Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Luna Park Restaurant
When friends come in from out of town, it can be challenging to pick a restaurant. Not because there aren't any good ones, but rather because there are too many. Mainly I want the place to be consistently good, have lots of options for all kinds of eaters (light, meat and potatoes, vegetarians, dessert fanatics) be fun and also give a good sense of what being in San Francisco is all about. If possible, convenient parking near by is nice to have too.
One restaurant I return to time and again is Luna Park on the very hip part of Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District. In addition to all of the aforementioned--choices, fun, etc., it has the added bonus that the prices are quite reasonable. The only down side is the noise level, though if you go with a group of no more than 4 or 5 people you can sit in a cozy booth and having a conversation is less of a challenge.
Luna Park offers a number of interesting appetizers that are great to nibble on with drinks or while everyone is deciding what they want. This past weekend we indulged in the Warm Goat Cheese Fondue with Grilled Bread and Sliced Apples which was delicious. The menu this past visit had a couple of fish and seafood choices, a couple of vegetarian options including Fontina Stuffed Ravioli with Mushrooms, Spinach and Truffle Oil and Winter Vegetable Risotto with Parsnips, Rutabaga, Butternut Squash, Black Kale and Cambozola Cheese. In addition to bistro favorites of Moules Frites, Salad Nicoise and Flat Iron Steak, there were also no fewer than 5 different salad options. I had the Oven Roasted Sea Bass with Garlic, Potatoes, Broccoli Rabe and Chile and at $15.50 it was about the most expensive thing on the menu. It was presented nicely, perfectly cooked and very satisfying.
Luna Park is also known for its desserts, especially the Make Your Own S'mores: Molten Marshmallow and Bittersweet Chocolate, with House Made Graham Cookies but this time our party chose to order several orders of the Apple Huckleberry Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream, and the Coconut Cream Pie which I can say without hesitation is the best I've had in recent memory. It was a huge slice and it had a perfectly fresh crisp crust, a light custardy cream, mounds of whipped cream and was covered in super large toasted ribbony flakes of coconut. If your idea of San Francisco is fun, decadently delicious and accessable--Luna Park is just the place to enjoy it with friends.
694 Valencia Street (at 18th)
Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday Brunch 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Dinner and Desserts: Monday-Thursday 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 5:30-11:30 p.m.; Sunday 5:30-10:00p.m