American, BR/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, $$, AE/MC/V.
Los Flamingos mingles Cuban and Mexican specialties in a relaxed, leafy, walk-oriented neighborhood setting. Lots of pink on the walls; even more starch on the plates. (PR, 11/04) 151 Noe, SF. 252-7450. Cuban/Mexican, BR/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
2223 could easily be a happening queer bar, what with all that male energy. But the American menu joins familiarity with high style, and the ambience is that of a great party where you're bound to meet somebody hot. (Staff) 2223 Market, SF. 431-0692. American, BR/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
HAIGHT/COLE VALLEY/WESTERN ADDITION
*Frankie's Bohemian Cafe has Pilsner Urquell, a Bohemian beer, on tap for a touch of Czech authenticity, but the crowd is young, exuberant, Pacific Heights, het. Follow the crowd and stick with the burgers. (PR, 2/05) 1682 Divisadero, SF. 921-4725. Czech/American, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Grandeho's Kamekyo Sushi Bar Always packed, Grandeho serves up excellent sushi along with a full Japanese menu. (Staff) 943 Cole, SF. 759-5693. Japanese, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Hukilau brings a dash of Big Island conviviality and Big Island (i.e., big) portions to a wind- and traffic-swept corner of the big city. Spam too, if you want it. (Staff) 5 Masonic, SF. 921-6242. Hawaiian/American, BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
Kate's Kitchen dishes up the best scallion-cheese biscuits out west. The lines on the weekends can be long. (Staff) 471 Haight, SF. 626-3984. American, B/L, ¢.
Metro Cafe brings the earthy chic of Paris's 11th arrondissement to the Lower Haight, prix fixe and all. (Staff) 311 Divisadero, SF. 552-0903. French, B/BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
New Ganges Restaurant is short on style it is as if the upmarket revolution in vegetarian restaurants never happened but there is a homemade freshness to the food you won't find at many other places. (Staff) 775 Frederick, SF. 681-4355. Vegetarian/Indian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Tsunami Sushi and Sake Bar brings hip Japanese-style seafood to the already hip Café Abir complex. Skull-capped sushi chefs, hefty and innovative rolls. (Staff) 1306 Fulton, SF. 567-7664. Japanese/sushi, D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Zoya takes some finding it is in the little turret of the Days Inn Motor Lodge at Grove and Gough but the view over the street's treetops is bucolic, and the cooking is simple, seasonal, direct, and ingredient driven. (PR, 12/05) 465 Grove, SF. 626-9692. California, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
MISSION/BERNAL HEIGHTS/POTRERO HILL
Aslam's Rasoi reinvents a gently fading curry house as a high-powered rival to Dosa, in the next block. The food is fiery and elegant, and the menu strikes a fine balance between fleshly and fleshless choices. Desserts are not bad, particularly kulfi, a house-made cardamom ice cream presented like a frozen sliced banana. (PR, 8/06) 1037 Valencia, SF. 695-0599. Indian/Pakistani, D, $$, MC/V.
Baobab Bar and Grill serves great-tasting West African specialties like couscous, fried plantains, and savory rice dishes for a reasonable price. (Staff) 3388 19th St, SF. 643-3558. African, BR/D, ¢.
Baraka takes the French-Spanish tapas concept, gives it a beguiling Moroccan accent harissa, preserved lemons, merguez sausage and the result is astonishingly good food. (Staff) 288 Connecticut, SF. 255-0370.