10 Quiet Neighborhood Restaurants
Sometimes eating to the tune of bartenders shaking drinks, groups guffawing, and the latest indie rock sensation on the sound system is cool. (We're looking at you, Bottle Cap.) But there are (so many) times when dinner needs to be a respite from noise. Maybe it's been a rough week. Maybe your older relatives are in town. Or maybe it's time for something a little corny romantic with your SO. Whatever the reason, here's our list of quiet, calm restaurants, by the neighborhood. There might even be a delicious pork chop or two for your enjoyment—in hushed tones, of course.
Polk Gulch: A neat little Moroccan BYOB on Polk St., Tajine's feathery bastilla and staggering array of tajine variations run marathons around other contenders in the genre. 1653 Polk St.
Tenderloin: It's cheap, the banh xeo is heavenly, and Bodega Bistro's vibe sticks to an unpompous reverence for the authentic Vietnamese goodness filling the room. 607 Larkin St.
Russian Hill: Sure we've heard some guy named Brad Pitt dines here when he's in town to avoid the crazies. But we eat at Allegro Romano for the very special jewel box of a space, nicely rendered Italian basics like lobster ravioli, and a welcome escape from city bustle. Promise. 1701 Jones St.
Japantown: Family-owned Post street starlet Bushi-tei provides sweet service, and relative silence so there's literally no distraction from the captivating California Japanese creations on the plate. 1638 Post St.
SoMa: They don't call it Le Charm for nothing. This traditional French bistro is tucked away on 5th Street, full of wafting cassoulet smells, warm-hued walls, soft jazz, and, yes, charm. 315 5th St.
Mission: At Minako Organic Japanese Restaurant, fresh sashimi of-the-day comes in a small pool of seasonal herb sauce, the menu is peppered with hand-drawn sketches, and there's decade old kimchee ageing in back. Lots to talk about, and you can actually do so in peace. 2154 Mission St.
Sunset: The backdrop for Lavash's authentic Persian fare won't distract from the main event. A flickering fireplace, fresh-cut flowers and warm, helpful service go just as well with ghorme sabzi (Persian beef stew) and fesenjan (chicken in pomegranate-walnut sauce) as they do with rose water-tinged faloodeh for dessert. 511 Irving St.
Richmond: Since chef-owner Mourad Lahlou plans to move Aziza to more of a prime location in Jackson Square it's days on Geary Blvd. are numbered. Its bar is one of the few quiet spots in town for an expertly shaken cocktail, and the Moroccan-themed dining rooms create an almost spa-like setting for the Michelin-starred menu. 5800 Geary Blvd.
Noe Valley: Diners with celiac come from all over the place to try Bacco Ristorante's wondrous gluten-free pasta. But chef Vincenzo Cucco's glutinous creations are arguably even more delicious. We dig the meatballs, bigoli with bottarga and crema Catalana, in a soft-hued room that's quiet enough to hear your neighbor's occasional swoon. 737 Diamond St.
Marina/Cow Hollow: Hidden in a sometimes-rowdy stretch of town, Brazen Head beckons with a manly NY strip steak, hearty cocktails and a warm underground abode, perfect for tete-a-tetes and family meals. 3116 Buchanan St.
Do you have a favorite quiet restaurant respite in town? Please do share it with us in the comments section below.