Van Ness, SF. (415) 551-7181, www.walzwerk.com
Ahhhhh, chowdah. There's a reason anglers are able to keep fueled and warm on the stuff — it's hot, filling, and hearty, and the boys at Bar Crudo are happy to make sure you leave feeling like a nautical warrior, even if you work for Google. This rich and savory chowder has fresh clams, cod, squid, and potato, plus some hunky hunks of smoky bacon, all in a cream-loaded broth that makes you grateful you're not lactose intolerant. Order up an ale from the extensive beer list, and you'll be calling yourself Long John Silver in no time. Oh, wait, he was a pirate.
603 Bush, SF. (415) 956-0396, www.barcrudo.com
So your socks are soggy and your nose is runny? Let's pretend you're maxing and relaxing at a balmy locale instead. Poleng's tropical feel, complete with batik, a water wall, and other island-evocative decor, should help. And for some weird reason, it can also feel quite stuffy, so the resort fantasy isn't too far-fetched. Thanks to the talented Filipino chef, you can feast on an array of Asian small plates that are as delish as they are affordable, such as fried chicken adobo wings, lumpia Shanghai, and garlic crab noodles. Don't miss the tea service, which is almost as effective as self-warming seats in a Saab.
1751 Fulton, SF. (415) 441-1751, www.polenglounge.com
San Franciscans know wintertime is all about Dungeness crab. And when there's crab, there's a bowl of the quintessential San Francisco treat out there with your name on it. Not Rice-A-Roni, friend — cioppino. Belly up to the counter at Tadich, and you'll get a big steaming bowl of clams, prawns, scallops, bay shrimp, crabmeat, and white fish, with garlic bread on the side. You can also warm up with a bowl of its various chowders or some Chesapeake Bay oyster stew. For those who have never had a Tadich experience, just know the long-standing waiters here are about as salty as your Saltine cracker, so don't try any funny stuff, kid.
240 California, SF. (415) 391-1849
Luna Park is already a favorite of comfort food junkies for its warm goat cheese fondue, oven-baked mac ’n' cheese with broccoli and applewood-smoked ham, and other stick-to-your ribs savories for less than $20. But this holiday it's time to release your inner kid, the nice one who wants to decorate cookies (not the bad one who throws rocks)! From Dec. 10 to 25, you can come in and decorate your own gingerbread man and Christmas tree cookie with all kinds of candies and toppings. You can also warm up like an adult with a mug of Santa's Little Helper, Luna Park's brandy- or whiskey-spiked eggnog. It comes with a bar of dark chocolate, perfect for stirring and eating naturally.
694 Valencia, SF. (415) 553-8584, www.lunaparksf.com
This friendly little eatery is well-known around town for its killer brunch, but a lot of people are just learning about its ridiculously affordable dinners too, thanks to the new owners. Chow down on homey neoclassical American faves such as slow-roasted lamb shank, roasted free-range chicken, and Shiraz-braised short ribs, with not a single dish more than $16 in that little roundup (and you get some fab veggie sides). Any place that serves chicken potpie is a champ, but how about chicken hash, for dinner? Uh, yeah, bring it on. Fill up on the homemade bread too.
500 Presidio, SF. (415) 441-2238, www.ellassanfrancisco.com
KOKKARI AND TERZO
Most San Francisco fireplaces have been converted into receptacles to store crappy gas heaters, but there are a couple spiffy restaurants around town that understand the importance of a good, crackling fire. Nothing quite tops the fireplace at Kokkari, which does double duty as a rotisserie for various meat treats such as spring lamb, whole Red Wattle pig, duck, goose, and goat.