Best Irish Restaurant - 2006
O'Reilly's Holy Grail
The high-ceilinged room, once the venerable Mayes Oyster Bar, has been pleasingly remodeled (with beautiful antique stained-glass windows, polished wood floors, and massive wrought-iron chandeliers hung from a coppery ceiling) to create a setting worthy of the sophisticated and succulent Irish cooking on offer. Unusual starters include a corn and oyster chowder; a terrine of "crubeens" (pig's feet) set off by cabbage slaw and a sharp mustard vinaigrette; and Dungeness crab bake, lump crab meat and corn under a blanket of champ (buttery, oniony mashed potatoes). Don't miss the signature peat-smoked pork shank, a massive portion of reddish meat that falls from its bone in moist shreds, paired with butter beans, Mission figs, and mustard sauce. At night there's frequently live music, which might be lively Irish tunes or sophisticated piano playing. During the day the room is transformed by sunlight into one of San Francisco's best brunch spots, featuring fresh oysters, lovely crab salad, and a full Irish breakfast with eggs, potatoes, beans, and several kinds of meat, including black-and-white pudding.