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Danko's California cooking is distinctive, but the real closer is the cheese cart, laden with the exquisite and the rare. (Staff) 800 North Point, SF. 749-2060. California, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Jeanty at Jack's introduces Philippe Jeanty's earthy French cooking into the vertiginous old Jack's space, and the result is leisurely fabulousness, at least at dinnertime. At lunch, the pace is more harried, the prices too high. (Staff) 615 Sacramento, SF. 693-0941. French, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
Kyo-Ya may not be the best Japanese restaurant in the city, but it's certainly one of them. Elegantly padded surroundings, sublime sushi, and a wide selection of cooked dishes attract an international mercantile class. (Staff) 2 New Montgomery, SF. 512-1111. Japanese, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
MacArthur Park still occupies a gorgeous brick cavern in the Barbary Coast, but the restaurant these days is more a neighborhood spot than a destination, and the emphasis seems to be on takeout. (Staff) 607 Front, SF. 398-5700. Barbecue, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Mandarin, though a Gen Xer by birth and a longtime resident of touristy Ghirardelli Square, still offers a matchlessly elegant experience in Chinese fine dining: a surprising number of genuinely spicy dishes, superior service, and wine emphasized over beer. (PR, 9/04) 900 North Point (in Ghirardelli Square), SF. Chinese, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
*Mijita shows that Traci des Jardins can go down-market with the best of them. The Mexican street food is convincingly lusty, but in keeping with the Ferry Building setting, it’s also made mostly with organic, high-quality ingredients. (PR, 4/05) 1 Ferry Bldg, Suite 44, SF. 399-0814. Mexican, B/L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
MoMo's San Francisco Grill The New American food at MoMo's is surprisingly excellent, and the interior decoration is opulent, with prairie-style furniture, wood trim, dark green carpeting, and dimpled leather upholstery on the banquettes. (PR, 11/98) 760 Second St, SF. 227-8660. American, BR/L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Paragon has left behind its fratty Marina incarnation to become, near the Giants' new ballpark, a stylish haven of gastronomic Americana. Something for everyone in a strikingly vertical space. (Staff) 701 Second St, SF. 537-9020. American, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Plouf Mussels 10 ways — need we say more? Plouf knows its turf, and that's surf. All the seafood sparkles at this chic spot tucked away on pedestrians-only Belden Place, though mussels are a house specialty, impeccably fresh and served in brimming bowlfuls. Lots of outdoor seating reinforces the French-café feel. (Staff) 40 Belden Place, SF. 986-6491. French, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Ponzu opened early in 2000 but is likely to be remembered as one of that year's best new restaurants. The decor manages to be warm, bright, and modern without going over the top. (Staff) 401 Taylor, SF. 775-7979. Asian, B/D, $$, MC/V.
*Postrio might be the last place on earth where you can still get a taste of the elegantly lusty cooking that made Wolfgang Puck and his first Spago famous. (Staff) 545 Post, SF. 776-7825. California, B/BR/L/D, $$$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Puccini and Pinetti practically shouts festivity: bright, primary-colors decor (with an emphasis on yellow and blue), plenty of noise, and solidly rendered Italian-American comfort food. (Staff) 129 Ellis, SF. 392-5500. Italian, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Shanghai 1930 resembles a cross between a speakeasy and one of Saddam Hussein's famous bunkers. The high-end Chinese menu is a marvel of freshness and priciness. (Staff) 133 Steuart, SF. 896-5600. Chinese, L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Tadich Grill is the city's oldest restaurant (150 years and counting), and it still packs ’em in, specializing in seafood and most anything grilled. (Staff) 240 California, SF. 391-1849. Grill, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Tlaloc rises like a multistory loft on its Financial District lane, the better to accommodate the hordes of suits crowding in for a noontime burrito-and-salsa fix.