Food & Drink

  • Best Coffee

    Ritual Coffee Roasters

    The Pacific Northwest does have some of the best coffee in the country (aside from the dirt dripped out of Starbucks), but that's no reason to drink 7-Eleven lattes here. Ritual Coffee Roasters uses beans from Stumptown of Portland, Ore., in its blends, making for a creamy, thick espresso that'll pick you up like a shot of adrenaline. The Mission… More >>
  • El Farolito Taqueria

    Best Burrito

    El Farolito Taqueria

    Note to people who don't quite understand ("foodie" online reviewers, this means you): Taquerias are informal eateries, meant to provide decent, fast meals — much like delis. They're not supposed to have "décor," they're supposed to have beer signs, and expecting anything else means you're missing the point. Anyone unclear on the concept is invited to stay away from the… More >>
  • Readers' Poll

    Best Restaurant Mamacita Best New Restaurant Mamacita Best Hidden Restaurant Emmy's Spaghetti Shack Best Neighborhood Restaurant Mamacita Best Chef Sam Josi Best Bar Mezzanine Best Irish Bar The Irish Bank Best Gay Bar The Mix Best Pickup Bar (Straight) Hemlock/Delirium/Mezzanine (Tie) Best Pickup Bar (Gay) The Café Best Wine Bar Hôtel Biron Best Dive Bar Zeitgeist Best Weird Drink Fernet Branca Best Brewpub San Francisco Brewing Co. Best Seafood Restaurant Pesce Best Chinese Restaurant House… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant, Inexpensive

    Tajine - CLOSED

    No bigger than a minute (it seats perhaps 10 or 12, at cramped tables), this Tenderloin Moroccan spot turns out large portions of authentic and delicious food from its open kitchen. Almost everything is under $10 (the highest-ticket dish is the brochette royale, at $11.95, which includes lamb, chicken, and kufta kebabs, and is served with soup and salad). The… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant, Moderate

    Range

    The inviting glow that tempts you into Range, fortuitously sited next to a small park, is a harbinger of the glow that will pervade you as you tuck into its inspired dishes. Range offers the apotheosis of intelligent comfort food, created by chef Phil West. Satisfying starters of creamy chicken liver mousse, sturdy whiskey-and-brown-sugar glazed pork ribs, or ethereal goat… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant, Expensive

    Scott Howard

    The clever way the menu is divided at Scott Howard tempts you to order more than the standard three courses (the first page offers "raw," "soup and salads," and "appetizers"; the second, "mains"), and you won't be sorry if you do: Constructing your own tasting menu, according to your own hungers, is one of the multiple pleasures of dining here.… More >>
  • Best Smoking Bar

    Dalva Cocktail Lounge

    Though it's located at one of the most hipster-heavy corners of the city, Dalva usually feels like a quiet hideout, even on weekend nights. Instead of sharing the neighborhood's hipster/meat-market vibe, Dalva cultivates an adult-Euro-dive bar feel, with low lighting, no dance floor, a beautiful antique wooden bar, and small wire chairs like those in a Parisian cafe. More Parisian… More >>
  • Best Frog Legs

    La Folie

    The "Frog Legs Bernard Loiseau" served at Chef Roland Passot's temple of French cuisine honor both their inspiration — the brilliant but tortured chef who committed suicide when it was rumored that his three-star restaurant might be reduced to two stars — and Passot, who one trusts approaches the first San Francisco Michelin guide (coming this fall) with a greater… More >>
  • Best Appetizers

    Luella

    Luella is a hip, friendly, festive sort of place that makes you want to settle in at the bar, open a bottle of wine, and order all the appetizers on the menu. Part of it is the cool, subtly lit ambience, and part of it is the view of the Hyde Street cable car out the big front windows. But… More >>
  • Best Casual Romantic Restaurant

    Il Cantuccio

    For a cozy little spot that won't break the bank it's tough to beat this homey Italian eatery. Even without reservations, it's not impossible to get a seat on the weekend, and once you're in the care of the welcoming staff it becomes a quick favorite: just casual enough to be comfortable, just quaint enough to be romantic. The homemade… More >>
  • Best Original Cocktails

    Cortez - CLOSED

    Though we've tried almost every mixture on Cortez's lengthy cocktail list, it's hard to pick a favorite at this bustling Union Square nightspot. We certainly keep coming back to the Journalist, a concoction of Damrak gin, Cointreau, red and white vermouth, lemon juice, and bitters, but many of the other (mostly gin-based, bitter) specialties are equally memorable. Both the Elderflower… More >>
  • Best Dive Restaurant

    Cordon Bleu

    If there isn't room to squeeze into one of the eight seats at the Formica counter that fronts the open grill or at one of the three tiny tables tucked in the back, pick up the Cordon Bleu specialty — delicious Vietnamese grilled chicken — to go. It seems beside the point to talk of either décor, seemingly unchanged for… More >>
  • Best Place for Carnivores

    Espetus Churrascaria

    If you leave the little dials on your table reading SIM POR FAVOR (i.e., "Yes, please"), gaucho-clad servers will come to your table at this Brazilian churrascaria brandishing meat-laden skewers, from which they'll carve roasted and grilled meats and fowl until you cry Uncle (or flip the dial to NÃO OBLIGADO, "No thanks"). The passing parade includes beef tenderloin, top… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Restaurant

    Chenery Park

    A classic neighborhood restaurant that's worth a visit, no matter where you live, this three-level, warm and pleasant spot is located in Glen Park's tiny shopping district, offering a seasonal menu of internationally accented American comfort food with plenty to satisfy everyone. The kitchen isn't afraid of rich (a signature dish is baked macaroni, with a dense sauce that combines… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    Citizen Cupcake Café & Bar - CLOSED

    As the name implies, this one-of-a-kind cafe and bar, tucked into a corner of the Virgin Megastore near Union Square, harkens back to that favorite childhood treat — the cupcake — but in ways your Mama probably never dreamed of. Think Rocky Road (cupcakes, not ice cream): chocolate chiffon cake blanketed with a mixture of chocolate, plus chunks of marshmallow… More >>
  • Best Revamp

    Coco 500

    Chef-owner Loretta Keller refreshed and rejuvenated her popular SOMA spot, Bizou, without changing her interesting and personal pan-European style of cooking. The cozy bistro feel has been replaced by sleek modern décor, with art glass lights, bare wooden tables, new big windows, and an enlarged bar area. The menu still features such signature dishes as Keller's wonderful duck liver terrine,… More >>
  • Best Refuge From Hipsters

    The Expansion

    They're everywhere — hipsters! Like zombies in a George Romero flick, they descend upon the city nightly, flaunting their sideways haircuts and emaciated frames, stacking their track bikes atop one another outside hot spots throughout the Mission District, the Haight, and the Castro. So where do you go if you live around there and would like to avoid hearing Bloc… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Joe's Ice Cream

    Ice cream — like burritos, pizza, and burgers — has its partisans. Some like it sweet, some like it creamy, and some like it not at all (freaks). In the sweet camp you'll find supporters of the Mission District's venerable Mitchell's, which we like well enough when we're at that end of town. But we're more firmly ensconced in the… More >>
  • Best Cheap Curries

    Chutney

    There are so many South Asian restaurants in this section of the Tenderloin that some have taken to calling it (not very cleverly) the "Pak-Loin." Besides serving tasty, cheap curries, Chutney stands out for its slightly upscale ambience (well, as upscale as an order-at-the-counter Tenderloin restaurant can be). The goat curry is one of the best dishes on the menu,… More >>
  • Best Vegan Restaurant

    Medicine Eaststation

    The menu is inspired, we are told, by a vegan cuisine favored by Japanese monks: a "500-year-old fad diet," witty posters say. The design is clean and spare — wooden refectory tables and matching benches in a large, airy second-story room, part of the Crocker Galleria's food court but also reachable via its own Sutter Street entrance. The fare that… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Cha Cha Cha

    We love Cha Cha Cha, but not for the reasons you'd expect. The food at this location is better than what's served at the restaurant's Mission District outpost, but the service is similarly spotty, the din is equally deafening, and the Afro-Cuban décor is even louder. No matter; once you dig into your tasty tapas and start on a pitcher… More >>
  • Best Hard Rock Bar/Thai Food Paradise

    Bender's Bar and Grill/Experimental Thai Kitchen

    Long a headquarters for the Mission District's substantial population of bike messengers, aging rockers, rockabilly chicks, and other tattooed toughs, the endearingly grimy spot that is now Bender's Bar isn't a place one would intuitively turn to for expert Thai food. Frequent hosts of benefit parties and providers of free BBQ on Sunday afternoons, the folks at Bender's may have… More >>
  • Best French Cafe

    Café de la Presse

    Named for its eclectic newsstand (featuring imported newspapers and magazines, as well as a small selection of books), this cafe was remodeled at the end of last year to freshen the décor and combine the entrances to the lofty step-down dining room and its authentically Gallic upstairs cafe. Its downtown location is close to Union Square shopping and Chinatown browsing.… More >>
  • Best Caribbean Restaurant

    Primo Patio Cafe

    Never mind that it's whipped up in a kitchen: In a just universe, Primo Patio's grilled jerk chicken would be added to the list of natural wonders of the world. Tender, moist, and boasting the perfect blend of spices, the eatery's signature dish transports your taste buds to the Bahamas, Aruba, the Cayman Islands — pick the Caribbean paradise of… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Eagle's Drift In Lounge

    Located a block away from South Park, this little jewel of a bar is a dive in the truest sense: It's free of hipsters slumming it for a night, it's dingy, it's got a truly diverse jukebox (which carries tunes that seem like an afterthought, ranging from Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" to Whitney Houston's "My Name Is Not Susan"), and it… More >>
  • Best Free Gelato

    Naia

    This Berkeley-based minichain serves some of S.F.'s best gelato and lets you try before you buy. But its servers don't just allow you to taste for free — they insist on it. Staffers wearing goofy, Eurotrash orange bicycle caps shove spoonfuls of gelato in your face like pushy grandmothers, and we mean that in a good way. There's no limit… More >>
  • Best Cheesecake Lollipops

    Lime - CLOSED

    This small plates restaurant in the Castro District has a weird, 1950s diner-meets-futuristic Barney on acid vibe, but don't let that scare you away. Saddle up to the bar (which has embedded television screens) and start ordering. The dinner menu has a lot going for it, including some delicious minihamburgers, but do not miss those cheesecake lollipops. Alternating between dark… More >>
  • Best One-Man Band

    Canteen

    This tiny spot, a chicly remade diner attached to the Commodore Hotel, has four booths and eight counter seats, all of them usually booked for the three dinner seatings (at 6, 7:30, and 9) offered Wednesday through Saturday. Every dish is prepared in full view of the happy clientele in the small open galley kitchen by chef Dennis Leary, late… More >>
  • Best Take-Out

    DeLessio Market & Bakery

    DeLessio Market & Bakery defies expectations. Its salad bar and hot-food buffet table are laden with multiple temptations, always appetizing, neat, and fresh. The salad bar features — in addition to expected salad-bar items such as hard-boiled eggs, potato salad, and coleslaw — inventive salads based on broccoli, cauliflower, cold grilled Thai chicken, and an assortment of fancy olives. The… More >>
  • Best Cajun-Creole Restaurant

    Andrew Jaeger's House of Seafood & Jazz

    New Orleans' loss is our gain: Having just opened the House of Seafood in San Francisco when Katrina hit, Andrew Jaeger and his staff decided to stick around when their eponymous Big Easy restaurant was closed due to the hurricane. The erstwhile Condor Club has been rendered unrecognizable, with plush booths and drapes and an inexplicable scattering of wide-screen TVs.… More >>
  • Best Bar to Take Your Parents To

    St. Regis

    Unlike Los Angeles or New York City, San Francisco has a nightlife scene that has yet to infect our hotel lobbies. Perhaps because of their audaciousness in charging at least $15 for a top-shelf martini (yes, we mean you, Four Seasons) or because of the gaggles of tourists, few locals frequent these havens of awesomeness and splendor. The new St.… More >>
  • Best Bakery, San Francisco

    Dianda's Italian-American Pastry Co.

    We haven't been able to eat our way through the hundreds of cakes, cookies, and pastries available at this venerable place, but what we have tasted is so uniformly delicious that we're willing to try. Everything made with either of Dianda's two specialties — high-quality almond paste and a particularly fragrant rum custard — is irresistible, whether the almond torte… More >>
  • Best Bakery, East Bay

    Crixa Cakes

    Crixa is an adorable Hungarian bakery complete with little tables at which you can enjoy your delicious pastries and cakes, whether alm‡s rétes (aka apple strudel) or diós kifli (a walnut-stuffed flaky pastry, in daily rotation with plum and apricot versions), with a cup of good coffee. The excellent Web site, complete with tempting color photos, can teach you a… More >>
  • Best Early Bird Special

    Prix fixe at Chapeau!

    We love owner Philippe Gardelle and chef Jesse Frost's rich, sophisticated, and delicious French cooking at any time, but we're especially impressed by the astonishing bargain dinner he offers Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. For $19 you get three courses — two or three choices in each category — of food cooked with as much… More >>
  • Best Japanese/Sushi Restaurant

    Kiss

    Naming a restaurant that seats at most a dozen people at a time (five at an angled maple sushi bar, and up to eight more at two or three tables) as our favorite is not intended to be maddening — or elitist. It's just to encourage those of you who'd enjoy watching a real sushi master (the owner, known to… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Restaurant

    Globe

    The lusty food served in the newly redecorated Globe is welcome at any hour, but especially during the wee ones, because few places in the city are open at all then, much less offering a sophisticated menu. The list ranges from big fresh salads (Chiogga beets with mint chiffonade and goat cheese; salad lardon, curly, chewy frisée with a warm… More >>
  • Best Sandwich

    The Presidio, California Street Delicatessen & Cafe

    Would a Reuben by any other name taste as sweet? The answer is yes, when it's the Presidio at the California Street Delicatessen & Cafe, a terrific, greasy amalgam of garlicky pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut, and creamy Russian dressing on fresh-baked, sturdy rye bread. Its particular mix of textures and flavors sends a siren song our way, and… More >>
  • Best Pre-Opera and Symphony Dinner

    Hayes Street Grill

    There are a lot of restaurants high and low clinging to the streets near the Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall that are dependent on the culture crowd chowing down right before curtain time. The Hayes Street Grill shines on these occasions, for several reasons: its no-nonsense décor, its excellent food (focusing on seasonal fresh fish, though there are always… More >>
  • Best Pakistani-Indian Restaurant

    Darbar

    San Francisco is blessed with so many Indian hole-in-the-wall dives — some now turning into minichains, each with its own partisans — that Darbar can get lost in the shuffle, and it shouldn't. The halal kitchen turns out tasty dishes at excellent prices (the top price is for tandoori lamb chops, $9.99 for four or five plump chops and a… More >>
  • Best Cured Meats

    Zuppa

    The beautiful streamlined Tamagnini slicer occupying prime real estate in Zuppa's open kitchen looks as if it could be the star of an industrial design exhibit at SFMOMA, but it's not just for show: It's reputed to create the best and truest "cold cuts." (The special flywheel action doesn't heat up the preserved meats.) Put the Tamagnini to the test… More >>
  • Best Alternative Alcohol

    RoHan Lounge

    Restaurants lacking a hard liquor license have been slaking the thirsts of Cocktail Nation by mixing up drinks based on one low-proof spirit or another, with questionable results. (A rice-wine martini isn't, you know, a martini.) The RoHan Lounge, a sleek, moody, red and black nightspot in the Richmond District, employs as its alt-alc of choice soju, a Korean tipple… More >>
  • Best New Mexican Restaurant, Large

    Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge

    The size of this restaurant, a lofty and classily redone warehouse south of Market, and its emphasis on tequila (available in a number of elaborate house cocktails and sipping flights as well as the inevitable margaritas, "Rocks, no salt" being the house style) might make one wary about the finesse of the kitchen, but have no fear. Tres Agaves features… More >>
  • Best New Mexican Restaurant, Cozy

    Mamacita

    This snug spot in the heart of the bustling Marina feels chic and trendy, with a bustling bar, yet still welcoming to families and not-particularly-trendy diners who just want to enjoy fresh, well-made Mexican food in dimly lit comfort. The largely small-plates menu features dishes both expected (guacamole al don, spiced with jalapeños and dusted with queso fresco) and less… More >>
  • Best Airplane Meal

    Darby Dan Sandwich Co.

    When you're planning how much time you need to go through the soul-sucking security rituals at SFO that make travel such a delight, throw in an extra 15 minutes or so to swing by this efficient sandwich mill, at which you can pick up some affordable treats (much cheaper than the insultingly priced airport fare) to enjoy on your food-free… More >>
  • Best Japanese Noodle House

    Suzu Noodle House

    The list of a dozen assorted preparations of udon, soba, and ramen might look sparse to you, but all the noodles are made fresh daily — the old-fashioned way — in this tiny, spare, modern space, separated by glass walls from the unprepossessing ground floor of the Kinokuniya mall. The broths in which the noodles are served are fresh-tasting and… More >>
  • Best Dish Names

    Café Gratitude - CLOSED

    There are two ways to approach the organic raw-foods menu at Café Gratitude: One is by hunger, and the other is by intellect. The latter is a literary approach, since each dish is named with an affirmation (I Am Bountiful, I Am Generous, I Am Magical), which is repeated to you (without a hint of sarcasm) when you receive your… More >>
  • Best German Restaurant

    Walzwerk

    If the kid in Good Bye, Lenin! could have transported his bedridden East Berlin mom, who emerges from years in a coma after the Wall has come down, to Walzwerk, she would have felt right at home in the kitschy, eccentric thrift-shop décor, in which everything — the signage, the photos of Marx, Engels, and Lenin that decorate the dining… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat When You Don't Want to Make Any Decisions

    House of Prime Rib

    Well, you probably will have to make one decision (certainly on weekends): At what point to make a reservation. But after that, the ritual meal here hasn't changed since the '40s: sweet, neon-colored dressing poured into the spinning salad bowl over greens, julienned beets, and shredded hard-boiled egg, served with a round loaf of warm, crusty French bread, followed by… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Capannina

    There's a new Italian kid in town, and it's adorable. This sleek yet comfy storefront not only offers interesting starters (daily soups, including such novelties as corn swirled with basil purée and studded with clams and a purée of lentils enriched with prawns and foie gras; black squid ink risotto with scallops; beef carpaccio with arugula and slivered Parmigiano) and… More >>
  • Best Freebies

    Olives and cheese at Rainbow Grocery

    There are many delightful reasons to visit the worker-owned cooperative foodie wonderland that is the Rainbow Grocery, including amazing arrays of tempting toiletries, beckoning baked goods, and seductive sandwiches, all natural, organic, vegetarian, environmentally aware, and health conscious. (Plus we like the big WORKERS ONLY signs in black and yellow over various doors and storerooms, which keep us nonworkers in… More >>
  • Best Energy Drink

    Hyphy

    New from Oakland's It's Good Beverage Co. (helmed by Clyde Carson of up-and-coming rap group the Team), Hyphy is sure to give popular energy drinks like Red Bull and Rockstar a serious run for their money when it comes to taste and power punch. The name comes from a very current and very energetic Bay Area youth culture that's on… More >>
  • Best Vegan Sundae

    Banana split at MaggieMudd

    Vegans have come close to perfecting many animal-free recipes that can pass in taste and texture for their meat-filled originals, but praise is not always so forthcoming about their advancements in making edible, dairy-free frozen treats. One of several sundae options at this Bernal Heights parlor, the banana split features three flavor options, plus a waffle cone, whipped cream, and… More >>
  • Best Spanish Restaurant

    Café Bella Vista

    The setting, an underdecorated ground-floor space with an open kitchen in a new Mission District apartment building, is neither particularly impressive nor particularly Spanish, but the food that issues from that kitchen is tasty, affordable, even exciting. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch as well as dinner, but it's the evening meal that shines. Nightly tapas include glistening white anchovies,… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog Stand

    California Dogs

    A Certificate of Honor — dated February 24, 2006, and signed by Gavin Newsom — hangs not far from the soda machine that dispenses Akua Ko carbonated beverages (made with pure cane sugar) and not far from the counter at which you can command bockwurst (mild Swiss or heartier Bavarian), Portuguese linguiça, Louisiana hot links, or any of half a… More >>
  • Best Time Travel, San Francisco

    St. Francis Fountain

    Sitting in one of St. Francis Fountain's eight wooden booths and ordering, say, a grilled ham-and-cheese on rye (which comes with your choice of french fries, home fries, fruit salad, potato salad, egg salad, macaroni and cheese, small garden salad, small Caesar salad, cup of soup, black beans, or veggie chili — whew!), seems like a minivacation. (And a bargain,… More >>
  • Best Time Travel, East Bay

    Ozzie's Soda Fountain

    Some changes have occurred over the years to the building that initially housed the Elmwood Pharmacy, built in 1921 and now, pharmacy-free, known as Elmwood Health and Mercantile, but the venerable dozen-stool soda fountain, a neighborhood favorite, survives. You can order breakfast until 4 p.m., six days a week (the fountain is closed on Mondays); sandwiches made to order (especially… More >>
  • Best Drink With a View

    Carnelian Room - CLOSED

    If you're going to sip a cocktail at a sky-view bar, you might as well pick the one on top of the tallest building in town and get your money's worth. The Carnelian Room rests 781 feet above downtown San Francisco, and when you're sitting by the window you feel like you're floating above the city even before you've ordered… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant, Moderate

    Yabbies Coastal Kitchen - CLOSED

    Within the confines of this cozy neighborhood seafood house you'll find all you need for a fine fishy evening. There's an excellent raw bar featuring several different oysters, which you can have on their own or as part of a cold seafood platter (the smallest of three includes half a dozen assorted oysters, the same number of spicy steamed mussels,… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant, Expensive

    Farallon

    The wacky under-the-sea décor, complete with art-glass creatures swimming above, still thrills, delights, and impresses, as does the let's-put-on-a-show cooking presided over by award-winning chef-owner Mark Franz. The offerings change daily, but there's always an array of oysters and a grand tasting of iced shellfish (which might include, in addition to oysters and clams, Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, gulf prawns,… More >>
  • Best Microbrew

    Irish Style Red Ale, Moylan's Brewery

    Moylan's Irish Red has all the fullness and complexity of any top-fermented ale, but it has an additional rounded sweetness that makes it an especially good sipping beer. Its distinctive qualities can be attributed to the three varieties of malt employed in the brewing process, which impart a smooth, rich flavor subtly balanced by the mildly bitter Fuggle hops of… More >>
  • Best Museum Restaurant

    de Young Cafe

    At first we thought the fuss that foodies were making about the de Young Cafe was foolish — didn't Bon Appetit Management, a Palo Alto–based company that operates more than 190 cafes in 26 states, also run the Legion of Honor Cafe, for instance? But the de Young Cafe's philosophy, which Bon Appetit calls "farm to fork," features dishes made… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Snack

    Medjool Rooftop Bar - CLOSED

    The choices up top are considerably reduced from what you can command in the downstairs restaurant or cafe — essentially just some mezes (hummus, tabouleh, baba ghanouj), salad, and skewered meats and shrimp — but the airy rooftop aerie above Medjool is delightful, whether it's a warm summery evening or a cool fall one (heaters on). The view is surprisingly… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    South Sea Seafood Village

    The dazzling interior of South Sea Seafood Village is pure Hong Kong: glitzy crystal chandeliers shedding brilliant light over massive, polished, dark wood tables and chairs inlaid with fanciful mother-of-pearl landscapes. And the Hong Kong cooking served atop these landscapes is worthy of the décor. If you order lobster or whole steamed fish, the beast in question will be scooped… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Martinez at Absinthe Brasserie and Bar

    The bar at Absinthe is one of our favorite bars in the city, and Absinthe is one of our favorite restaurants near the opera and symphony, for before- or after-concert dining. Hell, Absinthe is one of our favorite French restaurants anywhere. OK, to tell the truth, we love Absinthe immoderately, for its multiple menus (brunch, lunch, dinner, bar, oyster bar,… More >>
  • Best Brunch, Buffet-Style

    Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Garden Court

    At $59 per person ($35 for children under 10), this meal might not seem like a good value. But if you add up all the dishes offered at the 10 or so food stations within the fabulous skylit Garden Court (its 1909 décor intact), you'll realize you're paying pocket change per item. And if you sample everything, you probably won't… More >>
  • Best Brunch, Seated

    Zuni Cafe

    We can think of no better way to while away a weekend morning-into-early-afternoon than seated at a table, either within sight of Market Street or tucked away in one of Zuni's many corners (up a few stairs, around an angle, down a few steps), enjoying iced oysters, a seafood platter, a divine Caesar salad, a pizza, a stellar burger on… More >>
  • Best Irish Restaurant

    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… More >>
  • Best Pizza Alternative

    Pizzetta Mediterranean at Cinecittá

    This adorable place, open a little over six months, feels like it's been airlifted to North Beach direct from Rome, with its classy reddish granite counter and walls lined with framed film posters (including De Sica's Ladri de Biciclette, aka The Bicycle Thief; Wyler's Vacanze Romane, aka Roman Holiday; and Fellini Roma). You can command excellent panini, lasagne, calzone, and… More >>
  • Best Cafe

    Café Du Soleil

    Café Du Soleil feels like a neighborhood cafe but caters to a distinctly European palate. For morning people, its coffee drinks are superb on their own, but the pastries hit the standby combo out of the park. For those preferring a savory wakeup, its tortilla Española (a delicious dish much like a frittata that comes with your choice of smoked… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Rue Saint Jacques

    If you want to feel like you've spent the evening in a corner of the 6e arrondissement instead of Nob Hill, head for Rue Saint Jacques, where everything from the soundtrack (French techno interspersed with Edith Piaf) to the extensive menu (16 appetizers and more than a dozen main courses, plus additional nightly specials) of cuisine both old-fashioned (cassoulet, coq… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Hard Knox Cafe

    Hard Knox Cafe is cheap and good. For $9 you receive three pieces of fried chicken (small birds, in a light peppery batter, fried to order), two tender corn muffins, and your choice of two sides from a list of a dozen. We also like the buttery-soft short ribs, the baked turkey wings, and the Cajun meatloaf, but the fried… More >>
  • Best Hidden Restaurant

    Monte Cristo Café

    On top of the Embarcadero Center building closest to the Embarcadero — and thus blessed with a swell view of the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge — the below-the-radar Monte Cristo Café serves surprisingly good French and Italian dishes (caprese salad, grilled lamb chops with potatoes gratin, seafood linguini). Everything on the menu is made in-house, which works out… More >>
  • Best Zakuski

    European Foods Wholesale

    Every Russian meal worth its Stolichnaya begins with zakuski, a bountiful array of savory appetizers that make the rest of the meal seem superfluous. The place to get 'em is European Foods, where fresh salmon caviar is sold by the tub and Cyrillic is the font of choice. Beet, herring, potato, cabbage, eggplant, and mushroom salads — the mainstays of… More >>
  • Best Cheese

    Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk

    "Many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese," says the castaway in Treasure Island, reflecting upon the single worst deprivation of being marooned on a desert isle for three years. Conversely, the single best thing about the San Francisco branch of civilization is the variety of great cheeses nurtured here. Case in point: Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk. This brine-washed round… More >>
  • Best Singaporean Restaurant

    Straits Cafe

    The cuisine at Straits is much fancier in presentation than the famous street food of Singapore, but features all the bright and exciting flavors of its mix of cultures and cooking: Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Indonesian. You really can't go wrong anywhere on the lengthy menu, though beginners might start with the appetizer sample platter (satay, vegetable curry samosas, oysters,… More >>
  • Best Eggs Benedict

    Town's End Restaurant & Bakery

    So many Benedicts, so many disappointments. There's a lot of overcooked egg and congealed hollandaise and paper-thin ham and ponderous muffin in this cholesterol-rich city, so much that we were ready to shed a quiet tear for the late, great Meetinghouse. Fortunately, this bayside temple to great morning munching comes through with a splendid Benedict. The English muffins that form… More >>
  • Best Small Plates

    Isa

    The ongoing tapas-mezes-zakuski-antojitos craze achieves its highest pinnacle at Isa, where star chef Luke Sung serves intricately designed, gustatorially satisfying small plates out of the French tradition. The menu varies with the season, but among the seafood specialties you might find potato-draped sea bass drizzled with brown butter; Dungeness crab salad with mango, celery, and Fuji apple; or a peppery… More >>
  • Best Russian Restaurant

    Katia's

    A wide array of Russian bookstores, gift shops, newspapers, delis, bakeries, and community organizations ribbon the Richmond District, where fleeing White Russians settled after the revolution and the mother tongue can be heard as often as Korean or Irish. The colony's outstanding troika is the onion-domed Russian Orthodox Church at Geary and 26th Avenue, the European Foods grocery at Clement… More >>
  • Best Roasted Chicken

    Cuban roasted chicken at Fogón

    When the management of Gira Polli left this address last year to concentrate on their Mill Valley outpost, they left behind the rotisserie oven, a beauty that had been shipped in pieces from Sicily when the restaurant opened 17 years ago. The oven is the central theme of Fogón, the imaginative Cal-Latin restaurant that opened here last December. Starring on… More >>
  • Best Childhood Treat

    Caramel corn at Acme Chophouse

    Of all the sweets and savories that make being a kid bearable (and even, at times, idyllic), good caramel corn is the most elusive. Too often dry, stale, and stingy with the nuts, when properly assembled this simple amalgam of popped corn, sugar, and butter leaves s'mores and Creamsicles in the dust. Poppycock is a fine grocery-store option (if you… More >>
  • Best Exotic Drink

    Caipirinha at Pesce

    A good caipirinha has all the nostalgic power of Proust's madeleine; one sip of this Brazilian bombshell and you're back in Ipanema. Although at last count it was the most-quaffed cocktail in the world, here in the U.S. the caipirinha is still somewhat exotic. As such, the local opportunities for cachaça-fueled brain travel are limited. Pesce, better known as a… More >>
  • Best Cuban Restaurant

    Charanga

    Charanga takes classic Cuban cookery and revitalizes it, employing the cuisine's staples — yuca, black beans, plantains — in imaginative and delicious ways. Take the tostones a la Tica, a napoleon of green plantains, goat cheese, and roasted garlic on a black bean coulis. Or the lechon asado, in which leg of pork is marinated in garlic, oregano, and sour… More >>
  • Best Raw Meat

    Steak Tartare at Harris'

    Lots of places drown their steak tartare in egg yolks and anchovies and even, for Christ's sake, caviar, but lots of places don't have raw meat like Harris'. No cover-up is necessary when your beef comes from your own herds, it's dry-aged for 21 days, and, in the case of the tartare, it's filet mignon. The result is coarsely ground… More >>
  • Best Cheese Cart

    Ritz-Carlton Dining Room - CLOSED

    Locally produced artisanal cheeses have made such a (delectable) impression over the past decade that it's practically impossible to find a San Francisco restaurant without a platter of Pt. Reyes Blue on its dessert menu. A pioneering influence was the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, where then–ma”tre d' Nick Peyton nurtured the concept of a dazzlingly well-laden cheese cart to tide his… More >>
  • Best Goofy Tropical Cocktails

    Ponzu

    The goofy tropical cocktail, a Happy Hour subgenre pioneered by Trader Vic Bergeron and maintained by the Tonga Room, Trad'r Sam's, and other Polynesian outposts, gets an elegant makeover at Ponzu, a sensuously tactile pan-Asian eatery in the Serrano Hotel. The Godzilla, for instance — a towering concoction of mango-infused vodka, Midori, sake, and three tropical fruit juices — is… More >>
  • Best Filipino Food

    Mango Bay Philippine Cuisine

    A fluorescent-lit, Formica-edged food court is an unexpected place to find delicious examples of adobo, kare-kare, and deep-fried bangus, but these and other Filipino specialties are proffered daily, cafeteria-style, at Mango Bay, an unprepossessing establishment adjoining Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican eateries of identical ambience. Reflecting the cuisine's focus on vinegar, tamarind, lime, and other sour-salty flavors, Mango Bay's chicken… More >>
  • Best Tea Room

    Samovar Tea Lounge

    Some tea rooms are all about the scones and crumpets; others embrace the more tranquil practices of the East. Still others go the Moorish route and serve up dolmas and dates with the brewed mint leaves. Samovar, an inclusive sort of place in a quiet corner of the Castro (and now in a second location in Yerba Buena Gardens), honors… More >>
  • Best Brownie

    LuLu Petite - CLOSED

    The culinary riches offered along the Ferry Building's skylit nave are staggering in their quality and variety: gelato from Ciao Bella, cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, caviar from Tsar Nicoulai, on and on and on. It's almost unfair that the best freakin' brownie in San Francisco is available here as well. LuLu Petite, a sidewalk cafe–like offshoot of the French restaurant… More >>
  • Best Tonic

    Signs & Wonders Peanut Milk

    Forget those bitter and expensive (not to mention seasonal) pomegranates: Peanuts also have great antioxidant powers. Get your fill with Signs & Wonders Peanut Milk, the creation of KK Cafe owners Jack and Margaret Chang. The Changs bottle their original, chocolate, and strawberry varieties and sell them in various area stores, but it's worth stopping in to their joint to… More >>
  • Best Trendy Mission Eatery

    Dosa

    Naan, tandoori, and chicken vindaloo are some of the delectables we associate with late-night (usually inebriated) visits to Indian eateries. What most people don't know is that these staples represent only the teeniest fraction of South Asian cuisine. Now Dosa — a recent addition to Valencia's corridor of international good eats — is introducing foodies to South Indian fare, known… More >>
  • Best Oceanside Dive

    The Riptide

    On the Riptide's Web site flashes the phrase "AT THE EDGE OF THE WESTERN WORLD," which is why we're lured to Ocean Beach and why we love the place. A moist ocean breeze drenches the outer Avenues in the smell of salt water, churning white waves pound the beach, and just about everybody in this joint seems to prefer this… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Gold Mountain - CLOSED

    This sprawling palace of pork buns is the king of local Hong Kong–style lunch joints. It might be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated gwai lo, what with the half-screaming waiters hurdling in tight circles around the tables with steaming carts of cow stomach, but there's no other place in town that can offer such a quintessential, exciting Chinatown lunch.… More >>
  • Best Upscale Taqueria

    Papalote

    Experienced burrito eaters know to expect a little grime in the best chorizo, an occasional, quickly disregarded cockroach scurrying along the interior of their beloved taco truck. That's why Papalote, a neighborhood favorite tucked off the busy stretch of Valencia, is so special: It doesn't have crystal chandeliers, but compared to many other Mission District juggernauts, it's downright classy. The… More >>
  • Best Turkey Sandwich

    Pete's Barbeque

    OK, OK, maybe Pete's isn't technically a barbecue joint — its staff prefers using an enormous rotisserie to the mesquite smoker — but when you get a succulent mouthful of the juicy birds that have been rotating all day in the front window, it's a heavenly experience. At lunchtime you can smell the place from blocks away. The standard chicken,… More >>
  • Best Meat Sides

    Tommy's Joynt

    Dinner at Tommy's is always something of an adventure, starting with the warm glow of the heat lamps above the food line that meets you at the door and ending with the last bite. But all the kitschy, cluttered décor and way-back nostalgia makes taking dinner at this institution (open since 1947) a strangely thrilling experience. It's not just that… More >>
  • Best Chinese in the Mission

    Jasmine Tea House

    Along the somewhat chaotic stretch of Mission Street south of Cesar Chavez, it's easy to miss Jasmine Tea House — even with its blazing rainbow-colored neon sign. But one taste of the repast from this humble destination will forever embed it in your memory. The sesame beef — fried to perfection in a tangy, sweet sauce — is our usual,… More >>
  • Best Beer Bar

    Noc Noc

    When you first enter the scene at Noc Noc, it can be a little disorienting. The bar has the feel of a dingy subterranean cave; it's covered in Burning Man kitsch, filled with sculptures perhaps best categorized as "Inuit-industrial," and the ceiling is coated in a wild hodgepodge of grimy trinkets. Well-worn booths seat patrons close to the floor (if… More >>
  • Best Burgers

    BurgerMeister

    The great American hamburger is as close as this minichain of trim, family-owned hangouts. Naturally raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free Niman Ranch beef is formed into a half-pound patty and grilled the way you like it, resulting in a magnificently smoky, juicy example of the burger-maker's art. The red onions are crisp, the butter lettuce is leafy, and the applewood-smoked Niman… More >>
  • Best Burgers

    Mo's Grill

    Mo's excels in the area of the turkey burger, a lighter variation on the cowish classic. Given their leaner nature, turkey burgers tend to the dry and perfunctory, but Mo's are juicy and touched with just enough herb and spice to bring out the meat's subtle flavor. Grilled over volcanic rock (no kidding!), it's a smoky triumph. You can get… More >>
  • Best Burgers

    Original Joe's - CLOSED

    The classic San Francisco-style hamburger is served at this Tenderloin institution, where sourdough bread enters the equation. It's an elemental, even primal work of art: just coarsely ground chuck, bread, and a few shards of onion — nothing more. Drop by after the kitchen fires up the mesquite grill at 5 p.m. so you'll be assured of a properly smoke-infused… More >>
  • Best Wine Bars

    Cav Wine Bar - CLOSED

    This chic, minimalist-to-the-max spot has the most ambitious kitchen of any of our top wine bars. Here you can put together a real (and well-cooked) meal to accompany your red, white, rosé, or dessert wine. (Beer and cider, too.) Cav offers an extensive and tempting menu of "bites" (including tapas, mezze, fondue, and charcuterie — the house-made salumi is as… More >>
  • Best Wine Bars

    The Hidden Vine

    This cozy basement wine bar is hidden indeed, reachable from steep stairs behind a door in the short alley called Cosmo Place or from the lobby of the Fitzgerald Hotel at 620 Post. The snug, low-ceilinged space feels a bit like a traditional British club, with a fireplace and comfy armchairs and sofas, as well as several tables with straight-back… More >>
  • Best Wine Bars

    Wine Bar & Shop

    Every week the simply named Wine Bar & Shop offers a new menu of more than 40 wines by the glass in its large, airy ground-floor space, with colorful abstract art hung above low, comfortable upholstered chairs and light wood-topped tables. The food isn't elaborate (nor cooked to order), but it is choice: olives, charcuterie, foie gras, smoked fish, antipasto… More >>
  • Best Homey Desserts

    Apple Pie at Chow

    The great American dessert has its definitive rendition at Chow, a place that takes the fine art of pie-making seriously. To wit: thick, yielding chunks of apple touched with just the right amount of cinnamon; a top and bottom crust of buttery pastry barely enclosing the cornucopia of luscious fruit; a healthy dollop of cool whipped cream with a drizzle… More >>
  • Best Homey Desserts

    Bread Pudding at Street

    Any sweet delectable born in chilly Great Britain and brought to maturity in tropical New Orleans is a dessert for all seasons, sentiments, and social strata. Bread pudding is simplicity itself: slices of day-old bread soaked in eggs, cream, and sugar and slowly baked to the moist and tender stage. Street's version takes this nourishing classic to a whole other… More >>
  • Best Homey Desserts

    S'mores at Luna Park

    From time immemorial, campers, picnickers, and other backyard rustics have stuck marshmallows on twigs, roasted them over a bonfire (or, in a pinch, a gas range), and sandwiched them between two graham crackers with a square of Hershey's milk chocolate. This elemental treat — endorphins, molten velvet, and a bit of crunch in one gloriously gooey mess — gets a… More >>
  • Best Homey Desserts

    Tiramisu at Caffe Greco

    This rich Venetian dolce, properly crafted, is every bit as soul-pleasing as butterscotch pudding or homemade cobbler. Caffe Greco's rendition is from an old family recipe and is made on site; true to its name ("pick me up," roughly translated), it's all creamy, boozy, caffeinated pleasure. Layers of génoise, espresso, Marsala, powdered chocolate, and lots and lots of whipped cream… More >>
  • Best Delicatessens – Best French Deli

    Mistral Rotisserie Provençale - CLOSED

    Within a few minutes you can assemble a meal at Mistral that will taste like you've spent hours basting a lovely roast lamb or pork or juicy chicken, cooking perfect potatoes (floury under their crunchy golden exteriors), tracking down naturally raised meats and fresh Provençale herbs, chopping vegetables and combining them into a homey ratatouille, and stewing white beans with… More >>
  • Best Delicatessens – Best Italian Deli

    Molinari's

    There was a time when North Beach was dotted with wonderful Italian delis. Luckily, the one that remains is as good as ever. (And remarkably reasonable, considering its location.) Overstuffed sandwiches start at $4.50, for the dependably tasty Molinari Italian Combo (on your choice of hard or soft French roll; rosemary, seeded, or sweet baguette; or whole wheat or Dutch… More >>
  • Best Delicatessens – Best Jewish Deli

    California Street Delicatessen & Cafe

    Thank Jehovah for this new, crisply decorated spot in the Jewish Community Center, which fills a serious gap in San Francisco's culinary life. It's not quite the Carnegie, or even Canter's, but it's definitely the best in the city: respectable pastrami, corned beef, and brisket (in three sandwich sizes: nosher, fresser, and super-fresser), as well as other sandwich options (roast… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    A16

    A16's wood-fired ovens are tended by a certified pizzaiolo (expert in the making of artisanal pizzas), and the crusts here are glorious: thin, crisp, puffy, chewy, blackened in bits — aka scotto, or scorched, as Italians prefer it. Whether topped with funghi, lots of whole mushrooms, grana padano (a hard cheese), garlic, oregano, parsley, and olive oil; carpeted with minced… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    Little Star Pizza

    And now for something completely different: the only one of our favorites that specializes in deep-dish, and, furthermore, 'za that issues forth from a gas rather than a wood-fired oven. The sturdy cornmeal crust stands up well to the toppings that fill it; we especially like the sausage version, full of sausage, fresh mushrooms, green bell peppers, onions, and a… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    Pizzeria Delfina

    It's not surprising that the fine Italian hand visible at Craig Stoll's superb Delfina, next door, appears in every detail of this tiny spot. At a few tables indoors and a few outdoors you can enjoy delectable crisp-crusted pizzas (our favorite: the salsiccia, topped with house-made fennel sausage, tomato, bell peppers, onions, and mozzarella) and lovely antipasti (including salumi; fresh-stretched… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    Pizzetta 211

    This tiny spot turns out handmade pizzettas, pizzas for one with amazingly thin, crisp crusts that come out of the oven in irregular ovals, topped, perhaps, with nettles, lamb sausage, faintly peppery pea shoot tendrils, and two eggs sunny side up, their yolks still soft enough to ooze golden-orange richness when cut into. We also have fond memories of an… More >>
  • Best Bar Snacks

    Lion Pub

    The Lion's impressive spread of free snacks, laid out every weeknight, harkens back to the days when San Francisco saloons would serve up fresh oysters, caviar, baked ham, and other thirst-inducing treats for the price of a nickel beer. The pub's happy hour feed isn't quite so grandiose (and the beer costs more than a nickel), but the cocktails are… More >>
  • Best Bar Snacks

    The Owl Tree

    There are many things to love about this nonsensically no-nonsense watering hole a few blocks from Union Square: the hundreds of stuffed, etched-glass, ceramic, and wood-carved owls that decorate every nook and cranny; the Bloody Marys, the spiciest, silkiest eye-openers in town; the jukebox, perhaps the only one on Earth featuring the "Lollipop Guild" song; and Bobby himself, who's run… More >>
  • Best Bar Snacks

    Seasons Bar

    As one of the city's classier cocktail venues, the Four Seasons' fifth-floor watering hole not only proffers an impressive array of high-end champagnes, aperitifs, and cordials, but it also dishes up a most elegant complimentary noshucopia: peanuts glazed with wasabi, plus roasted, salted pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios. Above and beyond these tidbits, however, are the nibbles that accompany the… More >>
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