For Small Bites: Nopa
Great for a cocktail date and some nibbles. Get the grilled broccoli and maybe a burger if you need something more substantial. If you want to turn this into a splurge-y meal, split the gigantic pork chop. Read more here »
For Korean-American Food: Namu Gaji
The Lee brothers (Dennis, David and Daniel) keep Korean food traditions close to heart while very inspired by the local bounty from nearby farms in northern California. You'll find comforting dishes like the kimchi-topped burger, the okonomiyaki, and the spicy stone pot as well as a market-driven tempura dish, a selection of raw fish, and the popular beef tongue dish, which could be romantic on a night like Valentine's? Read more here »
For Sharing Everything: Bar Tartine
Bar Tartine's menu changes all the time, but we like to order whatever sounds good that day and share everything. Some past favorites: fish stew, the salads, smoked potatoes, and the langos. It's a cozy room and there's plenty of good wine and beer by the glass.
For Gorgeous Locavore Food: Rich Table
For a Low-Key Sandwich Date: Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
If your Valentine loves sandwiches as much as we do, go to Mario's in North Beach. Order two, swap halves, and get a carafe of red wine. You're right on the corner of Washington Square Park, and can stroll down to Romolo/Comstock/Tosca for a cocktail after if it's that kind of night. Read more here »
Mario's: 566 Columbus Ave San Francisco, CA 94133 (map); 415-362-0536
For a Dolores Park Picnic: Bi-Rite Cheese and Meat
Pick up any of the awesome-looking cheeses and cured meats from the market, a pint of their ice cream, a fresh-baked loaf of bread from nearby Tartine Bakery or Craftsmen and Wolves, and don't forget the blanket! Or if it's too chilly, you can bring this picnic indoors.
If You're Craving Turkish: Troya
For a Dim Sum Dinner: State Bird Provisions
Hmm, does State Bird Provisions count as affordable? It depends on your appetite. The dim-sum style service makes it a great, interactive date spot (if you can get a reservation.)
[Photograph: Maggie Hoffman]
If State Bird is Booked: Sheba Piano Lounge
This is a Fillmore alternative to State Bird Provisions. Wonderful Ethiopian food, live music, and pretty good cocktails. Don't judge by the cheesy-looking exterior. They have a fireplace inside too if you want this to be a cozy date.
[Photograph from Sheba Piano Lounge]
For a Mostly Liquid Dinner: Maven
Maven in the lower Haight is a charming cocktail destination with lots of small plates to share. Order cocktails that are paired with each dish for the complete adventure; it's surprising how well they work together. Read more here »
For the Pizza Lovers: Ragazza
We love the Bianca pie here. It's a masterpiece of salty-tangy-fresh flavors. Chef Sharon Ardiana, the mastermind behind the Lower Haight hotspot (not to mention Gialina, one of the original Bay Area pizza destinations), blends sharp, aged provolone, preserved Meyer lemon, and a straight-up dangerous onion crema to form the Bianca's base. Great neighborhood spot. Perfect for a foggy Valentine's evening with a bottle of red wine.
Read more here »