Food & Drink

  • Readers' Poll

    Best Restaurant Chaya Brasserie Best New Restaurant Midori Mushi Best Chef Gerard Dumuk, Midori Mushi Best Bar Sublounge Best Irish Bar The Irish Bank Best Gay Bar Endup Best Cop Bar No winner Best Pickup Bar (Straight) Cat Club Best Pickup Bar (Gay) Badlands Best DJ Bar Sublounge Best Brewpub Gordon Biersch Best Seafood Pacific Café Best Chinese Eric's Restaurant Best Japanese Midori Mushi Best Korean Brother's Best Mexican Puerto Alegre Best Indian Indian Oven Best Ethiopian… More >>
  • Best Lemon Drop

    Soléa

    The Lemon Drop was invented for people who don't like the taste of alcohol but admire its narcotic potential, and when done well it's worthy of consideration, a sweet, puckery stepping stone from the lemonade of youth to the Calvados of senility. At Soléa, an excellent French restaurant a couple of blocks from Union Square, the Lemon Drops are done… More >>
  • Best Cioppino

    Rose Pistola

    Esquire food critic Roy Andries de Groot called cioppino "the finest regional dish in America," and anyone who's tasted San Francisco's signature specialty would be hard pressed to disagree. It originated back in Gold Rush times when immigrant Italian fishermen cooked up this local version of the seafood stews they loved -- cacciucco, brodetto, ciupin (hence the name) -- retaining… More >>
  • Best Steak

    Morton's of Chicago

    Yeah, it's part of a chain (and a damned generic chain at that), but Morton's undeniably knows what it's doing when it comes to the Entire Steak Experience. Beautifully marbled cuts from top-ranked 2-year-old steers are aged two to three weeks and broiled at up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, a process that sears the flesh and concentrates all of that… More >>
  • Best Hangtown Fry

    Tadich Grill

    Legend has it that back during the Gold Rush, in the boomtown of Placerville (also known as Hangtown, for its frequent rough-justice necktie parties), a prospector grimy with the mud and dirt of the Sierra foothills yet nouveau riche staggered into the first restaurant he saw and ordered "the most expensive thing on the menu." In those days, in that… More >>
  • Best Pork Chop

    Acme Chophouse

    "The pig is an encyclopedic animal," said Grimod de la Reynière, "a veritable meal on legs." Our favorite volume in the great porcine Brittanica is the chop, that tender, fat-ribboned slab of rib meat that gladdens the taste buds and redeems applesauce on a regular basis. All too often, though, this tasty source of protein and cholesterol is cooked to… More >>
  • Best Panna Cotta

    Delfina

    A key to the success of Delfina's splendid panna cotta is the buttermilk that is its very essence. The richness of this primary ingredient gives the dessert a silky, luxurious quality not often encountered in the culinary world. One of the simplest sweets ever conceived (its name means "cooked cream" in Italian, and that's just about all it is), panna… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Coffee Shop

    Cafe Cole

    The Haight-Ashbury District is one of the last hipster havens in the country without a Starbucks, and the locals like it that way. That's because every morning, Upper Haight and Cole Valley denizens line up at Cafe Cole, an itty-bitty, ramshackle coffee dive right off the main drag. There's a crop of regulars who pop in each morning, some stationed… More >>
  • Best Sandwich

    Cuban Marinated Pork Sandwich at Citizen Cake - CLOSED

    Any midnight snacker will tell you that the act of creating a sandwich is a complex discipline requiring an innate sense of balance and a willingness to push the envelope. The fried oyster po' boy and the ahi and wasabi BLT are two noteworthy successes in this area. Another is the Cuban pork sandwich, which (like every great sandwich) offers… More >>
  • Best Coffee Beans

    Graffeo

    We know of an expatriate San Franciscan now living in New York who appreciates the Big Apple's accelerated pacing and seasonal vicissitudes but cannot survive without her regular shipment of Graffeo dark roast. A grind, a brew, and a sip and she's back in her favorite North Beach caffe, far from Manhattan's signature dishwater. For nearly six decades, Graffeo has… More >>
  • Best Baked Oysters

    Buckeye Roadhouse

    The best baked oysters in San Francisco aren't in San Francisco at all. They're a few minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge at the Buckeye, a rustically hip roadhouse just off Highway 1 between Sausalito and Mill Valley. Amid a menu of steaks, chops, jumbo salads, and pie, the Buckeye's unqualified culinary triumph is Oysters Bingo, a dish that… More >>
  • Best Microbrew

    White Hawk Original IPA, Mendocino Brewing Co.

    White Hawk IPA isn't for wimps. Its bracingly bitter flavor and puckery finish take India Pale Ale to a new level of intensity, and aficionados of Asahi, Corona, and their pallid ilk should keep their distance. This variety of suds is traditionally hoppy and robust, developed to withstand the rigors of the long ocean voyage from Britain to colonial India.… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Della Fattoria

    It's hard to find Della Fattoria breads in San Francisco, but they're well worth the hunt. The textures alone are extraordinary: dense, chewy, and moist with the occasional crunch of rock salt, pepper flake, or pumpkin seed. The varieties range from exquisitely simple campagnes and levains to an almost creamy polenta bread; another ribboned with roasted garlic cloves and chunks… More >>
  • Best Bastardization of the Martini

    Mango Martini at Gaylord India

    Once upon a time, a martini meant one thing: gin and as minimal an amount of dry vermouth as possible. Then wimps with immature taste buds started substituting vodka for the gin, and the rest is history. Now we have chocolate martinis and apple martinis and Key lime martinis and, for all we know, Chilean sea bass martinis. We fought… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum (Chinatown)

    Pearl City Seafood Restaurant

    Dim sum, for the uninitiated, is an inexpensive Chinese brunch or lunch comprised of small plates chosen from roving carts. Although it's not unheard of for experienced diners to order special dishes from the kitchen, most folks just point, select, and devour. In other cities you can generally only find dim sum on weekends, but, blessedly, here it's available seven… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum (Richmond)

    Ton Kiang

    At Ton Kiang, the décor is posh (comfy booths, big round tables, pale walls, immaculate linen), and the dim sum is, too. The classics (cha siu bao, barbecued pork buns; siu mai, pork dumplings; wah tip, pot stickers) are perfectly made, and there are interesting, less common items (mol mai gai, sticky rice with meat wrapped in a leaf; siu… More >>
  • Best Taco

    Pancho Villa Taqueria

    Enough already with the burrito talk: What we want is a good old no-commitment taco, a simple snack that pleasures and gratifies instantly with no lingering sense of guilt, remorse, or burgeoning waistline. Pancho Villa's Super Taco isn't the sort of taco you just pick up and scarf, however. Two soft, freshly made tortillas are piled high with shards of… More >>
  • Best North African Restaurant

    Aziza

    Although Aziza exhibits most of the classic Moroccan-restaurant characteristics, it isn't your typical North African hangout. Sure, there are belly dancers, and the hand-washing ritual, and the deal where the waiter pours the mint tea into your cup from three feet up in the air. But brothers Khalid and Mourad Lahlou (Khalid has since left) created a venue in which… More >>
  • Best Joe's Special

    Original Joe's - CLOSED

    Like Caesar salad and chicken à la Marengo, Joe's Special was apocryphally invented when a beleaguered chef threw together whatever was left in his larder and served it to his hungry clientele. Another version has it that some Prohibition-era jazzmen stormed New Joe's on Columbus and demanded a high-protein snack after a full night of jamming. In any case, this… More >>
  • Best Potato Chips

    Grand Cafe

    One of the truly satisfying moments in American literature takes place after the hero of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms deserts the Army and swims, hikes, and freight-hops across the wet, cold Italian countryside. Bedraggled and exhausted, he makes his way to a hotel bar in Stresa and enjoys a restorative repast of martinis and potato chips. The Grand Cafe… More >>
  • Best Eggs Benedict

    The Meetinghouse

    The raison d'être of Sunday brunch is eggs Benedict, that heavenly, cholesterol-rich concoction of English muffin, Canadian bacon, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. At the Meetinghouse, a primly elegant temple to our native victuals, eggs Benedict gets a New American makeover. Instead of an English muffin, it's supported by the house's stellar biscuits: cracker-crisp on the outside and ethereally fluffy… More >>
  • Best Barcelona Experience

    Leonard's 2001

    Though San Francisco's nightlife shuts down right around the time things are just getting started in Barcelona, there are still several similarities between the two cities, among them an abundance of good food and drink. The best restaurant in Barcelona is a tiny bodega across from the Picasso Museum that serves only sparkling wine, fresh anchovies, and manchego cheese, a… More >>
  • Best Smoked Sturgeon

    East Coast West Delicatessen

    Smoked salmon is as prevalent in San Francisco as dandelion greens and blood orange granita, but it's nearly impossible to track down smoked sturgeon, the uncrowned king of deli-case delectables. At Barney Greengrass and many another Manhattan delicatessen, its characteristic flavor and texture -- rich, meaty, and not as creamy as lox -- is a continuing source of gustatory pleasure.… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Chez Spencer

    Every great restaurant begins with intense, freshly harvested flavors combined and dovetailed in harmonious combinations. Chez Spencer, a dazzling new restaurant in the classic French tradition, takes this concept to new heights. The platters created by chef Laurent Katgely are complex, exciting, and rich with possibilities; they take you on a journey from flavor to intricately unified flavor, reaching resolution… More >>
  • Best Steak Tartare

    Le Petit Robert

    So what's the best way to honor the gallant nation that helped us throw off the yoke of our Colonial masters a couple of centuries ago? By eating French food, of course -- especially steak tartare, a dish that originated in Russia under the Tartars but has since become synonymous with aperitifs, boulevardiers, and la cuisine bistro. At Le Petit… More >>
  • Best Fusion Restaurant

    The House

    East meets West harmoniously indeed at the House, where the bright, crisp flavors of Chinatown make beautiful music with the lusty tastes and textures of North Beach. Proprietors Larry and Angela Tse, who grew up in this bicultural neighborhood, create and serve fresh, inventive, often complex platters exquisitely balanced between the delicate and the vivacious. Viz.: tuna tartare with fried… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Pier 23 Cafe

    When you want the classic two-handed hamburger sans cranberry mayo, feta cheese, and other annoying addenda, Pier 23 is the place to go. Nothing could be finer than sitting at one of those big, round patio tables on a sun-drenched day, listening to Carmen McRae and Tony Bennett on the juke, watching the boats go by, and allowing the whole… More >>
  • Best Place to Sip Kuo Kung Chiew

    Rosewood

    If you ever have a hankering to nurse a glass of this repellent Chinese liqueur -- a dark, viscous amalgam of Fernet-Branca, linseed oil, and Vicks VapoRub -- the Rosewood, the sleekest watering hole in San Francisco, is the place to try it. Kuo Kung Chiew is only one of the many aperitifs, cordials, and digestifs from around the world… More >>
  • Best Mud Pie

    MacArthur Park

    It's getting awfully hard to find mud pie in this town, which is a pity because it's well known that mud pie is the most satisfying dessert ever conceived by humankind. This sentiment is shared by everyone who adores chocolate, and if you don't you must be some kind of a Martian or something. Anyway, mud pie is as good… More >>
  • Best Gnocchi

    Da Flora

    Anyone who's ever attempted to make gnocchi, the tiny Italian dumplings that have been eaten and enjoyed since the days of Imperial Rome, knows how easy it is to end up with something resembling small pellets of lumpy concrete. This never happens at Da Flora, a cozy, candlelit ostaria draped in wrought iron and red velvet, where the gnocchi are… More >>
  • Best Hot Fudge Sundae

    Double Rainbow

    A sundae is only as good as its ice cream, and Double Rainbow's ice cream is the bomb. For 27 years now, the San Francisco-based company has been cranking out all-natural, high-butterfat, densely delicious scoops of joy in several dozen flavors, all of them, incidentally, kosher. Pralines 'n' Cream, for example, makes a great foundation for a hot fudge sundae.… More >>
  • Best Unhealth-Food Item

    Niman Ranch Pork Belly at the Fifth Floor

    Pea sprouts and mung beans are all well and good, but sometimes you want something that's as bad for your body as it is good for your soul. The possibilities and temptations are limitless -- a blood-rare bacon cheeseburger with a side of Cherry Garcia leaps immediately to mind -- but when you want to enrapture your taste buds as… More >>
  • Best Guacamole

    Maya - CLOSED

    The rich, creamy, slightly musky character of the avocado can be enjoyed in soups, on burgers, and even in ice cream (hello, Mitchell's), but it's most pleasurably experienced when combined with chopped onions and lime juice and scooped up with a corn chip. There's a lot of guacamole in this town, but none is more strikingly festive than Maya's. Big,… More >>
  • Best Street Food

    Aidell's Sausage Stand

    The blithe, no-frills pleasure of scarfing a snack from a street-corner restaurateur is undeniable, but compared to what's available in Rome, Saigon, or Manhattan, our local opportunities for sidewalk noshing are severely limited. Fortunately, the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market has been hosting a wide array of top-quality nibbling options for years. We especially appreciate the Aidells sausage stand, which raises… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Tommy's Mexican Restaurant

    You know the line, the Mark Twain line, about the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. Well, you can add spring to that, at least this year. The last few weeks have had us all fantasizing about a quick trip to Mexico. Of course, we either can't afford it or our bosses won't let us… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Chapeau!

    Well, we're not in love with the room (the sweet murals on the wall can't disguise the fact that diners are shoehorned into tables set mere inches apart). But we are still madly in love with Chapeau! for several other reasons: the thoughtful service, the gentle prices (a dazzling three-course menu, with lots and lots of choices, at $29.75), and,… More >>
  • Best Cambodian Restaurant (S.F.)

    Angkor Borei

    We came for the amazingly generous $6.50 lunch special (a bowl of House Special Soup, lemon grass-scented coconut milk broth filled with tiny mushrooms, chicken, and vegetables, followed by two choices from a list of nine excellent dishes, including spicy chili squid, mild red curry chicken with green beans, and charbroiled chicken), but stayed to be wowed by the delicious,… More >>
  • Best Cambodian Restaurant (East Bay)

    Battambang

    The extraordinarily sophisticated cuisine served at this small, clean, unprepossessing storefront around the corner from Oakland's Chinatown belies its setting: Battambang is a real find. Everything we've tried is so exciting, so memorable, that we're torn between repeating a favorite dish (somlaw ktiss, a soup of fresh pineapple and sweet basil in red lemon grass and coconut milk broth; saramann,… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurant

    Cordon Bleu

    The place is tiny (the Formica counter fronting the open grill seats eight, and there are just three tables tucked in the back), and the menu is, too. There are only five items on offer at Cordon Bleu: imperial rolls, aka spring rolls; shish kebab, which here does not involve any kind of a skewer but is razor-thin slices of… More >>
  • Best East German Restaurant

    Walzwerk

    Walzwerk may be the only East German restaurant we've ever eaten at outside of East Germany, but it's much more than just a curiosity. Its thrift-shop décor, dining room watched over by large photos of Marx, Lenin, and Engels, and carefully curated bathroom filled with the detritus of East German popular culture would pall a bit if the food were… More >>
  • Best Wine-Tasting Restaurant

    Restaurant LuLu

    Every night at LuLu there are half a dozen or more featured wine flights: four different 2-ounce pours of wines from a specific region (crisp whites of northern Italy or Rhône varietals, for example) or grape (pinot noirs from Burgundy and the Loire, Willamette, and Napa valleys), priced between $10 and $28 (the high price is for a dessert flight… More >>
  • Best Butcher Shop (Sunset)

    Guerra's Meats and Deli

    If you're at a loss for what to make for dinner, a few minutes spent perusing the glass cases at Guerra's should offer plenty of inspiration, whether you request instructions from the butchers on how to cook one of their unusual signature cuts of meat (the Diamond Jim roast, the butterball roast, the lamb London broil), choose an uncooked specialty… More >>
  • Best Butcher Shop (Presidio Heights)

    Bryan's Quality Meats

    A great meal begins with great ingredients, and that's why we rely on the professionals at Bryan's in the Laurel Village shopping center. The place is more like a meat boutique than a butcher shop, given the perfectly displayed pretty cuts and chops and the high employee-to-customer ratio. Despite a relatively small space, the selection is thorough: fresh fish, chicken… More >>
  • Best Bargain Produce

    If you want a fashionable social event, go to the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Saturday; for dazzling displays of organic produce, there's the Berkeley Bowl. But if what you want is to squeeze a nickel until the buffalo groans, swing by the venerable 22nd and Irving Market, where on our last trip we picked up 10 lemons for a… More >>
  • Best Tarts

    Tart to Tart

    We were sent to Tart to Tart in search of the best Linzer torte our friend had ever tasted, but on the day we were there, the in-house baker hadn't felt like making a Linzer torte. He had, however, felt like baking Key lime tart, mocha rum tart, chocolate pecan tart, raspberry lemon tart, and about six lush variations on… More >>
  • Best Pastries (Indoors)

    Tartine Bakery

    We enjoy the cheesy lunch specialties served here immoderately (savory bread pudding, quiche, gougère, and the open-faced interpretations of croque monsieur), even though the strongest thing you can wash them down with is coffee (the food, as well as the clientele, cries out for a glass of white wine). But we are astonished by the superb pastries, especially the flawless… More >>
  • Best Pastries (Outdoors)

    Frog Hollow Farm

    The famous Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood sells its produce to the best restaurants around. In order to showcase its superb fruit (its Web site is headed, "Your home to the sweetest, juiciest organic, tree-ripened peaches you've ever tasted"), the farm crimps a bit of flaky, buttery pastry around some lightly stewed peaches or cherries, and the result is amazing.… More >>
  • Best Mexican Pastries

    Panaderia La Mexicana

    We've often picked out a bagful of nice-looking pastries in Mexican bakeries and been sadly disappointed when we got them home and they tasted like dust (or worse, margarine). Not so at Panaderia La Mexicana, where the window display of miniature poundcakes, palmiers, and fanciful pan dulce shaped like shells, shoes, and turtles tempts you with a promise sweetly fulfilled.… More >>
  • Best Artichoke Frittata

    Lucca Ravioli Co.

    Lucca's looks satisfyingly like a movie set of a delicatessen for a Warner Bros. picture made in the '30s, so we're not surprised when we learn it's been in business since 1925. It's the kind of well-stocked place in which a few minutes' browsing will turn up any number of good things, such as high-quality Italian tuna packed in oil,… More >>
  • Best Tamales

    La Gallinita Mexicatessen

    It's not hard to find a terrific burrito or taco in the Mission, but good homemade tamales are considerably scarcer. We love the fat chicken or pork tamales ($1.25 each) regularly available here (the kitchen will cook vegetarian or sweet ones filled with raisins and fresh farmers' cheese on special order). The staff will even microwave them for you and… More >>
  • Best Polenta

    Zuni Café

    It's the simplest thing on the menu at the wonderful Zuni Café, just a bowlful of creamy, corny polenta topped with a drizzle of mascarpone or shards of sharp Parmesan, but it's one of the most satisfying dishes we've ever had. We always order one for the table, and it disappears with alacrity. … More >>
  • Best Yogurt

    Total

    Total is a rather bland and unexciting name for the best, richest yogurt we've ever tasted (250 calories for a small serving, of which 110 are supplied by fat, which the silky, voluptuous mouth-feel corroborates). It's imported from Greece and comes in three versions: plain, packaged with a container of good strawberry preserves, or (our favorite) packaged with a container… More >>
  • Best Plate o' Pig

    Grilled Pork Chops With Yams and Brussels Sprouts

    The menus at these three excellent family restaurants change seasonally, but we were especially enamored of this fine plate of food. The Niman Ranch pork chops had been brined, so they were very moist and juicy; the baked yams had been dusted with grated orange; and the Brussels sprouts were sautéed with chunks of pancetta and apple.… More >>
  • Best Pig Wrapped in a Tortilla

    Taqueria Can-Cun

    We rate the pig here very highly, especially the cumin-scented al pastor, but what really elevates the burritos and tacos made at Can-Cun above those made at other Mission taquerias is the inclusion of thick slices of perfectly ripe avocado in lieu of sometimes dubious guacamole.… More >>
  • Best Remnant of Late, Lamented Gordon's House of Fine Eats

    Brussels Sprouts Salad at Verbena

    The wonder that was Gordon's has disappeared from the corner of Florida and Mariposa streets, now a ghost town, but if you yearn for its signature salad of warm Brussels sprouts tossed with chunks of bacon and hard-boiled egg, scented with onion and slightly oiled, it's still to be found on the menu of Gordon's sister restaurant, Verbena, across the… More >>
  • Best Restaurant-as-Movie-Set

    Tadich Grill

    We get a thrill every time we walk into Tadich's: It looks to us just like a restaurant should, from its carefully maintained, gleaming dark wood to its sparkling white-tiled floors. We like the curly-backed bentwood chairs, the art deco light fixtures, the clean aprons on the waitstaff. The building at 240 California St. has housed Tadich Grill only since… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    The Phone Booth

    At the nexus of hipster bar, queer bar, and neighborhood bar lies the Phone Booth. During the locust swarm of trendy bars symptomatic of the dot-com era, this low-key lounge served as a much-needed oasis, far from the ever-present Cosmopolitans and blue Gap shirts. The place's charm is in its consistently casual, friendly demeanor and its reasonable prices. A Mission… More >>
  • Best Place to Spend a Night in the Castro Without Feeling Like You're Spending a Night in the Castro

    The Red Grill & Whiskey Lounge

    The Red Grill & Whiskey Lounge is a great bar, period. With no dance floor, no shrill speaker system, and no cologne-saturated twentysomethings, it's something of phenomenon in the Castro: a comfortable watering hole with a diverse clientele. What it does have is a beautiful wooden bar; a nerve-taming fireplace; and a towering view above 18th Street, so we can… More >>
  • Best Quesadilla

    El Metate

    It may be tough figuring out who holds the title of best taqueria, but choosing the best quesadilla-maker is easy. Nestled in what was supposed to be the modish Bryant Street stretch (Blowfish, the Monkey Club, et al.), El Metate's small, unimposing site belies its tantalizing menu. The place opened late last year, offering an amazingly simple, tasty quesadilla: With… More >>
  • Best Green Salsa

    Casa Sanchez

    Three generations of the Sanchez family own and operate this quintessential Mission taqueria, which comes complete with colorful murals, an umbrella-studded patio, Mexican beer, and tasty stews in addition to the standard tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. The Sanchezes make their own chips and red and green salsa, which they distribute to supermarkets all over the Bay Area. It's all good,… More >>
  • Best Health Foods

    Rainbow Grocery

    Rainbow's huge warehouse grocery carries organic fruits and vegetables, exotic cheeses, biodegradable shampoo, homeopathic remedies, rows and rows of vitamins including natural aphrodisiacs, and delicious vegan desserts (baked without dairy). There is not a speck of dead flesh to be found in the clean, brightly lit, nice-smelling emporium. Plus, it is a worker-owned cooperative. The 200 or so employees tend… More >>
  • Best Starbucks

    Starbucks Coffee

    Factoid: San Francisco is so coffee-centric that we support nearly 1 percent of the world's 6,526 Starbucks Coffee shops. With 63 Starbucks retail stores to choose from in our caffeinated town, it is really, really hard to decide which one is best. Especially because they are all so damned similar. There is, however, something marvelously collective about the aesthetics of… More >>
  • Best Cheap Food Court

    Milberry Student Union Plaza

    The fast-food menu here ranges from beany burritos to sweet-and-sour pork to cheesy pizza and salads with a variety of dressings. The names of the vendors change frequently, but the essence of the available repast remains the same: starch, sugar, grease, and minimal fiber. But don't be turned off, it's just the typical American diet here. What makes the food… More >>
  • Best Expansion by a Local Burger Joint

    BurgerMeister

    For years, the BurgerMeister at Carl and Cole streets, right next to the Muni stop, has filled Cole Valley with the smell of good, grilled, made-to-order hamburgers. Now the popular local joint has expanded to another location, 138 Church St. in the Castro, also close to a Muni stop. The new storefront, clean and well-lit, has all the important ingredients… More >>
  • Best Sub

    King Foot Subs

    Not much competition here. San Francisco is a bad sandwich town, so any place that doesn't charge $10 for two slices of Wonder bread and some gristle probably rates a mention. Even so, King Foot, a tiny sub shop in the Lower Haight, is great by any measure. The subs come hot or cold, 6-inch or foot-long, with tuna, meatball,… More >>
  • Best Old-Timey Soda Fountain

    St. Francis Fountain

    When the St. Francis Fountain, a genteel Mission refuge since 1918, closed its doors in May 2002, many feared it wouldn't reopen. But in November its neon sign lit up again, highlighting a shiny new paint job (alas, no more pink) and its own vintage signs back up on the walls. The ice cream is no longer made on the… More >>
  • Best Brunch Alternative to Chloe's

    Fattoush

    On any given sunny weekend morning, the corner of Church and 26th streets is jammed with people waiting to get into Chloe's, a tiny Noe Valley brunch institution. But what those hungry-looking people apparently don't know is that half a block away is a gem of a restaurant with a beautiful courtyard, outstanding breakfasts, and no line. Fattoush is a… More >>
  • Best Place to Pretend You're in Paris

    The Butler & the Chef

    Ah, Paris. Lazy afternoons sipping wine in a small cafe, eating crepes and frites, making fun of all the tiny dogs. We'd like to go back, but in the absence of lottery winnings we'll take the Butler & the Chef, a wholesaler of French antique bar and kitchen furniture that has brought us a wonderful little slice of France at… More >>
  • Best Wine Seller

    K&L Wine Merchants

    Here's one of those little things that makes living in San Francisco worth all the hassle: One of the most notable wine merchants in the nation is headquartered here. While our friends in other parts of the country are left to peruse the K&L Web site (awesome in its own right), we can stop in and read labels, talk to… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Slabs of Pure, Lip-Smacking Snack Fat

    European Food Wholesale

    Imagine a bar of bacon consisting of alternating layers of meat and fat. Now imagine no layers of meat. Just solid, snow-white fat. Now imagine eating this raw. Now, open your mind to the notion that, sliced very, very thin and placed on a fresh pumpernickel rind, this might not be as revolting as you imagined. European Food Wholesale offers… More >>
  • Best White-Trash Bargain Gourmet Dinner

    Dom Pérignon and Chicken Wings at Hooters

    As of press time, John Trani, the most pampered frat boy in history, hadn't yet opened the Hooters restaurant his parents gave him for college graduation. But the moment he does, as scheduled in June, we're there. We're not going for the waitresses with the bright orange running shorts and the big ... smiles. We'll be there for more refined… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Pho

    Sunflower Restaurant

    Everything about Sunflower Restaurant feels like home. The dining room is comfortable and no-frills, and the menu is tasty and affordable (well, OK, at home it's free, but still). Among the restaurant's fine offerings is a wide selection of pho -- hearty Vietnamese noodle soups, akin to Southeast Asian soul food. But unlike most pho shops, Sunflower offers a unique… More >>
  • Best Thin-Crust Pizza

    Gaspare's Pizza House and Italian Restaurant

    We're Chicago-style deep-dish pizza lovers through and through. Plus we prefer pesto to tomato sauce any day. So imagine our surprise when Gaspare's thin-crust, tomato-sauced veggie pie took our breath away. Not overly sauced, not overly cheesed (and we do love cheese), it allowed the toppings to take precedence. Delectable. Start off your meal with Gaspare's Special Salad; the house-made… More >>
  • Best Mex-talian Restaurant

    Tio Chilo's Grill

    Who'da thought mixing Mexican and Italian cuisine would be a winning combo? Tio Chilo's did, and it works. At this Mission District newcomer you can have your Mexican straight up (enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, and the like); same goes for Italian (pasta, pork chops, seafood, et al.); or you can mix and match. We ordered Camarones Rancheros (shrimp with vegetables) but… More >>
  • Best Fish Tacos

    El Balazito

    This miniature taco stand is connected to a do-it-yourself car wash underneath the freeway. Apparently it's a good car wash, because that part of the place is always packed. But come for the fish tacos, which are fresh, simple, and divine. The red snapper is cooked up while you wait, then placed on warm corn tortillas, with a scattering of… More >>
  • Best Cocktails Under $6

    Orbit Room Cafe

    At this unassuming bar on Upper Market, the bartenders are such dedicated mixologists that they infuse cucumber vodka in their spare time. You can order cocktails here that will get you blank looks at most other bars, like Aviations, Caiparinas, or even Pimms Cups. And unbelievably, although it offers drinks that rival those of its upscale neighbor, Zuni Café, the… More >>
  • Best Sweet Potato Pie

    Delancey Street Restaurant

    The residents of Delancey Street's treatment program have been making this pie for 12 years for the foundation's restaurant. It is based on a recipe from somebody named "Sonny's Mother," who hailed from Louisiana. But any other historical details about it have been lost. One thing is certain: There is absolutely no sweet potato pie that remotely compares to Sonny's… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Kid for a Meal

    Rainforest Café

    Wild lions, tigers, and bears! Thunder and lightning! It's arguably the most realistic indoor rain forest ever created outside a Hollywood sound stage, and it comes alive while you eat. We're talking about roaring elephants and screeching life-size gorillas that, at carefully timed intervals, come to life out of the lush surroundings, which include cascading waterfalls and giant saltwater aquariums.… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Arizmendi

    Arizmendi is part of a long line of workers' cooperative bakeries in the Bay Area and around the world. Is that what makes the roasted tomatoes so juicy, the breads so toothsome, the pecan rolls so gooey? Hard to say. We'd hazard a guess that most folks don't care, as long as the different-every-day pizza keeps sliding out of the… More >>
  • Best New Owner of an Old Bar

    Bob Clarke, Zam Zam

    The Persian aub Zam Zam opened in 1941, but Bruno Mooshei didn't own the tiny, gemlike bar until the late '60s. "Bruno is still much on people's minds," says current owner Bob Clarke, who took over in 1999, a year before Mooshei died. "He's remembered fondly by some, not so fondly by others." Clarke befriended Mooshei, who was famous for… More >>
  • Best Totally Unpretentious Bar

    Dave's

    Where can you get a hot dog with everything and see good art? Where can you order a top-shelf margarita and settle in for a good read? Where do people always look relaxed and happy? Why, at Dave's, of course. Walk into Dave's, and no one looks up to see what you're wearing. The 'tenders are friendly, the jukebox is… More >>
  • Best Bar Bathroom

    Redwood Room

    Bar bathrooms are so underrecognized. The loos at the Clift Hotel's Redwood Room, for example, were designed by Philippe Starck, who decked them out in the perfect symbols of pretentious minimalism -- white marble walls; simple, sleek toilets and sinks; and the keenest, most delicate faucets. After a few too many cocktails, their austerity offers a sense of calm, giving… More >>
  • Best Chocolate Orgasm

    Angelina Rumpelmayer Hot Chocolate and Neuhaus Chocolates

    Can you say multiple orgasm? Angelina Rumpelmayer hot chocolate is made from a century-old French family recipe that's incredibly rich but only slightly sweet (72 percent cocoa). You will have to pay for such elegance, however -- 26 bucks for a 4-ounce bag. The stuff is hard to find, but there's a store opening soon in the Castro called Farmer… More >>
  • Best Underground Restaurant

    Mamasan's Bistro

    We've heard of underground restaurants in places like New York, but had no idea they existed in San Francisco. Restaurants here must meet numerous legal criteria, including inspections by the health department, liquor-control board, and fire department. Therefore, this entry must be somewhat vague. But we can tell you that Mamasan's has been in operation for four years, serving more… More >>
  • Best Sushi-on-Acid Experience Without Actually Having to Be on Acid

    Country Station Sushi Cafe

    We're wandering around the Mission near the 16th Street BART station when we discover a mysterious little sushi joint. We enter, and are immediately overwhelmed. It's too much to take in. Have we been drugged? The décor seems to be the fusion ... no, the collision of a thousand different cultures and subcultures. Not a single thing matches anything else.… More >>
  • Best Sausage and Beer Pick-Me-Up

    When Oscar Mayer and Budweiser simply won't do, head over to Rosamunde Sausage Grill and its neighboring bar, Toronado, for the haute cuisine version. Watch the Giants game and order a Chimay on tap, then during a commercial head next door for a sausage-to-go. While Rosamunde offers a wide assortment of gourmet sausages (knockwurst, bratwurst, Provence), regulars know to order… More >>
  • Best Crepes

    Ti Couz - CLOSED

    Ti Couz (meaning "old house") serves up the tastiest crepes in the city, hands down. As its name suggests, the restaurant has a distinctly down-home atmosphere, and the crepes are prepared Breton-style (a culinary tradition of northern France). The price range is a reasonable $2-10. Ti Couz offers more than 100 combinations, but one of our favorites is the smoked… More >>
  • Best Place to Stock Up on Party Basics

    Trader Joe's

    Yeah, you can buy anything under the damn sun at TJ's and buy it by the truckload. And yeah, the prices are rock bottom and sometimes even ridiculously low. But the quality ain't bad and the selection is out of this universe -- especially for party essentials like wine, nuts, and bottled water. Trader Joe's stocks hundreds of wine brands… More >>
  • Four Best Places for a Post-Midnight Snack

    In most of the world's glittering cities, the witching hour is just about the time things really start shakin'. Here in San Francisco, the only thing those 12 chimes signify is that it's been a couple of hours since the restaurants closed down for the night. There are, of course, exceptions. Last year we saluted Brazen Head, Taqueria Can-Cun, Yuet… More >>
  • Three Best Tenderloin Dives to Look for Dashiell Hammett's Ghost In

    The essence of Hammett's San Francisco -- fog, neon, whores on the street -- still exists in the Tenderloin, at least on certain nights, and the best way to experience it may be to pick your way through the neighborhood's dozen or so dive bars. The O'Farrell Street Bar 800 Larkin (at O'Farrell), 567-9326 Every dive -- like every novel -- has something… More >>
  • Four Best Delis

    One of the great things about living in a multicultural city is having easy access to all that good food. Restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and street markets offer tantalizing and delicious foodstuffs unavailable elsewhere, but the best place to scarf on a global scale is the delicatessen. There, a culture's greatest achievement -- its snack items -- is available for… More >>

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