date restaurants in san francisco?
October 25, 2008 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Last minute date filter: Need a good restaurant in San Francisco for a couple of twenty-somethings.

So I opened my big mouth and said "Sure, I know a few great places to eat!" Turns out, I don't have a clue. So with that in mind, I need to find a decent place to eat in San Francisco for a last minute date. We are both in our 20s and would much like to eat somewhere with a cool atmosphere. It doesn't have to be a romantic "date" place. It also can't be sushi. Would be nice if the clientele was filled with twenty or thirty-somethings. Located near good bars is also a plus. Money doesn't have to be a concern but that doesn't mean I only want fancy, expensive places.
posted by Sandor Clegane to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
A couple of my recent favorites: COCO 500, Presidio Social Club, Beretta, Luna Park, Maverick, Blue Plate. None are super crazy expensive, but all are nice enough for a special night out. I believe they all have websites as well, so you can take a peek at photos and menus.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2008

The Valencia street corridor (between 16th and 23rd, say) has some amazing places that sound like they'd fit what you're looking for.

Parea is a kind of fun Greek inspired place. Dosa is South Indian food. Luna Park is also very good, as is Limon, a Peruvian place. There are many others in that area as well, in addition to lots of bars and stores and so on.

You can use Opentable to get reservations, though many of these places are walk-in.
posted by jasper411 at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2008

Check out, they've got great ratings for hundreds of restaurants reviewed by locals.

My favorite place to eat when I'm in SF is Cha Cha Cha near the Haight. It's Cuban/Carribean tapas. Mmm.

It's a good date place in that it's very lively, great sangria and you can share tapas which is semi-intimate.
posted by bluejayk at 2:05 PM on October 25, 2008

I really loved Cortez (yelp). Great food, atmosphere, and cocktails; not sure about it's proximity to other nightlife though.
posted by meowN at 2:11 PM on October 25, 2008

Chez Papa in Potrero is very nice.
posted by supermedusa at 2:13 PM on October 25, 2008

A friend always takes me to The Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro when I'm there. Nice atmosphere, good people watching, bars nearby.
posted by dog food sugar at 3:25 PM on October 25, 2008

Obvious suggestions - see if you can get a cancellation at Michael Mina($$$$) or Slanted Door.($$$)
I also have a soft spot for the E&O trading company.($$)
posted by Joh at 3:29 PM on October 25, 2008

Suppenküche in Hayes Valley and Walzwerk in the Mission, are great German restaurants. Of course, they also have great beer.

Suppenküche has a sleekly rustic modernist thing going on, and is always quite festive. Last time I was there a pack of hipsters were having a drinking competition with a group of financial district suits. It's like a demilitarized zone between the various San Francisco neighborhood cultures, and you would fit in wearing a t-shirt and shorts, a suit, or anything in between. It can get fairly loud, which oddly enough makes for great private conversations. Walzwerk is smaller, with a much smaller tap; it's filled with kitschy DDR stuff and is very casual.
posted by hototogisu at 3:56 PM on October 25, 2008

Pizzeria Delfina. No reservations and there may be a slight wait, but it's worth it.
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:04 PM on October 25, 2008

I like Foreign Cinema, especially when the weather is as awesome as it's been this past week. The food is very good, atmosphere is usually great. You'll really want reservations. Walzwerk is also a favorite, but you will want reservations there as well. It's tiny, and they have no problem telling people there's no room tonight. Suppenkuche is now on my shit list, as they try to hurry you out the door these days, which is no way to behave when you want to have another beer. It's also incredibly loud. Canteen also has great food, is tinier than anywhere, and as such you have a choice of three seatings per night, if there are openings. The menu changes daily. It's an intimate place, you might end up seated at the counter. If that's an issue on a date, Canteen might be best avoided. But the food is oh so good, and I really like the intimate diner atmosphere.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:15 PM on October 25, 2008

Second Pizzeria Delfina or Delfina itself (though it might be hard to get a reservation there, you could probably sit at the counter if you turn up early). Also Bar Tartine. Suppenkuche is awesome, but I personally think the noise factor would make for a bad date spot. What about Ti Couz?
posted by handful of rain at 4:35 PM on October 25, 2008

Middle-cost places across the city with their associated bar areas:

Slow Club (Potrero Hill)
Blue Plate (Outer Mission)
La Trappe (North Beach)
Belden Alley or Claude Ln (FiDi)
Home (Castro/Lower Haight)
Eos (Cole Valley)
Thanh Long (Outer Sunset)
Andalu (16th/Valencia)
Chou Chou (West Portal)

Dunno about Marina or Cow Hollow. Personally I think People's Cafe is the best thing in the Upper Haight, so go to Home or Eos if the UH is your bar destination.
posted by rhizome at 4:48 PM on October 25, 2008

Luna Park is the definitive date restaurant, and Blue Plate is also quite excellent (or was 3 years ago - haven't been in a while).

Both locations of Chow are good.

There is no way you're getting into Suppenkueche at the last minute without a reservation.

I'm personally a fan of The Front Porch; the food is Southern-style, and the atmosphere is funky. Last I checked they have a beer + wine only license (no liquor), but it's at the foot of the Mission so good bars are a short stroll away. Fried chicken is to die for, but they have a decent vegetarian selection as well.

Monk's Kettle is the new beer bar on the Valencia corridor, but the food is also pretty decent. Might be too busy, though, unless you want to have a drink or 3 before dinner.

These are all in the $15-25 per person range (plus drinks). Good luck!
posted by rkent at 6:06 PM on October 25, 2008

Blue Plate. It's hella good (the Mac & Cheese! Oh!) plus, full of hip 20somethings. After you can go to El Rio.
posted by serazin at 8:26 PM on October 25, 2008

2nd Suppenküche. Really neat place that is very different. Its not often you get to sit at big communal tables and eat good German food and drink liters of great beer. It feels cool and obvious but yet alien at the same time. I had a blast.
posted by mmascolino at 10:31 PM on October 25, 2008

If you can't get into Suppenkuche, there's also Bar Jules right next door. It's a bit pricey but quite good, especially if you're meat eaters.

For tapas, I prefer Charanga over Cha Cha Cha. The food is much better and you can walk a few doors down to Cha Cha Cha afterwards for more atmosphere. Or better yet, go a few blocks over to Bi-Rite Creamery for scoops of their tasty Toasted Banana or Salted Caramel ice cream or whatever creative ice cream flavors or sundaes they're doing that day.

For seafood, I really like Bar Crudo in Nob Hill. They specialize in raw seafood but they also have other wonderful cooked items. The best is the seafood chowder. It's not traditional chowder but rather they fill a bowl with high quality chunks of raw fish, mussels, shrimp, squid, potatoes, and bacon and then ladle chowder soup over it to cook the seafood. Absolutely delicious with crusty bread and a great deal at $13. And next door to Bar Crudo is Tunnel Top, a great casual bar with good vibe.
posted by junesix at 2:44 AM on October 26, 2008

Mmm, one of my favorite subjects! A lot of good suggestions in this post already, here's a few things that haven't been mentioned:

- FWIW, I'm pretty sure that Suppenkuche doesn't actually take reservations unless you're in a big group, they'll just make you wait, and depending on when you go, you might be waiting for a while in their teeny bar area. It's also worth noting that you'll probably end up at a communal table, and yeah, the noise might make the date thing hard.

- Yes, the Valencia St. corridor area is probably your best bet. My newest favorite in that area is Weird Fish on Mission St. Very cool/cheesy maritime themed decor, and although I don't think of myself as the fish-and-chips type, the food is amazingly delicious. I've also heard good things about Range and Spork (hipster joint set inside an old KFC!) on Valencia. Little Star Pizza on Valencia at 15th has got incredible deep dish pizza, a famously hip jukebox and will no doubt be filled with the kind of crowd you're looking for. And I'll second the rec for Bi Rite Creamery for dessert.

- Outside of the Mission, some of my favoritest date night restaurants with a fun atmosphere are The Alembic on Haight St. and Nopa on Divisadero.

- Finally, to avoid this problem in the future, Tablehopper is a great resource/blog. Marcia will even give you a custom restaurant rec (look under Tip, Please) but since this is last minute, check out her Fresh Meat page for some reviews of some of the more up-and-coming places around town. Yum -- enjoy!
posted by KatlaDragon at 1:30 PM on October 26, 2008

Strongly disagree with the Suppenkuche recommendation. You will almost assuredly share a table, and it will be extremely loud. That has its charm at certain times, but not for a date. Other have highlighted the same features as reasons it's perfect for you, so I guess it depends what you're looking for.

And I thought Maverick was highly overrated.

Given your criteria, I'd recommend Nopa, Conduit, or SPQR. They're all in different neighborhoods, but all three have excellent food that is worth the money, young hip clientele, and a variety of bars within walking distance.
posted by jewishbuddha at 2:57 PM on October 26, 2008

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