Best After-Opera Meal

Absinthe

398 Hayes (at Gough), 551-1590, www.absinthe.com

Whether it's Wagner or Offenbach (or even the ballet or the symphony or City Arts & Lectures), our favorite act is always the last one, which takes place at Absinthe, a thoroughly professional restaurant that's well aware of the responsibility conferred on it by its location adjacent to Civic Center. Reservations are imperative for the before-event meal, but we prefer arriving after: The kitchen is open until midnight Tuesday through Saturday (and the bar is open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday; on Sunday you can eat until 10:30 p.m., and the bar is open until midnight). There's a wide range of offerings, from a copious oyster and cold seafood bar to superbly chosen cheeses; the daily-changing menus run from croque monsieurs, a Niman Ranch burger, and steak frites in the bar/cafe to coq au vin, duck confit, and bouillabaisse in the dining room. The bar is famous for its inventive and well-prepared cocktails: We love the refreshing, minty Ginger Rogers, but thanks to a healthy appetite for culture, we're working our way through the entire list.

 
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