Which restaurant near SF's Union Square do you recommend for 10 people?
February 21, 2007 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Which San Francisco restaurant (from the list inside) would you choose for 10 weary business travelers to have dinner together? There's...

I have to choose one of these for a group at work. I will not be there but I'd like for them to have a good meal. They're from the east and they're excited about going to San Francisco on business.

Budget is not an issue but it'd be great if they didn't have to wear business attire.

Here are my choices:

*Asia de Cuba
*E&O Trading Company
*First Crush
*Fleur de Lys
*Grand Cafe
*Harris' Steakhouse
*Kuleto's Italian Restaurant
*La Folie
*Le Colonial
*Michael Mina
*Scala's Bistro

I'm also open to recommendations for restaurants within walking distance from Union Square.
posted by Soda-Da to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, some of those you've mentioned are within walking distance of Union Square. But if you're talking WEARY business travellers, then I'm not sure I'd recommend some of the really upscale places if you think they won't be perky enough to enjoy them. You would not have to dress up for Harris', but it's not near Union Square at all. And there is nothing there for the vegetarian. Le Colonial has a really nice and relaxing bar -- very beautiful -- but the restaurant is rather expensive, I think. E&O is good, but I find the food to be a bit on the sweet side. I'm not sure if Farallon can hold that many people at one table; you should call to find out. I may be thinking of someplace else. I vote for Grand Cafe. It's walkable and not stuffy and has a good, varied menu (at least it did the last time I was there). It's also quite large, so it should not be too hard to book at table.
posted by Lockjaw at 2:33 PM on February 21, 2007

Did you consider Ponzu? Pan-Asian small plates, excellent cocktails, just off Union Square, and quiet enough that you can actually converse. I love bringing out-of-towners there.

Otherwise, I love Acquerello, Asia de Cuba, le Colonial and Farallon. I think Kuleto's is kind of cheesy and E&O Trading Company is really noisy. I don't like being in a noisy restaurant with a large group because I can't hear anybody across the table.
posted by padraigin at 2:34 PM on February 21, 2007

Ack! I wrote something longer but lost it.

I'd choose Postrio or Farallon or Grand Cafe. Farallon is seafood though. Grand Cafe is a safe but not boring choice (unlike Kuletos or E&0 which are boring). Their dining room is beautiful.

I dont know how you compiled this list but I'd recheck their distances. La Folie is not walking distance from Union Square.

Also, First Crush and Michael Mina are I think too small.
posted by vacapinta at 2:44 PM on February 21, 2007

I agree with padraigin and vacapinta about Kuleto's and E&O- they've struck me as formulaic and not very interesting. Farallon is very, very good, as is Masa's. Fleur de Lys is technically walking distance but if folks are tired it might feel like a long walk.
posted by ambrosia at 2:57 PM on February 21, 2007

LuLu (look for it on yelp) is ideal for large groups because of the big, open room they have. They also serve what I guess would be considered California cuisine, which might be what this group is looking for in their dining experience. Whether it's walkable from Union Square depends on your perspective. I think it would be a short, easy walk - but I live here. Regardless, it would definitely be a short cab ride.
posted by quadog at 3:04 PM on February 21, 2007

I second Ponzu... I've never had trouble getting a table there. I used to eat there right before I would perform -- perfect if you're tired.
posted by dentata at 3:04 PM on February 21, 2007

I'd say no to La Folie (very good but too stuffy/formal/uncolorful and expensive for a group of 10) and no to Kuleto's and the Grand Cafe (way too touristy). La Colonial has good food, nice atmosphere and great interior design. The interior design at Farallon is over the top, but the wait and the food get mixed reviews.

By limiting yourself to walking distance of Union Square (and by walking distance I assume you mean fewer than 6 blocks) you're really restricting yourself to the tourist area. If you grab a van taxi you could go a little farther afield and go to a local favorite with great food & interior like Zuni Cafe, Boulevard, Absinthe or if the weather is warmish, one of the places (Plouf for shellfish) on Belden alley.
posted by tula at 3:08 PM on February 21, 2007

Thumbs down for Fleur de Lys. Overpriced for the quality you get (compared to, say, Masa's).

Lulu seconded. More casual than many of the others listed.

Ritz Carlton Dining Room (Ron Siegel!)

Also, Gary Danko is out of walking range and I hear the reserve-ahead-time is now ridiculous so it may not fit into your time frame. Those caveats aside, it's worthwhile.
posted by juv3nal at 3:22 PM on February 21, 2007

I would second LuLu or Postrio. LuLu is much more casual than Postrio but I've always liked Postrio - it's formal but not stuffy. And SF is much more casual than the east coast so I think you can get away without business attire at all but the most formal places.
posted by pombe at 4:22 PM on February 21, 2007

Michael Mina is too noisy and cramped for this.

Acquerello has marvelous food and service, and has a separate room that is about the right size for a party of 12. The food is really magnificent. Atmosphere is maybe a touch stuffy - I wouldn't want to go there if I was tired; I'd feel like I was disappointing the waiter, who is justifiably proud of what he is serving and who will be wanting to explain it at length and engage you in a spirited discussion about wine matches.

Harris' is one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world. I'd recommend it for this in a heartbeat. But if even one person isn't a beef-eater, it's kind of a wash - you go to Harris' for a martini and the prime rib, or maybe the filet if you're not that hungry.

Neither Acquerello nor Harris' are all that close to Union Square, though. You wouldn't want to walk it - there are hills in San Francisco, recall. Hills!

Do your people drink? There's an upscale Mexican place called Colibri very close to Union Square - 438 Geary, just up the block from Grand Cafe - that has 400 or so tequilas, they make all kinds of delicious drinks, food is good, atmosphere is pleasant and relaxing. As I think about it I think your friends ought to go there, unless they're all teetotalers.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:49 PM on February 21, 2007

Dude you're in San Fran with a bunch of peeps from the right coast who never get decent Chinese (unless they know where to go in NYC's Chinatown, and even then...). Take them to House of Nan King. Not a short walk, but but not too dreadfully long - just right for working up an appetite.

Plus it meets your casual requirement - its not too fancy and its definitely the local fave.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:49 PM on February 21, 2007

Grand Cafe is great. It is a bit limited if you are vegetarian but otherwise should be fine. What passes for casual on the East coast usually passes as semi-formal here. I'd probably wear a tie at Grand Cafe but that's about as formal as you'd need.
posted by chairface at 5:07 PM on February 21, 2007

I'd second ikkyu2's recommendation of Colibri, which has excellent guacamole and carnitas, and drinks. It's also roughly across the street from The Clift Hotel which houses Asia de Cuba but, more importantly, the Redwood Room which could be a good pre or post dinner drink stop and definitely has a hip quotient which might be appreciated.

Grand Cafe is a fine suggestion that won't make anyone unhappy, but I don't think anything about it is that spectacular or special or "San Francisco" (it's a chain). BUT as someone who's eaten there when I've been in town, exhausted on business, it could be good option if everyone is jet lagged 'cause the menu won't make you think to hard and the kitchen, in my experience, is pretty solid.

It must be the West Coast slacker in me but I have to disagree with chairface on the need to wear a tie at Grand Cafe, or really anywhere in California unless you are a banker or an accountant. (If you want to play hip media dealmaker go with nice suit and collared shirt without a tie--that shows that you're doing business on your terms ;-) .
posted by donovan at 5:47 PM on February 21, 2007

If you and they like to eat and enjoy damn good food treat yourself to Fleur de Lys. It is pricey though. If you feel like driving a hour and a half, and would like to eat the best food you have ever put in your mouth EVER, go over to French Laundry. Better call first to see if you can get in. It is in Yountsville but damn, it is worth the trip.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:20 PM on February 21, 2007

favourite restaurants in Union Square
posted by lannanh at 8:28 PM on February 21, 2007

For 10 people, I'd vote LuLu too. The walk south from Union Square is more pleasant than the walk north (too hilly) or the walk west (too skeevy) for tourists. I agree that the fancier restaurants are *too* fancy for larger parties of tired tourists. You might also try XYZ at the W hotel or Le Charm bistro on 5th.
posted by judith at 3:51 AM on February 22, 2007

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