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goto "last minute" restaurants [San Francisco]

In the usual pattern, I've been asked to find a restaurant for 4 for Saturday (early or prime time).

As usual also, all the "hot spots" we tend to discuss here are full. Yes, I called them, not just OT search. Many have late-side tables (9:30 at Cotogna, for example).

Where do you go in these circumstances?

My answer, more and more, is Zare at Flytrap, where I now have a 6:30 reservation (which I can change), but ... I would love to hear the "secret neighborhood spots" other people choose.

[ In this particular case: + on good booze, - on fish, + on western-side of SF, price no issue ]

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  1. I hate to not have reservations honored and be forced to wait to eat, frequently stuffed into a corner of a crowded bar so as a rule I do not go to trendy/popular places on a Saturday (amateur) night. Instead I look for neighborhood "ethnic" restaurants that have excellent food & reasonable prices.

    1. Aquitaine has been slow on Saturday nights. Broad and deep southwestern French wine list with some standout values if you know how to spot them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Sweet looking spot, but looking for more of a dinner menu than a bistro menu.

      2. My "last minute" goto place has always been One Market. While it's not an absolute favorite when it comes to food, it's OK and they always seem to be able to squeeze you in on nights when every other restaurant is completely sold out.

        1. Wexler's in FiDi (I see openings on OT right now). Unusual food, good cocktails, easier pace on weekends.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rubadubgdub

            huh, wexler's. I had always crossed that off because "BBQ in SF????", but I see there's a nice catch of the day menu and some decent apps. Will keep that in mind for next time.

            1. re: bbulkow

              All of the food has a lightly smoked component but I wouldn't call it bbq. some notes: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8385...

          2. Aziza has late-ish availability (8:45), and Piperade has way early and later (5:30 & 8:30).
            Not sure if those are your style of dining, but both are good.