Thanks for all of the suggestions! I forgot to mention that I have ripped Venice apart and was never really impressed with the food anywhere, though the interiors are just lovely. I'll definitely check out fundamental if I can!
Good suggestions have been thrown out and I'll add to them or just +1 them. Here are some suggestions from a late 20's "kid":
You should try to tackle SF by exploring neighborhoods one at a time, especially since you won't have a car. The neighborhoods that are most lively/worth exploring [for me] in terms of bars and food would be the Mission, Tendernob, SOMA/Embarcadero and maybe Pac Heights or Marina. [I may get taunted for some of my recommendations because of subpar food, but ambiance/scene is important to me as I am still very much a kid :)]
I'm sure that you will want Mexican food, so hit up Taqueria Vallarta (or Americanized Tacolicious) for tacos or if you're vegetarian, and La Oaxequena if you like smoky mole. El Farolito and La Palma are overhyped, and Taqueria San Jose and La Taqueria are just basic Mexican food in my opinion.
As for bakeries, Tartine is worth it if you don't have to wait in line. Knead is good also. Craftsman and Wolves can be touch-and-go but the space and presentation are awesome.
Lots of casual but nice dining/casual drinking options like Abbott's Cellar, St. Vincent, Bar Tartine, Beretta, and Mission Cheese. Basically, you will see a LOT of wooden floors/walls/furniture. Foreign Cinema is cute also but the food has never been jawdropping. There are dive-but-not-dive bars also like Sycamore and Monk's Kettle, both of which have good food.
Flour+Water and Central Kitchen are awesome, but are quite a schlep from public transportation and are kind of located in between warehouses and sketchy housing. It might be hard to catch a cab out of the area. Same goes for Skool and Source.
Delfinas and Farina are overrated IMO, as are Namu Gaji and Mission Chinese Food.
SOMA/Embarcadero/Edge of Fidi:
Lots of trendy restaurants and food. Some favorites include Prospect for brunch, AQ, Cotogna, Perbacco/Barbacco, Michael Mina (not for the food so much hah) and Wayfare. Ferry Building is good for a walkthrough and La Mar next door is pretty good. Don't bother with most Embarcadero restaurants.. Chaya, Epic and Waterbar generally suck but are lovely. Waterbar is good for $1 oysters during brunch or HH. For cheap/quick eats, hit up Sentinel or Deli Board for sandwiches. 25 Lusk is very pretty but the food leaves a lot to be desired, so maybe just hit up the lounge there. District, a wine bar, is just a block down. More towards Union Square, there's Press Club (no full bar) or Local Edition, as mentioned. You can reserve tables at LE for free on Seatme for certain periods of time. Up the street are Rickhouse, Gitane, Cafe Claude/Claudine and kitschy Belden Place, which is cute on weekday nights but dead on the weekends.
Pac Heights/Fillmore area doesn't have much, but State Bird Provisions is there if you can snag reservations. There's a walk-in standing/waiting/eating tabletop thing also. Going up and down the hill, there's SPQR, Baker & Banker, Park Tavern, A16, Delarosa and a bunch of small cafes/quick food restaurants, but all are forgettable IMO.
Tendernob is where most lively bars are at. Jones is popular, along with Rye up or Bourbon & Branch/Tradition down the street. You can reserve booths at B&B/W&W or Tradition ahead of time as well. If you're brave, you can head over to Chambers, which is definitely swanky and loud.
I beg you not to go to Sloane - it's a dirty club with sweaty, messy, trashy people. If you want to be trashy, sticky, and dirty, you can hit up Balboa Cafe or Butter and Holy Cow. At least for the last two, Bar Agricole is nearby to save you.
For splurges, +1 on Benu and Atelier Crenn. You can call ahead to Benu and boss them around, and they are totally accommodating! Commonwealth tasting menu is a great deal. Have yet to be able to snag reservations at Frances, but I have hear it is awesome. Gary Danko is nice, but a bit dated in comparison to all the new modern menus available.
I will be traveling to Los Angeles next month and am looking for some restaurant recommendations.
For people from the SF area, I'm looking for something similar in ambiance/presentation to Bar Tartine, Abbott's Cellar, Foreign Cinema, Commonwealth, AQ, State Bird, etc. I basically like interesting/creative takes on farm-to-table ingredients in sleek spaces. I've been looking around but can't seem to really find anything to fit the bill. I've been to Animal and Son of a Gun, as well as ink, Scarpetta, Red Med, and the SBE ventures, but maybe something fresh has opened in the past year?
Dinner and brunch recommendations are what I am ideally looking for. Thanks!
I have to be quick and make dinner reservations in the near future and wanted some input to help guide my decision.
One of my options is a semi-nice restaurant that I have often frequented that is well known for its dining room ambiance. I have never been too impressed by the entrees there but the oysters and appetizers are great, as is the wine list. If we decide to dine there, we would probably end up getting two bottles of wine or one bottle + 3 glasses for pairing, oysters, a few appetizers and maybe one entree to split among three small girls.
My question is, would this be frowned upon since dining at the bar would be more "appropriate"? It seems like a lot of people look down on the act of sharing of entrees. FYI, I would be spending a lot more than if we were to each order an entree and leave it at that. Input would be appreciated!