Date Night: San Francisco Symphony [Sponsored]

Science proves that sharing an experience with another person makes it more intense—another reason why attending the San Francisco Symphony with a companion is such a good idea.

This month, Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas leads SFS through two weekend concert series; American Masters and MTT Conducts Mahler's Fourth.

Both series offer performances on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as a Sunday matinee, so we’ve rounded up a short list of some pre- and post-concert stops for food, drinks, and other diversions for two.

Before the Performance

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
(398 Hayes St. at Gough)

One of Hayes Valley’s oldest restaurants, Absinthe’s classic cocktails and seasonal menu make it a popular stop for concertgoers.

With a raw bar, renowned burgers and brunch service, the informal restaurant is also an excellent choice for a post-concert meal, as the kitchen’s open until midnight Thursday-Saturday. Reservations recommended. (415-551-1590)

Alta CA
(1420 Market St. between 10th & 11th)

There's literally something for every eater on the menu at Alta CA, which means you and your companion can nibble on za'atar-spiced olives while sipping glasses of wine, or throw down with a house burger and a specialty cocktail.

Smuggler’s Cove
(650 Gough St. at McAllister)

Boasting more than 550 different rums, this vintage tiki bar continues to rack up awards for exotic cocktails like the Top Notch Volcano (serves four!) and The Dead Reckoning.

The drink list covers more than 80 different drinks, some of which use as many as 12 different ingredients. Never batched, each drink is made fresh to order. (415-869-1900)

Photo: MTT/Facebook

(203 Octavia Blvd. at Page)

This is San Francisco, so if you want to eat a donut burger, mini corn dogs or southern-fried pickles before the symphony, no one can judge you.

Straw’s “carnival fare” sounds whimsical, but with a wide range of comforting dinner and brunch options and a kitchen that’s open until 10pm, it’s a legitimate choice for patrons of the arts who don’t take themselves too seriously.

Smitten Ice Cream
(432 Octavia St #1A)

Before a matinee, pop into Smitten Ice Cream for a treat that materializes before your eyes: using their proprietary Brrr machine, cream, milk, sugar and other fresh ingredients are transformed into ice cream in about 90 seconds.

After you order, relax on a bench in adjacent Patricia’s Green with your date as you enjoy Smitten flavors like peanut butter banana (vegan) or crème fraîche with pear caramel before walking over to Davies Symphony Hall.

At the Symphony

American Masters, November 10-12

This weekend’s upcoming American Masters concerts present the work of three composers who offer a unique take on the American experience; George Gershwin’s “An American In Paris,” Charles Ives’ “Psalm 90,” and “The American Flag,” by Antonín Dvořák.


Michael Tilson Thomas conducts Mahler's Fourth Symphony with SFS. | Video: YouTube/SFS

MTT Conducts Mahler's Fourth, November 24-26

Featuring sleigh bells, flutes and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony is a melodic, exciting piece of music with a broad appeal. Describing a child’s vision of heaven, this symphony is likely to give you and your companion a strong case of the feels.


Join a pre-concert discussion

Arrive early at Davies Symphony Hall to join SFS’s Prelude Series, pre-concert discussions that examines themes related to the upcoming performance.

This weekend, join us in the First Tier Lobby 45 minutes before the concert begins to discuss the topic, “what makes something uniquely American?”

Pre-order a drink

Pro tip: instead of waiting in line, call 415-252-1937 to pre-order a drink or approach a bartender after you arrive at Davies Symphony Hall. When you return to the lobby at intermission, your beverages will be waiting for you at a table or at the end of the bar.

Take in the view

Day or night, the balcony and windows on the Second Tier level offer a panoramic view, with City Hall’s dome front and center. It’s a fine spot for a two-person selfie—or a kiss to remember.

After the Performance

Hôtel Biron
(45 Rose St.)

Located in a quiet alley between Gough and Market, this wine bar is usually packed with lively groups of people enjoying glasses of grape, which makes it as one Yelper describes, "ideal for a secret conversation with a friend."

With an extensive beer selection and generous cheese and charcuterie plates on offer, Hôtel Biron's 2am closing time makes it an optimal place to end the evening after a night at SFS.

Noir Lounge
(581 Hayes St.)

Open until 1am, the black-and-white films screening on the walls, cozy dark corners and red-and-back color scheme inside this 89-seat cocktail lounge reinforce its reputation as a "sexy" place for a date.

A well-curated selection of beer and wines are served alongside small plates, main dishes, and accompaniments that include olives and tater tots. To book a table, call 415-431-6647.

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Date night san francisco symphony