Thursday, March 9, 2017

San Francisco: Hilton San Francisco Union Square+Urban Tavern+Cityscape Lounge


Hilton San Francisco Union Square  333 O’Farrell St./Mason St., 2 blks. from Union Square.  46 stories; 1,919 rooms+151 suites.  Outdoor heated pool; hot tub; full-service spa; fitness room.  2 restaurants; room service.  Self-parking & valet.  Occupying a full block and incorporating three buildings, this is the largest hotel on the West Coast.  It features a dramatic sunken marble lobby and is always buzzing. 

rooftop pool at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
rooftop pool at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California


The Urban Tavern (B&D daily; $$-$$$.) restaurant operates on the ground level just off the lobby.

entrance to Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
entrance to Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

An inviting, spacious venue, it offers a variety of seating arrangements--booths, tables and chairs, banquettes, counter seats, long communal table.  Decor includes a dramatic full-size horse sculpture made with recycled metal and rustic ceiling beams made from reclaimed wood.

dining room at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
dining room at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

Living up to its name, the drink menu highlights 50 wines from wineries within 50 miles, plus Bay Area beers and indigenous spirits.  I chose a tart Melon Ball Margarita cocktail that combines Tequila, Midori melon liqueur, and  honeydew puree.  My dining partner had a Stormy Weather made with Blackwell Jamaican black rum, fresh lime, and ginger beer.

cocktails and spicy cucumbers at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
cocktails and spicy cucumbers at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

Another delicious, sweetish drink is The Improved Whiskey Cocktail, prepared with fruit-infused bourbon made in house.

The Improved Whiskey Cocktail at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
The Improved Whiskey Cocktail at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

fruit infuser at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
fruit infuser at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

Appealing Mocktails are an option for those who don’t drink alcohol.  The kitchen makes good use of San Francisco’s bounty of seasonal ingredients.  We started with a light appetizer of spiced cucumbers accented with sesame and peanuts.  I chose well--a flavorful skirt steak served as a mound with wonderful wee baby potatoes, wild mushrooms, blistered cherry tomatoes, and balsamic onion marmalade.

skirt steak at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
skirt steak at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

My partner had a thick lightly-smoked pork chop with chunks of garnet yam, Brussels sprouts, and cracklings.

smoked pork chop at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
smoked pork chop at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

On another visit I tried the Garganelli bolognese which was divine--a penne pasta topped with a large portion of long-cooked “melted” short ribs mixed with aged goat cheese.

Garganelli bolognese at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
Garganelli bolognese at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

The gigantic house burger arrives stabbed together with a steak knife.

house burger at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
house burger at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
burger held by FancySchmancyWino.com blogger James Lovaas 


I was intrigued by the wine-bottle roasted chicken which was described as roasted on a full wine bottle, with the fumes permeating the meat and the remaining wine used in a sauce.  Next time.   It is unusual nowadays to find a menu with so many enticing mains.  For dessert we chose the TCHO Sea Salt Brownie Skillet, which was served attractively in a cute little 6-inch cast iron skillet that was hot from the oven.  It had a molten center and was topped with brandied cherries, honeycomb candy pieces, and orange-whiskey jellies.

brownie skillet dessert at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
brownie skillet dessert at Urban Tavern at Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

The kitchen seems to hit the perfect note on almost everything, so order fearlessly.  A doorway leads from the back of the restaurant into the lobby of the Hilton hotel, which is a great place to sit for a while and people-watch. 




On the 46th floor, Cityscape Lounge features 360-degree views through 14-foot floor-to-ceiling windows.  It is open daily from 5 p.m. to midnight with a menu of small plates and appetizers along with signature cocktails, wines by the glass, and a variety of beers on tap.  My favorite tidbit is the positively addictive house-made Kennebec potato crisps with garlic aioli sauce, and my favorite drinks are the Noe Valley Old Fashioned made with rum and orange bitters and the Berkeley Bramble made with The Botanist Gin, blackberries, lemon, and club soda.  “No two days look the same from Cityscape, where San Francisco weather flows over the ever-changing skyline,” says General Manager Lenny Gumm.  A nice feature is that you can freely walk all around the venue, being on one side for a while and then moving to the other side perhaps for sunset.  

view from Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
view from Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

cocktails at Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
cocktails at Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

potato crisps at Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
potato crisps at Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

avocado hummus at Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
avocado hummus at Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

sunset seen from Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
sunset seen from Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California

night view from Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California
night view from Cityscape Lounge in the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California


More things to do around Union Square.

More things to do in San Francisco. 

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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