The crowd is moneyed but not showy and definitely not nouveau. (Staff) 1652 Stockton, SF. 989-7800. American, BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Rose Pistola cooks it up in the style of Liguria, and that means lots of seafood, olive oil, and lemons along with a wealth of first-rate flat breads (pizzas, focaccias, farinatas) baked in the wood-burning oven. (PR, 7/05) 532 Columbus, SF. 399-0499. Italian, L/D, $$, 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. Italian, $$, L/D, MC/V.
Hawthorne Lane remains at the top of the city's restaurant heap after more than a decade. Bridget Batson's modern California cuisine is first-rate, the ambience a perfection of understated elegance, and the service knowledgeable, friendly, and smooth. It is not possible to ask more from any restaurant. (PR, 9/06) 22 Hawthorne, SF. 777-9779. California, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Julie's Supper Club and Lounge II preserves the name of a longtime SoMa institution while bringing a new fusion menu to the table. The food at its best is innovative a sushi-like presentation of somen noodles, an asparagus version of pigs in a blanket but prices are a little high for what you get. Excellent atmospherics. (PR, 11/06) 1123 Folsom, SF. 864-1222. Fusion/eclectic, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Koh Samui and the Monkey joins a high-value Thai menu with a spare, hip SoMa warehouse look. The sweet-hot food tends more toward the former than the latter but is excellent nonetheless. As for heat, check out the youngish crowd in their crest-of-1999, dot-com finery. (PR, 1/07) 415 Brannan, SF. 369-0007. Thai, L/D, $, MC/V.
Oola gives Ola Fendert his own platform at last, and the result is a modern, golden SoMa restaurant with a menu that mixes playful opulence with local standards. (PR, 10/04) 860 Folsom, SF. 995-2061. California, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Roy's Restaurant promises "Hawaiian fusion" cuisine, but while there are island touches (macadamia nuts turn up in various guises), the place seems right at home on Mission Street. The cooking, once noted for a certain overwroughtness, has become elegantly restrained, and a three-course $35 prix fixe dinner is one of the better deals of its kind around town. (PR, 12/06) 575 Mission, SF. 777-0277. Hawaiian/fusion, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Salt House offers a nice Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-tours-a-19th-century-factory look and utterly up-to-date California pub food, an entertaining hodgepodge that ranges from a crock of house-picked vegetables to panko-crusted mackerel to an oozingly moist chocolate Bundt cake, still warm from the oven, plus interesting proprietary-blend wines. (PR, 12/06) 545 Mission, SF. 543-8900. California/pub, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
NOB HILL/RUSSIAN HILL
Ah Lin offers Mandarin-style Chinese cooking in an easy-to-take storefront setting on Cathedral Hill. The dishes are well behaved and tasty, with only an occasional flare-up of chile heat. The roast duck is one of the best deals in town. (PR, 10/06) 1634 Bush, SF. 922-5279. Chinese, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Alborz looks more like a hotel restaurant than a den of Persian cuisine, but there are flavors here of barberry and dried lime, among others you won't easily find elsewhere. (Staff) 1245 Van Ness, SF. 440-4321. Persian, L/D, $, MC/V.
East Coast West Delicatessen doesn't look like a New York deli (too much space, air, light), but the huge, fattily satisfying Reubens, platters of meat loaf, black-and-white cookies, and all the other standards compare commendably to their East Coast cousins. (Staff) 1725 Polk, SF. 563-3542.
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