kitchen).

                        1. re: Scott M

                          Scott M: Based on your recommendations above, we have decided to cancel our Rich Table reservation and go instead to La Folie.
                          Local knowledge and a bit of Yelp thrown in, has twisted our arms.