Hassle-free restaurant in San Francisco?
March 6, 2006 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Hassle-free restaurant in San Francisco? My parents are coming into town next week. They're wholesome midwesterners who are more than happy eating at diners. I've become a foodie. We've done the whole Del Fina, Zuni, etc rounds in visits prior. Now I'm looking for restaurants that have great food but aren't a hassle to go to (read: fairly easy to get in, easy-going atmosphere). Price is not an issue. I have a hectic week coming up; I want to relax about dinner plans rather than stressing about them.
posted by dentata to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Er, where do you live?
posted by Radio7 at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2006

I'd really recommend Peter's Inn on S. Ann. It's unpretentious, the food is excellent, and the menu is always changing.
posted by OmieWise at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2006

Oh, oops, just read your post title. Sorry, Peter's Inn is in Baltimore.
posted by OmieWise at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2006

The big question is whether, as a local, you consider difficult parking an undue hassle.

We love Firefly in Noe (referred to often as "homey with gourmet comfort cuisine"). The parking situation is not great though. In a similar vein, we had incredible luscious cornbread, duck stuffed fried spring rolls, and buttery green beans sauteed with grilled onions, apricots and dates at Home restaurant on Union Street in Cow Hollow.

In contrast, there's plenty of parking in Glen Park if you want to wander down to Chenery Park, and we had no trouble making reservations there. Again, the menu tends towards foodie versions of more traditional or comfort dishes.
posted by synapse at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2006

[added title to post to clear up where poster was talking about]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:16 PM on March 6, 2006

First post. Sorry about the title.

Is that the same Home as the one on the corner of Church and Market?
posted by dentata at 12:24 PM on March 6, 2006

Caffe Del Stelle in Hayes Valley is a great place.
posted by luriete at 12:34 PM on March 6, 2006

How about Sociale? I've always enjoyed dinner there. They are on opentable.com so even less hassle if you are inclined to use that service. It's on Sacramento Street in Pac Hts and parking is not as competitive around there as in other parts of the City.

9th and Irving area also good, you can park in the Park or take the N-Judah. Can't go wrong with Park Chow, and you can call ahead and get put on the list for a table. How about Japanese food? Try Chika on Irving and 10th.
posted by mhm at 12:34 PM on March 6, 2006

I always like the Pacific Cafe at Geary and 34th Ave for seafood. There's often a wait but there's complimentary wine while you do. The atmosphere is very warm and relaxed. When my parents came here they also liked the Beach Chalet/Park Chalet out at the end of GG Park. I'm not sure if these places are up to foody standards, though.
posted by fleacircus at 12:36 PM on March 6, 2006

Scoma's on Fisherman's Wharf has free valet parking at the door - great view, great food (I recommend the sautee seafood sec).
posted by DandyRandy at 12:42 PM on March 6, 2006

Seconding Park Chow.
posted by 27 at 12:52 PM on March 6, 2006

It is the same Home in both those locations.

I also like Blue and Chow for what you're talking about; food's better at Blue, but Chow is more relaxed.

The food at Luna Park has always been good, though the service can be a bit snotty and I've heard they rush people through later in the evening. If you go on Midwestern-dinner hours, though, you should be fine :-)
posted by occhiblu at 12:52 PM on March 6, 2006

(By "snotty" at Luna Park, I don't mean high-end restaurant snooty, just a bit inattentive and brusque without being actually rude. The last time I went my friend and I actually laughed about it, trying to figure out ways to confound the server.)
posted by occhiblu at 12:54 PM on March 6, 2006

Also, Eldo's Brew Pub in the Inner Sunset -- great beer and wonderful latin tapas-y food (they have a new chef, apparently, so ignore older reviews) -- and maybe Fresca? The food's great, but I've heard it can get annoying when crowded -- I've gone for brunch and on Christmas Eve (with my family) and it was empty-ish and wonderfully relaxed both times, with great food.
posted by occhiblu at 12:58 PM on March 6, 2006

Second for Chenery Park, but *do* make reservations, and be forewarned that Tuesday is kids night, so it tends to get noisy there.

Other favs of ours include the Last Supper Club on Valencia, Suraya (at Valencia around Cesar Chavez) or Lalita (on McAllister near UN Plaza) if they're into Thai food. For Italian we often just show up at Spiazzo on West Portal.

David's Kitchen gets rave reviews from some of our friends (out on 27th and Taravel). Either Park Chow (9th Ave or Church) always seem to be good and easy.
posted by jasper411 at 12:58 PM on March 6, 2006

A couple of months ago, my girlfriend and I stumbled in to Cafe Divine in North Beach. It was very low-key, had incredibly friendly service, a lovely space, and the food was quite good. We went late on a Monday evening and were pretty much the only people there.

We also really like Ti Couz.
posted by dseaton at 1:02 PM on March 6, 2006

I live in Orlando but have spent a good deal of time in SF for both business and pleasure.

The one that seems to best fit your request is Cafe Mason in the Union Square area. It's got a diner-type atmosphere, good not-diner-type food, and is very easy to get into. My girlfriend and I discovered it during a vacation there about 1.5 years ago and ate there several times, and I went back on a business trip this past year.

The recommendations below may or may not fit all your requirements, especially "easy to get into", but YMMV. I don't know much about this time of year since I usually go around August. I mainly recommend them because they're places I seek out again and again when visiting the area.

- Ozumo (Japanese) in the Financial District just south of market in the financial district. This is not exactly relaxed and casual by some definitions.
- Bacar (some of the best lamb I've ever had) somewhere south of Market.
- The restaurant at the top of the Hyatt Regency in the Financial District (Eclipse?) is also good, and they integrate a lot of California-specific ingredients into their dishes.
- Gordon Biersch (sp?), which is near the Bay Bridge, has some good food and great beer (seeing as how they're the brewer...)

There's a really good casual italian place I discovered on my last trip there. I could find my way there walking, but couldn't tell you exactly where it is.
posted by tkolstee at 1:25 PM on March 6, 2006

Original Joe's [ohgodsogood]
posted by keswick at 1:40 PM on March 6, 2006

Was just talking to a co-worker about El Raigon. Its in north beach so unless you live over that way - parking is a bitch - but i've always been able to get reservations on open table within a day or so. It's mostly steak - so mid-westerner friendly - and oh so very yummy. Appetizers, sides and desserts are all really good.
The Chez Papa mafia are also on Open Table these days - I've had great meals at Chez Papa, En Suite, and their newest in my hood - Garcon.
posted by Wolfie at 1:52 PM on March 6, 2006

Oops - meant to say "La Suite" instead of En Suite.
posted by Wolfie at 2:22 PM on March 6, 2006

I love Boulevard.

It's accessible (both parking and walkable from muni), delicious (foodie), unpretentious (doesn't scare midwesterners - I know, I've tried), perfectly lit, and uncheap.
posted by birdie birdington at 3:32 PM on March 6, 2006

Never been to Pacific Cafe's SF venue, but I love their restaurant in Marin. Great clam chowder...mmm...
posted by radioamy at 4:50 PM on March 6, 2006

I really like Blue Plate. Awesome food and very friendly service-
though I'd recommend getting a reservation on the weekend. Parking can also be a pain. A cab is a good idea.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:54 PM on March 6, 2006

I'm a New Yorker, but two summers ago, spent a lovely week in San Francisco with my wife, celebrating her 40th birthday. We had some "big deal" meals that required quite a bit of advanced planning (e.g., Chez Panisse), but among our favorite no-hassle, just-show-up meals were:

-- Tacos at Taqueria La Cumbre in the Mission District.

-- Cantonese food at the R&G Lounge, just mindsnappingly good.

-- Seafood at Scoma's ... absurdly touristy but delicious.

-- Breakfast from the food stalls at the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building on Saturday morning (probably too earlier in the year for this to be really spectacular)
posted by enrevanche at 11:23 PM on March 6, 2006

I would discourage you from going to Last Supper Club, it's gone downhill fast recently.

Foreign Cinema was a hit with both non-adventurous eaters and foodies when I went, upstairs is quieter and you can still see (but not hear) the movie. Walzwerk has the best German food in town in a kitschfrei East Berlin atmosphere. I haven't been to Burma Superstar, but everyone I know who's gone have raved about it. And you can't beat Los Jarritos for real Mexican food, though it's more of a brunch place.
posted by cali at 11:42 PM on March 6, 2006

Tommy's Joint on Van Ness is very straightfoward, plus they have lots of beer.
posted by jewzilla at 5:48 PM on March 8, 2006

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