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They serve a mean pipián burrito and decent fish tacos. (Staff) 525 Commercial, SF. 981-7800. Mexican, L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
Tommy Toy's Haute Cuisine Chinois is a cross between a steak house and The Last Emperor. The food is rich and fatty and only occasionally good. (Staff) 655 Montgomery, SF. 397-4888. Chinese, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Town's End Restaurant and Bakery enjoys a reputation for a fabulous weekend brunch (getting in can be a trick), but the restaurant serves a polished California menu at dinner too. (Staff) 2 Townsend, SF. 512-0749. California, B/BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Tu Lan has few luxuries except the food, which is a luxury to the wealthiest palate. Raw foods converge in salads and stir-fries that'll leave you wondering why your own cooking doesn't look as easy and taste as good. (Staff) 8 Sixth St, SF. 626-0927. Vietnamese, L/D, ¢.
NORTH BEACH/CHINATOWN
Da Flora advertises Venetian specialties, but notes from Central Europe (veal in paprika cream sauce) and points east (whiffs of nutmeg) creep into other fine dishes. (Staff) 701 Columbus, SF. 981-4664. Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
Dalla Torre is one of the most inaccessible restaurants in the city. The multilevel dining room — a cross between an Italian country inn and a Frank Lloyd Wright house — offers memorable bay views, but the pricey food is erratic. (Staff) 1349 Montgomery, SF. 296-1111. Italian, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe remains a classic see-and-be-seen part of the North Beach scene. The full bar and extensive menu of tapas, pizzas, pastas, and grills make dropping in at any hour a real treat. (Staff) 504 Broadway, SF. 982-6223. Mediterranean, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Gondola captures the varied flavors of Venice and the Veneto in charmingly low-key style. The main theme is the classic one of simplicity, while service strikes just the right balance between efficiency and warmth. (Staff) 15 Columbus, SF. 956-5528. Italian, L/D, $, MC/V.
House of Nanking never fails to garner raves from restaurant reviewers and Guardian readers alike. Chinatown ambience, great food, good prices. (Best Ofs, 1994) 919 Kearny, SF. 421-1429. Chinese, L/D, ¢.
Maykadeh Persian Cuisine is a great date restaurant, classy but not too pricey, and there are lots of veggie options both for appetizers and entrées. Khoresht bademjan was a delectable, deep red stew of tomato and eggplant with a rich, sweet, almost chocolatey undertone. (Staff) 470 Green, SF. 362-8286. Persian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Michelangelo Cafe There's always a line outside this quintessential North Beach restaurant, but it's well worth the sidewalk time for Michelangelo's excellent Italian, served in a bustling, family-style atmosphere. The seafood dishes are recommended; approach the postprandial Gummi Bears at your own risk. (Staff) 597 Columbus, SF. 986-4058. Italian, D, $$.
Moose’s is famous for the Mooseburger, but the rest of the menu is comfortably sophisticated. The crowd is moneyed but not showy and definitely not nouveau. (Staff) 1652 Stockton, SF. 989-7800. American, BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Pena Pacha Mama offers organic Bolivian cuisine as well as weekly performances of Andean song and dance. Dine on crusted lamb and yucca frita while watching a genuine flamenco performance in this intimate setting. (Staff) 1630 Powell, SF. 646-0018. Bolivian, BR/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Rico's touts its salsas, and they are good, but so is almost everything else on the mainstream Mexican menu. (Staff) 943 Columbus, SF. 928-5404. Mexican, L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
Rose Pistola cooks it up in the style of Liguria, and that means lots of seafood, olive oil, and lemons — along with a wealth of first-rate flat breads (pizzas, focaccias, farinatas) baked in the wood-burning oven. (PR, 7/05) 532 Columbus, SF. 399-0499. Italian, L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Washington Square Bar and Grill offers stylish Cal-Ital food at reasonable prices in a storied setting. (Staff) 1707 Powell, SF. 982-8123.