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San Francisco/Castro restaurant and bar suggestions needed

San Francisco/Castro restaurant and bar suggestions needed

Old Feb 2, 12, 9:34 am
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San Francisco/Castro restaurant and bar suggestions needed

Will be visiting San Francisco with my other half in March and we would like to spend one evening in the Castro (or SoMa) area. Would anyone here have some up to date info (suggestions) about the dining and after dinner drink options in the area? We'll be in town from sunday to friday. As we'll miss weekend nights, what would be the best evening for dinner and a few drinks after that? Any suggestions appreciated.
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Old Feb 2, 12, 10:04 am
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If you are looking for upscale dining in the Castro, I would recommend Frances, Poesia, Catch, or L'Ardoise. You should make a reservation for any evening you choose.. I use opentable.com to check availability and to make a reservation. Yelp.com also provides reviews of restaurants. There are many bars in the Castro which cater to different tastes.. can you be more specific regarding the type of bar you want to visit?
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Old Feb 2, 12, 11:06 am
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I like Radius on Folsom Street for dinner. Fondue Cowboy is kind of fun too. Plenty of bars in the area but some might be slow on a week night.

In the Castro, 2223 Market was my standby for dinner, but it has closed. I'd be hard pressed to suggest any restaurant in the Castro, but Yelp will surely have the answers. On the other hand, the Castro bars are more likely have a larger week night crowd than those in SoMa, and if you don't like one you can quickly walk to another.
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Old Feb 2, 12, 11:15 am
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Originally Posted by malsf1 View Post
If you are looking for upscale dining in the Castro, I would recommend Frances, Poesia, Catch, or L'Ardoise. You should make a reservation for any evening you choose.. I use opentable.com to check availability and to make a reservation. Yelp.com also provides reviews of restaurants. There are many bars in the Castro which cater to different tastes.. can you be more specific regarding the type of bar you want to visit?
Thanks for your reply. Checked the restaurant web pages and all your suggestions looks intriguing. Difficult to decide...

About the bars... it does not have to be the trendiest of the neighbourhood, but would still prefer a lounge kind bar with nice wines or coctails and where you can hear yourself from the music. As we are not school boys ourselves anymore it would be nice if the bar had a little older crowd, 30+ or something (I thought I would never say that...).
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Old Feb 2, 12, 12:44 pm
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Originally Posted by teme View Post
About the bars... it does not have to be the trendiest of the neighbourhood, but would still prefer a lounge kind bar with nice wines or coctails and where you can hear yourself from the music. As we are not school boys ourselves anymore it would be nice if the bar had a little older crowd, 30+ or something (I thought I would never say that...).
My vote would be for Frances, if you want an exceptional dining experience.

The bar upstairs at Eureka Restaurant is a quieter setting than the other Castro bars, and the restaurant is decent. The Twin Peaks bar may have a bit "older" crowd than you would like, but it is also quieter. Othewise, you will be dealing with louder music at the remaining Castro bars. The Midnight Sun is a video bar and gets a good mix of younger and older guys, and the background noise is tolerable. Since the Castro is easily walked, you might just walk around and find a bar that suits your needs and mood.
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Old Feb 2, 12, 5:15 pm
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Zuni Cafe, 1658 Market. Very crowded. Suggest reservations. Also good for lunch/brunch as is Cafe Bagdad.
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Old Feb 2, 12, 5:51 pm
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FYI Cafe Bagdad is no more!

There is some kind of Creole Fusion Place there now. Have not tried it yet.
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Old Feb 2, 12, 10:53 pm
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In SOMA I strongly recommend Oola. The kitchen in open until 1AM and the Sunday brunch is great.
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Old Feb 3, 12, 4:00 am
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Originally Posted by samonyc View Post
In the Castro, 2223 Market was my standby for dinner, but it has closed.
Noooooo.....

How sad. I really liked that place.

Last edited by peteropny; Feb 3, 12 at 7:45 am Reason: fix quote
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Old Feb 4, 12, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by BingBongBoy View Post
Noooooo.....

How sad. I really liked that place.
Me too

There's a new place opening soon in the same space but it'll be hard to beat 2223 IMHO. Not the "best" restaurant in the Bay Area but one of the nicest.

In its absence, I'd probably second Frances if you can get a reservation at a time that works out
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Old Feb 4, 12, 10:30 am
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^ for CATCH on Market --has always been good food and service. Nice bar just for drinks if you want. They have a smaller bar menu also. Often busy - make a res. A bit of history also -- Harvey Milk signed a lease on the now CATCH location building and was going to move "Castro Camera" there just prior to his assasination. It's commenorated on the wall there with a plaque and picture.
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Old Feb 5, 12, 9:32 pm
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I agree with the recomendations on Frances.

While not in the Castro, Martunis might be a bar you would enjoy if you are looking for a lounge type bar where you can hear yourselves talk. It's about 3/4 to 1 mile from Frances off Market inbetween the castro and union square. Nice piano bar with great martinis.
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Old Feb 6, 12, 1:30 am
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Wink

Originally Posted by malsf1 View Post
If you are looking for upscale dining in the Castro, I would recommend Frances, Poesia, Catch, or L'Ardoise.
All great recommendations, except Catch, which is way overrated and coasts on its high-traffic location. Food is salty and heavy.

If you can get a reservation at Frances, definitely go there. But you probably won't, unless your trip is three months from now and you're willing to eat at 10PM.

I've had one lackluster meal at Poesia, but that's the only time I've been disappointed there. It's not a bad place at all.

My favorite is L'Ardoise, which is a fabulous place with great food and professional well-informed and attentive service. You can usually get a reservation, but if you don't, you can probably sit at the bar where the full menu is available, and watch the very handsome chef (who is, alas, straight) work miracles in the tiny kitchen.

I notice that no one has recommended Starbelly, which is on 16th at Market. When the food is good, it's off the charts. The service, though well-meaning, is atrocious. Courses arrive out of order, if at all; when the place was new, that was forgiveable, but it isn't now. Management seems to hire people for youth and enthusiasm (and consistent with the heterosexualization of the Castro, heterosexuality), and not for restaurant experience. No one on the wait staff seems to bat an eyelash if a server picks up a spoon or fork by the eating end and hands it to you. This matters because when a course arrives, it's usually without the appropriate utensil for eating it. Also, the place is outrageously loud. You won't be able to hear yourself think.

As for bars, if you're over 30 or have a BMI over 20, you'll probably want to go the 440, which is located at 440 Castro. It's friendly and crowded. The crowd skews a little older and heavier than twink, and towards facial hair. You'll see a fair amount of muscle, but nobody cares if you don't have a 30" waist or if you don't need a fake ID. On any given night at the 440, you'll find guys from the neighborhood, and in my experience, a handful of tourists from the UK, Australia, or New Zealand. I have a personal hobby of finding those tourists and then guessing where they're from by their accents. Between that and the mirrored trench urinal, you can usually strike up a conversation with someone.

Last edited by pdquick; Feb 6, 12 at 2:18 am
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Old Feb 6, 12, 1:51 am
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PS: The place that used to be the Bagdad Cafe is now Criolla Kitchen. The menu includes red beans and rice, po-boys, merliton (aka chayote), and fried chicken and waffles. Reservations aren't required. You're basically sitting in a glass box at 16th and Market, so you can watch the world go by at what is probably the second gayest intersection on the planet (the gayest being a block away at Market, Castro, and 17th). The scenery and food aren't good enough, however, to prevent you from having at least one meal at Frances, L'Ardoise, or Poesia. If you have only one night in SF, you can take in the street scenery as you're walking from your restaurant to the 440.
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Old Feb 6, 12, 3:25 am
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Thanks for all the replies and suggestions.

Would have like to try Frances, but is fully booked during our stay. L'Ardoise looks really nice, so maybe we'll try that one. On the other hand, I love seafood and what a better place to have great seafood than San Francisco. So Catch is still an option.

Beyond Castro and SoMa, Boulevard looks tempting. The food should be good (at least Michelin guide seems to like the place) and the place looks relaxed and casual. Any thoughts on that?

Bar suggestions have been plenty as well. I am sure we'll find a nice place for aperitif or digestive...
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