776-3234. Vietnamese, L/D, ¢.
*Saha serves "Arabic fusion cuisine" a blend of the Middle East and California in a cool, spare setting behind the concierge's desk at the Hotel Carlton. One senses the imminence of young rock stars, drawn perhaps by the lovely chocolate fondue. (PR, 9/04) 1075 Sutter, SF. 345-9547. Arabic/fusion, B/BR/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Frjtz serves first-rate Belgian fries, beer, crepes, and sandwiches in an art-house atmosphere. If the noise overwhelms, take refuge in the lovely rear garden. (Staff) 579 Hayes, SF. 864-7654; also at Ghirardelli Square, SF. 928-3886. Belgian, B/L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Hayes Street Grill started more than a quarter century ago as an emulation of the city's old seafood houses, and now it's an institution itself. The original formula immaculate seafood simply prepared, with choice of sauce and French fries still beats vibrantly at the heart of the menu. Service is impeccable, the setting one of relaxed grace. (PR, 7/06) 816 Folsom, SF. 863-5545. Seafood, L/D, $$$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Sauce enjoys the services of chef Ben Paula, whose uninhibited California cooking is as easy to like as a good pop song. (PR, 5/05) 131 Gough, SF. 252-1369. California, D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Suppenküche has a Busvan for Bargains, butcher-block look that gives context to its German cuisine. If you like schnitzel, brats, roasted potatoes, eggs, cheese, cucumber salad, cold cuts, and cold beer, you'll love it here. (Staff) 601 Hayes, SF. 252-9289. German, BR/D, $, AE/MC/V.
*Zuni Cafe is one of the most celebrated and durable restaurants in town, perhaps because its kitchen has honored the rustic country cooking of France and Italy for the better part of two decades. (PR, 2/05) 1658 Market, SF. 552-2522. California, B/L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
CASTRO/NOE VALLEY/GLEN PARK
La Ciccia offers the distinct cuisine of Sardinia Italian yet not quite in an appealingly subdued storefront setting in outer Noe Valley. Pizzas are excellent, and the food is notably meaty, though with some lovely maritime twists. A unique and riveting wine list. (PR, 6/06) 291 30th St., SF. 550-8114. Sardinian/Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
Côté Sud brings a stylish breath of Provence to the Castro. The cooking reflects an unfussy elegance; service is as crisp as a neatly folded linen napkin. Nota bene: you must climb a set of steps to reach the place. (Staff) 4238 18th St, SF. 255-6565. French, D, $$, MC/V.
Eric's Dig into the likes of mango shrimp, hoisin green beans, and spicy eggplant with chicken in this bright, airy space. (Staff) 1500 Church, SF. 282-0919. Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Eureka Restaurant and Lounge combines, in the old Neon Chicken space, a classic Castro sensibility (mirrors everywhere, fancy sparkling water) with a stylish all-American menu that reflects Boulevard and Chenery Park bloodlines. Prices are high. (PR, 12/06) 4063 18th St. SF. 431-6000. American, D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
*Firefly remains an exemplar of the neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco: it is homey and classy, hip and friendly, serving an American menu deftly inflected with ethnic and vegetarian touches that's the match of any in the city. (PR, 9/04) 4288 24th St, SF. 821-7652. American, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
HAIGHT/COLE VALLEY/WESTERN ADDITION
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.