Restaurants in San Francisco?

Yeah, I know, it's like asking advice on restaurants in New York City, there's a gazillion wonderful ones. Nonetheless, I'll be in San Francisco in early December for a science conference, and am looking for a low-key, attractive place with fresh, innovative food, a good wine list and (and this is key, LOL) Guinness on tap. I eat just about anything except tripe and kidneys, but other members of the group are a bit more traditional (seafood, American, Italian, etc.) Thanks for any and all suggestions!

  • Posted by: wssmom
  • October 6, 2011


TheWimpyVegetarian October 13, 2011
Something like this is always so subjective, but my favorite low-key, innovative, fabulous food restaurants in San Francisco are Frances, Nopa, Quince and for something a little different Aziza. I honestly think Aziza is the best one in SF right now - it's Middle Eastern food and absolutely amazing from the apps to the dessert. If you can't get into Quince, Michael Tusk's wonderful restaurant, try his new very casual one: Cotogna. All fabulous. IMHO Slanted Door has gone tourist with the Ferry Building venue and massive dining area although the food is certainly good; it just starts to feel mass produced with the size of the place now. But the Ferry Building, in general, is a great place to spend some time.
wssmom October 7, 2011
I may have to extend my stay .....
healthierkitchen October 7, 2011
I think the reservation policy at Chez Panisse cafe is one month prior
boulangere October 7, 2011
Good to know that upstairs at CP now takes reservations; they didn't use to.
AntoniaJames October 7, 2011
BTW, thanks everyone for all the great suggestions. We don't eat out much, and have sort of lost touch with what's happening in SF and even in the East Bay. ;o)
AntoniaJames October 7, 2011
Great Chinese in SF, very casual but excellent, is Henry's Hunan, easy walking distance to MOMA and Moscone, tucked away between two tiny side streets. 1.5 blocks from The Palace. Get the onion cake and a Chinese beer to start, then at least one of the good Hunan specials with smoked meat. Country Style Veggies is my favorite dish. Great for groups, very friendly staff, soul-warming food that's well prepared, closed Sundays. ;o)
linzarella October 6, 2011
Oh, and forgot to mention - for Wood Tavern, Nopa, and Locanda, if you're going with more than two people and don't want to sit at the bar, and you want to get seated by December, NOW would probably be a great time to make reservations!
linzarella October 6, 2011
Ok, first a few responses to what's already been said: The upstairs Chez Panisse cafe does indeed accept reservations. But if you're going to the East Bay, I've found Wood Tavern to be more delicious and more exciting than Chez Panisse, which is certainly good, but also rests on its laurels a little bit. I've found both Oliveto and Slanted Door to be overrated, and I've heard a lot of people say the same.

As for my favorites: in San Francisco, I think Nopa and Locanda are as good as it gets. Nopa is just the epitome of California food, with everything fresh from local farms, charming waiters, great drinks, and a beautiful, hip, light-filled dining room. Locanda is a newcomer Roman restaurant in the mission district, and everything on the menu is fantastic, especially the pasta. And the meat. And the flatbread. And the dessert. I could go on.

For something a little more casual, and under the radar, Club Deluxe on Haight Street is a pizza and jazz club with a fantastic atmosphere and out of this world pizza. It rivals Ragazza, which is also delicious and worth a trip, but good luck getting a seat.
LLStone October 6, 2011
I'm also planning a weekend trip to SF, then on to Napa for our 25th anniversary for 4 days! I'm really glad to stumble upon these suggestions, and I can't wait to get to the farmer's market on Sat am! We have some reservations in Yountville, but none yet in SF. :) Lucky me on finding this timely post - heading to next.
boulangere October 6, 2011
Have a great time, and blow a kiss to the ocean for me!
wssmom October 6, 2011
These are all great suggestions! The Cafe at Chez Panisse and Bix look wonderful, and Slanted Door might be up everyone's alley!!!
boulangere October 6, 2011
Sorry, wssmom, the old place was the Washington SQUARE Bar and Grill. The new place is called the bottle cap, and appears to be but a pale vestige of the former great place to meet, greet, and eat. And drink. I'd still suggest the Café at Chez Panisse. It's a great experience.
boulangere October 6, 2011
Well you set some tough standards for one place to meet. I'd second the motion of the Café upstairs at Chez Panisse, but beware there are no reservations, so be at the door when it opens. The former WashBag (Washington Street Bar and Grill) has reopened under a new name that I can't recall, but I'll do some looking and see if I can post it for you because I'd bet my firstborn that they'll have Guiness on tap.
healthierkitchen October 6, 2011
Agree with Pierino about Slanted Door and Tadich Grill. Tadich is not innovative, it is exactly as it's been forever, but the atmosphere is really old time and appealing. We love the calamari steak. Zuni might be a good choice, probably a taxi ride from the general hotel area. If you can stay over a weekend, head to the Ferry Plaza Sat a.m. for the market. It is something to be seen and sampled! Proverbial kid in a candy shop and there's a stand in the building owned by Slanted Door called, maybe, "out the door" where you can buy some amazing pork buns, etc. to walk around with. Also, though it is not convenient, the Cafe at Chez Panisse is lovely and stands the test of time. Unlike the Restaurant downstairs, which is prix fixe, the Cafe has a regular menu. Not sure about the guinness though!
ChefJune October 6, 2011
Agreed: Slanted Door is awesome. I'm very partial to the very touristy Scoma's for Dungeness crab and chardonnay. I know..... ;)

Have always adored Zuni Cafe, as well. sorry I can't help you with the Guinness.
SKK October 6, 2011
Bix in Jackson Square Speak-easy kind of feel, jazz nightly, amazing food and great bar. Surely they would also have Guiness!

Also agree with pierno about Slanted Door.

And since SF is so close to Portland and Seattle, come north and let us northwest food 52 give you some recommendations here!
JessicaBakes October 6, 2011
Bar Tartine. Also, for lunch (no wine list, i don't think, but this is SERIOUSLY worth it), go to Tartine and get one of their almond sandwiches. It'll sound weird but it is out of this world. I have dreams about that sandwich.
pierino October 6, 2011
My favorite restaurant in San Francisco is on the other side of the bay, Oliveto on the Oakland/Berkeley border. Easy BART ride to Rockridge station and then it's just across the street.
Down in the Ferry Building I really like Slanted Door---modern Vietnamese. And up in Washington Square I like Iluna Basque. None of the above is likely to serve Guiness.
The oldest restaurant in San Francisco is Tadich in the financial district. Very old school and no reservations.
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