Stones Throw (San Francisco, CA)

Stones Throw
1896 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dining date: 12/28/14

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For the past number of years, my cousins and I have taken my grandma out for a birthday dinner over the Christmas holiday. This year, we decided on a restaurant in close proximity to my grandmother, Stone’s Throw in the Russian Hill neighborhood. The new American restaurant has been a hit since opening just over a year ago and it would be a new restaurant for all six of us (except for one cousin who had visited previously).

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We ordered a number of small plates to share and each ordered a main course.

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Osso Steakhouse (San Francisco, CA)

Osso Steakhouse
1177 California St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dining date: 12/27/14

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Each year, my dad takes my grandmother and my aunt out for an elaborate birthday dinner. This year, Osso Steakhouse was chosen as the spot. The restaurant opened earlier in 2013 by a restaurant group with a number of concepts around the Bay Area (probably most notable for The Stinking Rose) and has generally received favorable reviews since its opening. My parents had gone once last year and had a good meal, therefore they felt safe bringing a larger party here for this special occasion.

Osso specializes in dry-aged steaks featuring various sizes of filet, New York and porterhouse (a ribeye is curiously not on the menu). A large selection of seafood items, salads and traditional steakhouse sides round out the menu. Between our party of six, we were able to make a good dent into the menu.

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R&G Lounge (San Francisco, CA)

R&G Lounge
631 Kearny St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dining date: 12/24/14

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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.

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Nico (San Francisco, CA)

Nico
3228 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 12/26/14

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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.

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Monsieur Benjamin (San Francisco, CA)

Monsieur Benjamin
451 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dining date: 11/29/14

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Corey Lee, best known for being ex-chef de cuisine of The French Laundry and for three-star Benu, opened Monsieur Benjamin over the summer. It’s a departure from his fine dining experience towards something more casual – a somewhat modernized French bistro. Given Lee’s pedigree, I was eager to give the place a try during Thanksgiving weekend.

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The menu is extensive with a raw bar, a couple dozen small plates/appetizers and another dozen large plates/mains. My parents and I each ordered a small plate and ambitiously shared four mains.

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Nopalito (San Francisco, CA)

Nopalito
306 Broderick St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Dining date: 11/30/14

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Nopalito is the sister restaurant to ever-popular Nopa, located just a few blocks away (though there is a second location of Nopalito in the Inner Sunset). Whereas Nopa serves New American cuisine (that pork chop!), Nopalito serves up modernized Mexican fare. Tacos, quesadillas, ceviche and other Mexican flavors – they’re all here with a slight twist.

I really enjoy Nopa so naturally a visit to Nopalito was due. We came here on my last evening in SF during the Thanksgiving holiday on an evening when it was pouring rain. The rain clearly helped convince people to stay home as we had only a minimal wait for a table on this Sunday evening.

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