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special b-day in San Francisco

Old Feb 8th, 2007, 09:22 PM
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special b-day in San Francisco

My 19 year old daughter and I will be flying to San Francisco for three days in order for her to visit a college there. It so happens that we will be there on her birthday and her one request was that we go to a "really special place for dinner." She is an adventurous person so to her "really special" doesn't mean expensive with black tie waiters but rather an interesting place with a special atmosphere and good food -- perhaps just a good restaurant in Chinatown.
Any suggestions?
Also we will have Sunday free. Any suggestions for a Sunday in S.F?
Thanks,
Bob
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 04:40 AM
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The Slanted Door has great ambience and excellent food...and the location would also be fun for you and your daughter (Ferry Building).

My other favorite and more casual is Betelnut.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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I love Betelnut!! And even though it's kitschy and touristy, it's fun to stop in for a tropical cocktail (regular or virgin at the Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel!!
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 06:28 AM
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Cha Cha Cha in the Haight. Lots of young locals. Great tapas and Caribbean food, fun, loud. Expect a long wait, as they don't take reservations and they're always packed, but the atmosphere will keep you entertained. Fabulous sangrias for those over 21.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 06:59 AM
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Okay, for a Sunday in the city, it really depends on the weather. If it's clear, you'll want to be outside and enjoy the fabulous views. Take a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Explore the hiking trails at Lands End. Stroll along the Marina and visit the Palace of Fine Arts. The Exploratorium (housed at the Palace of Fine Arts) is a fun hands-on museum of science, art and human perception. You can start at AT&T Park and walk north along the Embarcadero, all the way to Fisherman's Wharf if you want to go that far. Golden Gate Park also has lots to offer, especially the de Young Art Museum, which has been recently remodeled and is gorgeous (or hideous, depending on your taste).

I think the city is beautiful even when it's grey, so if it isn't rainy, I would try and stay outdoors.

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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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For Sunday, I'd book a tour of SF. That way you'll have a guide explain the history of all the different parts of the city, and you'll be taken around for a couple of hours. I'm sure your hotel can arrange this.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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Poleng, Fulton and Masonic. Great unusual food, always packed. If you're visiting USF, it's right down the block. It becomes a club/lounge later in the evening, but I'm not sure about +21 or not.

http://www.polenglounge.com/
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 07:55 AM
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Betelnut is very good. I like the upstairs café at Chez Panisse.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 08:06 AM
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For me, my favorite birthday spot is Chez Spencer. It's in an unlikely neighborhood - 14th and Florida,which is largely industrial but spotted with hip places and artist's lofts and studios. It's not stuffy but has lots of French ambiance and the food is lovely.

Another spot that a young lady might enjoy would be Chez Papa on Potrero Hill. It's a more casual spot but again the food is excellent and the waiters (in my experience) are always cute and rather flirty.

1550 Hyde would be a nice choice too. You could travel to it on the Hyde Street cable car, which would make it a real S.F. experience. It's a lively place, moderately priced. I've taken people there on their first trips to the city and they were delighted with the experience.

All of the above (esp. Chez Spencer) are the type of place where you could whisper a discreet message to the hostess or waiter and they could arrange a little birthday surprise for dessert.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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I think she might enjoy Belden Place. There's a number of fun restaurants there along an alleyway in the Financial District. Very special but not stuffy at all. Check it out at...
www.belden-place.com
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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Have to agree with dovima about cute, flirtatious waiters at Chez Papa. Very good food, too.

Also, regarding Chez Panisse as mentioned above. I do like the cafe upstairs very much, but I think an evening downstairs would be a very special birthday dinner. I've had some special birthday dinners there myself.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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What the others haven't mentioned is that Chez Panisse is in Berkeley. I think the Slanted Door is an excellent suggestion and is much better than Betelnut. Betelnut is inconsistent with their quality of food and service. For dessert, make a reservation at Cafe Jacqueline for a very nice birthday souffle'!

As for Sunday, what kind of things do you like to do? If she's a typical 19 year-old, take her to the San Francisco Shopping Center. If you want to do some site-seeing, take a drive over the GG Bridge and tour the Marin area or take the ferry over and back.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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A bit of warning about Slanted Door, and lots of other restuarnts in the City - it is VERY loud. Sometimes it's difficult for even two people to carry on a conversation without shouting. Same for Betelnut. This might be a plus for a 19 YO, however.

For Sunday, I suggest a free walking tour from SF City Guides. They are sponsored by the SF Public Library. There are over 30 different tours each month. Sunday has two of my favorites - Haight Ashbury, and Victorian San Francisco. On the Haigh Ashbury tour you will see the place where the Grateful Dead lived, and where Janis Joplin lived & was evicted because she had a dog. For a description of the free tours and dates/times see:
www.sfcityguides.org

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for all the great suggestions. I need to learn more about fodor's posting though. I tried to post the question on the California site and it ended up on the U.S. site. Anyone know what I did wrong?
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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Hi herringtonb, you did not do anything wrong. All posts on the US Board end up on the US Board. The various states (such as California) are for search purposes only. It is the same on every other Fodor's Board. When one posts on the Europe Board all posts show up. The various European countries are for search purposes only.

Wishing your daughter a beautiful 19th birthday..SF is a great city to celebrate a special occassion! Have fun.
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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When I want to read the US board, I only search for the "California" posts. Herringtonb's post just happened to be topped when I first accessed the US forum - otherwise I would have missed it

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 11:59 AM
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My young adult daughters love Bistro Yoffi on Chestnut Street in the Marina. If your daughter is interested in going to College in SF, that's where the college crowd tend to congregate (Chestnut, not necessarily Bistro Yoffi).
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 08:42 PM
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Some of my favorites: Scala Bistro, Levende Lounge, Cafe Andree (in the Hotel Rex). All with excellent food and sophisticated atmosphere.
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Old Feb 11th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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Slanted Door is fun and vibrant and is right on the bay. Part of its vibrancy comes from the lively bar, but she is only 19, so...? If you go there, make a reservation immediately.
When my daughter was in her teens, we took her to McCormick and Kuleto's in Ghiradelli Square for her birthday as recommended by the hotel concierge. Certainly there is more exquisite food in the City for adult tastes, but arranging to have a table with full view of the Golden Gate Bridge in a lively restaurant with the typical birthday fuss can be a memorable experience for all. And we enjoyed our meal, too.
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