FEAST: Marcia Gagliardi, author of a fab new Bay eatery guidebook, answers our pressing food and drink questions
MG Absinthe (398 Hayes, SF. 415-551-1590, www.absinthe.com). You can request a quieter table so not everyone hears your answers to all of your friend's burning questions, and the spirited cocktails — a coquettishly tangy Ginger Rogers or bourbon-spiked Scarlett O'Hara, perhaps? — will help them digest the good news.
SFBG Someone took me out on a date to a really expensive restaurant and insisted on paying. Now it's my turn to take them out, but I'm like, down to my last $20. Where can I take them so they feel I've treated them to something classier than my budget suggests?
MG Ah yes, the old smoke and mirrors. I'd go to Great Eastern in Chinatown (649 Jackson, SF. 415-986-2500), which has some bountiful deals on set menus, and the room is spiffy. Or you could take them to dim sum at one of my favorite places, S&T Hong Kong Seafood (2578 Noriega, SF. 415-665-8338) in the Outer Susnset, and you will feast fo' cheap.
SFBG What wine bars have the best pours? I mean top-of-the-glass for $6. I'm a-thirsty, girl!
MG Well, the folks working the bar at Castro's 2223 (2223 Market, SF. 415-431-0692, www.2223restaurant.com) know their clientele well and do pretty big pours. Same with Laszlo (2526 Mission, SF. 415-401-0810, www.laszlobar.com). I also noted a fuller glass the last time I was at the Hidden Vine (620 Post, SF. 415-674-3567, www.thehiddenvine.com). And based on the number of loaded folks at the Wine Jar (1870 Fillmore, SF. 415-931-2924, www.winejar-sf.com), I'd say the generous pours are to blame.
SFBG What would you say are the most "interesting" things you've ever eaten in the city?
MG Some of the dishes at Spices! (294 Eighth Ave., SF. 415-752-8884) have definitely pushed the envelope for me. (Stinky tofu, intestine stew — and I don't care to have either dish ever again). The tendon pho at Pho Tan Hoa (431 Jones, SF. 415-673-3163) definitely rates on the funky meter — and I'm talking big hunks of tendon.