Ah, the French. They may be derided as pretentious and spoofed for pomposity, but really, is there anything more irresistibly charmant than a mâitre d' with a French accent who runs to greet, addresses you as "monsieur" or "madame," kisses your hand, and almost renders you dizzy with the inebriating bonhomie wafting from his person? We don't think so. And when we want this kind of treatment and some superlative food and wine we head to Bistro Central Parc. A Panhandle institution long before NoPa was NoPa (the neighborhood) and NoPa had Nopa (the restaurant), this friendly Francais fixture excels at staples like beef bourguignon and duck confit. Can't find it? Follow the neighbors, and the mingled smells of bouillabaisse and frites.
560 Central, SF. (415) 750-1111. www.bistrocentralparc.com