Sophisticated Country in the Tenderloin

Spain meets France in a tavern setting.

But on the whole, Urban Tavern in the evening felt like a totally different restaurant than the one we'd visited for a disappointing lunch. It consisted of a rather flavorless cold tomato soup poured around a knot of equally underwhelming crab ($10); a salad of marinated calamari and underripe watermelon ($11); a Caesar ($9) that came with so few anchovies that we had to request more, and a pervasive and unwelcome dusting of hot red pepper that made it very un-Caesarlike; and an overcooked and oily-tasting chunk of salmon ($20), without its accompanying tartar sauce, which only came after two requests and an agonizing wait. The peach melba ($9) we shared, made with good vanilla ice cream, suffered from an underflavored peach.

At dinner a month after the disappointing lunch, the kitchen had noticeably improved, but slow and rather clueless service persisted. Our server was earnest, but she didn't tell us what the soup of the day was (we overheard it later from another server), didn't know what lumache pasta was (an ingredient in the shellfish casserole which turns out to be large shells), and, when we wanted to know which four cheeses were on the cheese plate, promised to find out but never told us. On the plus side, she did know that paillasson potatoes are a kind of grated potato cake. And she cheerfully bore away portions of dishes to be boxed up to go.

The horse sculpture lends a little country flavor to a city tavern.
Jen Siska
The horse sculpture lends a little country flavor to a city tavern.

Location Info


Urban Tavern

333 O'Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Union Square/ Financial District


Urban Tavern

923-4400, Open daily for breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m., for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: street, difficult. Muni: 2, 3, 4, 27, 31, 38, 76. Noise level: moderate.

333 O'Farrell (at Mason)

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Still, there's nothing quite like the rather glamorous Urban Tavern in its gritty downtown neighborhood. Not only is it conveniently close to several of San Francisco's theater and concert venues, but its menu is also suitable for both full meals and grazing. We watched two young girls sitting across from us snack, delightedly, on a shared plate of salmon rillettes, eggplant caviar, and hummus ($9); a casserole of Berber-spiced mussels ($14); a side of white beans, tomatoes, and olives ($4); and two glasses of Prosecco ($9), getting out of there for about $25 each. Two different tables, two totally different experiences.

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