First of all - THANK YOU to everyone who replied to this post. This is such a great community, and I appreciated having so many well-considered recommendations from which to choose.
For those who are curious, here's what I ended up doing:
Flew in August 28th - it was an early flight out of NYC (I had to get up at 5am to make it!) and landed in SF around 10. Of course, the one time I was being picked up at the airport by a friend, my flight gets in early, and I didn't pack appropriately for the cold weather, so I sit around in the cold for nearly an hour waiting. But then we're off!
I was staying at 22nd and Valencia, and my friend wanted to try out Boogaloo's. I was still jet lagged and not able to put up much of a fight, so I acquiesced. My friend had a very nice veggie hash (not outstanding) and I had the veggie biscuits and gravy with an egg on the side. The veggie biscuits and gravy was a standout for me, but I lived for ten years in Texas before becoming a vegetarian, so I have a soft spot for biscuits and gravy and can rarely get a non-meat version, so I'm sure I'm just biased.
(As a side note, the next night, Boogaloos had a fire, and the place closed down - don't know if it's reopened yet, but it looked semi-serious. We happened to walk by it just after it happened and there were two firetrucks and a lot of water...)
For dinner Saturday night, we went to Greens and had their prix-fixe, along with the wine pairing. It was a highlight of the trip - great food, nearly all great wine pairings, and the ambiance and view couldn't be beat. I had an orange and beet soup (fantastic) and for a main had a mushroom crepe. It was very rich, but incredibly tasty. We did have a rather loud man sitting next to us going on about Israel (not what you think - he was bemoaning the fact that fat old men would sit outside the restaurants there and then he would be charged a 'security' fee to enter), but that wasn't the fault of the restaurant, and it didn't really detract.
For breakfast on Sunday (and Monday and Tuesday) we had baked goods pre-bought the night before from Tartine. My companion is crazy for their chocolate pudding, which he swears is the 'greatest pudding known to man'. I tried some, it was pretty darn good. I think it's the chocolate.
For lunch on Sunday, we went to Cha-Ya. I had the Cha-Ya rolls, and the veggie dumplings. Both were excellent, though the place was strangely empty (while the neighborhood was hopping).
For dinner Sunday, we went to Dosa on Valencia. It was pretty underwhelming, unfortunately. The service was a little slow, and the food was only somewhere between mediocre and good. I ordered the Chile Bhajia & Sweet Onion Chutney as an appetizer, which was a lot like jalapeño poppers without the cheese in the middle (no part of this sentence is a good thing), and for an entrée had the Spicy Mung Masala Dosa, which was quite good but very large and full. My companion ordered the Spring Dosa, but received the Spring Uttapam, which we only realized about halfway through (too late!).
On Monday, I changed plans last minute and rented a zipcar to go touring further afield, and we followed our noses and landed in North Beach around late lunchtime. Was going to go to Liguria Bakery for some focaccia on a recommendation from a colleague at work, but it was closed, so we used Yelp and found a random Italian cafe (Cafee Puccini) that had AMAZING bread for sandwiches.
Finally, for dinner the last night, went to Gracias Madre. Had the mushroom mole enchiladas. They were delicious; I'm always impressed when someplace can do mole well, and they nailed it. Plus, the 'cashew cheese' (the place is vegan) was really unremarkable, in a good way - I never would have known the entree didn't have cheese in it. It was a nice way to end for a great short trip.
So, that's it! Let me know if you've got any questions - and hit me up anytime if you're looking for my personal veg favorites when you're in NYC!
Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese
Cool - these are great suggestions. Looks like Dosa is definitely on the list.
I probably should have specified - while I *like* wine, it doesn't have to be served - I'm most interested in eating at some places that folks think are key experiences in San Francisco.
I've got a four-day trip to SF coming up in two weeks (for vacation). I've never been, and I'd love to go to some 'can't miss' restaurants while I'm out there for dinner. I've had a few recommendations from friends, but would *love* some expert opinions ;).
So, what I'm looking for is - what's your 'can't miss' restaurant in San Francisco?
I do have a few preferences to narrow it down:
-- I'm vegetarian (don't mind eating at non-veg restaurants, but clearly, I won't be having a steak...)
With that, any suggestions?
Thanks for the excellent recommendations all!
I thought I'd report back that thanks to the advice below, we ended up heading to The Other Side.
My train got in at about 11:45, and as I walked over to my friend's hotel (the Copley Square Sheraton). I arrived just in time to get massively rained on by a brief downpour, but was able to shake it off by the time I met my friend. We then walked up and over to the Other Side. I had the Buffalo Tempeh Sandwich, my friend ordered the Brie Sandwich with Apple and Pear. Mine was just ok, hers was OUTSTANDING. We also split an order of veggie nachos with the guac added, that was nothing special, but acceptable. The beer list was, as suggested, quite impressive.
It was cloudy when we arrived, but we sat upstairs and it was still cheery with the skylight. They were playing some music that suited the atmosphere, but not too loud or soft. By the time we'd finished up, it was sunny and breezy outside, so we opted for one more beer on the patio before heading out to Newberry St.
All in all, it was a perfect match of place and activity.
Thanks again, folks!!!!
Later this week I'm taking the train up from NYC and meeting a good old college friend from out of town (she's from Chicago, in Boston for a conference). Neither of us know the area, and I'm looking for recommendations for a good restaurant that is comfortable/casual, serves beer/wine, and has good vegetarian options in the Copely Square area, or is walking distance thereabouts. I'm a relatively new vegetarian, and while I'm not taking it too seriously, I'm trying to stick with it whenever possible.
Ideally, this would be a place they don't mind if we hang around a bit having a drink and catching up, too, so I suppose I'm thinking more pubby than fancy, but not knowing anything about the restaurants around, I don't even know if that's possible. Oh, and something Boston-specific would be great (i.e. not a chain, or an offshoot from another city).
Is that specific enough? Haha! Thanks for any suggestions....