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SF Tables Worth Snagging During the Burning Man Exodus

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While Burning Man has a reputation as a free-love junket for hippies, it's also become a locus of the local arts scene, a playground for nostalgic parents looking to relive their youthful antics, and a networking outlet for rich techies who fly in their own chefs. With all these restaurant-loving constituencies off partying in the desert, there's likely no better week to attempt to dine out in SF. To help you decide where to make the most of the Black Rock City exodus, we've once again rounded up the 15 toughest-to-snag tables in SF, whether you're seeking a date night, a raucous evening with friends, or a hangover-busting brunch. While we can't guarantee your ability to dine at any of these spots, at least you won't have to do it covered in dust.


Who did we miss? Let us know in the comments.

· SF's 15 Hardest-to-Get Tables, 2013 Edition [~ ESF ~]
· All Eater Maps [~ ESF ~]

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1. State Bird Provisions

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1529 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 795-1272
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As the grandaddy of crazy waits, we can't imagine State Bird's traffic ebbing much, even in this quieter week. But with reservation-hacking techies off to play on the playa, there may be hope for sampling the James Beard Award-winning small plates.

2. Rich Table

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199 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 355-9085
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Husband-and-wife team Sarah and Evan Rich book up their restaurant weeks in advance. Getting a walk-in seat or last-minute reservation at Rich Table to try the legendary porcini donuts, sardine chips, salads, and farm-fresh pastas is always a challenge, but might ease a little this week.

3. Flour + Water

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2401 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-7000
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With only 49 seats, flour + water is a squeeze, and they take very few reservations (less than half of the dining room). Chef Thomas McNaughton's housemade pastas and Neapolitan-style pizzas are likely to only get more famous with a cookbook release, set for next month.

4. Mission Beach Cafe

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198 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 861-0198
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Quiet in the evenings, MBC becomes sheer insanity at brunch, with waits easily topping an hour. The crowds come for lavender-infused french toast, huevos rancheros, and mimosas in enormous glasses.

5. Brenda's French Soul Food

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652 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 345-8100
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Brenda's shrimp and grits, biscuits, and hangtown fry are the stuff hangover dreams are made of, and the Cajun-inflected brunch bastion sees long waits and lines even on weekdays. But your wait for beignets may ease this week.

6. Cotogna

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490 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 775-8508
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Quince's casual outpost Cotogna hasn't let up speed since glowing reviews put it on the map, and Michelin-starred chef Michael Tusk's rustic and affordable take on Italian cuisine keeps 'em coming (and waiting).

7. Frances

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3870 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-3870
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Easily one of SF's top five toughest tables, tiny Frances has the casual friendliness of a neighborhood spot, combined with a smartly upscale, seasonal, and delicious menu. Reservations book up a month in advance, but you might be able to score one of the walk-in seats in front this week.

8. Coqueta

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Pier 5 - The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA
(415) 704-8866
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Michael Chiarello's waterfront restaurant serves up Spanish tapas and paella, and having a celebrity chef at the helm doesn't help when it comes to trying to score a table. But although Coqueta may be a flirt, now might be the moment to get some private time with this handsome spot.

9. Nopa

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560 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 864-8643
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This Divisadero spot is approaching a decade of serving local, sustainable California cuisine, but it's as hot as any newbie, probably because it continues to turn out some of the city's best food, and diners know it. This may be a rare chance to avoid squeezing in at the bar.

10. Outerlands

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4001 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-6140
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Even with a new renovation making it double the size, Outerlands' surfer-chic feel and California-hip food often mean waits in its lonely corner of the Outer Sunset (especially at brunch). Try your hand with a little less competition.

11. Delfina

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3621 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 552-4055
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Delfina has been serving upscale Italian since most Mission Italian-inspired spots were just twinkles in their proprietors' eyes. Their pizzeria next door doesn't diminish from the restaurant's draw, and both are continually tough tickets.

12. SPQR

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1911 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 771-7779
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Matthew Accarrino's food at SPQR just gets better and more creative with each passing year, and the intimate Italian-inspired restaurant continues to draw crowds for its ambiance, excellent wine list and creative menu. It's a shoebox, and reservations disappear accordingly.

13. Foreign Cinema

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2534 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-7600
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With the charm of a European movie night and a California/Mediterranean-inspired menu that also happens to boast some of the best fried chicken in town, Foreign Cinema has been going strong for over a decade. Plan an impromptu date night this week for maximum romance, or beat the crowds to a glorious outdoor brunch.

14. Padrecito

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901 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 742-5505
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Padrecito seats 75, but buzz over its upscale Mexican fare and agave-based cocktail list has kept tables full more than a year into its run in Cole Valley. This might be a rare chance to snag a walk-in table.

15. La Ciccia

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291 30th St
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 550-8114
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Adorable and petite, this family-run spot is known for its excellent Sardinian food and its impossible-to-snag tables, despite a location in a far corner of Noe Valley. The crowd is a bit older, so this might be less of a Burning Man relief effort, but it's worth a shot.

1. State Bird Provisions

1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

As the grandaddy of crazy waits, we can't imagine State Bird's traffic ebbing much, even in this quieter week. But with reservation-hacking techies off to play on the playa, there may be hope for sampling the James Beard Award-winning small plates.

1529 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115

2. Rich Table

199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Husband-and-wife team Sarah and Evan Rich book up their restaurant weeks in advance. Getting a walk-in seat or last-minute reservation at Rich Table to try the legendary porcini donuts, sardine chips, salads, and farm-fresh pastas is always a challenge, but might ease a little this week.

199 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102

3. Flour + Water

2401 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

With only 49 seats, flour + water is a squeeze, and they take very few reservations (less than half of the dining room). Chef Thomas McNaughton's housemade pastas and Neapolitan-style pizzas are likely to only get more famous with a cookbook release, set for next month.

2401 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94110

4. Mission Beach Cafe

198 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Quiet in the evenings, MBC becomes sheer insanity at brunch, with waits easily topping an hour. The crowds come for lavender-infused french toast, huevos rancheros, and mimosas in enormous glasses.

198 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94103

5. Brenda's French Soul Food

652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Brenda's shrimp and grits, biscuits, and hangtown fry are the stuff hangover dreams are made of, and the Cajun-inflected brunch bastion sees long waits and lines even on weekdays. But your wait for beignets may ease this week.

652 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94102

6. Cotogna

490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Quince's casual outpost Cotogna hasn't let up speed since glowing reviews put it on the map, and Michelin-starred chef Michael Tusk's rustic and affordable take on Italian cuisine keeps 'em coming (and waiting).

490 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

7. Frances

3870 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Easily one of SF's top five toughest tables, tiny Frances has the casual friendliness of a neighborhood spot, combined with a smartly upscale, seasonal, and delicious menu. Reservations book up a month in advance, but you might be able to score one of the walk-in seats in front this week.

3870 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

8. Coqueta

Pier 5 - The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

Michael Chiarello's waterfront restaurant serves up Spanish tapas and paella, and having a celebrity chef at the helm doesn't help when it comes to trying to score a table. But although Coqueta may be a flirt, now might be the moment to get some private time with this handsome spot.

Pier 5 - The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA

9. Nopa

560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

This Divisadero spot is approaching a decade of serving local, sustainable California cuisine, but it's as hot as any newbie, probably because it continues to turn out some of the city's best food, and diners know it. This may be a rare chance to avoid squeezing in at the bar.

560 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

10. Outerlands

4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Even with a new renovation making it double the size, Outerlands' surfer-chic feel and California-hip food often mean waits in its lonely corner of the Outer Sunset (especially at brunch). Try your hand with a little less competition.

4001 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122

11. Delfina

3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Delfina has been serving upscale Italian since most Mission Italian-inspired spots were just twinkles in their proprietors' eyes. Their pizzeria next door doesn't diminish from the restaurant's draw, and both are continually tough tickets.

3621 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

12. SPQR

1911 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Matthew Accarrino's food at SPQR just gets better and more creative with each passing year, and the intimate Italian-inspired restaurant continues to draw crowds for its ambiance, excellent wine list and creative menu. It's a shoebox, and reservations disappear accordingly.

1911 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115

13. Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

With the charm of a European movie night and a California/Mediterranean-inspired menu that also happens to boast some of the best fried chicken in town, Foreign Cinema has been going strong for over a decade. Plan an impromptu date night this week for maximum romance, or beat the crowds to a glorious outdoor brunch.

2534 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

14. Padrecito

901 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Padrecito seats 75, but buzz over its upscale Mexican fare and agave-based cocktail list has kept tables full more than a year into its run in Cole Valley. This might be a rare chance to snag a walk-in table.

901 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117

15. La Ciccia

291 30th St, San Francisco, CA 94131

Adorable and petite, this family-run spot is known for its excellent Sardinian food and its impossible-to-snag tables, despite a location in a far corner of Noe Valley. The crowd is a bit older, so this might be less of a Burning Man relief effort, but it's worth a shot.

291 30th St
San Francisco, CA 94131

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