San Francisco Treats
February 11, 2005 6:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good restaurants in San Francisco near Moscone Center. [more inside]

I have a group of people going to a convention, some of whom are picky eaters. I'm looking for classic casual American fare. BBQ, hamburgers, chicken, pizza--that sort of thing.
posted by JDC8 to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (17 answers total)
Good luck. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful but it's the truth.
posted by pwb503 at 7:22 PM on February 11, 2005

There are crap ass chains all over there - Mel's, Chevy's, TGIF, etc. One of the better local Thai chains, Cha Am, has a place right across the street that can take big groups; this is Americanized Thai, though, and might work for you - very nice place, bar, good prices, nothing too hot for your picky eater friends. There's lots of other good stuff throughout SOMA. Email me if you want; I edited a restaurant guide for this area and might be able to email you a PDF.
posted by luriete at 7:45 PM on February 11, 2005

Best answer: Lulu. It's not exactly KFC ala gourmet, but I've had a few business dinners there and it always seems to win the crowd over. I'm not sure how expensive it is, but I think fairly, someone else always expensed it.

As you can see from the linked review char-broiled black angus is one of their specialties. It says it's 'French' and everything, but c'mon, Black Angus! What's more American than that???

Anyway, you'll like it. They rend to serve 'family style,' so you really have to be on it if you want the dessert you ordered. The marketing guy ate mine the last time we were there.

If you want something less fancy and not "French" there's always Max's: little jukeboxes (if I remember correctly), and black and white checker pattern, marilyn and elvis etc. But I'd go with Lulu if someone else is paying.
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 7:46 PM on February 11, 2005

To be more specific I should have said: Max's Diner.
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 7:48 PM on February 11, 2005

alas, max's diner on 3rd has closed -- they "lost their lease" either december or january 1.

jdc8 -- can you give us an idea of what you want to spend per person? my experience is that lulu is a little more than what i'd be willing to spend unless it was a special occasion.
posted by heather at 8:04 PM on February 11, 2005

Wow...move to Oakland and the whole damned town changes! No more Max's, huh, I hardly knew ye!

Well, I certainly hope Beale Street is still open! Maybe not what you're looking for, but a good 5:30 PM pub with pretty good pub-grub and a decent patio situation. That I pay for out of my own pocket ;-)
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 8:27 PM on February 11, 2005

Lulu's over on Folsom at about 4th is a terrific place, IMO.

If you have an eclectic group, you might want to go over to Metreon. In the ground floor there's a kind of upscale food court, with a Japanese sushi place, a Firewood cafe (nice homey foods), a noodle place, and some others as well. It's kind of noisy and moves fast, as most people are there to eat before dinner, but I've enjoyed the food there a lot (especially Firewood pasta and pizzas).

I've never eaten there but there's a restaurant in Hotel W, I think it's called restaurant xyz.

Here's the sfgate listing for that general area (SOMA).
posted by jasper411 at 9:23 PM on February 11, 2005

lulu is a bit expensive; xyz is not cheap either. you might try thirsty bear for tapas. not quite american bbq, but good for groups. i think there's another max's diner on mission in the first floor of the metreon garage, and there's also various other hotel restaurants around that area...
posted by judith at 10:25 PM on February 11, 2005

There's some sort of Tapas restaurant in that area. I think it's called thirsty bear. Okay, it's not burgers & beer, but Tapas is pretty mild for 'foreign' food.

on preview- judith mentioned thirsty bear.

Not exactly walking distance is that burger/beer type place by the driving ranges / UCSF campus. I think the best burgers in town are at big mouth bugers in the mission.

Damn I miss SF. Lived in Soma for a few years until last November. San Jose just ain't the same. It's better for the kid, though.
posted by u2604ab at 11:05 PM on February 11, 2005

i know it's been mentioned a bunch of times, but lulu has a molten-inside chocolate cake that's to die for.
posted by juv3nal at 11:41 PM on February 11, 2005

I'll second the recommend for the Mel's in the Mission St. garage. It'll probably be your best bet for what you're looking for.

There's always Buca di Beppo on Howard. It's Italian, but chain Italian. Pizza, pasta, etc. Family style, tacky decor, but nothing too over the top.

There's a Chevy's right there across from the W -- chain Mexican, super simple, Tex Mex if you will. I thought it was good when I first moved to the Bay Area.

If it's an expense account, Jillian's in the Metreon has burgers, and the like -- as well as pool tables and cocktails. But it's spendy. Deep fried artichoke hearts and gourmet nachos. Yum. Grease.

If you don't mind walking a few blocks to Union Square, there's always Cheesecake Factory at the top of Macy's -- and it doesn't get more crowd pleasy than that. I won't go so far as to call it good.

Thirsty Bear, although mediocre to good, is very yuppied-out lately to the point of annoyance. Especially when conventions are around, it might drive a sane crowd mad.

For simple burgers/chicken/pub fare, Kate O'Brien's is an Irish pub on Howard a few blocks east. But it's a small, pub menu.

Henry's Hunan is your typical Chinese joint. It's just off of New Montgomery & Howard on one of the almost-alley streets.

It's a pretty terrible neighborhood for the middle of the road, good food. There are lots of convention chains, expensive hotel restaurants and the quick, cheap lunch grabs.
posted by Gucky at 11:48 PM on February 11, 2005

I second Thirsty Bear (flash-heavy link). Their tapas is better than their beer.
posted by pmbuko at 12:48 AM on February 12, 2005

alas, max's diner on 3rd has closed

posted by planetkyoto at 4:59 AM on February 12, 2005

Are you going to Wondercon, JDC8?
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:26 AM on February 12, 2005

Second the Metreon food court. The food is good and reasonably priced, and there's a good variety. If it's a big convention though the food court may fill up quickly - we used to eat there when we went to MacWorld and LinuxWorld and there was occasionally a wait for a table or to order.
posted by tracicle at 12:47 PM on February 12, 2005

Mo's Grill in the Yerba Buena Gardens is an offshoot of the original Mo's on Grant. The original makes the best hamburgers I've ever had, so, although Mo's Grill might not be quite as good, it should still be delicious.
posted by swank6 at 12:31 AM on February 13, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. Yep, I'm going to the WonderCon next weekend. I plan to offer the group a choice between LuLu and Mo's; I'm just organizing, not paying. Very useful comments here!
posted by JDC8 at 1:23 PM on February 13, 2005

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