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.
Raja Cuisine of India serves up decent renditions of Indian standards in an unassuming, even spare, setting. Low prices. (Staff) 500 Haight, SF. 255-6000. Indian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Rotee isn't the fanciest south Asian restaurant in the neighborhood, but it is certainly one of the most fragrant, and its bright oranges and yellows (food, walls) do bring good cheer. Excellent tandoori fish. (PR, 12/04) 400 Haight, SF. 552-8309. Indian/Pakistani, 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, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Zazie is one of the best, possibly the very best, of the city's neighborhood French bistros. The excellent food is fairly priced and the service well-honed; even diners in the open-air garden at the rear of the restaurant will feel coddled. (PR, 1/07) 941 Cole, SF. 564-5332. French, B/BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
Ziryab brings a touch of eastern Med class to a slightly sketchy block of Divisadero in the Western Addition. The menu graciously innovates Middle Eastern standards while adding a California twist or two for fun. Faux stonework lends a Vegas air to the setting. (PR, 3/07) 528 Divisadero, SF. 269-5430. Middle Eastern, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Zoya takes some finding it is in the little turret of the Days Inn Motor Lodge at Grove and Gough but the view over the street's treetops is bucolic, and the cooking is simple, seasonal, direct, and ingredient driven. (PR, 12/05) 465 Grove, SF. 626-9692. California, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
MISSION/BERNAL HEIGHTS/POTRERO HILL
Cafe Phoenix looks like a junior-high cafeteria, but the California-deli food is fresh, tasty, and honest, and the people making it are part of a program to help the emotionally troubled return to employability. (Staff) 1234 Indiana, SF. 282-9675, ext. 239. California, B/L, ¢, MC/V.
Caffe Cozzolino Get it to go: everything's about two to four bucks more if you eat it there. (Staff) 300 Precita, SF. 285-6005. Italian, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Caffe d'Melanio is the place to go if you want your pound of coffee beans roasted while you enjoy an Argentine-Italian dinner of pasta, milanesa, and chimichurri sauce. During the day the café offers a more typically Cal-American menu of better-than-average quality. First-rate coffee beans. (PR, 10/04) 1314 Ocean, SF. 333-3665. Italian/Argentine, B/L/D, $, MC/V.
Il Cantuccio strikingly evokes that little trattoria you found near the Ponte Vecchio on your last trip to Florence. (Staff) 3228 16th St, SF. 861-3899. Italian, D, $, MC/V.
Chez Papa Bistrot sits like a beret atop Potrero Hill. The food is good, the staff's French accents authentic, the crowd a lively cross section, but the place needs a few more scuffs and quirks before it can start feeling real. (Staff) 1401 18th St, SF. 824-8210. French, BR/L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Circolo Restaurant and Lounge brings Peruvian- and Asian-influenced cooking into a stylishly barnlike urban space where dot-commers gathered of old. Some of the dishes are overwrought, but the food is splendid on the whole. (PR, 6/04) 500 Florida, SF. 553-8560. Nuevo Latino/Asian, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Couleur Café reminds us that French food need be neither fancy nor insular.