The Infatuation is built on the idea of “Perfect For” categories, catering to your specific restaurant needs and situations. Date night? Group dinner with friends? Your old boss, who conveniently is now a vegan, is in town and wants to get dinner somewhere trendy? We can handle it.
But sometimes, there are situations that just don’t fit into a concise, pre-determined category. And there is one such genre of restaurant we keep hearing over and over again - at parties, shuttle bus stops, or cardio barre classes we’ve actually never attended. It’s what we’ve come to call the “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends” (SCRPRTCUWFF).
In general, SCRPRTCUWFFs are:
- Somewhat quiet.
- But not boring.
- Relatively small.
- With plates mostly under $20. (Drink as much Sauvignon B as you want, though.)
Now go ahead and plan that Wednesday night dinner.
Souvla makes you feel like you’re on vacation in the Greek islands - especially at the Nopa location with the big back patio. You order at the counter, get some wine while you’re at it, and then sit back and wait for your delicious salad (get the lamb) or gyro. Very cute, very affordable, very delicious.
Everyone knows that buying bottles of wine at restaurants is a rip, because they quintuple the grocery store price. A place once attempted to sell us a bottle of Crane Lake for $25 dollars and we said NAY. Arlequin is conveniently attached to a wine store, so you can walk across the threshold and buy a bottle for a non-criminal price. Foodwise, we love the lamb burger, kale salad, and roasted chicken. They’re only open until 8 so keep this one in your back pocket for early dinners.
Sometimes you want to catch up with friends, but not get stuck there for too long. Bonita is the move in this instance. The little spot in the Marina is great for a quick dinner, especially on a nice night when you can sit in the alleyway patio. They have margaritas and beers and excellent salads and tacos - the carne asada and carnitas are the way to go.
One of the most under-the-radar spots in the Marina, Mezes is a gem. Greek small plates, a good and affordable wine list, and really nice service are all in the mix. This is very much a neighborhood joint and very much worth checking out. You won’t have to wait and the first thing you need to do is order some zucchini cakes.
Time for all the cocktails. Maven is one of our go-tos in the Haight to grab drinks and dinner without a long wait or reservations. The upstairs area is cool, and the space never gets too loud. The burger is good, the mussels are good, and the corpse reviver cocktail is especially good.
Walking into Piccino basically feels like walking into a Scandinavian design store. Beautiful wood, sleek minimalist chairs, and white walls keep the space simple. This is nice because you can focus on talking to your friends and hearing the latest on Tessa’s ridiculous roommate who keeps using her Clarisonic and then lying about it. Order a pizza and a few salads and get to it.
A local and low-key spot on Union that doesn’t attract the bros native to this region of the city, Gamine is one of our favorites for a chill dinner that won’t explode your wallet. The mussels, escargot, and petit filet are really good and the friendly waiters don’t hold back on the bread basket refills. Our kind of place.
B*Star Bar is the move to grab some Burmese without dealing with the insanity of Burma Superstar down the block. The back area is airy and cool and it’s a great spot to share some spicy things and catch up with people. You can hear each other talk, and you can all agree that the tea leaf salad is fantastic.
Healthy dinners don’t have to mean sh*tty salads or Lean Cuisines. Little Gem glams up healthy food in a beautiful space in Hayes Valley, and is ideal for a chill weeknight dinner. You order at the counter and grab a table, but that counter order can also include wine so don’t fret. Be warned though - the salads are small and the plates are pricey, so stick with the rice bowls and share a salad.
While people might think of Ragazza as a pizza spot, we’d disagree. The best stuff is the small plates (and roasted chicken), which is all good to share - key for friend dinners. No food envy up in here. The back garden is fantastic, and they have heaters so it’s an option pretty much all the time.
There are plenty of pretentious wine bars out there, but luckily 20 Spot isn’t one of them. With a great vibe, and even greater music, this Mission spot is one of the more fun places to catch up with friends - just make sure they like cheese.
Fiorella has quickly become one of our favorite Richmond spots, and is possibly the definition of a SCRPRTCWFF. It feels ultra-neighborhoody, has great service, and you should be able to get a res on a weekday. The pasta is awesome, especially the cacio e pepe, and the pizza and apps are good as well. Good luck trying to get a picture of the famous San Franciscan-cartoon wallpaper that turns out well though - the lights are pretty dim.