Welcome to our dining listings, a detailed guide by neighborhood of some great places to grab a bite, hang out with friends, or impress the ones you love with thorough knowledge of this delectable city. Restaurants are reviewed by Paul Reidinger (PR) or staff. All area codes are 415, and all restaurants are wheelchair accessible, except where noted.
BR Saturday and/or Sunday brunch
AE American Express
DC Diners Club
¢ less than $7 per entrée
$$$ more than $20
Acme Chophouse brings Traci des Jardins's high-end meat-and-potatoes menu right into the confines of Pac Bell Park. Good enough to be a destination, though stranguutf8g traffic is an issue on game days. (Staff) 24 Willie Mays Plaza, SF. 644-0240. American, L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Ana Mandara looks and feels like a soundstage, but the menu offers what is probably the best high-end Vietnamese-style food in town. (Staff) 891 Beach, SF. 771-6800. Vietnamese, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
Anjou is the other restaurant on Campton Place — a lovely little warren of brick and brass serving an unpretentious, and sometimes inventive, French bistro menu. (Staff) 44 Campton Place, SF. 392-5373. French, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
B44 brings Daniel Olivella's Catalan cooking to al fresco-friendly Belden Place. The salt cod-studded menu is stronger in first than main dishes. Frenchy desserts. (Staff) 44 Belden Place, SF. 986-6287. Catalan, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Bix radiates an unmistakable aura of American power and luxury, Jazz Age style. The food is simply splendid. (Staff) 56 Gold, SF. 433-6300. American, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Bocadillos serves bocadillos — little Spanish-style sandwiches on little round buns — but the menu ranges more widely, through a variety of Spanish and Basque delights. Decor is handsome, though a little too stark-modern to be quite cozy. (PR, 8/04) 710 Montgomery, SF. Spanish/Basque, L/D, $, MC/V.
Boulevard runs with ethereal smoothness — you are cosseted as if at a chic private party — but despite much fame the place retains its brasserie trappings and joyous energy. (Staff) 1 Mission, SF. 543-6084. American, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Brindisi Cucina di Mare cooks seafood the south Italian way, and that means many, many ways, with many, many sorts of seafood. (PR, 4/04) 88 Belden Place, SF. 593-8000. Italian/seafood, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Chaya Brasserie brings a taste of LA's preen-and-be-seen culture to the waterfront. The Japanese-influenced food is mostly French, and very expensive. (Staff) 132 Embarcadero, SF. 777-8688. Fusion, D, $$$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Cortez has a Scandinavian Designs-on-acid look — lots of heavy, weird multicolored mobiles — but Pascal Rigo's Mediterranean-influenced small plates will quickly make you forget you're eating in a hotel. (Staff) 550 Geary (in the Hotel Adagio), SF. 292-6360. Mediterranean, B/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Cosmopolitan Cafe seems like a huge Pullman car. The New American menu emphasizes heartiness. (Staff) 121 Spear, SF. 543-4001. American, L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Fleur de Lys gives its haute French cuisine a certain California whimsy in a setting that could be the world’s most luxurious tent. There is a vegetarian tasting menu and an extensive, remarkably pricey wine list. (PR, 2/05) 777 Sutter, SF. 673-7779. French, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Fog City Diner still doesn't take American Express but does still serve a tasty polyglot menu in a romantically dining car-like setting. (Staff) 1300 Battery, SF. 982-2000. Eclectic/American, B/L/D, $$, DISC/MC/V.
Il Fornaio offers a spectacular setting (complete with terrace and tinkling fountain), simple and elegant Italian cooking, first-rate breads, and spotty service. (Staff) 1265 Battery, SF. 986-0100. Italian, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
*Gary Danko is an exercise in symmetries, with food, ambience, and service in a fine balance. Danko's California cooking is distinctive, but the real closer is the cheese cart, laden with the exquisite and the rare. (Staff) 800 North Point, SF. 749-2060. California, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Jeanty at Jack's introduces Philippe Jeanty's earthy French cooking into the vertiginous old Jack's space, and the result is leisurely fabulousness, at least at dinnertime. At lunch, the pace is more harried, the prices too high. (Staff) 615 Sacramento, SF. 693-0941. French, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
Kyo-Ya may not be the best Japanese restaurant in the city, but it's certainly one of them. Elegantly padded surroundings, sublime sushi, and a wide selection of cooked dishes attract an international mercantile class. (Staff) 2 New Montgomery, SF. 512-1111. Japanese, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
MacArthur Park still occupies a gorgeous brick cavern in the Barbary Coast, but the restaurant these days is more a neighborhood spot than a destination, and the emphasis seems to be on takeout. (Staff) 607 Front, SF. 398-5700. Barbecue, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Mandarin, though a Gen Xer by birth and a longtime resident of touristy Ghirardelli Square, still offers a matchlessly elegant experience in Chinese fine dining: a surprising number of genuinely spicy dishes, superior service, and wine emphasized over beer. (PR, 9/04) 900 North Point (in Ghirardelli Square), SF. Chinese, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
*Mijita shows that Traci des Jardins can go down-market with the best of them. The Mexican street food is convincingly lusty, but in keeping with the Ferry Building setting, it’s also made mostly with organic, high-quality ingredients. (PR, 4/05) 1 Ferry Bldg, Suite 44, SF. 399-0814. Mexican, B/L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
MoMo's San Francisco Grill The New American food at MoMo's is surprisingly excellent, and the interior decoration is opulent, with prairie-style furniture, wood trim, dark green carpeting, and dimpled leather upholstery on the banquettes. (PR, 11/98) 760 Second St, SF. 227-8660. American, BR/L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Paragon has left behind its fratty Marina incarnation to become, near the Giants' new ballpark, a stylish haven of gastronomic Americana. Something for everyone in a strikingly vertical space. (Staff) 701 Second St, SF. 537-9020. American, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Plouf Mussels 10 ways — need we say more? Plouf knows its turf, and that's surf. All the seafood sparkles at this chic spot tucked away on pedestrians-only Belden Place, though mussels are a house specialty, impeccably fresh and served in brimming bowlfuls. Lots of outdoor seating reinforces the French-café feel. (Staff) 40 Belden Place, SF. 986-6491. French, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Ponzu opened early in 2000 but is likely to be remembered as one of that year's best new restaurants. The decor manages to be warm, bright, and modern without going over the top. (Staff) 401 Taylor, SF. 775-7979. Asian, B/D, $$, MC/V.
*Postrio might be the last place on earth where you can still get a taste of the elegantly lusty cooking that made Wolfgang Puck and his first Spago famous. (Staff) 545 Post, SF. 776-7825. California, B/BR/L/D, $$$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Puccini and Pinetti practically shouts festivity: bright, primary-colors decor (with an emphasis on yellow and blue), plenty of noise, and solidly rendered Italian-American comfort food. (Staff) 129 Ellis, SF. 392-5500. Italian, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Shanghai 1930 resembles a cross between a speakeasy and one of Saddam Hussein's famous bunkers. The high-end Chinese menu is a marvel of freshness and priciness. (Staff) 133 Steuart, SF. 896-5600. Chinese, L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Tadich Grill is the city's oldest restaurant (150 years and counting), and it still packs ’em in, specializing in seafood and most anything grilled. (Staff) 240 California, SF. 391-1849. Grill, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Tlaloc rises like a multistory loft on its Financial District lane, the better to accommodate the hordes of suits crowding in for a noontime burrito-and-salsa fix. They serve a mean pipián burrito and decent fish tacos. (Staff) 525 Commercial, SF. 981-7800. Mexican, L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
Tommy Toy's Haute Cuisine Chinois is a cross between a steak house and The Last Emperor. The food is rich and fatty and only occasionally good. (Staff) 655 Montgomery, SF. 397-4888. Chinese, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Town's End Restaurant and Bakery enjoys a reputation for a fabulous weekend brunch (getting in can be a trick), but the restaurant serves a polished California menu at dinner too. (Staff) 2 Townsend, SF. 512-0749. California, B/BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Tu Lan has few luxuries except the food, which is a luxury to the wealthiest palate. Raw foods converge in salads and stir-fries that'll leave you wondering why your own cooking doesn't look as easy and taste as good. (Staff) 8 Sixth St, SF. 626-0927. Vietnamese, L/D, ¢.
Da Flora advertises Venetian specialties, but notes from Central Europe (veal in paprika cream sauce) and points east (whiffs of nutmeg) creep into other fine dishes. (Staff) 701 Columbus, SF. 981-4664. Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
Dalla Torre is one of the most inaccessible restaurants in the city. The multilevel dining room — a cross between an Italian country inn and a Frank Lloyd Wright house — offers memorable bay views, but the pricey food is erratic. (Staff) 1349 Montgomery, SF. 296-1111. Italian, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe remains a classic see-and-be-seen part of the North Beach scene. The full bar and extensive menu of tapas, pizzas, pastas, and grills make dropping in at any hour a real treat. (Staff) 504 Broadway, SF. 982-6223. Mediterranean, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Gondola captures the varied flavors of Venice and the Veneto in charmingly low-key style. The main theme is the classic one of simplicity, while service strikes just the right balance between efficiency and warmth. (Staff) 15 Columbus, SF. 956-5528. Italian, L/D, $, MC/V.
House of Nanking never fails to garner raves from restaurant reviewers and Guardian readers alike. Chinatown ambience, great food, good prices. (Best Ofs, 1994) 919 Kearny, SF. 421-1429. Chinese, L/D, ¢.
Maykadeh Persian Cuisine is a great date restaurant, classy but not too pricey, and there are lots of veggie options both for appetizers and entrées. Khoresht bademjan was a delectable, deep red stew of tomato and eggplant with a rich, sweet, almost chocolatey undertone. (Staff) 470 Green, SF. 362-8286. Persian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Michelangelo Cafe There's always a line outside this quintessential North Beach restaurant, but it's well worth the sidewalk time for Michelangelo's excellent Italian, served in a bustling, family-style atmosphere. The seafood dishes are recommended; approach the postprandial Gummi Bears at your own risk. (Staff) 597 Columbus, SF. 986-4058. Italian, D, $$.
Moose’s is famous for the Mooseburger, but the rest of the menu is comfortably sophisticated. The crowd is moneyed but not showy and definitely not nouveau. (Staff) 1652 Stockton, SF. 989-7800. American, BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Pena Pacha Mama offers organic Bolivian cuisine as well as weekly performances of Andean song and dance. Dine on crusted lamb and yucca frita while watching a genuine flamenco performance in this intimate setting. (Staff) 1630 Powell, SF. 646-0018. Bolivian, BR/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Rico's touts its salsas, and they are good, but so is almost everything else on the mainstream Mexican menu. (Staff) 943 Columbus, SF. 928-5404. Mexican, L/D, ¢, AE/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.
AsiaSF Priscilla, Queen of the Desert meets Asian-influenced tapas at this amusingly surreal lounge. The drag queen burlesque spectacle draws a varied audience that's a show in itself. (Staff) 201 Ninth St, SF. 255-2742. Fusion, D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Bacar means "wine goblet," and its wine menu is extensive — and affordable. Chef Arnold Wong's eclectic American-global food plays along nicely. (Staff) 448 Brannan, SF. 904-4100. American, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Basil A serene, upscale oasis amid the industrial supply warehouses, Basil offers California-influenced Thai cuisine that's lively and creative. (Staff) 1175 Folsom, SF. 552-8999. Thai, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Big Nate’s Barbecue is pretty stark inside — mostly linoleum arranged around a pair of massive brick ovens. But the hot sauce will make you sneeze. (Staff) 1665 Folsom, SF. 861-4242. Barbecue, L/D, $, MC/V.
Butler and the Chef brings a taste of Parisian café society — complete with pâtés, cornichons, and croques monsieurs — to sunny South Park. (PR, 5/04) 155A South Park, SF. French, B/L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Le Charm is the perfect spot to settle into a padded banquette and order wine and lamb chops and lovely little crèmes caramels. (Staff) 315 Fifth St, SF. 546-6128. French, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Chez Spencer brings Laurent Katgely’s precise French cooking into the rustic-industrial urban cathedral that once housed Citizen Cake. Get something from the wood-burning oven. (Staff) 82 14th St, SF. 864-2191. French, BR/L/D, $$, MC/V.
Fly Trap Restaurant captures a bit of that old-time San Francisco feel, from the intricate plaster ceiling to the straightforward menu: celery Victor, grilled salmon filet with beurre blanc. A good lunchtime spot. (Staff) 606 Folsom, SF. 243-0580. American, L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
*Fringale still satisfies the urge to eat in true French bistro style, with Basque flourishes. The paella roll is a small masterpiece of food narrative; the frites are superior. (PR, 7/04) 570 Fourth St, SF. 543-0573. French/Basque, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Hawthorne Lane comes about as close to restaurant perfection as is possible in this world. The California cooking shows marked Asian influences; the mutedly elegant decor is welcoming, not stuffy. Sublime service. (Staff) 22 Hawthorne Lane (between Second St and Third St at Howard), SF. 777-9779. California, L/D, $$$, MC/V.
India Garden indeed has a lovely garden and an excellent lunch buffet that does credit to South Asian standards. (Staff) 1261 Folsom, SF. 626-2798. Indian, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Jack Falstaff pays homage to the slow-food movement: there are emphases on the organic, the housemade, the local, and the healthful — and at the same time it’s all tasty and served in voluptuous, supper-club-style surroundings. (PR, 4/05) 598 Second St, SF. 836-9239. American, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
Julie's Kitchen offers a lunchtime buffet with, literally, a bit of everything, from roast turkey to sushi, with plenty of interesting items in between. (Staff) 680 Eighth St, SF. 431-1255. Eclectic, B/L, $, DC/MC/V.
Left Coast Cafe brings a breath of California freshness to the otherwise slightly antiseptic atrium of the Dolby Building. Healthy sandwiches (tuna, hummus), a decent Caesar, good mom-style cookies and brownies. (Staff) 999 Brannan, SF. 522-0232. California, B/L, ¢, cash only.
LJ’s Martini Bar and Grill sits on the second floor of the urban mall we know as Metreon, but its menu of American favorites and international alternatives is stylishly executed and reasonably priced in a sophisticated environment. For lunch, sit on the sunny terrace. (PR, 9/04) 101 Fourth St, SF. 369-6114. American, L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
LuLu defines the modern California restaurant. Many dishes acquire a heart-swelling smokiness from the oven — a plate of portobello mushrooms, say, with soft polenta and mascarpone butter. (Staff) 816 Folsom, SF. 495-5775. Mediterranean, L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
Maya is like a good French restaurant serving elegant food that tastes Mexican. There are unforgettable flavors here: corn kernels steeped in vanilla, lovely grilled pork tenderloin served with a pipian sauce of pumpkin seed and tamarind. And for those weekday take-out lunches, there's Maya (Next Door), a taquería that operates to the left of the host's podium. (PR, 8/04) 303 Second St, SF. 543-6709. Mexican, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
*Mochica serves quite possibly the best Peruvian food in the city, at extremely reasonable prices. The location is iffy, mostly because of speeding traffic. Jaywalk with care. (PR, 6/04) 937 Harrison, SF. 278-0480. Peruvian, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Moshi Moshi serves a full palette of Japanese standards, from sushi to tempura to immense bowls of udon and near-udon. An ideal spot for neighborhood watching. (Staff) 2092 Third St, SF. Japanese, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Nova still serves infused vodkas (remember Infusion?), but its orientation is less toward South Park than toward Pac Bell Park: sports on the TV above the bar, solid New American food, sleek pubbish looks. (Staff) 555 Second St, SF. 543-2282. American, L/D, $$, AE/DISC/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, $$, AE/MC/V.
Public brings a Tuscan-tinged, Delfina-ish menu to a splendid multilevel space in a grand old brick building. Youthful but well-informed staff, incomparable chocolate bread pudding. (Staff) 1489 Folsom, SF. 552-3065. California/Mediterranean, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
[TK]Sneaky Tiki redoes the old Hamburger Mary's space with a Polynesian flair, though you can still get a decent burger. Many dishes for two, including a huge, multitiered pupu platter. The human tone is sleek, with some echoes of the disco past. (PR, 10/05) 1582 Folsom, SF. 701-TIKI. Polynesian, L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Sushi Groove South continues the westward march of hipsterdom through SoMa. The food — traditional sushi augmented by quietly stylish fusion dishes — is spectacular. The setting — a candlelit grotto abrim with black-clad young — is charged with high romance. (Staff) 1516 Folsom, SF. 503-1950. Japanese/sushi, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Tamal offers inventive Mexican-influenced small plates, including a selection of namesake tamales, in a lonely corner of southwest SoMa. The food can be inconsistent, but the best dishes are wonderful. (PR, 4/05) 1599 Howard, SF. 864-2446. Nuevo Latino/tapas, D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Town Hall offers the lusty American cooking of the Rosenthal brothers in an elegantly spare New England-ish setting. There is a large communal table for seat-of-the-pants types and those who like their conviviality to have a faintly medieval air. (Staff) 342 Howard, SF. 908-3900. American, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Vino e Cucina offers a pleasantly oasislike setting and solid Italian food — with the occasional pleasant surprise — on a gritty stretch of Third Street. (Staff) 489 Third St, SF. 543-6962. Italian, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
XYZ joins the pantheon of fabulous restaurants in the city's hotels. Lusty California cooking glows like a campfire in a cool (if slightly deracinated) urban setting. (Staff) 181 Third St, SF. 817-7836. California, B/BR/L/D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
NOB HILL/RUSSIAN HILL
Acquerello reminds us that the Italians, like the French, have a high cuisine — sophisticated and earthy and offered in a onetime chapel with exposed rafters and sumptuous fabrics on the banquettes. Service is as knowledgeable and civilized as at any restaurant in the city. (PR, 3/05) 1722 Sacramento, SF. 567-5432. Italian, $$$, D, AE/DISC/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.
Bacio offers homey, traditional Italian dishes in a charmingly cozy rustic space. Service can be slow. (PR, 1/05) 835 Hyde, SF. 292-7999. Italian, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Cordon Bleu has huge portions, tiny prices, and a hoppin' location right next to the Lumiere Theatre. (Staff) 1574 California, SF. 673-5637. Vietnamese, L/D, ¢.
Crustacean is famous for its roast Dungeness crab; the rest of the "Euro/Asian" menu is refreshingly Asian in emphasis. (Staff) 1475 Polk, SF. 776-2722. Fusion, L/D, $$, AE/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. Deli, BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
[TK]La Folie could be a neighborhood spot or a destination or both, but either way or both ways it is sensational: an exercise in haute cuisine leavened with a West Coast sense of informality and playfulness. There is a full vegetarian menu and an ample selection of wines by the half bottle. (PR, 2/06) 2316 Polk, SF. 776-5577. French, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Grubstake might look like your typical Polk Gulch diner — sandwiches and burgers, open very late — but the kitchen also turns out some good mom-style Portuguese dishes, replete with olives, salt cod, and linguica. If you crave caldo verde at 3 a.m., this is the place. (Staff) 1525 Pine, SF. 673-8268. Portuguese/American, B/L/D, ¢, cash only.
*Matterhorn Restaurant offers dishes that aren't fondue, but fondue (especially with beef) is the big deal and the answer to big appetites. For dessert: chocolate fondue! (Staff) 2323 Van Ness, SF. 885-6116. Swiss, $$, D, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
O’Reilly’s Holy Grail, a redo of the old Maye’s Oyster House that strikes harmonious notes of chapel and lounge, serves a sophisticated and contemporary Cal-Irish menu. (PR, 10/05) 1233 Polk, SF. 928-1233. California/Irish, BR/L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Persimmon offers a tasty, fairly priced Middle Eastern menu to tourists, theatergoers, and neighbors alike. Excellent hummus. (PR, 9/05) 582 Sutter, SF. 433-5525. Middle Eastern, B/L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Le Petit Robert offers classy French cooking as a wealth of small plates, along with a few larger ones, in a setting that's at once spacious and warm. Not cheap, but good value. (Staff) 2300 Polk, SF. 922-8100. French, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse brings on the lipids in a big, big way — even the salads are well marbled — but if you're not worried about fat, you'll find the food to be quite tasty, the mood soothingly refined. (Staff) 1601 Van Ness, SF. 673-0557. Steak, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Wasabi and Ginger looks to become a popular neighborhood spot. The sushi is first rate, but the great stuff on the menu is cooked: buttery-tender beef short ribs and a seafood-miso soup served in a teapot. (Staff) 2299 Van Ness, SF. 345-1368. Japanese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Yabbies Coastal Kitchen There's lots to shuck and swallow at the raw bar, but don't miss tropical seafood cocktails (like the crab with mango and lemongrass) piled glamorously into martini glasses. (Staff) 2237 Polk, SF. 474-4088. California, D, $$, MC/V.
Zarzuela's rich selection of truly delicious tapas and full meals makes it a neighborhood favorite. (Staff) 2000 Hyde, SF. 346-0800. Tapas, D, $$, DISC/MC/V.
A la Turca is a surprisingly stylish spot on a not particularly stylish block. Excellent pides and Turkish beer. (PR, 3/04) 869 Geary, SF. 345-1011. Turkish, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Ananda Fuara serves a distinctly Indian-influenced vegetarian menu in the sort of calm surroundings that are increasingly the exception to the rule. (Staff) 1298 Market, SF. 621-1994. Vegetarian, L/D, ¢, cash only.
[TK]*Bodega Bistro has a certain colonial formality — much of the menu is given in French — and it does attract a tony expat crowd. The food is elegant but not fancy (lobster, rack of lamb, both simply presented); if even those are too much, look to the "Hanoi Street Cuisine" items. (PR, 11/05) 607 Larkin, SF. 921-1218. Vietnamese, L/D, $$, DC/DISC/MC/V.
Canto do Brasil The draw here is lusty yeoman cooking, Brazilian style, at beguilingly low prices. The tropically cerulean interior design enhances the illusion of sitting at a beach café. (Staff) 41 Franklin, SF. 626-8727. Brazilian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Chutney combines elements of college-town haunt and California bistro. The Pakistani-Indian food is fresh, bright, spicy, and cheap. (Staff) 511 Jones, SF. 931-5541. Indian/Pakistani, L/D, ¢.
Gyro Kebab adds to the Turkish presence in the Tenderloin. The signature dish, swordfish kebab, is estimable, but almost everything else on the menu is crisply prepared too. (PR, 4/05) 637 Larkin, SF. 775-5526. Turkish, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Gyro King has that Istanbul feeling: lots of kebabs and gyros, hummus, dolma, eggplant salad, and of course baklava fistikli for dessert. It's all cheap, and it makes for a good, quick Civic Center lunch. (Staff) 25 Grove, SF. 621-8313. Turkish/Mediterranean, B/L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Indigo serves up good California cuisine in a pleasantly stylish setting. A great presymphony choice. (Staff) 687 McAllister, SF. 673-9353. California, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Jardinière combines an aggressively elegant Pat Kuleto design with the calm confidence of Traci Des Jardins's cooking. The best dishes are unforgettable. (Staff) 300 Grove, SF. 861-5555. California, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
[TK]Mangosteen radiates lime green good cheer from its corner perch in the Tenderloin. Inexpensive Vietnamese standards are rendered with thoughtful little touches and an emphasis on the freshest ingredients. (PR, 11/05) 601 Larkin, SF. 776-3999. Vietnamese, L/D, $, cash only.
Max's Opera Cafe Huge food is the theme here, from softball-size matzo balls to towering desserts. Your basic Jewish deli. (Staff) 601 Van Ness, SF. 771-7300. American, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
[TK]Mekong Restaurant serves the foods of the Mekong River basin. There is a distinct Thai presence but also dishes with Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and even Chinese accents. (PR, 1/06) 791 O'Farrell, SF. 928-2772. Pan-Asian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Olive might look like a tapas bar, but what you want are the thin-crust pizzas, the simpler the toppings the better. The small plates offer eclectic pleasures, especially the Tuscan pâté and beef satay with peanut sauce. (Staff) 743 Larkin, SF. 776-9814. Pizza/eclectic, D, $, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Pagolac For $10.95 a person you and two or more of your favorite beef eaters can dive into Pagolac's specialty: seven-flavor beef. Less carnivorous types can try the cold spring rolls, shrimp on sugarcane, or lemongrass tofu. (Staff) 655 Larkin, SF. 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, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Absinthe restyles the rustic foods of southern France into sleek urban classics. No absinthe; have a pastis instead. (Staff) 398 Hayes, SF. 551-1590. Southern French, B/BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Arlequin offers light Provençal and Mediterranean food for takeout, but the best place to take your stuff is to the sunny, tranquil garden in the rear. (Staff) 384B Hayes, SF. 863-0926. Mediterranean, B/L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Destino reweaves traditional Peruvian flavors into a tapestry of extraordinary vividness and style, and the storefront interior has been given a golden glow that would have satisfied the most restless conquistador. (Staff) 1815 Market, SF. 552-4451. Peruvian, D, $$, MC/V.
Espetus means “skewer” in Portuguese, and since the place is a Brazilian grill, the (huge) skewers are laden with a variety of meat, poultry, and seafood. The giant buffet at the rear assures that you will not — you cannot — leave hungry. (PR, 3/04) 1686 Market, SF. 552-8792. Brazilian, L/D, $$$, 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 still offers a workable formula: the best fish, prepared with conservative expertise and offered with a choice of sauce and excellent pommes frites. An old, reliable friend. (Staff) 320 Hayes, SF. 863-5545. Seafood, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Sauce enjoys the services of chef Ben Paula, whose uninhibited California cooking is as easy to like as a good pop song. (PR, 5/05) 131 Gough, SF. 252-1369. California, D, $$, 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, $$$, AE/MC/V.
CASTRO/NOE VALLEY/GLEN PARK
Alice's sits on an obscure corner of outer Noe Valley, but the Chinese food is reliably fresh, tasty, and cheap. The decor is surprisingly elegant too: Wedgwood place settings and displays of blown glass. (Staff) 1599 Sanchez, SF. 282-8999. Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Amberjack Sushi is like a miniature version of Blowfish or Tokyo Go Go. The more complex dishes, such as a tuna-sashimi tartare with lemon olive oil, are better than the simple, traditional stuff, which can be overchilled. (Staff) 1497 Church, SF. 920-1797. Japanese, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Bacco breathes north Italian authenticity, from the terra-cotta-colored walls to the traditional but vivid veal preparations. One of the best neighborhood Italian restaurants in town. (Staff) 737 Diamond, SF. 282-4969. Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
Blue dishes up home cooking as good as any mom’s, in a downtown New York environment — of mirrors, gray-blue walls, and spotlights — that would blow most moms away. (Staff) 2337 Market, SF. 863-2583. American, BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
Burgermeister uses top-grade Niman Ranch beef for its burgers, but nonetheless they're splendid, with soft buns and crisp, well-salted fries. Foofy California wrinkles are available if you want them, but why would you? (PR, 5/04) 138 Church, SF. 437-2874. Burgers, L/D, $.
Catch offers some excellent seafood pastas and a fabulous dish of mussels in Pernod over frites, while the atmosphere is full of Castro festivity. (Staff) 2362 Market, SF. 431-5000. Seafood, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Chenery Park is the restaurant Glen Park has been waiting for all these years: a calm, understated setting and an eclectic American menu with plenty of sly twists. (Staff) 683 Chenery, SF. 337-8537. American, D, $$, MC/V.
Chow serves up an easy Californian blend of American and Italian favorites, with a few Asian elements thrown into the mix. (Staff) 215 Church, SF. 552-2469. California, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Côté Sud brings a stylish breath of Provence to the Castro. The cooking reflects an unfussy elegance; service is as crisp as a neatly folded linen napkin. Nota bene: you must climb a set of steps to reach the place. (Staff) 4238 18th St, SF. 255-6565. French, D, $$, 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.
*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, $$, AE/MC/V.
Firewood Cafe serves up delicious thin chewy-crusted pizzas, four kinds of tortellini, rotisserie-roasted chicken, and big bowls of salad. (Staff) 4248 18th St, SF. 252-0999. Italian, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Los Flamingos mingles Cuban and Mexican specialties in a relaxed, leafy, walk-oriented neighborhood setting. Lots of pink on the walls; even more starch on the plates. (PR, 11/04) 151 Noe, SF. 252-7450. Cuban/Mexican, BR/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Fresca raises the already high bar a little higher for Peruvian restaurants in town. Many of the dishes are complex assemblies of unusual and distinctive ingredients, but some of the best are among the simplest. The skylighted barrel-ceiling setting is quietly spectacular. (PR, 7/05) 3945 24th St, SF. 695-0549. Peruvian, L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Hamano Sushi packs them in despite a slightly dowdy setting and food of variable appeal. The best stuff is as good as it gets, though, and prices aren't bad. (Staff) 1332 Castro, SF. 826-0825. Japanese, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Home sounds homey, and it is, at least foodwise: first-rate pot roast, macaroni and cheese, broccoli with white cheddar cheese sauce; the occasional dressier dish. The crowd has a strong clubland look. (Staff) 2100 Market, SF. 503-0333. New American, D, $, AE/MC/V.
Incanto sets the bar a bit higher for neighborhood Italian restaurants. Gorgeous stonework, a chapel-like wine room, and skillful cooking that ranges confidently from pastas to braised lamb shanks. (Staff) 1550 Church, SF. 641-4500. Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
Long Island Restaurant dishes up reliable Chinese standards in a space that's been considerably brightened since the passing of the previous occupant. (PR, 3/04) 1689 Church, SF. 695-7678/79. Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Lucky Time drifts happily between the foods of Vietnam and China. Low prices, fast service, reasonably nice decor, location vastly convenient to public transport. (PR, 3/05) 708 14th St, SF. 861-2682. Vietnamese/Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Lupa, in the old Noi-Little Italy space, serves a strong pan-Italian menu with Roman accents. Service is knowledgeable and familial, the food competitive in a competitive neighborhood. (Staff) 4109 24th St, SF. 282-5872. Italian, D, $$, MC/V.
[TK]Malacca serves the foods of the Strait of Malacca region, and the sophisticated mix is unmistakably Singaporean, from Portuguese noodles (with basil, tomato, garlic, and ginger) to beef rendang. Wine is emphasized over beer, and the decor of unduutf8g bamboo is quietly striking. (PR, 11/05) 4039 18th St, SF. 863-0679. Pan-Asian, D, $$, MC/V.
Nirvana offers a peaceful respite from busy Castro streets. Although noodles make up the bulk of the menu, there's also a list of entrées that range from stir-fried jicama to grilled lemongrass chicken. (Staff) 544 Castro, SF. 861-2226. Pan-Asian, L/D, $, MC/V.
La Provence bestows a welcome dash of south-of-France sunshine to an often befogged city. Many fine Provençal standards, including a memorable tarte tropézienne. (PR, 9/05) 1001 Guerrero, SF. 643-4333. French, D, $$, MC/V.
Samovar Tea Lounge has tea — of course, and of many, many kinds — but also food to go with your tea and a gorgeous setting of fluttering fabrics to enjoy it all in. A world of tea culture. (Staff) 498 Sanchez, SF. 626-4700. Eclectic, B/L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
Savor has transformed the old Courtyard Cafe into a fantasy of a Mediterranean country inn. Pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, et al, occur in various permutations throughout the menu's crepes, omelets, frittatas, sandwiches, and salads. (Staff) 3913 24th St, SF. 282-0344. Mediterranean, B/L/D, $, MC/V.
Tangerine occupies one of the lovelier and more tree-lined corners in the Castro, and the “fusion” cooking is really more of a potpourri, ably ranging from gumbo to deep-fried calamari to sea bass edamame. (Staff) 3499 16th St, SF. 626-1700. Fusion, L/D, $, MC/V.
Tao Cafe exudes rich atmosphere — a beautiful two-tone green paint scheme, ceiling fans, bronze fittings — and the attractively brief menu has some smart French touches, including a Vietnamese-style beef bourguignon. Quite cheap considering the high style. (Staff) 1000 Guerrero, SF. 641-9955. Vietnamese, D, $, AE/MC/V.
*Tapeo at Metro City Bar has a leg up on most of the city's tapas places, since it is part of an actual bar (and a gay bar!) in the true tapas tradition. It has a second leg up because the food is both innovative and authentically Iberian. An excellent locale for street surveillance. (PR, 8/04) 3600 16th St, SF. 703-9750. Spanish/tapas, D, $, MC/V.
Thai Chef joins the ranks of top-tier Thai restaurants in the city. Virtually every dish with meat, fish, or poultry is available in meatless guise. (PR, 3/05) 4133 18th St, SF. 551-CHEF. Thai, L/D, $, MC/V.
Tita's Hale Aina Traditional dishes include a tasty lomi lomi scramble chock-full of scallions, tomatoes, and salmon, and refreshing cold green tea soba noodles. (Staff) 3870 17th St, SF. 626-2477. Hawaiian, B/L/D, ¢.
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.
Yianni's brings a bit of Greek sunshine to outer Church Street. All the standards — saganaki and pastitsio, among others — are here, as well as "Greek" pizzas and fries. (Staff) 1708 Church, SF. 647-3200. Greek, BR/D, $$, MC/V.
Le Zinc brings a French bistro presence to 24th Street. The setting is lovely, the food and service uneven and not cheap. But the possibility for something spectacularly good persists. (Staff) 4063 24th St, SF. 647-9400. French, B/BR/L/D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
HAIGHT/COLE VALLEY/WESTERN ADDITION
Alamo Square is an archetype for the "good little place around the corner." Five different kinds of fish are offered next to three cooking techniques and five sauces. (Staff) 803 Fillmore, SF. 440-2828. Seafood, D, $, MC/V.
Ali Baba's Cave Veggie shish kebabs are grilled fresh to order; the hummus and baba ghanoush are subtly seasoned and delicious. (Staff) 531 Haight (at Fillmore), SF. 255-7820; 799 Valencia, SF. 863-3054. Middle Eastern, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
All You Knead emphasizes the wonderful world of yeast — sandwiches, pizzas, etc. — in a space reminiscent of beer halls near Big 10 campuses. (Staff) 1466 Haight, SF. 552-4550. American, B/L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Asqew Grill reinvents the world of fine fast food on a budget with skewers, served in under 10 minutes for under 10 bucks. (Staff) 1607 Haight, SF. 701-9301. California, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Bia’s Restaurant and Wine Bar proves hippies know what’s what in matters of food and wine. An excellent menu of homey items with Middle Eastern and Persian accents; a tight, widely varied wine list. (PR, 11/04) 1640 Haight, SF. 861-8868. California/Middle Eastern, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Blue Jay Cafe has the Mayberry, RFD, look and giant platters of Southernish food, including a good catfish po’boy and crispy fried chicken. Everything is under $10. (PR, 4/04) 919 Divisadero, SF. 447-6066. American/soul, BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
Brother-in-Laws Bar-B-Cue always wins the "Best Barbecue" prize in our annual Best of the Bay edition: the ribs, chickens, links, and brisket are smoky and succulent; the aroma sucks you in like a tractor beam. (Staff) 705 Divisadero, SF. 931-7427. Barbecue, L/D, $.
Burgermeister uses top-grade Niman Ranch beef for its burgers, but nonetheless they're splendid, with soft buns and crisp, well-salted fries. Foofy California wrinkles are available if you want them, but why would you? (PR, 5/04) 86 Carl, SF. 566-1274. Burgers, L/D, $.
Eos serves one of the best fusion menus in town, but be prepared for scads of yuppies and lots of noise. (Staff) 901 Cole, SF. 566-3063. Fusion, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Fly could easily host séances, but if your only interest is food and drink, you'll be happy too. Good pizzas and small plates; plenty for omnivores and vegetarians alike. Tons of sake drinks to wash it all down. (Staff) 762 Divisadero, SF. 931-4359. Mediterranean, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
*Frankie’s Bohemian Cafe has Pilsener Urquell, a Bohemian beer, on tap for a touch of Czech authenticity, but the crowd is young, exuberant, Pacific Heights, het. Follow the crowd and stick with the burgers. (PR, 2/05) 1682 Divisadero, SF. 921-4725. Czech/American, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Grandeho's Kamekyo Sushi Bar Always packed, Grandeho serves up excellent sushi along with a full Japanese menu. (Staff) 943 Cole, SF. 759-5693. Japanese, L/D, $$, 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, ¢.
Magnolia Pub and Brewery A mellow atmosphere and beers that taste distinctly hand crafted make great accompaniments to burgers, chicken wings, ale-steamed mussels, and pizzas, along with some unexpected Cali fusion like grilled soy-sesame eggplant. (Staff) 1398 Haight, SF. 864-PINT. Brew pub, BR/L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
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.
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, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Winterland borrows the nostalgic name of the onetime ice-skating rink cum music venue that once stood on the spot, but the food is pure — and foamy — Euro avant-garde, served to a glam crowd dressed in shades of SoMa black. For a less vertiginous experience, enjoy the bar menu. (PR, 6/05) 2101 Sutter, SF. 563-5025. International, D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
[TK]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, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
MISSION/BERNAL HEIGHTS/POTRERO HILL
Al's Cafe Good Food Al's is the best dang diner in town. Everything here is great, from the home fries and eggs to the chili and burgers, and even the toast in between. (Staff) 3286 Mission, SF. 641-8445. American, B/L, ¢.
Amira melds virtuosic belly dancing shows with veggie kebabs; smoky, delicate walnut dip with pita chips; and the star choice, Turkish eggplant, a handsome portion of unbelievably tender sautéed aubergine in a marinara sauce. (Staff) 590 Valencia, SF. 621-6213. Middle Eastern, D, $, MC/V.
Angkor Borei Nicely presented smallish portions of really good food, friendly service, and excellent atmosphere way down on Mission Street. (Staff) 3471 Mission, SF. 550-8417. Cambodian, L/D, $, AE/DISC/MC/V.
[TK]*Baku de Thai unites the elegant cuisines of Thailand and France with memorable — and affordable — results. The dinnertime prix fixe, available earlyish, is an especially appealing deal. (PR, 11/05) 400 Valencia, SF. 437-4788. Thai/fusion, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Baobab Bar and Grill serves great-tasting West African specialties like couscous, fried plantains, and savory rice dishes for a reasonable price. (Staff) 3388 19th St, SF. 643-3558. African, BR/D, ¢.
Baraka takes the French-Spanish tapas concept, gives it a beguiling Moroccan accent — harissa, preserved lemons, merguez sausage — and the result is astonishingly good food. (Staff) 288 Connecticut, SF. 255-0370. Moroccan/Mediterranean, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Bistro Annex occupies a narrow space like a glorified broom closet and serves a French-inflected, west-Med menu at very low prices. (PR, 5/05) 1136 Valencia, SF. 648-9020. French, D, $, MC/V.
Blowfish glows red and inviting on an otherwise industrial and residential stretch of Bryant Street. Sushi — in pristine fingers of nigiri or in a half dozen inventive hand rolls — is a marvel. (Staff) 2170 Bryant, SF. 285-3848. Sushi, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Blue Plate has a diner aura — bustle, clatter — but the Mediterranean food is stylishly flavorful. A great value. (Staff) 3218 Mission, SF. 282-6777. Mediterranean, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Bombay Ice Cream and Chaat Stop in for some Indian chaat — cheap, delicious fast food such as samosas and curries. (Staff) 552 Valencia, SF. 431-1103. Indian takeout, L/D, ¢.
Burger Joint makes hamburgers like you remember from your childhood, with lettuce, onion, tomato, and mayonnaise. (Staff) 807 Valencia, SF. 824-3494. American, L/D, ¢.
Cafe Bella Vista brings a stylish touch of Catalonia to the Inner Mission. Excellent gazpacho and tortilla española. The interior decor is sleek and modern, though the space itself seems slightly squashed by the apartment building overhead. (PR, 6/04) 2598 Harrison, SF. 641-6195. Spanish, B/BR/L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Cafe Ethiopia It's basically a coffeehouse, serving all the same coffees and teas and Toranis as anyone else. It's just that they also have great, cheap Ethiopian food. (Staff) 878 Valencia, SF. 285-2728. Ethiopian, B/L/D, ¢.
Cafe Gratitude specializes in surprisingly delicious, painstakingly prepared raw and vegan cuisine with a hippie attitude. For less than $10, you will be full and healthy from buckwheat and Brazil nut cheese pizza, mock tuna salad and other herbaceous nut-based spreads, and sumptuous date-based smoothies. (Staff) 2400 Harrison, SF. 824-4652. Vegan, B/BR/L/D, ¢, MC/V.
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, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
[TK]Couleur Café reminds us that French food need be neither fancy nor insular. The kitchen playfully deploys a world of influences — the duck-confit quesadilla is fabulous — and service is precise and attentive despite the modest setting at the foot of Potrero Hill. (PR, 2/06) 300 De Haro, SF. 255-1021. French, BR/L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
*Delfina has grown from a neighborhood restaurant to an event, but an expanded dining room has brought the noise under control, and as always, the food — intense variations on a theme of Tuscany — could not be better. (PR, 2/04) 3621 18th St, SF. 552-4055. California, D, $$, MC/V.
[TK]Dosa serves dosas, the south Indian crepes, along with a wealth of other, and generally quite spicy, dishes from the south of the subcontinent. The cooking tends toward a natural meatlessness; the crowds are intense, like hordes of passengers inquiring about a delayed international flight. (PR, 1/06) 995 Valencia, SF. 642-3672. South Indian, BR/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Double Play sits across the street from what once was Seals Stadium, but while the field and team are gone, the restaurant persists as an authentic sports bar with a solidly masculine aura — mitts on the walls, lots of dark wood, et cetera. The all-American food (soups, sandwiches, pastas, meat dishes, lots of fries) is outstanding. (Staff) 2401 16th St, SF. 621-9859. American, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Emmy's Spaghetti Shack offers a tasty, inexpensive, late-night alternative to Pasta Pomodoro. The touch of human hands is everywhere evident. (Staff) 18 Virginia, SF. 206-2086. Italian, D, $, cash only.
Foreign Cinema serves some fine New American food in a spare setting of concrete and glass that warms up romantically once the sun goes down. (Staff) 2534 Mission, SF. 648-7600. California, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Geranium occupies an old butcher shop and serves vegetarian comfort food that, in its meatless meatiness, manages to honor both past and present in a way that should make everyone happy. (PR, 8/04) 615 Cortland, SF. 647-0118. Vegetarian, BR/D, $$, MC/V.
Herbivore is adorned in the immaculate-architect style: angular blond-wood surfaces and precise cubbyholes abound. (Staff) 983 Valencia, SF. 826-5657; 531 Divisadero (at Fell), SF. 885-7133. Vegetarian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Jasmine Tea House feels vaguely Italian, with its pastel pink walls and peals of opera floating from the kitchen, but the classic Chinese cooking is bright and crisp. Avoid the deep-fried stuff. (Staff) 3253 Mission, SF. 826-6288. Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Joe's Cable Car is the place where "Joe grinds his own fresh meat daily," and it shows. Fill up with a thick milkshake on the side, but skip the disappointing fries. (Staff) 4320 Mission, SF. 334-6699. American, L/D, $, MC/V.
[TK]Kiji announces itself with red lanterns, one above the door, the rest inside. The food is hipster sushi, immaculate and imaginative, with some interesting cooked dishes thrown in. (PR, 1/06) 1009 Guerrero, SF. 282-0400. Japanese, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Last Supper Club is really a trattoria, and an impressive one, from its half-lit reddish-gold interior to its always tasty and sometimes astounding food. Don't miss the Sicilian-style ahi tartare on house-made potato chips. (Staff) 1199 Valencia, SF. 695-1199. Italian, BR/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Liberties reinvents the Irish pub for digital times. The food has an unmistakably masculine cast. (Staff) 998 Guerrero, SF. Irish, BR/L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Liberty Cafe specializes in simple, perfect food: a Caesar salad that outshines all others, the best chicken potpie in the city, and down-home desserts even a bake sale in Iowa couldn't beat. (Staff) 410 Cortland, SF. 695-8777. American, BR/L/D, $-$$, AE/MC/V.
Little Baobab reminds us that creole cooking isn't just from New Orleans; the excellent (and inexpensive) food takes its influences from French island culture in the Caribbean Sea and Indian Ocean. (Staff) 3388 19th St, SF. 643-3558. Creole, D, $, MC/V.
*Little Nepal assembles a wealth of sensory cues (sauna-style blond wood, brass table services) and an Indian-influenced Himalayan cuisine into a singular experience that appeals to all of Bernal Heights and beyond, including tots in their strollers. (Staff) 925 Cortland, SF. 643-3881. Nepalese, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
La Luna gives its fine nuevo Latino cuisine a distinctly Argentine spin. The parrillada (for two) is more than enough to sate even incorrigible carnivores, and the Mediterranean-blue color scheme is agreeably muted. (Staff) 3126 24th St, SF. 282-7110. Nuevo Latino, D, $$, MC/V.
Luna Park bubbles over with the new Mission's nouveau riche, but even so, the food is exceptionally satisfying and not too expensive. (Staff) 694 Valencia, SF. 553-8584. Californian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Maharaja offers romantically half-lit pastels and great spicy food, including a fine chicken tikka masala and a dish of lamb chunks in dal. Lunch forswears the usual steam-table buffet in favor of set specials, as in a Chinese place. (Staff) 525 Valencia, SF. 552-7901. Indian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Mariachi's serves up its fare in a cheery pastel-painted space, and its chalkboard menu features ingredients like sautéed mushrooms, pineapple, and pesto. (Staff) 508 Valencia, SF. 621-4358. Mexican, L/D, ¢.
Maverick holds several winning cards, including a menu of first-rate New American food, a clutch of interesting wines by the glass and half glass, and a handsome, spare Mission District setting discreetly cushioned for sound control. (PR, 9/05) 3316 17th St, SF. 863-3061. American, L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Medjool doesn’t offer much by way of its namesake date, food of the ancient pharaohs, but the pan-Mediterranean menu (which emphasizes small plates) is mostly tasty, and the setting is appealingly layered, from a sidewalk terrace to a moody dining room behind a set of big carved-wood doors. (PR, 11/04) 2522 Mission, SF. 550-9055. Mediterranean, B/L/D, $$, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Mi Lindo Perú dishes up mom-style cooking, Peruvian style, in illimitable portions. The shrimp chowder is astounding. Lots of tapas too. (Staff) 3226 Mission, SF. 642-4897. Peruvian, L/D, $, MC/V.
Mi Lindo Yucatán looks a bit tatty inside, but the regional Mexican cooking is cheap and full of pleasant surprises. (PR, 3/04) 401 Valencia, SF. 861-4935. Mexican, L/D, ¢, cash only.
Moki's Sushi and Pacific Grill serves imaginative specialty makis along with items from a pan-Asian grill in a small, bustling neighborhood spot. (Staff) 830 Cortland, SF. 970-9336. Japanese, D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Napper Tandy serves good Irish pub-grub standards of immeasurable scale. Little-known Irish beers on tap make a good match with the food. (PR, 5/04) 3200 24th St, SF. 550-7510. Irish, L/D, $, MC/V.
New Central Restaurant serves Mexican comfort food, while ambience flows from the jukebox near the door. (Staff) 399 S Van Ness, SF. 255-8247, 621-9608. Mexican, B/L, ¢, cash only.
Pakwan has a little secret: a secluded garden out back. It's the perfect place to enjoy the fiery foods of India and Pakistan. (Staff) 3180 16th St, SF. 255-2440. Indian/Pakistani, L/D, ¢, cash only.
Panchita’s No. 3 plays a much-needed role, as a kind of Salvadoran-Mexican bistro or taverna. The food is straightforward and strong and presented with just a bit of flair; the setting shows small touches of elegance. (Staff) 3115 22nd St, SF. 821-6660. Salvadoran/Mexican, L/D, $, MC/V.
Pancho Villa The best word for this 16th Street taquería is big, from the large space to the jumbo-size burritos to the grand dinner plates of grilled shrimp. The only small thing is the price. (Staff) 3071 16th St, SF. 864-8840. Mexican, BR/L/D, ¢.
Papalote Mexican Grill relieves our Mexican favorites of much of their fat and calories without sacrificing flavor. Surprisingly excellent soyrizo and aguas frescas; sexily varied crowd. (Staff) 3409 24th St, SF. 970-8815. Mexican, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Parkside serves a decent affordable California menu — under the stars, if you like, in a spacious walled garden at the rear. (Staff) 1600 17th St, SF. 503-0393. California, BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Phoenix is a little of this, a little of that — bar, nightclub, restaurant — but the accent of the place is unmistakably Celtic. Order anything with Irish bacon. Gut-swelling pasta dishes, the occasional weirdly successful soup. (Staff) 811 Valencia, SF. 695-1811. Irish, BR/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Platanos joins the Mission's Roller Derby of freshened Latino cooking with a potpourri menu of dishes from throughout the Spanish-speaking Americas. Good seviche, an excellent chile relleno, and of course plantains every which way. (Staff) 598 Guerrero, SF. 252-9281. Pan-Latino, D, $, AE/MC/V.
Ramblas resists the globalized-tapa trend by serving up Spanish classics. And they are good, from grilled black sausage to calamares a la plancha to crisp potato cubes bathed in a vivid red-pepper sauce. (Staff) 557 Valencia, SF. 565-0207. Spanish/tapas, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Range recaptures the dot-com spirit of 1999 with its generically edgy postmodern look, but the food at its best is honest and spirited. The coffee-rubbed pork shoulder, a variation on mole, is a one-in-a-million dish. (PR, 9/05) 842 Valencia, SF. 282-8283. California, D, $$, MC/V.
Rasoi The food here is milder than the fiery south Indian curries, and it's very vegetarian friendly. Slowly revolving ceiling fans give a pleasant illusion of heat even when it's freezing outside. (Staff) 1037 Valencia, SF. 695-0599. Indian, D, $, AE/MC/V.
Restaurant YoYo joins the food maelstrom at Valencia and 16th Street bearing a powerful tool: sushi, good and cheap. The Mel's-diner interior, on the other hand, is pure Americana. (Staff) 3092 16th St, SF. 255-9181. Japanese/sushi, L/D, $, MC/V.
Sally's serves mainly lunch — lots of people work around the northern foot of Potrero Hill — but there's breakfast too, and even early dinner, if you can live with sandwiches, salads, burritos, and chili. There's also a bakery. (Staff) 300 De Haro, SF. 626-6006. Deli, B/L/D, ¢, MC/V.
*Slow Club still has a speakeasy charm, and the California cooking that emerges from the tiny, clamorous kitchen is still the class of the northeast Mission. (PR, 1/05) 2501 Mariposa, SF. 241-9390. California, BR/L/D, $$, MC/V.
Sunflower strikes all the right notes of today's Mission: good inexpensive Vietnamese food in a modish California ambience, with friendly, casual service. (Staff) 506 Valencia, SF. 626-5023. Vietnamese, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Taquería Can-Cun serves up one of the best veggie burritos in town — delicious, juicy, and huge. (Staff) 2288 Mission (at 19th St), SF. 252-9560; 1003 Market, SF. 864-6773; 3211 Mission (at Valencia), SF. 550-1414. Mexican, L/D, ¢.
Ti Couz’s menu of entrées consists exclusively of crepes — from light snacks to full meals, from sweet to savory — served up in a bright, boisterous café environment. (Staff) 3108 16th St, SF. 252-7373. Crepes, BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
Tokyo Go Go’s simplest dishes are the best. Given the location and the thick crowds of people dressed in black, the noise level is surprisingly moderate. (Staff) 3174 16th St, SF. 864-2288. Japanese, D, $$, MC/V.
[TK]Universal Café does California cooking the way it's meant to be done. The mingled influences of Italy, France, and the Pacific Coast result in such unforgettable dishes as split-pea soup freshened with mint and a grilled flatbread with melted leeks and salume. (PR, 1/06) 2814 19th St, SF. 821-4608. California, BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
[TK]Velvet Cantina has the feel of a Nogales brothel and carefree food to match, though the kitchen has some pedigree and upscale aspirations. The mood is one of raucous conviviality, moving to the heartbeat thump of techno music. (PR, 2/06) 3349 23rd St, SF. 648-4142. Mexican, D, $$, MC/V.
Vogalonga Trattoria continues a tradition of excellent rustic cooking in a setting of cozy warmth. Despite the gondolier etched on the front window, the menu includes standards from all regions of Italy. (Staff) 3234 22nd St, SF. 642-0298. Italian, D, $, MC/V.
Walzwerk bills itself as an "East German" restaurant, but don't be frightened: the food is fresh, clever, tasty, and surprisingly light. The decor has a definite Cabaret edge. (Staff) 381 S Van Ness, SF. 551-7181. German, D, $, MC/V.
Watercress succeeds Watergate — the space is still handsome and the food is still French-Indo-Chinese fusion, but the prices are lower and the prix fixe option is so generous as to be irresistible. One of the best values in town. (Staff) 1152 Valencia, SF. 648-6000. Fusion, D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
[tk: closed?]Wilde Oscar's slings decent Irish pub food — burgers, curries, plenty of fries — in a comfortably homo-inflected environment. Wilde witticisms adorn the walls. (Staff) 1900 Folsom, SF. 621-7145. Irish/pub, L/D, $, MC/V.
*Woodward’s Garden defies its under-the-freeway setting with a seasonal, reasonably priced California-cuisine menu that explains how a restaurant has managed to thrive for more than a decade in a seemingly unpromising location. Dim lighting can make reading the menu a chore. (PR, 3/05) 1700 Mission, SF. 621-7122. California, D, $$, MC/V.
Zante Pizza and Indian Cuisine is that famous Indian pizza place. Meaning it's got Indian food, it's got pizza, and it's got Indian pizza. (Staff) 3489 Mission, SF. 821-3949. Indian, L/D, $, AE/DISC/MC/V.
MARINA/PACIFIC HEIGHTS/LAUREL HEIGHTS
L'Amour dans le Four gives a nice local boho twist to classic French bistro style. Many dishes from the oven. Tiny, noisy, intimate. (Staff) 1602 Lombard, SF. 775-2134. French, D, $, AE/MC/V.
Annie's Bistro is a small jewel that offers stylish downtown cooking at neighborhood prices, with an extensive California wine list available by the glass and half glass. (Staff) 2819 California, SF. 922-9669. California, D, $$, MC/V.
*A16 refers to an Italian highway near Naples, and the food (in the old Zinzino space) is stylishly Neapolitan — lots of interesting pizzas, along with other treats from the wood-burning oven. (PR, 3/04) 2355 Chestnut, SF. Italian, L/BR/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Betelnut Peiju Wu is a pan-Asian version of a tapas bar, drawing a sleek postcollegiate crowd with its wide assortment of dumplings, noodles, soups, and snacks. (Staff) 2030 Union, SF. 929-8855. Asian, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Bistro Yoffi offers a homey California menu in a paradise of potted plants. Splendid al fresco dining (under heat lamps) in the rear. (Staff) 2231 Chestnut, SF. 885-5133. California, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Cafe Maritime captures something of the feel of a New England seafood restaurant. Despite the touristy location, the food is honest and good. (PR, 7/04) 2417 Lombard, SF. 885-2530. Seafood, D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Chez Nous fills the French slot in our town's tapas derby, and it does so with imagination, panache, and surprising economy. The menu features touches from around the Mediterranean, but much of the best stuff is unmistakably Gallic. (Staff) 1911 Fillmore, SF. 441-8044. French, L/D, $, MC/V.
Chouquet's gives stylish little spins to all sorts of French bistro standards and some nonstandards. The general look and tone is sleek and Parisian. (PR, 6/05) 2500 Washington, SF. 359-0075. French, BR/L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Curbside Too, younger sibling to the Curbside Cafe, looks like a roadside greasy spoon. But come dinnertime the Mexican brunch influences melt into a sublime French saucefest. (Staff) 2769 Lombard, SF. 921-4442. French, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Dragon Well looks like an annex of the cavernous Pottery Barn down the street, but its traditional Chinese menu is radiant with fresh ingredients and careful preparation. Prices are modest, the service swift and professional. (Staff) 2142 Chestnut, SF. 474-6888. Chinese, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Eastside West fits right into the Cow Hollow scene. It's comfortably upscale, with first-rate service and stylishly relaxed Cal-American food. (Staff) 3154 Fillmore, SF. 885-4000. California/American, BR/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Elite Cafe A welcoming place. The menu has plenty of familiar Creole and Cajun favorites along with more typical California fare. (Staff) 2049 Fillmore, SF. 346-8668. Cajun, BR/D, $$, MC/V.
Ella's serves breakfast, lunch, and supper, but brunch is the real destination at this friendly corner eatery. (Staff) 500 Presidio, SF. 441-5669. American, B/BR/L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Eunice's Cafe is the place to go when you'd rather have a conversation than make a big entrance. Good soups, sandwiches, pizzas, and quiches, with a world of influences. (Staff) 3336 Sacramento, SF. 440-3330. Brazilian/eclectic, B/L, ¢, MC/V.
Greens All the elements that made it famous are still intact: pristine produce, an emphasis on luxury rather than health, that gorgeous view. (Staff) Fort Mason Center, Bldg A, Marina at Laguna, SF. 771-6222. Vegetarian, L/D, $$, DISC/MC/V.
*Harris' Restaurant is a timeless temple to beef, which appears most memorably as slices of rib roast, but in other ways too. Uncheap. (PR, 5/04) 2100 Van Ness, SF. 673-1888. Steakhouse/American, D, $$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Kiss is tiny, industrial, not particularly Anglophonic — and serves some of the best sushi in the city. Warning: the very best stuff (from the specials menu) can be very pricey. (Staff) 1700 Laguna, SF. 474-2866. Japanese, D, $$$, MC/V.
Letitia's has claimed the old Alta Plaza space and dispensed with the huge cruise mirror. The Mexican standards are pretty good and still pricey, though they don't seem quite as dear in Pacific Heights as they did in the Castro. (PR, 6/04) 2301 Fillmore, SF. 922-1722. Mexican, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Mezes glows with sunny Greek hospitality, and the plates coming off the grill are terrific, though not huge. Bulk up with a fine Greek salad. (Staff) 2373 Chestnut, SF. 409-7111. Greek, D, $, MC/V.
Plump Jack Café If you had to take your parents to dinner in the Marina, this would be the place. A small but authentic jewel. (Staff) 3127 Fillmore, SF. 563-4755. California, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
*Quince doesn't much resemble its precursor, the Meetinghouse: the setting is more overtly luxurious, the food a pristine Franco-Cal-Ital variant rather than hearty New American. Still, it's an appealing place to meet. (PR, 7/04) 1701 Octavia, SF. 775-8500. California, D, $$$, AE/MC/V.
Rigolo combines the best of Pascal Rigo's boulangeries — including the spectacular breads — with some of the simpler elements (such as roast chicken) of his higher-end places. The result is excellent value in a bustling setting. (PR, 1/05) 3465 California, SF. 876-7777. California/Mediterranean, B/L/D, $, MC/V.
Rose's Cafe has a flexible, all-day menu that starts with breakfast sandwiches; moves into bruschettas, salads, and pizzas; and finishes with grilled dinner specials such as salmon, chicken, and flat-iron steak. (Staff) 2298 Union, SF. 775-2200. California, B/L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Rosti Getting half a chicken along with roasted potatoes and an assortment of vegetables for $7.95 in the Marina is cause for celebration in itself. (Staff) 2060 Chestnut, SF. 929-9300. Italian, L/D, $, AE/DISC/V.
Saji Japanese Cuisine Sit at the sushi bar and ask the resident sushi makers what's particularly good that day. As for the hot dishes, seafood yosenabe, served in a clay pot, is a virtual Discovery Channel of finned and scaly beasts, all tasty and fresh. (Staff) 3232 Scott, SF. 931-0563. Japanese, D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Sociale serves first-rate Cal-Ital food in bewitching surroundings — a heated courtyard, a beautifully upholstered interior — that will remind you of some hidden square in some city of Mediterranean Europe. (Staff) 3665 Sacramento, SF. 921-3200. Mediterranean, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Sushi Groove is easily as cool as its name. Behind wasabi green velvet curtains, salads can be inconsistent, but the sushi is impeccable, especially the silky salmon and special white tuna nigiri. (Staff) 1916 Hyde, SF. 440-1905. Japanese, D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Takara The menu offers plenty of sushi and sashimi, as well as udon, broiled items, and the occasional curiosity, such as grated yam. (Staff) 22 Peace Plaza, Suite 202 (Japan Center), SF. 921-2000. Japanese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Taste of the Himalayas is primarily Nepalese, but the Indian influences on the food are many, and there are a few Tibetan items. Spicing is vivid, value excellent. (PR, 10/04) 2420 Lombard, SF. 674-9898. Nepalese/Tibetan, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
*YaYa deals in Mesopotamian cuisine, and that means unusual and haunting combinations of sweet, sour, and salty. The halogen-lit setting of blue and gold includes a trompe l'oeil mural of an ancient Babylonian city. (PR, 6/05) 2424 Van Ness, SF. 440-0455. Mesopotamian, D, $$, MC/V.
ZAO Noodle Bar manages the seemingly impossible: the food’s good, cheap, and fresh; the service is friendly; and there’s an inexpensive parking lot half a block away. (Staff) 2406 California, SF. 345-8088. Asian, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Bursa Kebabs brings a taste of Turkey to West Portal. The elegant pistachio-colored decor suggests a California bistro, but the carefully prepared food is traditional. (PR, 3/04) 60 West Portal (at Vicente), SF. 564-4006. Turkish, L/D, $, MC/V.
Cafe for All Seasons reflects the friendly vibrancy of its West Portal neighborhood. The California comfort food doesn't set off fireworks, but it's reliably good and fresh. (Staff) 150 West Portal, SF. 665-0900. California, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Chouchou Patisserie Artisanale and French Bistro is the place to go for pastry, whether you like it as an edible cap on your potpies or as a crust beneath your fruit or chocolate tarts. French standards — charcuterie, onion soup — are executed with verve. (Staff) 400 Dewey, SF. 242-0960. French, L/D, $$, MC/V.
*Dragonfly serves the best contemporary Vietnamese food in town, in a calmer environment and at a fraction of the cost of better-known places. (PR, 8/05) 420 Judah, SF. 661-7755. Vietnamese, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Eldos is a cross between a brew pub and a taquería, with a few standard American items thrown in. Fabulous chicken posole. (Staff) 1326 Ninth Ave, SF. 564-0425. Mexican/brew pub, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Fresca has gone upscale, and its Peruvian menu has been expanded beyond burritos. Still excellent roast chicken, seviche, enchiladas. (Staff) 24 West Portal, SF. 759-8087. Peruvian, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
[TK]Gold Mirror tells a tale of old San Francisco west of Twin Peaks, where the servers are in black tie and the menu is rich in veal, from saltimbocca to piccata and beyond. Baroque decor; large weekend dinner crowds. (PR, 11/05) 800 Taraval, SF. 564-0401. Italian, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Hotei is a marvel of great Japanese fare combined with efficient, accommodating service. Four types of noodles are the foundation around which swirl lively broths. (Staff) 1290 Ninth Ave, SF. 753-6045. Japanese, L/D, ¢, AE/DC/MC/V.
Ichi-ban Kan Cafe serves sushi, sandwiches, burgers, teriyaki, an all-you-can-eat buffet — are you getting the picture? The winning neighborhood tone is reminiscent of Mayberry, RFD. (Staff) 1500 Irving, SF. 566-1696. Japanese/American, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Jimisan brings a stylish and value-conscious sushi option to the Ninth Avenue restaurant row. Good cooked stuff too. (PR, 8/05) 1380 Ninth Ave, SF. 564-8989. Japanese/sushi, L/D, $, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Jitra Thai Cuisine serves up creditable Thai standards in a pink dollhouse setting. (Staff) 2545 Ocean, SF. 585-7251. Thai, L/D, $, MC/V.
Ladda’s Seaview Thai Cuisine gazes upon the mists and surfers of Ocean Beach. The kitchen divides its attentions between Thai and American standards. Free parking in the always near-empty lot. (PR, 5/05) 1225 La Playa, SF. 665-0185. Thai/American, B/L/D, ¢, AE/MC/V.
Marnee Thai A friendly, low-key neighborhood restaurant — now in two neighborhoods — that just happens to serve some of the best Thai food in town. (PR, 1/04) 2225 Irving, SF. 665-9500; 1243 Ninth Ave (at Lincoln), SF. 731-9999. Thai, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Masala means "spice mixture," and spices aplenty you will find in the South Asian menu. Be sure to order plenty of naan to sop up the sauce with. (Staff) 1220 Ninth Ave, SF. 566-6976. Indian/Pakistani, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Nan King Road Bistro laces its mostly Chinese menu with little touches from around Asia (sake sauces, Korean noodles), and the result is a spectacular saucefest. Spare, cool environment. (Staff) 1360 Ninth Ave, SF. 753-2900. Pan-Asian, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Park Chow could probably thrive on its basic dishes, such as the burger royale with cheese ($6.95), but if you're willing to spend an extra five bucks or so, the kitchen can really flash you some thigh. (Staff) 1240 Ninth Ave, SF. 665-9912. California, BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
P.J.'s Oyster Bed Of all the US regional cultures, southern Louisiana's may be the most beloved, and at P.J.'s you can taste why. (Staff) 737 Irving, SF. 566-7775. Seafood, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Pomelo Big portions of Asian- and Italian-inspired noodle dishes. If you need something quick, cheap, and fresh, pop in here. (Staff) 92 Judah, SF. 731-6175. Noodles, L/D, $, cash only.
Sabella's carries a famous seafood name into the heart of West Portal. Good nonseafood stuff too. (Staff) 53 West Portal, SF. 753-3130. Italian/seafood, $, L/D, MC/V.
Sea Breeze Cafe looks like a dive, but the California cooking is elevated, literally and figuratively. Lots of witty salads, a rum-rich crème brûlée. (Staff) 3940 Judah, SF. 242-6022. California, BR/L/D, $$, MC/V.
Tasty Curry still shows traces of an earlier life as a Korean hibachi restaurant (i.e., venting hoods above most of the tables), but the South Asian food is cheap, fresh, and packs a strong kick. (PR, 1/04) 1375 Ninth Ave, SF. 753-5122. Indian/Pakistani, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Tennessee Grill could as easily be called the Topeka Grill, since its atmosphere is redolent of Middle America. Belly up to the salad bar for huge helpings of the basics to accompany your meat loaf or calf's liver. (Staff) 1128 Taraval, SF. 664-7834. American, B/L/D, $, MC/V.
Thai Cottage isn't really a cottage, but it is small in the homey way, and its Thai menu is sharp and vivid in the home-cooking way. Cheap, and the N train stops practically at the front door. (PR, 8/04) 4041 Judah, SF. 566-5311. Thai, L/D, $, MC/V.
*Xiao Loong elevates the neighborhood Chinese restaurant experience to one of fine dining, with immaculate ingredients and skillful preparation in a calm architectural setting. (PR, 8/05) 250 West Portal, SF. 753-5678. Chinese, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Yum Yum Fish is basically a fish store: three or four little tables with fish-print tablecloths under glass, fish-chart art along the wall, and fish-price signs all over the place. (Staff) 2181 Irving, SF. 566-6433. Sushi, L/D, ¢.
Angkor Wat still serves tasty Cambodian food for not much money in a setting of Zenlike calm. (Staff) 4217 Geary, SF. 221-7887. Cambodian, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Assab dishes up unforgettably spicy Eritrean food, family style, in a comfortable space near the University of San Francisco. Honey wine, for those so inclined. (PR, 9/05) 2845 Geary, SF. 441-7083. Eritrean, L/D, $, AE/DISC/MC/V.
*Aziza shimmers with Moroccan grace, from the pewter ewer and basin that circulate for the washing of hands to the profusion of preserved Meyer lemons in the splendid cooking. (Staff) 5800 Geary, SF. 752-2222. Moroccan, D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Bamboo Village serves excellent Indonesian food in a comfortably modest setting for not much money. Take-out orders can slow the kitchen down considerably. (Staff) 3015 Geary, SF. 751-8006. Indonesian, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Bella might make you feel as if you’ve ended up inside a piece of tiramisu, but the classic Italian cooking will definitely make you happy. (Staff) 3854 Geary, SF. 221-0305. Italian, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Blue Fin Sushi does indeed have a blue-finned sport fish mounted over the bar and, more interesting, an attached sports bar, Prime Time, where you can enjoy nigiri and cheeseburgers. Lots of imaginative Japanese-style cooked dishes. (PR, 3/05) 1814 Clement, SF. 387-2441. Sushi/American, D, $$, MC/V.
*Chapeau! serves some of the best food in the city — at shockingly reasonable prices. The French cooking reflects as much style and imagination as any California menu. (Staff) 1408 Clement, SF. 750-9787. French, D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Clement Street Bar and Grill The high-backed booths spell romance at this always crowded spot. Grilled fish dishes snap with flavor, and there are always a couple of delicious-sounding vegetarian options. (Staff) 708 Clement, SF. 386-2200. American, L/D, $-$$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Clémentine offers comfortable sophistication at a fair price. Free valet parking. (Staff) 126 Clement, SF. 387-0408. French, BR/D, $$, MC/V.
Katia’s, a Russian Tea Room evokes the bourgeois romance of old Russia, and the classic Slavic food is carefully prepared and presented. Silken Crimean port is served in a tiny glass shaped like a Cossack boot. (PR, 12/04) 600 Fifth Ave, SF. 668-9292. Russian, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Kitaro This Japanese restaurant, unlike many others, has a lot of options for vegetarians. (Staff) 5850 Geary, SF. 386-2777. Japanese, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Lucky Fortune serves up a wide variety of Chinese-style seafood in a cheerfully blah setting. Prices are astoundingly low, portions large. (Staff) 5715 Geary, SF. 751-2888. Chinese, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Mai's Restaurant On the basis of the hot-and-sour shrimp soup with pineapple alone, Mai's deserves a line out the door. (Staff) 316 Clement, SF. 221-3046. Vietnamese, L/D, ¢, AE/DC/MC/V.
Mandalay Restaurant still packs them in after 21 years with moderate prices, a handsomely understated decor, and confidently seasoned food of considerable Burmese and Mandarin variety. (PR, 5/05) 4348 California, SF. 386-3896. Burmese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Al-Masri suggests, in food and ambience, the many influences that have swept across the Nile delta: feta cheese and olives from Greece or a quasi-Indian stew of peas and tomatoes, served with basmati rice. (Staff) 4031 Balboa, SF. 876-2300. Egyptian, D, $, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Melisa's deals in spicy Chinese food, and if that's what you're after, you won't mind the brutally bleak decor. Dishes bearing Melisa's name are especially tasty. (Staff) 450 Balboa, SF. 387-1680. Chinese, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Pachi's brings sophisticated Peruvian cooking to outer Clement. The menu includes a few Spanish dishes, such as paella, but the food in the main emphasizes those longtime Peruvian staples seafood and the potato, each in a variety of guises and subtly spiced. The setting is handsome, though on the spare side of spare. (PR, 2/05) 1801 Clement, SF. 422-0502. Peruvian, BR/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Pacific Cafe serves simple, reliable seafood in an atmosphere redolent of 1974, when it opened. Lots of dark wood and faintly psychedelic glass in the windows. (Staff) 7000 Geary, SF. 387-7091. Seafood, D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Pera combines elements of Istanbul café and college-town hangout. The Turkish food is vividly flavored, cheap, and served in big portions. Excellent street-gazing possibilities. (PR, 6/05) 349 Clement, SF. 666-3839. Turkish, B/L/D, $, DISC/MC/V.
*Pizzetta 211 practices the art of the pizza in a glowing little storefront space. Thin crusts, unusual combinations, a few side dishes of the highest quality. (PR, 2/04) 211 23rd Ave, SF. 379-9880. Pizza/Italian, L/D, $.
Q rocks, both American-diner-food-wise and noisy-music-wise. Servings of such gratifyingly tasty dishes as barbecued ribs, fish tacos, and rosemary croquettes are huge. (Staff) 225 Clement, SF. 752-2298. American, BR/L/D, $, MC/V.
RoHan Lounge serves a variety of soju cocktails to help wash down all those Asian tapas. Beware the kimchee. Lovely curvaceous banquettes. (Staff) 3809 Geary, SF. 221-5095. Asian, D, $, AE/MC/V.
Singapore Malaysian Restaurant eschews decor for cheap, tasty plates, where you'll find flavors ranging from Indian to Dutch colonial to Thai. Seafood predominates in curries, soups, grills, and plenty of rice and noodle dishes. (Staff) 836 Clement, SF. 750-9518. Malaysian, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Spices! has an exclamation point for a reason: its Chinese food, mainly Szechuan and Taiwanese, with an oasis of Shanghai-style dishes, is fabulously hot. Big young crowds, pulsing house music, a shocking orange and yellow paint scheme. Go prepared, leave happy. (Staff) 294 Eighth Ave, SF. 752-8884. Szechuan/Chinese, L/D, $, MC/V.
*Straits Cafe has a slightly campy faux-tropical decor, but its Singaporean menu is a kaleidoscope of mingled satisfactions; masterful deployment of unusual ingredients all the way to a dessert of rice pudding in palm sugar syrup. (Staff) 3300 Geary, SF. 668-1783. Singaporean, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Tawan's Thai Food It's tiny, it's cute, the prices are reasonable, and the food is tasty. (Staff) 4403 Geary, SF. 751-5175. Thai, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Thai Time proves that good things come in little packages. The food is tremendous. (Staff) 315 Eighth Ave, SF. 831-3663. Thai, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Tia Margarita is an old-style Mexican restaurant with big servings and big flavor. Go hungry. (Staff) 300 19th Ave, SF. 752-9274. Mexican, D, $, MC/V.
Traktir serves as a kind of town hall for the local Russian community, but the food has a distinct international flavor: dolma, feta-cheese salad, Georgian wine, curry-spiked pieces of cold chicken. (Staff) 4036 Balboa, SF. 386-9800. Russian, D, $, MC/V.
Twilight Cafe and Deli is a bit of an oldster, having opened in 1980, but the Middle Eastern menu is full of delights, from falafel and hummus to foul muddamas, a cumin-scented fava bean stew. A fabulous mural on one wall relieves the standard deli dreariness. (Staff) 2600 McAllister, SF. 386-6115. Middle Eastern, B/L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Cable Car Coffee Shop Atmospherically speaking, you're looking at your basic downtown South San Francisco old-style joint, one that serves a great Pacific Scramble for $4.95 and the most perfectest hash browns to be tasted. (Staff) 423 Grand, South SF. (650) 952-9533. American, B/BR/L, ¢.
Cliff's Bar-B-Q and Seafood Some things Cliff's got going for him: excellent mustard greens, just drenched in flavorfulness, and barbecued you name it. Brisket. Rib tips. Hot links. Pork ribs. Beef ribs. Baby backs. And then there are fried chickens and, by way of health food, fried fishes. (Staff) 2177 Bayshore, SF. 330-0736. Barbecue, L/D, ¢, AE/DC/MC/V.
JoAnn's Cafe and Pantry has gotten some word-of-mouth recommendations as a dive, but it serves upscale breakfasts with decidedly nondive sides such as low-fat chicken basil sausage, bagels, and homemade muffins and scones. (Staff) 1131 El Camino Real, South SF. (650) 872-2810. American, B/L, $.
Old Clam House really is old — it's been in the same location since the Civil War — but the seafood preparations are fresh, in an old-fashioned way. Matchless cioppino. Sports types cluster at the bar, under the shadow of a halved, mounted Jaguar E-type. (Staff) 299 Bayshore, SF. 826-4880. Seafood, L/D, $$, MC/V.
Peking Wok is a great Chinese dive in Bayview, right smack on the way to Candlestick. Not counting the 18 special combos for $3.25-$4.50, there are 109 items on the menu. At least 101 of them are under five bucks. (Staff) 4920 Third St, SF. 822-1818. Chinese, L/D, ¢.
Soo Fong features good inexpensive Chinese food. For the heat-seeking diner, its fiery Szechuan specialties will hit the spot. Nice chow fun and other noodle dishes too. (Staff) Bayview Plaza, 3801 Third St, SF. 285-2828. Chinese, L/D, ¢.
Taqueria el Potrillo serves one of the best chicken burritos in town, if not the best. You can get your bird grilled or barbecued or have steak instead or tacos. Excellent salsas and aguas frescas, and warmer weather than practically anywhere else in town. (Staff) 300A Bayshore Blvd, SF. 642-1612. Mexican, B/L/D, ¢, cash only.
Young's Cafe A restaurant full of cheap, big, decent Chinese food, Young's serves up 15 rice dishes, most of them for $2.95, and 64 other standard Chinese things. Only four of those are more than five bucks. (Staff) 732 22nd St, SF. 285-6046. Chinese, L/D, ¢.
Ajanta offers a variety of deftly seasoned regional dishes from the Asian subcontinent. (Staff) 1888 Solano, Berk. (510) 526-4373. Indian, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
La Bayou serves up an astounding array of authentic New Orleans staples, including jambalaya, (greaseless!) fried catfish, and homemade pralines. (Staff) 3278 Adeline, Berk. (510) 594-9302. Cajun/Creole, L/D, ¢-$, MC/V.
Breads of India and Gourmet Curries The menu changes every day, so nothing is refrigerated overnight, and the curries benefit from obvious loving care. (Staff) 2448 Sacramento, Berk. (510) 848-7684. Indian, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Café de la Paz Specialties include African-Brazilian "xim xim" curries, Venezuelan corn pancakes, and heavenly blackened seacakes served with orange-onion yogurt. (Staff) 1600 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 843-0662. Latin American, BR/L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Cafe Rouge All the red meat here comes from highly regarded Niman Ranch, and all charcuterie are made in-house. (Staff) 1782 Fourth St, Berk. (510) 525-1440. American, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
César You'll be tempted to nibble for hours from Chez Panisse-related César's Spanish-inspired tapas — unless you can't get past the addictive sage-and-rosemary-flecked fried potatoes. (Staff) 1515 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 883-0222. Spanish, D, $, DISC/MC/V.
Cha-Ya Everything chef-proprietor Atsushi Katsumata makes, from the pot stickers and nigiri sushi to the steaming bowls of udon, hews to strict vegan standards. (Staff) 1686 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 981-1213. Japanese/Vegetarian, D, $, MC/V.
Chez Panisse may be an old-timer, but a devotion to the best seasonal ingredients (often organic), grilled on its wood-fired open hearth, means the restaurant's distinctive Franco-Cal-Ital signature remains unmistakable and unmatched. (Staff) 1517 Shattuck, Berk. Café, (510) 548-5049, L/D, $$; restaurant, (510) 548-5525, D, $$$. California, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Christopher's Nothing Fancy Café Chicken, beef, veggie, and prawn fajitas are the sizzling specialties. (Staff) 1019 San Pablo, Albany. (510) 526-1185. Mexican, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Clay Pot Seafood House specialties include steaming clay pots full of fascinating broths and such ingredients as meatballs, Chinese sausage, and whole fish. (Staff) 809 San Pablo, Albany. (510) 559-8976. Chinese, L/D, $, DISC/MC/V.
Holy Land transforms falafel, hummus, tahini, tabbouleh, and other Middle Eastern standards into gourmet-quality yet home-style delights. (Staff) 2965 College, Berk. (510) 665-1672. Middle Eastern/Kosher, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Lalime's is a long-standing institution in East Bay haute cuisine culture, but there's nothing institutional about the attentive service or the creative and gorgeous dishes. (Staff) 1329 Gilman, Berk. (510) 527-9838. French/Mediterranean, D, $$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Locanda Olmo Fine versions of risotto, gnocchi, and soft polenta pie, terrific thin-crust pizzas, and good traditional desserts have made Locanda Olmo a reliable anchor in the burgeoning Elmwood neighborhood. (Staff) 2985 College, Berk. (510) 848-5544. Italian, D, $, MC/V.
La Note Unique egg dishes and pancakes, big luncheon salads, fancy baguette sandwiches, and hearty weekend dinners. (Staff) 2337 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 843-1535. Country French, B/BR/L/D, $$, AE/MC/V. Restroom not wheelchair accessible.
Rick and Ann's serves some of the best shoestring fries on earth, along with excellent (if nouvelle) renditions of such Americana as meat loaf and chicken potpie baked under a cheddar cheese biscuit. (Staff) 2922 Domingo, Berk. (510) 649-8538. American, BR/L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Rivoli is a near-perfect balance of the neighborhood eatery and the eclectic California cuisine destination restaurant. (Staff) 1539 Solano, Berk. (510) 526-2542. California, D, $, AE/DISC/MC/V.
Sam's Log Cabin Daily special egg scrambles, great griddle cakes and corn cakes, and exceptional scones and muffins top the morning fare, which also includes gourmet sausage and bacon, hot and cold cereals, and organic coffee. (Staff) 945 San Pablo Ave, Berk. (510) 558-0494. American, B/L, ¢, cash only.
Vik's Chaat Corner For less than the price of a scone and a latte, you can try lentil dumplings, curries, or a variety of flat or puffed crisp puris with various vegetarian fillings. (Staff) 726 Allston Way, Berk. (510) 644-4412. Indian, L/D, ¢, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Your Place Venture away from typical Thai menu items toward neau yang num, laab gai, blackboard specials, and at lunch, the "boat noodles" soups. (Staff) 1267-71 University, Berk. (510) 548-9781. Thai, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Zachary's Chicago Pizza The stuffed pizza is simply out of this world. The fact that both Zachary's outlets are always busy speaks for itself. (Staff) 1853 Solano, Berk. (510) 525-5950; 5801 College (at Oak Grove), Berk. (510) 655-6385. Pizza, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Arizmendi is a worker-owned bakery where bread rolls out in seemingly infinite varieties — potato, Asiago, sesame-sunflower. (Staff) 3265 Lakeshore, Oakl. (510) 268-8849. Bakery, B/L/D, ¢. Not wheelchair accessible.
Asena Restaurant Good dishes at Asena, a charming Med-Cal cuisine spot, include individual pizzas and grilled marinated lamb sirloin in a burgundy-rosemary demi-glace. (Staff) 2508 Santa Clara, Alameda. (510) 521-4100. California/Mediterranean, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Le Cheval Shrimp rolls and peanut sauce, the fried Dungeness crab, the marinated "orange flavor" beef, the buttery lemongrass prawns — it's all fabulous. (Staff) 1007 Clay, Oakl. (510) 763-8495. Vietnamese, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Connie's Cantina fashions unique variations on standard Mexican fare — enchiladas, tamales, fajitas, rellenos. (Staff) 3340 Grand, Oakl. (510) 839-4986. Mexican, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Garibaldi's on College focuses on Mediterranean-style seafood. (Staff) 5356 College, Oakl. (510) 595-4000. Mediterranean, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Gerardo's Mexican Restaurant offers all the expected taquería fare. But a main reason to visit is to pick up a dozen of Maria's wonderfully down-home chicken or pork tamales. (Staff) 3811 MacArthur, Oakl. (510) 531-5255. Mexican, B/L/D, ¢-$.
Mama's Royal Cafe Breakfast is the draw here — even just-coffee-for-me types might succumb when confronted with waffles, French toast, pancakes, tofu scrambles, huevos rancheros, and 20 different omelets. (Staff) 4012 Broadway, Oakl. (510) 547-7600. American, B/L, ¢.
La Mexicana has a 40-year tradition of stuffing its customers with delicious, simply prepared staples (enchiladas, tacos, tamales, chile rellenos, menudo) and specials (carnitas, chicken mole), all served in generous portions at moderate prices. (Staff) 3930 E 14th St, Oakl. (510) 533-8818. Mexican, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
Nan Yang offers too many great dishes — ginger salad, spicy fried potato cakes, coconut chicken noodle soup, garlic noodles, succulent lamb curry that melts in your mouth — to experience in one visit. (Staff) 6048 College, Oakl. (510) 655-3298. Burmese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Ninna You'll find steaks, duck breast, and pork loin on the same menu as chicken in yellow curry, as well as such intriguing and successful fusions as penne pasta "pad Thai" style and veal "Ithaila." (Staff) 4066 Piedmont, Oakl. (510) 601-6441. Thai fusion, L/D, $-$$, MC/V.
Il Porcellino When faced with a menu like Il Porcellino's, any concern for health benefits should take a backseat to hedonism. (Staff) 6111 LaSalle, Oakl. (510) 339-2149. Italian, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Restaurante Doña Tomás offers upscale versions of enchiladas and carnitas, as well as tantalizing chicken-lime-cilantro soup and bountiful pozole. (Staff) 5004 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 450-0522. Mexican, BR/D, $, AE/MC/V.
Rockridge Café offers bountiful breakfasts, a savory meat-loaf special, and hearty cassoulet. But the burgers, wide-cut fries, and straw-clogging milkshakes remain the cornerstones of the menu. (Staff) 5492 College, Oakl. (510) 653-1567. American, B/L/D, $, MC/V.
Taquería Ramiro and Sons typically has customers lined up to the door for (mostly take-out) burritos and tacos and quesadillas. The menu nods to contemporary tastes with black beans and spinach or tomato tortilla options. (Staff) 2321 Alameda, Alameda. (510) 523-5071. Mexican, L/D, ¢, cash only.
Tijuana serves big round bowls and plates teeming with shrimp, crab, octopus, and fish in cocktails, salads, and soups. The place is usually packed and loud. (Staff) 1308 International Blvd, Oakl. (510) 532-5575. Mexican, L/D, $, MC/V. Not wheelchair accessible.
Tropix Dig into a heap of spicy grilled jerk chicken or wallow in the wonders of the shrimp pawpaw: curried vegetables and fat shrimp piled up over meltingly ripe papaya. (Staff) 3814 Piedmont, Oakl. (510) 653-2444. Caribbean, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V. Patio not wheelchair accessible. SFBG