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Dec 28, 2013 04:48 PM

Best restaurant bars with a view of the kitchen? [San Francisco]

I usually have dinner alone on my return visits to SF, and my idea of a perfect experience is the Friends and Family Meal at Bar Tartine I enjoyed a couple of weeks back. I sat on the barstool right next to the service station and watched the dishes being plated and dispatched as well as a good amount of cold kitchen prep. The bartenders were knowledgeable about the food and several of the cooks discussed them with me as they went out. To me, all this is as good as it gets.

So, what other spots offer a similar experience? (And I'm aware there are several threads here on SF single dining.) I stay in the Fisherman's Wharf/North Beach area so have a bias toward that area because I can walk.

P.S. No bias as to price, high or low. Counters in the TL are just fine.

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  1. Boulevard on lower Mission.


    1. AQ (in Soma, 7th/Mission) has a counter built around the kitchen - http://ww2.hdnux.com/photos/17/51/12/...

      The end of the bar at Commonwealth (18th/Mission) has a good view of the kitchen, but it's not built around it like AQ is.
      You can sort of get an idea of how it's laid out in this picture: http://www.foodhoe.com/wp-content/upl...

      Both are fantastic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: splonk

        Thanks for these pix.. extremely helpful. Knowing a restaurant has bar seating does not tell you whether the bar is near/in the kitchen.

      2. TBD, AQ's woodfired sister also has built in bar in front of the open cook area.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tjinsf

          I'll second AQ and TBD. I believe the chef's counter at AQ is first come first serve.

          I like sitting at the bar at Flour+ Water in the two seats closest to the pass, you can see dishes being expedited and into the kitchen. It's not as good of a view as AQ, but I love the food at F+W.

          I also like the chef's counter in then back of St. Vincent. Not the bar, but the seats near the pass.

        2. Original Joe's, sit at the counter.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Alan408

            I was at Westlake Joe's at the counter last night, watching everyone in the kitchen.

            Sadly their last night was tonight.

            1. re: calumin

              Their last night until the Duggans finish upgrading. If they do as good a job as they did with Original Joe's, it's nothing to cry about.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Well except there are people who have been working at Westlake Joes for 30 and 40 years. It is an institution. Apparently there's been no discussion of any of the current employees having jobs with the new owners. I hope it works out for them.

                1. re: calumin

                  They don't expect to reopen until next year.

                  1. re: calumin

                    I have to agree, they did a great job emulating an OJ's in North Beach. Everyone should be very excited they're going to breath new life into the Westlake location, while keeping all the signatures.

                    My understanding is the long time employees will have jobs, but most of them weren't there for 30 years, and don't even know what an Original Joe's was like in it's hey day.

              1. re: absc

                "Work fascinates me, I could watch it for hours." But seriously I second State Bird.(But I haven't been since the re-model.)