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Jun 5, 2014 04:22 PM

Walking Trawl for Friday Night [San Francisco]

I haven't lived in the city for several years (Napa and Montara) so while I know of the best destination restaurants for my needs, I want to plan a Friday evening where a girlfriend and I can park and just walk and eat...

In the past, we headed towards downtown, eating nothing but Uni dishes at Anchor & Hope, Ame, and Fifth Floor.

We aren't married to eating at any one restaurant, but like the idea of walking around, noshing here and there... Where might the best enclave of good eats be at these days?

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  1. Valencia, but on a Friday evening a lot of places might be mobbed.

    1. This is a really tough question-- I take it you're looking for mid to high end stuff? One strategy would be to make an early reservation at one place that you expect to be mobbed, and then roam around once you finish some small plates there.

      This thread might be useful:

      Some ideas if you wanted to hit the Mission... parking at 6pm isn't too bad but gets progressively worse.

      It's been over a month, but Prubechu wasn't too busy when I last looked in on a Friday night and they have some a la carte items:

      Lolinda has a 6:30 reservation open for this Friday on Opentable and the small plates style would work for a trawl.

      You're probably gonna want something more exciting than this, but here's something that worked for me a few weeks back:
      Loqui taco pop-up : on Friday nights, one type of taco is served out the door next to Tartine bakery. Pretty good... the one I had was birria.

      Pizzeria delfina : takes 10-15 minutes for a takeout pizza, which you can eat while eating a Loqui taco. Or, you can put your name at Delfina restaurant for a bar seat while you wait for a Loqui Taco (I scrapped the pizza plan for this one)

      1. You can do a crawl (trawl?) along the Embarcadero: snacks and drinks are very good at Coqueta, La Mar, Hard Water, Waterbar, etc., and that is by-passing the other choices at the Ferry Building (Slanted Door's bar, Hog Island - now with full bar, Bouli Bar).

        4 Replies
        1. re: foodeye

          That would certainly be a pretty trawl. Are these places easy to get food at on a Friday?

          1. re: hyperbowler

            As I have jewelry deliveries at the Ferry Plaza this afternoon and a room at The Palace Hotel this evening, it looks as though this is the area we are going to concentrate in...

            I've been meaning to try Bouli Bar but we'll see how the crowd goes.

            I'll report back!

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Well, as it happened, we DID start the evening and Trou Normand as it was a few blocks from The Palace.

                Not having reservations, we stood at the bar for 15 or 20 minutes before seats opened up. Ironically, when we did sit down, it was right next to Chris Cosentino who was there, eating through the charcuterie menu! For cocktails, we shared an Algonquin (bourbon, lime, pineapple gum, vermouth) and a Demspey (gin, calvados, grenadine, absinthe). My friend -- who is opening a distillery -- was impressed at the alcohol-forward cocktails, mixologists, and giant, crystal-clear ice cubes. When we finally got seated, we had a small charcuterie plate (pork rillette, rabbit pâté, lonza, and coppa). We were impressed with the house-made butter but a little disappointed that the charcuterie plate did not come with any vinegar component (olive or cornichon). When we asked about it, they told us of the house-made pickles which we ordered. Nice and light, in a Japanese-sort-of-aesthetic. My friend had a second cocktail which I don't recall and - for my birthday - we were comped with a nice taster of Reserve Calvados by Lemorton. I think we would have stayed longer but for the acoustics; those high, concrete ceilings would benefit from some massive textile art to buffer the sound.

                Our next stop was The Cavalier. I adored the interior and we were easily able to sit at the bar upon entrance. Being a gin girl, I started with a White Lady (gin, creole shrub, egg white, lemon) and my friend had a Barrister (bourbon, vermouth, nardini amaro, yellow chartreuse). These were more interesting and complex cocktails for my palate. Small bites included the vadouvan-roasted Brussels sprouts, marrow-roasted oysters, and quail egg with crispy shallots. My friend had a second cocktail of Whiz Bang (scotch, cherry herring, vermouth, absinthe) while I had a complimentary Champagne (working the birthday!). I could have easily ordered a lot more from this menu, but we wanted to save room for our last stop...

                Next we hit TBD. Sadly, upon entering at 10:45, we were advised the kitchen was closing but we could still order dessert. I could have used a little more savory in my stomach, but this would suffice. Not having a full liquor license, we perused their "loophole" menu of cocktails. I ordered Jerez My Mind (vermouth, oloroso sherry and orange bitters) while our very nice bartender directed my friend towards some more interesting beers. She had one from The Bruery, "Sucre" Solera-aged old ale which I adored. For dessert, we shared the S'mores which was an interesting deconstruction of a chocolate and chicory pudding and torched, house-made marshmallow puffs. We were poured another, darker beer called Gigantic "Too Much Coffee Man" a dark saison from Portland.

                It was a really great evening with new tastes and as my husband is still working at The Palace today, my first thought was to bring him to Bix to taste their tartare and Sidecar. While out last night, I had was able to make reservations to take him back to Trou Normand this evening. Shelving both those ideas, I am going to cancel TN in preference to return to The Cavalier for a bigger meal this evening.

                As stated elsewhere in this thread, having just returned from Spain, my husband has developed a taste for aged Pedro Ximenez and I believe we'll be hitting TBD afterwards to taste their 1947 Toro Albalá as a nightcap.

                Thanks for all the guidance! My girlfriend did all the research for last evening and I was glad to have put myself in her hands. It was a brilliant -- if not a bit intoxicating -- evening.

          1. re: ernie in berkeley

            There's certainly a dense concentration of places around there. Cafe Claude, Claudette, Gitane, Gaspar, and Aquitaine are all within a block. Trou Normand's four blocks.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Wasn't there a place in the alley known for their moule frites, or several variations on the theme?

          2. Trawling for tapas in the FiDi:
            Admittedly, these places, while close in distance to each other, represent a wide diversity in quality and price.

            2 Replies
            1. re: flavorenhancer

              Ironically, Flavorenhancer, I was in Spain two weeks ago so I'm still riding a tapas high and not ready to bring it down to SF levels!

              (My new husband is going through such jambon withdrawals, he spent an hour researching the acquisition of a jambon leg for our pantry...) SERIOUSLY.

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                La Nebbia has the best Spanish ham I've had in this country, better than all but one or two of what I had there. Jamon Iberico de Bellota D.O. Guijuelo Marcos Salamanca.