631 Kearny St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dining date: 12/24/14
One of the most popular (if not the most) restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown is R&G Lounge. It’s been around for almost 30 years, but has gained more widespread fame/popularity in recent years as it’s been featured on TV (most notably by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations).
R&G Lounge frequently draws a line for dinner service, but it was a madhouse on Christmas Eve. It was totally a cluster as the entire lobby was literally shoulder-to-shoulder, spilling out onto the street. Luckily I had made a 7:30 reservation, but our table still wasn’t ready until 8:30. I heard walk-ins quoted at 1.5-2hr waits, so the reservation did help a little.
3228 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 12/26/14
Nico opened in late 2013 quietly garnering a following as a sort of neighborhood restaurant nestled between Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights. SF Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer has been a fan since the restaurant opened; on Christmas Eve, he wrote a review calling it a “destination restaurant” and gave an impressive three-and-a-half stars (out of four). While looking for post-Christmas meals, my dad snagged a last minute reservation here for the family to try.
While Nico is tasting menu-only, it’s priced very reasonably especially for San Francisco standards. $45 buys three courses while $55 buys 5 courses with an optional wine pairing for $45. In a city where it seems fine dining restaurants continue to push the envelope with quickly-increasing prices, it was nice to find something a little more value-conscious here. We opted for the 5-course menu.