KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Dining at the Bar, San Francisco
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Magret de Canard aux Figues de Vendée
Check, Please! Bay Area: Season 2: Episode 3
CUESA: Sunday Supper
Interview with Tanya Steel Part Two
Restaurant Reviews: Forum with Michael Krasny
Fillmore Farmers' Market & SF Cheese School
Les Fermiers de Place Monge
Check, Please! Bay Area: Season 2: Episode 2
Interview with Tanya Steel Part One
Fairfax Farmers' Market
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Dining at the Bar, San Francisco

There's an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie Bradshaw is "dating New York" -- she is between boyfriends, and decides to use the time alone to go out to eat, go to museums, and enjoy her city. At one point, she walks into a diner.

"Singles at the counter. SINGLES, COUNTER!" shouts the waiter, embarrassing Carrie, banishing her to the singles area along with other social rejects and announcing to the entire restaurant that this woman is alone and single.

In general, I don't mind eating alone. I have done it all my life, and quite enjoy it. And due to a change in my current circumstances, I have been eating alone quite a bit. But every so often, I worry that I am going to have a waiter yell at me like we saw on Sex and the City. Luckily for us, San Francisco is a great place to dine alone.

Personally, I like eating at bars when I am by myself. And often when I am with one other person or on a date, I find the bar to be comfortable and more intimate than a table as well. Bars often provide great service, you can chat with the bartender or others if you feel like it, and I like the bird's eye view of things that I get that's different from table dining. Most importantly, very often, you can walk into the busiest restaurants in town and sit at the bar without reservations and be seated much more quickly than if you were waiting for a table.

Excellent bar dining in the City, to me, is defined by several factors:

* It must have bar service that is on par with, or better than, the table service.
* I must feel comfortable going alone.
* The food must be consistently excellent and delicious.

Some of my favorite places in San Francisco to eat at the bar are as follows.

2355 Chestnut Street
San Francisco
(415) 771-2216
Open for dinner nightly and lunch Wednesday - Friday

At A16, you can sometimes walk into the restaurant and be seating immediately at the bar -- especially if it's early in the dinner service. You can also request bar seating when making your reservation, and I have had that request accommodated nine times out of ten.

398 Hayes Street
San Francisco
(415) 551-1590
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.

Absinthe and Hayes Street Grill (see below) are two places where I feel that the bar environment is much different from the dining room environment. Absinthe has a lively bar, delicious hamburgers, and you can usually find a seat -- especially if dining at off-hours (think Saturday afternoon at three, for a martini and a burger - perfect).

1915 Fillmore Street
San Francisco
(415) 775-4300
Open for dinner nightly.

Florio is a neighborhood favorite. Bar service at this tiny bar is complete with cloth napkins and a friendly bartender. The bar seats about six people, so seating is limited, but this restaurant is highly recommended.

Hayes Street Grill
320 Hayes Street
San Francisco
(415) 863-5545
Open for dinner nightly and for lunch during the week.

When I am craving Hayes Street Grill, I usually call and ask them if it's a performance night. If it is, then I come later in the evening after everything has started. If not, I know that bar seating will most likely be available. This restaurant is so close to the SF performing arts district that the traffic here is HIGHLY dependent on what's going on that evening.

The bartenders here are great, and the food is delicious -- if, like me, you're into plain, fresh fish and crispy fries. Pair that with a drink using Hangar One vodka, which they stock, and you're set.

2227 Polk Street
San Francisco
(415) 928-8025
Open for dinner nightly and for lunch on weekends.

The picture at the top of this post is from the bar at Pesce. This wildly popular restaurant on Polk in the Russian Hill area holds back all of their ample bar seating for walk-ins. Service is always pleasant, and the Venetian cichetti they serve here are the best in the city.

Star dishes for me at this restaurant are the braised octopus with potatoes and celery, and the smoked fish platter.

In addition to the places above where I have personally eaten at the bar, I have heard great things about bar dining at Gary Danko, NOPA, Boulevard, The Slanted Door and Delfina.


Blogger Carter Lusher said...

Hi Jennifer, Great article that I linked to from www.foodnotebook.com/blog/2006/10/blog_posts_camera_flash_calend.html

Two other places that I've had good experiences eating at the bar are Azie and Oola, both on the 800 block of Folsom.

10/11/2006 7:39 AM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
Tasty Food Sites
Chowhound SF
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
Leite's Culinaria
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Eater SF
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
The Amateur Gourmet
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
Food Books
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
by Lisa Yockelson
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
by Thomas Keller
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.