Um, wow. Are we all feeling a little calmer now? I know I’m not the only one who loathes the wind with a passion (long hair + lipstick + wind = cranky girl). But I love how the Santa Anas seemed to blow out every single last vestige of wind in the city—it’s so gorgeous and calm out that my workout in Alamo Square this morning was actually kind of enjoyable. I know, weird.
When it’s 73 degrees out, it’s a little odd to be writing about the holidays when I’m actually thinking about getting an ice cream instead, but that’s why we live in California. Right? Today I’m doing something a little different: a friend sent me an email asking where to hold a company/office holiday dinner party (in addition to about three other similar emails I have received in the past week), so I thought I’d do a round-up for y’all. It might be too late for some of you pre-planning types (sorry), but you can save the list for next year.
Okay, I need to get back to shoveling this massive pile of email. It may not be snowing out, but my inbox is buried under a snowdrift of pixels. Halp.
Yup, it’s that time of the year again. Some companies have a fabulous office manager who manages to plan where the company should have their holiday dinner party back in September, but not all of us are that prepared. Or have office managers.
A reader-pal of mine wrote this email to me last week: “Do you do an article on office holiday dinner spots? Last year I thought the same thing when we were picking a place; ‘Marcia should do a list of good restaurants for the inevitable holiday office dinner party.’
“We have, of course, selected something from the tablehopper the last two years in a row. Criteria are:
1) Toward the higher price range (though not bank-breaking). 2) Have space for larger tables (say, 6-12 people). 3) More intimate, less business. 4) Great atmosphere and interior. 5) Maybe a newish restaurant, though not critical, but great to go to a new place for all.”
Well done, friend. I couldn’t agree more with the criteria. I’d add that a spiffy private dining room is also a bonus, along with a central location/close to downtown.
So, for those of you who haven’t quite planned your office holiday meal (d’oh!), here are a few ideas for you. While many places may already be booked up, think about celebrating during the slower week between Christmas and the New Year, or even in January. A long (and boozy) lunch is another option.
See the “Groupthink” and “All Business” chapters in my book (The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion) for more ideas; Last Minute Big Group Dinner on page 106 can also be helpful if you’re in a pinch. Oh wait, you don’t have my book, you say? Well then, step right over here….
Holiday Dinner Party
1300 on Fillmore Fun atmosphere, cocktails, indulgent dishes, jazzy vibe.
Big 4 Such a classic environment (and classic dishes—think rack of lamb) with live piano in the background; also a prime spot to swing by for holiday cocktails (and chicken pot pie).
Bix One of my favorite places to celebrate, period. Open for lunch on Fridays year-round; open for weekday holiday lunches December 5th-23rd.
Dosa on Fillmore So, it’s not downtown, but parking is easy in the garage across the street, and they have group dining down to a science. Bollyholiday!
Foreign Cinema Memorable atmosphere, pleasing dishes that over-deliver for the price, and well suited for groups. How handy, Laszlo is next door if you want a nightcap.
Kokkari They have good options for larger groups—am a fan of their round table in the back dining room. Also open for lunch. Smelts for everyone!
La Mar Fun and flavorful food to share, upbeat atmosphere, and your table can get bombed on pisco cocktails; easy for larger groups and lunch.
One Market Excellent seasonal dishes (great meats!), and a festive option for a holiday lunch as well.
Perbacco Consistently some of the best Italian food in the city. Chic dining room. Lunch, too.
Piperade Delicious soulful food, polished yet warm atmosphere, a total pleaser. Open for lunch.
Prospect Quality cocktails, seasonal and approachable cuisine, spacious, and fine-tuned service.
Town Hall A bit more boisterous than the others listed here; classic good looks, hearty dishes, and plenty of cocktails to let the good times roll.
Waterbar Stunning views of the water, fresh seafood, feels special. Just be glad you’re not paying.
More Casual Options
Amber India Great food to share, and an easy downtown location.
Piccino For those who want a newer spot; take over the large tables in the center of the room. It’s a bit of a trek, but parking is easy.
Zero Zero Break out the punch bowls (hey, don’t try to swim in them), carb out and share some pastas and pizzas.
Private Dining Rooms
Boulevard Their wine vault room is one of my favorite PDRs in the city (fits 14).
Farallon Still wonderful after all these years; the Beluga room is stunning (good for large groups).
Palio d’Asti Got a big group? Lots of options here—also good for a cocktail-and-bites kind of event.
Quince One of the prettiest PDRs. Feels very special (because it is).
Spruce The front fireplace room is cozy and a unique setting.
Zaré at Fly Trap Love the classic look here (and memorable dishes). Full bar, yay.
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