Totally Lost in Embarcadero with Co-Workers [San Francisco]
I am in town for a conference at the Hyatt Embarcadero next Mon-Thu. I have not been out at night alone for 2.5 years since my daughter was born and am beyond excited to eat a real meal.
Traveling with co-workers, so that complicates things a bit but would like to take the lead and find some dinner spots. I live on the East Coast in a small beach town, so would really like some good authentic ethnic foods that i can't get here. Has to be Asian one night, so Chinatown? Is my hotel in a very touristy area? Do we need to travel for restaurants and can we go without reservations?
Appreciate any heads-up on what this area is like.
You are staying in the Financial District area, so the area is quiet for dinner with a lot of expense account type places around.
There are a few places that are near you, but many do require at least some travel. Uber (the app) works really well in SF.
Yes - absolutely - reservations everywhere. It's really hard to eat casually in SF unless you are a solo or couple dinner that doesn't find waiting. With a co-worker group, you will absolutely need reservations.
I say this a lot but it's absolutely true - the Ferry Building is great for breakfast or lunch esp. during the farmer's market. It's right on the waterfront. Even if not during the market, many of the really good coffee, bakery, cheese, oyster vendors etc. are all inside.
For dinner, convenient-ish near you (but not necessarily walking distance):
R & G Lounge for Chinese
La Mar for Peruvian - Peruvian seafood centric
Perbacco for Italian ($$$)
Boulevard for CA/American safe cuisine ($$$)
Kin Khao for Thai (a little further than the rest). Not a typical Thai menu (e.g. no Pad thai)
Dosa on Fillmore for higher-end South Indian
Taqueria Cancun for tacos and burritos (very hole in the wall)
Limon Rotisserie - Peruvian Roast Chicken and Ceviche
Lolinda - Argentinian steak house
Korean and Vietnamese does exist in SF proper, but they are not in convenient and/or the easiest neighborhoods to get to.
Welcome to San Francisco! The Hyatt Embarcadero is not in a particularly touristy area. Although it is near the Ferry Building, the immediately surrounding area is the financial district, and it can be fairly dead at night. Fortunately, there are worthile restaurants within walking distance (Perbacco and its more casual sister Barbacco; the classic, old-school seafood house Tadich). When I worked a block from there I considered Chinatown walking distance and Jackson Square (Cotogna) and the fringes of North Beach (you may or may not, depending on what you consider walking distance and how comfortable you are walking city streets at night). In addition, there's a major public transportation hub right in front of the hotel (BART, Muni and cable cars), so you can get to other parts of the city in minutes.
Reservations are always advisable unless you're dining solo, and note that a lot of restaurants are closed on either Monday or Tuesday.
I think for "ethnic" you can go one of two ways: you can head over to the Ferry Building and check out Slanted Door (upscale modern Vietnamese). It's probably not what you think of when you think of "authentic ethnic" but a lot of people love it, especially East Coasters. The other option would be to walk (or cab) into Chinatown. Clustered together on Jackson Street are three good options: Great Eastern for Cantonese seafood, Z&Y for Sichuan and Bund Shanghai for Shanghainese. Lots of posts on this board about specific things to order.
I'd also suggest that one night you take BART into the Mission for Mexican and/or the most hip, happening restaurants in the city.
Near the hotel for lunch, Orale Orale is pretty good Mexican. Sai's is decent Vietnamese but maybe too far for a short lunch break. Both are relatively inexpensive for sitdown in that neighborhood. Osha Thai is decent and right next door. Yank Sing at Rincon Center is the best dim sum in the area and they take reservations.
Thai: the Larkin street branch of Lers Ros or House of Thai a couple of blocks away
Afghan: Helmand Palace
Indian seafood: Gajalee
Sardinian: La Ciccia
That Hyatt is on the edge of the financial district so there are mobs of people weekdays at lunchtime. The area is very touristy on weekends due to the Ferry Plaza and cable car, usually dead on weeknights but August is peak tourist season.
personally, I usually judge whether someone is a tourist by whether they are dressed in summer clothes or not, especially if they are sweaterless and/or their sweater is a local sweatshirt. Folks from Berkeley would never make the mistake of going into the City in the evening in shorts or a T. Of course, now that I live in the Central Valley I've sometimes been guilty of making this mistake myself....but then, I suppose I am now a tourist in my (former) home. And yes, I've seen an increase in tourists and (now that I sometimes need a place to stay) hotel prices the past year or so, presumably a sign of an improving economy...I'd agree that a group should make reservations.
pika, SF has changed incredibly since you were at Berkeley. When I moved there in '76, summer was 'high season.' Over the years it seems that every day is. And summer is just insane.
And, yes, Glencora, it's always been pretty easy to spot them in the summer. Lightweight clothes and then a sweatshirt they bought in one of those shops on Powell cause they didn't believe how cold it could be :)
re: Robert Lauriston
Couple more lunch ideas, if the weather is nice (i.e., you don't need a sit-down place, and can sit outside):
Buckhorn (Embarcadero 4) for burgers or steak sandwiches
Foccaccia (Sacramento between Drumm & Davis) has made-to order salads, or (my favorite) you can get 1/2 or 1/4 rotisserie chicken with two sides
Oasis (Drumm just off Sacramento) for gyros & such
Roka Akor (Japanese fusion/robata grill) is large enough that you could probably walk in without a reservation, even with a group (although reservations might not hurt). You can also eat in their downstairs lounge area. If you're on expense account, you might consider splurging for some Japanese A5+ wagyu beef. it's about 6 blocks from your hotel.