Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
*Firefly remains an exemplar of the neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco: it is homey and classy, hip and friendly, serving an American menu — deftly inflected with ethnic and vegetarian touches — that’s the match of any in the city. (PR, 9/04) 4288 24th St, SF. 821-7652. American, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Firewood Cafe serves up delicious thin chewy-crusted pizzas, four kinds of tortellini, rotisserie-roasted chicken, and big bowls of salad. (Staff) 4248 18th St, SF. 252-0999. Italian, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Los Flamingos mingles Cuban and Mexican specialties in a relaxed, leafy, walk-oriented neighborhood setting. Lots of pink on the walls; even more starch on the plates. (PR, 11/04) 151 Noe, SF. 252-7450. Cuban/Mexican, BR/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Fresca raises the already high bar a little higher for Peruvian restaurants in town. Many of the dishes are complex assemblies of unusual and distinctive ingredients, but some of the best are among the simplest. The skylighted barrel-ceiling setting is quietly spectacular. (PR, 7/05) 3945 24th St, SF. 695-0549. Peruvian, L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Hamano Sushi packs them in despite a slightly dowdy setting and food of variable appeal. The best stuff is as good as it gets, though, and prices aren't bad. (Staff) 1332 Castro, SF. 826-0825. Japanese, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Home sounds homey, and it is, at least foodwise: first-rate pot roast, macaroni and cheese, broccoli with white cheddar cheese sauce; the occasional dressier dish. The crowd has a strong clubland look. (Staff) 2100 Market, SF. 503-0333. New American, D, $, AE/MC/V.
Incanto sets the bar a bit higher for neighborhood Italian restaurants. Gorgeous stonework, a chapel-like wine room, and skillful cooking that ranges confidently from pastas to braised lamb shanks. (Staff) 1550 Church, SF. 641-4500. Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
Long Island Restaurant dishes up reliable Chinese standards in a space that's been considerably brightened since the passing of the previous occupant. (PR, 3/04) 1689 Church, SF. 695-7678/79. Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Lucky Time drifts happily between the foods of Vietnam and China. Low prices, fast service, reasonably nice decor, location vastly convenient to public transport. (PR, 3/05) 708 14th St, SF. 861-2682. Vietnamese/Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Lupa, in the old Noi-Little Italy space, serves a strong pan-Italian menu with Roman accents. Service is knowledgeable and familial, the food competitive in a competitive neighborhood. (Staff) 4109 24th St, SF. 282-5872. Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
[TK]Malacca serves the foods of the Strait of Malacca region, and the sophisticated mix is unmistakably Singaporean, from Portuguese noodles (with basil, tomato, garlic, and ginger) to beef rendang. Wine is emphasized over beer, and the decor of unduutf8g bamboo is quietly striking. (PR, 11/05) 4039 18th St, SF. 863-0679. Pan-Asian, D, $$, MC/V.
Nirvana offers a peaceful respite from busy Castro streets. Although noodles make up the bulk of the menu, there's also a list of entrées that range from stir-fried jicama to grilled lemongrass chicken. (Staff) 544 Castro, SF. 861-2226. Pan-Asian, L/D, $, MC/V.
La Provence bestows a welcome dash of south-of-France sunshine to an often befogged city. Many fine Provençal standards, including a memorable tarte tropézienne. (PR, 9/05) 1001 Guerrero, SF. 643-4333. French, D, $$, MC/V.
Samovar Tea Lounge has tea — of course, and of many, many kinds — but also food to go with your tea and a gorgeous setting of fluttering fabrics to enjoy it all in. A world of tea culture. (Staff) 498 Sanchez, SF. 626-4700. Eclectic, B/L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
Savor has transformed the old Courtyard Cafe into a fantasy of a Mediterranean country inn. Pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, et al, occur in various permutations throughout the menu's crepes, omelets, frittatas, sandwiches, and salads. (Staff) 3913 24th St, SF. 282-0344.