President Barack Obama won’t have much time for exploring when he comes to town tomorrow — he’s scheduled to land at 5:30 p.m., attend a fundraiser at the Saint Francis, then leave first thing in the morning. The diner-in-chief has varied tastes — from burgers in D.C. to Dan Barber’s Blue Hill in New York. During a Bay Area visit in June, Michelle Obama, their daughters and her mother ate at Fino. Our picks for a presidential meal are below. Make a case for your favorite restaurant in the comments.
Zuni Cafe: This would be a likely destination if the Obamas were in town together with time for a civilized meal. It’s classic San Francisco but also modern, adheres to healthy dining values, and it’s good. If he were here with Michelle they could have martinis and oysters and that famous two-person roast chicken. As it is, he might go for what many agree is the city’s best burger.
Sutro’s at the Cliff House With 100 years of history behind it and the most dramatic view in the city (if not the country), the Cliff House is a strong contender for a presidential visit. In fact, the Cliff House Project notes the place has hosted five American presidents. Until the last year or so we might have written it off as too hokey, but with the recent remodel and kitchen makeover, this sleek throwback is once again worthy of the commander in chief.
Swan Oyster Depot: The president’s a savvy guy so we’re sure he knows that this is some of the best seafood in town. It’s not exactly “presidential” but then neither is Five Guys, and Swan is a good few steps up from that. During Dungeness season, we hope some advisor would mention Swan as the top destination in town for fresh crab.
Delancey Street: This is the restaurant where the president could send his strongest message just by entering. It’s staffed by ex-cons rehabilitating themselves, and the revenue goes to fund the Delancey Street Foundation. He wouldn’t even have to utter the words “volunteer” or “community” for us all to get the message.
Restaurant Gary Danko Arguably the finest restaurant in town, this is where one would expect the president to eat. A member of Relais & Chateaux, it’s one of the iconic fine-dining destinations in California. Its namesake proprietor has a penchant for local ingredients and a strong knowledge of local wines as well as a history at places like the Ritz, where they know from dignitaries. Obama has shown he likes high-end food, but nothing overly fancy, and Restaurant Gary Danko is the kind of place where he could get the perfect combination of creativity and straightforwardness.
Quince: Though it’s still settling into its new digs, Quince is a good option for a quiet dinner with a minimum of flash. Chef-owner Michael Tusk puts a lot of thought into his cooking, which the president would appreciate, along with the French and Italian-influenced California fare. Obama’s a big wine guy, and David Lynch could rise to the pairing challenge with aplomb.