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Italian, $$, L/D, MC/V.
SOMA
AsiaSF Priscilla, Queen of the Desert meets Asian-influenced tapas at this amusingly surreal lounge. The drag queen burlesque spectacle draws a varied audience that's a show in itself. (Staff) 201 Ninth St, SF. 255-2742. Fusion, D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Bacar means "wine goblet," and its wine menu is extensive — and affordable. Chef Arnold Wong's eclectic American-global food plays along nicely. (Staff) 448 Brannan, SF. 904-4100. American, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Basil A serene, upscale oasis amid the industrial supply warehouses, Basil offers California-influenced Thai cuisine that's lively and creative. (Staff) 1175 Folsom, SF. 552-8999. Thai, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Big Nate’s Barbecue is pretty stark inside — mostly linoleum arranged around a pair of massive brick ovens. But the hot sauce will make you sneeze. (Staff) 1665 Folsom, SF. 861-4242. Barbecue, L/D, $, MC/V.
Butler and the Chef brings a taste of Parisian café society — complete with pâtés, cornichons, and croques monsieurs — to sunny South Park. (PR, 5/04) 155A South Park, SF. French, B/L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Le Charm is the perfect spot to settle into a padded banquette and order wine and lamb chops and lovely little crèmes caramels. (Staff) 315 Fifth St, SF. 546-6128. French, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Chez Spencer brings Laurent Katgely’s precise French cooking into the rustic-industrial urban cathedral that once housed Citizen Cake. Get something from the wood-burning oven. (Staff) 82 14th St, SF. 864-2191. French, BR/L/D, $$, MC/V.
Fly Trap Restaurant captures a bit of that old-time San Francisco feel, from the intricate plaster ceiling to the straightforward menu: celery Victor, grilled salmon filet with beurre blanc. A good lunchtime spot. (Staff) 606 Folsom, SF. 243-0580. American, L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
*Fringale still satisfies the urge to eat in true French bistro style, with Basque flourishes. The paella roll is a small masterpiece of food narrative; the frites are superior. (PR, 7/04) 570 Fourth St, SF. 543-0573. French/Basque, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Hawthorne Lane comes about as close to restaurant perfection as is possible in this world. The California cooking shows marked Asian influences; the mutedly elegant decor is welcoming, not stuffy. Sublime service. (Staff) 22 Hawthorne Lane (between Second St and Third St at Howard), SF. 777-9779. California, L/D, $$$, MC/V.
India Garden indeed has a lovely garden and an excellent lunch buffet that does credit to South Asian standards. (Staff) 1261 Folsom, SF. 626-2798. Indian, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Jack Falstaff pays homage to the slow-food movement: there are emphases on the organic, the housemade, the local, and the healthful — and at the same time it’s all tasty and served in voluptuous, supper-club-style surroundings. (PR, 4/05) 598 Second St, SF. 836-9239. American, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
Julie's Kitchen offers a lunchtime buffet with, literally, a bit of everything, from roast turkey to sushi, with plenty of interesting items in between. (Staff) 680 Eighth St, SF. 431-1255. Eclectic, B/L, $, DC/MC/V.
Left Coast Cafe brings a breath of California freshness to the otherwise slightly antiseptic atrium of the Dolby Building. Healthy sandwiches (tuna, hummus), a decent Caesar, good mom-style cookies and brownies. (Staff) 999 Brannan, SF. 522-0232. California, B/L, ¢, cash only.
LJ’s Martini Bar and Grill sits on the second floor of the urban mall we know as Metreon, but its menu of American favorites and international alternatives is stylishly executed and reasonably priced in a sophisticated environment. For lunch, sit on the sunny terrace. (PR, 9/04) 101 Fourth St, SF. 369-6114. American, L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
LuLu defines the modern California restaurant. Many dishes acquire a heart-swelling smokiness from the oven — a plate of portobello mushrooms, say, with soft polenta and mascarpone butter. (Staff) 816 Folsom, SF. 495-5775.