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  • Readers' Poll

    Best Restaurant Boulevard Best New Restaurant 1751 Social Club Best Hidden Restaurant Stix Roadhouse Best Chef (tie) Greg Leon/Craig Stoll Best Bar 540 Club Best Irish Bar The Irish Bank Best Gay Bar The Cafe Best Cop Bar No winner Best Pickup Bar (Straight) Cat Club Best Pickup Bar (Gay) The Stud Best DJ Bar Azie Best Martini The Orbit Room Best Weird Drink Passion Flower Best Brew Drink Green Tea Haze Best Brewpub San Francisco Brewing Co. Best Seafood... More >>

  • Best Chili

    Chili Up!

    Man, it’s hard to find a good bowl of red in this town. Despite its Wild West lineage and satisfying and delectable attributes, sizzling-hot Southwestern chili is as rarely encountered around here as Tunisian torshi and Bulgarian banitsa. Filling the culinary vacuum somewhat is a chain of shopping-mall chili parlors that ladle out a nice Northern California version of the incendiary classic. Chili Up!’s renditions (there are seven of them) are warm and healthy and occasionally include plantains and apricots,... More >>

  • Best Cheap, Healthy Fast Food

    Asqew Grill

    Best Cheap, Healthy Fast Food The city's smallest fast-food chain is also its most wholesome, with fresh fruits and vegetables the common currency and grilling, not frying, the kitchencraft of choice. Sound ... uninspiring? Think again, burger boy! Asqew specializes in flame-licked skewers of meat, veggies, and seafood edged in multiethnic, end-of-the-continent touches. The results are distinctive and delicious. One skewer features chunks of smoky pork, apple, pear, and red onion doused in a sultry barbecue sauce; another alternates juicy... More >>

  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Kabuto A&S

    Best Japanese Restaurant There's something for everyone at Kabuto A&S, newly installed in smaller but brighter digs across the street from its longtime space on Geary. For lovers of classic sushi, there's no fresher fish or greater choice than that personally selected by chef Sachio Kojima and prepared in traditional nigiri style. There's a vast array of rolls, too, in both sliced norimaki versions and big hand rolls. Diners who want cooked dishes can choose from among dozens of hot... More >>

  • Best Dim Sum

    Dol Ho

    Best Dim Sum Dol Ho isn't the most elegant dim sum joint in town, but the savory noontime tidbits that emerge from its tiny kitchen are fresh, eclectic, and delicious. The cheerfully ramshackle storefront setting is all Formica and high-decibel, with savvy regulars vying for goodies from (occasionally sighted) carts: delicate shrimp-chive turnovers; noodle rolls stuffed with barbecued pork; rich, velvety turnip cakes; pork dumplings with carrots, cilantro, and a half-dozen aromatic herbs; a parfait of tofu, chicken meat, and... More >>

  • Best Thin-Crust Pizza

    Arinell Pizza

    Best Thin-Crust Pizza The East Coast expats among us often have a difficult time finding great pizza in San Francisco, especially the New York-style thin-and-crispy-crust variety. But since 1989, the Mission District's Arinell has filled that void admirably. Its owner, Ron Demirdjian, is originally from New York, where he says he learned the recipe "from an Italian gentleman, from Rome." Said recipe results in a 'za with a mildly tart tomato sauce, moderately applied; a non-gooey cheese; and best of... More >>

  • Best Italian Deli

    Lucca Ravioli Company

    Best Italian Deli There's no doubt that Lucca is the real deal: sawdust on the floors; weekly specials handwritten on butcher paper; cramped aisles stocked to the gills with imported pastas, tomato paste, biscotti, and bottles of fine Italian red wine. But the front counter is where the action happens. There, chatty clerks dispense fresh packages of pasta, tubs of pesto and tomato sauce, chunks of cheese from the deli's expansive selection (don't leave without the house-imported double cream brie),... More >>

  • Best Restaurant for Girlfriend Maintenance

    Cafe Jacqueline

    Best Restaurant for Girlfriend Maintenance You want romance? This tiny, Paris-style bistro stinks of romance. Tucked into a cozy storefront on upper Grant in North Beach, the restaurant serves a clientele that runs heavily toward couples engaged in affaires de coeur (that's "love affairs," you dolt) ranging from first dates to quiet silver-anniversary celebrations. Believe us, she'll melt when she walks into this joint. Most candlelit tables seat only two; the atmosphere is such that you'll keep expecting Ingrid Bergman... More >>

  • Best Continuing Education

    Tommy's Blue Agave Club

    Best Continuing Education Acquiring new stores of knowledge to impress dates, earning extra degrees to sex up your résumé -- there are many good reasons to do postgraduate work. Tommy's Blue Agave Club is an institution of higher learning for those who know a few better reasons (say, 225 of them). Tommy's Mexican Restaurant has been an institution in the Richmond District since 1965, and with 225 pure agave tequilas, it has one of the best-stocked bars this side of... More >>

  • Best Down-Home Farmers Market

    Alemany Farmer's Market

    Best Down-Home Farmers Market If you think high-end chocolates, wine bars, and chichi restaurants don't belong at a farmers' market, head to the southeastern corner of Bernal Heights for an earthier experience. The Alemany Farmer's Market opened at this location in 1947, and it's one of the most successful in the country. It features local growers and vendors in covered and uncovered booths hawking greens, fruits, vegetables, spices, ethnic specialties, nuts, breads, coffees, and just about anything else you'd want... More >>

  • Best Place to Change Your Mind About British Food

    White Caps Cafe

    Best Place to Change Your Mind About British Food Perhaps because of stereotypes about British cuisine, the White Caps Cafe on Geary Boulevard does not advertise that it specializes in British treats. From the outside it's no different than the hundreds of other San Francisco joints serving coffee and pastries. Inside, though, is an Anglophile's paradise of sausage rolls, shepherd's pie, and Cornish pasties. Shelves are lined with Branston Pickle, Goodhall's Steak Sauce, Devon Custard, Batchelor's Baked Beans, black pudding... More >>

  • Best No-Wait Brunch

    Bistro Yoffi

    Best No-Wait Brunch There's one thing about Bistro Yoffi you'll have to forgive right off the bat: The décor looks like the Swiss Family Robinson kids' treehouse decorated with hepcat jazz records. In other words, it's a little contrived. That turns out to be a good thing, though, because it's no doubt responsible for turning away the scores of Marina-dwelling yuppies who flock to Chestnut Street on sunny weekend mornings. Thus, if you're capable of looking past the campy furnishings,... More >>

  • Best Place for a Blind Date

    Foreign Cinema

    Best Place for a Blind Date A successful first date is a dicey proposition. You have to be funny, but you can't be a clown. You have to be smart, but you can't be a know-it-all. And, above all, you have to pick the perfect restaurant. That's why Foreign Cinema is such an excellent venue. The food is moderately priced and tasty, and finding the Cinema's nondescript facade in the heart of the Mission will prove you know the lay... More >>

  • Best Handmade Coffee

    Gateway Market

    Best Handmade Coffee Phil Jaber is "into" coffee the same way the pope is "into" God. Jaber's a fanatical barista who takes artful pride in each cup he brews. And he makes those cups one at a time. After you order your fix from Phil, it's hard not to be in awe of his intensely ritualistic process. First, he advises you on choosing a bean based on your personality. Then, he expertly measures out your dose, carefully grinds it, and... More >>

  • Best Breakfast for a Beer Hangover

    Valencia Pizza and Pasta

    Best Breakfast for a Beer Hangover Try ordering a couple of scrambled eggs at any of the fancy-pants eateries around town and all the foodie jargon might just turn your stomach. Not at Valencia Pizza and Pasta. It's the perfect breakfast stop when all you crave is a large portion of pretension-free grub. The décor is delightfully low-key, with vinyl tablecloths and comfy booths. The egg plates bring to mind the greasy-spoon glories of a Midwestern truck stop. The pancakes... More >>

  • Best Breakfast for a Tequila Hangover

    Taqueria Can-Cun

    Best Breakfast for a Tequila Hangover Mission Street is a sure bet for two things: tequila and taquerias. If too much of the former leaves you craving the latter, check out Taqueria Can-Cun. The popular late-night menu of delectable burritos has earned the fanatical devotion of hungry bar-hounds over the years, but if you decide to sleep off the booze, try Can-Cun for breakfast. It might be a little off-putting to see the place in the daylight, but one visit... More >>

  • Best Bar You Can Smoke In (Illegally)

    Phone Booth

    Best Bar You Can Smoke In (Illegally) To nicotine aficionados, going to a bar and not smoking is ridiculous. It's like going to a movie and not being able to eat popcorn. Madness. Thankfully, you can still spark up a cancer stick in peace at the Phone Booth, a cozy Mission closet that's so small even nonsmokers get a secondhand contact buzz. But being able to smoke indoors is just the beginning of this dive's ample charms: Countless nights can... More >>

  • Best Bar You Can Smoke In (Legally)

    Hemlock Tavern

    Best Bar You Can Smoke In (Legally) See if you can follow the immaculate logic behind the smoking area at the Hemlock Tavern: It's a hipster bar; hipsters like to check each other out and smoke cigarettes; let's build a place where hipsters can buy drinks, smoke cigarettes, and check each other out! In addition to being the perfect vantage spot for people-watching, the enclosed smoking patio at the Hemlock is well ventilated and comfy, with places to sit and... More >>

  • Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

    Ananda Fuara

    Best Vegan Chocolate Cake Vegan desserts get a bad rap in general for being dry, flavorless, and a bit overly nutty or grainy. But those who have their doubts about being able to find dairy-free dessert options that actually taste sinful instead of sawdusty have yet to try the chocolate cake at Ananda Fuara (translation: "fountain of delight"). Rich, fudgy frosting tops the surprisingly moist cake, making for a treat that mimics traditional dairy-filled recipes so well in texture and... More >>

  • Best Chocolate-Flavored Libation

    Chocolate Cake Shot at the Top

    Best Chocolate-Flavored Libation Forget the chocolate martini -- that's sooo yuppie. Lower Haight bar the Top, which hosts DJs nightly for its various house, drum 'n' bass, and downtempo parties, favors the Chocolate Cake Shot. It seems an impossible bit of science that a mix of vodka and hazelnut liqueur chased down by a sugared lemon slice can end up tasting like chocolate cake, but just mix 'em together and voilà! You've just shot the alcoholic equivalent of a Yoo-Hoo,... More >>

  • Best Use of Cactus

    Agave Wine Cocktails at Movida Lounge

    Best Use of Cactus From California cactus salads to spicy Southwestern cactus jellies, the family Cactaceae is quickly turning into the Swiss army knife of the plant world. But we think that cactus is a drink best served cold, preferably with chunks of yummy seasonal fruit, as in the agave wine margaritas and sangrias at the Movida Lounge in the Lower Haight. This joint cleverly gets around being just another beer-and-wine bar with its creative cocktails, which include fierce sake... More >>

  • Best Eritrean Food

    New Eritrea Restaurant

    Best Eritrean Food The physical border between Ethiopia and Eritrea has historically been contentious; indeed, the two countries argue its location in the U.N. to this day. But the nations' local cuisines live in harmony at a charming Inner Sunset restaurant (because, when it comes right down to it, there's little difference between them anyway). New Eritrea offers enough of the appropriate décor to represent its namesake without overwhelming patrons in cascades of beads and frills. Put yourself in the... More >>

  • Best Coffee Shop

    Nob Hill Grille

    Best Coffee Shop According to the Random House Second Edition Unabridged, a coffee shop is "a small, usually inexpensive restaurant where refreshments and light meals are served." According to us, a coffee shop is also a place where the waitress remembers how you like your eggs the second time you come in; regulars drop by to schmooze, eat the blue-plate special, and read the paper; and nobody rushes the guy at the counter nursing his second cup of java. The... More >>

  • Best Gumbo

    500 Jackson

    Best Gumbo The evolution of French bouillabaisse into Louisiana gumbo took the better part of a century, and God knows it was time well spent. "Gumbo, c'est bon, c'est tout," goes the old Creole saying, and this fragrant confluence of Gallic, African, Hispanic, and Native American tastes and textures -- our closest culinary equivalent to jazz -- truly is both good and everything. Like Mexican mole and Spanish paella, gumbo is a treasured edible icon with a pliable nature; there... More >>

  • Best Brisket

    East Coast West Delicatessen

    Best Brisket Most briskets of beef are pickled in brown sugar and saltpeter and emerge after a week or two as corned beef, an undeniably tasty delicacy, but there's nothing like a fresh, sliced brisket, braised in its own juices for several hours with onion, garlic, a bit of carrot, salt and pepper, and nothing else, for a gloriously tender alternative to your basic roast chuck. East Coast West makes a very nice brisket. It's treated with the patience and... More >>

  • Best Cheesecake

    Il Caffe Emporio Rulli

    Best Cheesecake The best thing about the newly reconfigured Union Square is Rulli's little cafe just off Stockton Street, where you can sit at the edge of the piazza, soak up the ambience, sip an espresso, and eat the best pastries east of the Pacific Ocean. Take the house cheesecake, for instance. This isn't the platinum brick of cream cheese that traditionally caps off an evening of rib-eye and martinis, but a light and airy Sicilian cassatta, a timbale of... More >>

  • Best Tea Shop

    Ten Ren Tea Company of San Francisco, Ltd.

    Best Tea Shop Big canisters of loose-leaf oolong, pouchong, and tung-ting line the walls of this spacious Chinatown tea emporium, where the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis shrub are proffered in several aromatic varieties. Everything from your basic black tea ($5.60 per box) to a pound of primary-grade loose-leaf wu-yi ($144) can be found on the premises, including the semifermented Iron Goddess of Mercy, the green Osmanthus King's, and the earth-red post-fermented pu-erh. Organic teas, herbal teas, and teas... More >>

  • Best Candy Store

    Z Cioccolato

    Best Candy Store We're talking candy here, not the fancy-schmancy Armagnac-infused varietal truffles that make chocoholism such a pricey proposition around these parts. Despite its Italianate moniker, Z Cioccolato is a repository of the kind of all-American sweet stuff you used to get trick-or-treating or at the five-and-dime: Necco wafers, horehound drops, saltwater taffy, candied oranges, root beer barrels, butterscotch balls, gumdrops, Walnettos, licorice in every configuration. The stuff's displayed in big open barrels, so grab a basket and choose... More >>

  • Best Frozen Yogurt

    Michaelis Wine & Spirit

    Best Frozen Yogurt Sure, this Cow Hollow liquor store sells bourbon and cabernet and Anchor Steam and all that, but its raison d'être is the frozen yogurt it serves up from a little counter in the back. Thick, rich, and creamy as a fine gelato, the stuff is a perpetual magnet for svelte, savvy locals jonesing for a low-fat (yet eminently satisfying) goodie. Although only 10 varieties are offered on any given day, they might include such temptations as Very... More >>

  • Best Irish Pub

    The Plough and Stars

    Best Irish Pub The greatest thing about a good Irish pub is its congenial, courtly, somber, gregarious, witty, sentimental, surly, musical, poteen-fueled ambience, and the Plough is all of that in a beaker of brew. From the sidewalk out front one can hear the sound of clinking glass, ruttish laughter, and the occasional angry expletive. The pub's long, dark, scarred-wood interior features a small stage on which Irish music is performed almost every night of the week, including step-dancing, if... More >>

  • Best Juice Bar

    Juicey Lucy's Organic Juice & Food Bar

    Best Juice Bar Juicey Lucy's is a very groovy place. Vivid shades of purple, orange, and green saturate furniture, floor, and ceiling. Tabletops and altars are adorned with Buddhas and Shivas and pliable yogis. Handcrafted jewelry and vegan yam bread are sold at the counter; fresh herbs sprout from every nook and cranny; a hint of incense lingers in the air. And behind the counter is Lucy herself, chopping, juicing, and blending everything to order and radiating plenty of tranquil... More >>

  • Best Salsa

    Papalote

    Best Salsa Salsa isn't just for double dipping, y'know. In Mexico, a meal without a bowl of this beloved condiment is as lacking as menudo without the pig intestines. There are a thousand saucy varieties to choose from, from the familiar tomato-onion salsa cruda to more complex regional variations involving avocado leaves, pumpkin seeds, every kind of chili pepper, and even, happily, tequila. Here in El Norte our salsa selection is limited, but the taquerias of the Mission are a... More >>

  • Best Paella

    Fina Estampa

    Best Paella The first paella was cooked up near the town of Valencia on the east coast of Spain, where the rice, saffron, and olive oil come from. That initial attempt featured snails and eels as well, but you can add anything you like to the basic triad; the trick is balancing the different ingredients with cooking time and temperature and not letting the whole thing dry out. Fina Estampa specializes in Peruvian cuisine, but its version of the Spanish... More >>

  • Best Fondue

    Matterhorn Swiss Restaurant

    Best Fondue The ideal wintertime scenario: an Alpine lodge in Cortina, the Wallis, or maybe Truckee; a bevy of sweater-clad kindred spirits; one of those sunken stone-and-brass fire pits; and a gloriously retro cauldron of fragrant, luscious, interactive fondue. Like Mongolian hot pot and Korean barbecue, the Swiss national dish inspires cozy feelings of culinary good fellowship, as friends gather round to dunk collective forkfuls of bread, meat, and vegetables into a cheesy, bubbling hearth. Despite a chronic shortage of... More >>

  • Best Pie Resource

    Mel's Drive-In

    Best Pie Resource Playland's Pie Stand, the Hick'ry Pit, and Bepple's on Union are but memories, and today the town is overrun with beautifully designed, delicately rendered tartes that have plenty of charm but none of the gutsy satisfaction of, say, deep-dish coconut cream pie with a butter-and-lard crust and a mountain of whipped cream on top. What's a pie-lovin' American to do, short of heading down the coast to Duarte's for an orgy of pastry-wrapped ollalieberries? There's always Mel's,... More >>

  • Best Bourbon Selection

    Cannery Wine Cellars

    Best Bourbon Selection Bourbon, the happy offspring of mashed-up corn, limestone-rich water, and two or three centuries of backwoods know-how, is best taken at sunset in a nice thick tumbler with just enough melting ice to "let the flavors blend" (F. Sinatra) -- its sweet, golden nature inspiring reflection, quietude, and good fellowship all around. Over the past decade, this courtly elixir has inspired so much good fellowship, it's come to rival cognac and single-malt scotch in postprandial popularity, with... More >>

  • Best Brazilian Restaurant

    Canto do Brasil

    Best Brazilian Restaurant Wannabe Cariocas yearning for the motherland will find Canto do Brasil a languid, sultry pleasure. The welcome is as warm as an evening in Rio: Bossa nova shimmers from the stereo like waves lapping Ipanema; the house caipirinha is as sweet and potent as a midnight samba; and the bright, lusty aromas of Brazilian cuisine mingle in the air. The country's best food is from the African-influenced region of Bahia, and Canto's bobé de camarão -- prawns... More >>

  • Best Vegan Restaurant

    Golden Era

    Best Vegan Restaurant "With respect for all life, we proudly serve all dishes free of meat, poultry, fish, egg, and MSG," is Golden Era's motto, and the restaurant's low-cruelty ethos is good news indeed for diners who've taken that extra step past vegetarianism into the dairyless realm of veganism. But even chronic carnivores can delight in the fresh, satisfying flavors that emerge from Golden Era's kitchens. This affable Tenderloin eatery serves an array of delicious Pan-Asian specialties, from Thai salad... More >>

  • Best Wine Bar

    Hayes and Vine Wine Bar

    Best Wine Bar The Hayes and Vine is a great place to enjoy your very own casually empirical impromptu wine-tasting, especially after a long, hard day at the office. The cellar features upward of 1,200 wines, 40 or 50 of them by the glass, creating several relaxing opportunities to educate your palate. (The 40 or 50 change every Monday, so you can return each week for further academia.) A fine way to compare and contrast them is by the flight,... More >>

  • Best Mojito

    Habana

    Best Mojito Much of the pleasure of a good cocktail comes from the ambience in which it's savored, viz., a sweetly potent margarita among the Christmas lights of La Rondalla; a tumbler of single malt at the dark 'n' moody Edinburgh Castle; a crisp martini at the eternally elegant Top of the Mark. And when you want a Mojito, the very essence of sultry Caribbean gratification, the place to imbibe is Habana. In mood and detail, it's reminiscent of a... More >>

  • Best Cheap Sushi

    Shi Mo

    Best Cheap Sushi There's nothing like a bonbon of tender rice and silky raw fish to stroke the taste buds, blissify the belly, and soothe the disposition. And there's nothing like getting the bill a few hirame later and realizing that those tasty little morsels, tout ensemble, were equal in value to the next payment on your Lamborghini. Not only does Shi Mo serve up absolutely delicious examples of the whole uncooked-unagi/whiff-of-wasabi genre, the end-of-the-meal stipend is also perfectly reasonable.... More >>

  • Best Fresh Seafood

    R&G Lounge

    Best Fresh Seafood You can't get any fresher seafood than the crustaceans and fish pulled from the big tanks in the downstairs dining room at R&G, where the creatures swim around as décor until they're plucked out for your delectation. The lightly battered, disjointed salt-and-pepper crab is a don't-miss specialty. Fresh-steamed shrimp are served split, barely cooked through, and bathed in garlic. Other fresh fish include catfish, rock cod, and sea bass, available simply steamed or fried. Lobster, scallops, geoduck,... More >>

  • Best Pupu Platter

    Roy's

    Best Pupu Platter The best part of any tiki-accented soiree is those barbecued, coconut-coated nibbles that go so well with your third Mai Tai. Yet many island-themed venues settle for heavy, greasy appetizers that lack that old Polynesian zest and undermine the whole pupu zeitgeist to boot. Roy's, one of a nationwide chain of high-class fusion-Hawaiian restaurants, puts the pepper back in the pupu. Its Canoe Appetizer for Two is like a really classy luau in miniature. Among the treats... More >>

  • Best Really Cheap Taco

    El Metate

    Best Really Cheap Taco The term "cheap" is so insufficient to the task of pricing El Metate's delicious tacos, we're forced to elaborate. They're really cheap. For a mere buck and a quarter you get two corn tortillas piled high with radishes, onions, lime, cilantro, and one of a dozen substantial fillings, including crisp, spicy pork carnitas; grilled vegetables in season; chile colorado with steak and potatoes; and moist shards of chicken with chile rojo. A variety of salsas --... More >>

  • Best Offal

    Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar

    Best Offal We like sautéed kidneys as much as Leopold Bloom does. Luckily for us, Chris Cosentino -- who became the executive chef of Incanto, the highly regarded Italian trattoria, in the spring -- is also enamored of offal, aka variety meats, and features them on his menus. The offerings change frequently, but they might include Venetian-style pork liver, spicy lamb tripe with mint, ravioli stuffed with pigs' feet, grilled lamb's liver with polenta and arugula, or beef marrow ravioli... More >>

  • Best Chinese (Sichuan)

    China Village

    Best Chinese (Sichuan) Get the three-page, densely printed menu listing the spicy Sichuan dishes (happily, in English) at this brightly lit, sparkling white restaurant on Albany's restaurant row, rather than the generic Chinese laminated menu, and you'll be rewarded with some of the spiciest, hottest, best-tasting food imaginable. You must order the fat, oily green onion cakes and crisp yet chewy sesame flat bread that the Sichuanese prefer to rice (we order rice, too, as a cooling foil for the... More >>

  • Best Chinese (Cantonese)

    Harbor Village

    Best Chinese (Cantonese) Harbor Village is well-known for its dim sum, which it offers daily for lunch in a glitzy but anonymous mirrored-and-gilded room that feels like an upscale hotel lobby. But that room becomes a temple to exquisite Hong Kong-style Cantonese cooking when you order off the dinner menu, an astonishing document indeed. You know right away you're in good hands when you see the list of what's fresh: shellfish (including pricey abalone and two kinds of lobster), fish,... More >>

  • Best Chinese (Shanghainese)

    Fountain Court

    Best Chinese (Shanghainese) This corner restaurant, a long, narrow room with pleasant but unprepossessing décor, offers the exciting cooking of Shanghai, mostly long-cooked braises and stews rather than quick stir-fries. Start with the characteristic cold appetizer platters, including wine chicken (delicate poached chicken marinated in Shaoxing wine sauce), smoked fish (slices glazed with sweet ginger sauce), five-spice beef, and poached chilled duck with peppercorns. Continue with clay pot dishes such as the Shanghai pot-au-feu (pork ribs, ham, tofu-skin knots, and... More >>

  • Best Irish Food

    Wilde Oscar's

    Best Irish Food There are several good things to eat on the menu at Wilde Oscar's, a cozy Irish pub in a neighborhood where it's usually easy to find a parking space, a plus if you're hankering for a properly pulled pint of Guinness with a creamy head. The clam chowder is the real deal, made with cream, chopped fresh vegetables, and lots of chewy clams. The Irish breakfast is quite a plateful: two eggs any style, unfatty Irish bacon,... More >>

  • Best Vegetarian

    Greens

    Best Vegetarian What looked and tasted revolutionary in 1979 -- a vegetarian menu that was as concerned with flavor as it was with health and morality -- is now considerably less so, as vegetables are treated with respect all over town. But Greens is still the place to go if you want inventive, delicious, exclusively vegetarian fare (dairy is a big player here, but many dishes can be prepared for vegans, too). Because of its extraordinary, sweeping bay views, Greens... More >>

  • Best Cookie

    Morena at Emporio Rulli Gran Caffe

    Best Cookie It's a simple thing, really, but a perfect one: a preserved amarena cherry, imported from Italy, wrapped in a ball of house-made marzipan, the resulting sweetmeat rolled in sliced almonds and powdered sugar. Quite a luscious bite (perfumed, heady, but not cloying). This is our clear favorite among the excellent cookies available here (more than two dozen varieties), all priced at $19.95 a pound (which works out, at 40 to 45 cookies per pound, to about 60 cents... More >>

  • Best Milkshake

    Taylor's Automatic Refresher

    Best Milkshake Many people love Taylor's burgers, others rave about the fish and chips, and there's a vocal group that cheers loudly for the fish tacos. But we think the best thing on the menu is the milkshake, which is about as thick as a milkshake can be and still (eventually) be drinkable. Our favorite is the refreshing mint chip (the short but impeccable field includes chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, espresso bean, and a black-and-white, made with chocolate syrup and vanilla... More >>

  • Best Fried Fish

    Kokkari Estiatorio

    Best Fried Fish There are many pleasures to be had in this rather formal room, which could be in a Spanish grandee's castle rather than a Greek taverna, and is close enough to the Embarcadero to catch a sea breeze. But there's one dish that demands to be ordered. For $6.50, you get an impressive heap of fried smelts (marithes tiganites) stacked up like kindling -- plump, golden, impossibly crisp, and compulsively edible, like the piscine equivalent of french fries... More >>

  • Best Specialty Wine List

    A16

    Best Specialty Wine List Devised as a terrific complement to the novel, well-prepared southern Italian cooking highlighted at A16 (named for the autoroute that traverses Campania, the region around Naples including Capri and the Amalfi coast), this wine list (currently seven pages and continually expanding under wine director/co-owner Shelley Lindgren, veteran of Fleur de Lys and Bacar) features nearly two dozen wines from Campania, a good sampling from Sicily, and more southern Italian vintages from the neighboring regions of Abruzzo,... More >>

  • Best Sit-Down Mexican

    Chava's

    Best Sit-Down Mexican There are dozens of taquerias littering the Mission District that are ideal for quick, inexpensive snacks. But if you'd like to sit down in comfort for a while and enjoy a real meal ordered from a server rather than at a counter -- perhaps a plate of delicious pork carnitas, cheesy chile rellenos, or (on the weekends) big, restorative bowls of menudo (stewed tripe redolent of chiles) or birria (stew made from mutton or goat) -- Chava's,... More >>

  • Best Prix Fixe

    Chapeau!

    Best Prix Fixe We'd like Chapeau!'s classic French cuisine -- dishes as simple as textbook-perfect onion soup and sole meunière and as complicated as ballotine of foie gras and cassoulet -- at any price. But we like it best when we can run riot through the seasonal, evolving menu and choose our own three-course prix fixe for just $29.75 (plus a few modest supplemental charges, such as $1.75 for the foie gras or $2 for a plate of five cheeses).... More >>

  • Best Pizza by the Slice

    L'Osteria del Forno

    Best Pizza by the Slice We were so beguiled by the sandwiches at this tiny (10-table), cash-only, old-style North Beach restaurant that it took an idle comment by a friend to shake us from our habits. He said that his favorite pizza by the slice was the porcini sold here. We took his advice, only to find that the porcini (sautéed imported Italian mushrooms, made bianca-style, i.e., without tomato sauce) is our second favorite of the nine combinations on offer.... More >>

  • Best Indian (With Tablecloths)

    Amber India

    Best Indian (With Tablecloths) It's worth the trek down the Peninsula to savor Amber India's famous velvety butter chicken, as well as its other uniformly well-cooked specialties, in its comfortable, nicely decorated rooms. The lunch buffet is an amazing bargain at $11.50, including nearly a dozen hot dishes, several cold salads and savories, sliced fruits, and rice pudding. Among the best dishes on the dinner menu are naryal saar, a fragrant brothy soup full of sliced mushrooms and scented with... More >>

  • Best Indian (No Tablecloths)

    Shalimar

    Best Indian (No Tablecloths) You order at the counter and pick up the food when it's ready. The tables are Formica, and the napkins are paper. You grab a pitcher of water from the refrigerator, and you bus your own dishes. But the food here is so extraordinary and reasonably priced that it surpasses one's needs for amenities. Among our favorite dishes are chicken kofta (meatballs) heady with cumin; a highly spiced, long-cooked lamb stew; creamy chicken tikka masala; a... More >>

  • Best Tamales

    Primavera

    Best Tamales There are many reasons to visit the Saturday Farmers Market: In addition to the beautiful setting, which is there every day of the week, Saturday boasts the most vendors and the liveliest attendance (a nice way of saying the biggest crowds). But the irresistible draw, to our mind, is getting a plate of tamales at Primavera, a Mexican prepared-foods stand that always has a line (which is always worth standing in). We're partial to the pork version, chock-full... More >>

  • Best Under-the-Radar Restaurant

    Absinthe

    Best Under-the-Radar Restaurant It's not what you'd call unknown, but Absinthe doesn't automatically come up when people are discussing San Francisco's best restaurants or competitively assessing celebrity chefs. Yet it consistently serves memorable, delicious food (we're still dreaming of a chilled Dungeness crab with truffle oil mayonnaise and sea beans, and the only boeuf à la ficelle we've seen on a menu in many years, perfectly prepared) in a comfortable, posh setting. Its good food is supported by thoughtful service,... More >>

  • Best View-With-a-Drink

    Bloom's Saloon

    Best View-With-a-Drink Located on a pleasant Potrero Hill dining and shopping street, Bloom's boasts a distinctive vintage glass-brick facade, but cute as that is, it doesn't suggest the wonders revealed behind it. We're not talking about the neighborhood camaraderie, the noteworthy beer selection, the heated atmosphere during a Giants or 49ers game. We're talking about what lies beneath: all of San Francisco, exposed in a sweeping, glorious, utterly irresistible panorama. It's the kind of thrilling surprise that you can use... More >>

  • Best Burrito

    Truly Mediterranean

    Best Burrito This is not a joke. It's wrapped in lavash rather than a stretchy tortilla; filled with falafel, lamb or chicken shawerma, or charbroiled lamb or chicken chunks instead of beans and rice; and tricked out with cucumber salad, seasoned onions, chopped parsley, broiled tomatoes, and tahini sauce in place of salsa and guacamole. But it looks and eats just like a burrito, a truly massive one as well as a truly Mediterranean one, and even at the Mission... More >>

  • Best S/M Sushi Experience

    Midori Mushi

    Best S/M Sushi Experience Located in, of all places, a Days Inn hotel in Hayes Valley, this unprepossessing little restaurant doesn't look like much: five small tables crammed into a tiny circular building, with a cadre of cool young Caucasians in the kitchen and a tiny sake lounge upstairs. But just one bite of Gerard Dumuk's impeccable fish clues in the wary that this place is something special. We're haunted by Dumuk's Martha Roll, an ethereal combination of crab, mango,... More >>

  • Best Vegetarian Sandwich

    Vietnam Sandwiches (aka Wrap Delight)

    Best Vegetarian Sandwich Everyone who's ever tried them loves banh mi, those yummy Vietnamese sandwiches on big French rolls with cilantro and pickled carrots. But since they're invariably made with pork or pork balls or chopped pork or pork with pork sauce, vegetarians haven't been able to sample them -- until now. This tiny little hole in the wall, run by a smiling, sweet-natured woman who used to work the counter at popular Saigon Sandwiches up the block, offers several... More >>

  • Best Late-Night Snack

    San Francisco P+DC

    Best Late-Night Snack For a city filled with fun-loving folks, San Francisco sure shuts down early. Those emerging after last call from a club or a bar are stuck with the same pedestrian late-night snack choices over and over: diner food from a number of passable, though uninspired, joints in pockets of the Castro and the Avenues. Since you're going to be eating mediocre grub anyway, why not do it in a spot with unusual local color? S.F.'s post office... More >>

  • Best Burning Man-Esque Bar

    Sublounge

    Best Burning Man­Esque Bar Maybe it's Sublounge's location, in the midst of Dogpatch's darkened warehouses and unclaimed condos, that gives the nightclub that Burning Man feel. There's an oasis vibe at work, as if this were the only civilization for miles. At the same time, that splendid isolation lends an outlaw attitude to the venue -- you just know John Law isn't going to be busting in on you anytime soon. And unlike at the Odeon Bar, the freaks don't... More >>

  • Best New Chocolate Treat

    Gracie's Chocolate Nipples

    Best New Chocolate Treat While everyone knows that food and sex go great together, it took Oakland sisters Genessa and Ami Kealoha to place the two in one convenient package. In January 2002, Genessa took an art class for which she began crafting molds of her sister's nipples. With a little help from a denture-making cast, the gals were soon handing out chocolate versions of areolas as gifts. By December 2002, the ladies had moved into the entrepreneurial world, offering... More >>

  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Delfina

    When tiny Delfina expanded into the comparatively massive storefront next door, the restaurant became much more comfortable, more chic, and (if it was possible) even more popular. Happily, the exciting rustic Italian cooking stayed the same. Whether it's a deceptively simple pasta (spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and hot chiles) or a more demanding risotto (perhaps made with butternut squash, fonduta, and truffle oil), everything is devised with care and prepared with a rigorous intensity that translates... More >>

  • Best French Restaurant

    Fleur de Lys

    Best French Restaurant The glory of the three-star French cooking celebrated in the famed Michelin guidebook lives on, happily for local gastronomes, in this venerable downtown restaurant. The décor (walls lined with mirrors and upholstered in busy printed fabric, a trademark enormous flower display tucked under the tented ceiling) can feel a trifle fussy and old-fashioned. But the extraordinary cooking of chef/owner Hubert Keller, presented by a flawless team of friendly and knowledgeable servers, is so exhilarating that the setting... More >>

  • Best Takeout

    Whole Foods Market

    Best Takeout The newest outpost of this well-known organic-food chain features an overflowing cornucopia of prepared foods. There are multiple steam tables devoted to differing "flavors": Asian, Latin American, Indian, Middle Eastern. Another hot bar is devoted to comfort foods: quartered roast chickens, garlic mashed potatoes, mac 'n' cheese. There are two big deli counters attractively stocked with large white platters filled with cooked meats and fish (rosy red flank steak slicked with chimichurri sauce, chile-dusted chicken breasts, poached salmon,... More >>

  • Best Soup

    Sourdough Soup at Old Krakow

    Best Soup The friend who brought us here confessed that he'd eaten at Old Krakow many times before he tried this dish, which didn't sound appealing to him; yet once tasted, it became not just his favorite soup, but also the main reason for repeat visits. It's a hearty yet somehow still delicately flavored white borscht, chunky and full of potatoes, onions, carrots, and a generous amount of sliced kielbasa in a creamy broth slightly thickened with the naturally fermented... More >>

  • Best Foodie Luxury

    Shellfish Consommé at Aqua

    Best Foodie Luxury "Luxury" is the word for Aqua. The banquettes are plush, the enormous flower arrangements are exotic and overpowering, and caviar, lobster, and rare vintage wines are on offer. But still we were dazzled by the in-your-face extravagance of the soup we began our meal with one evening. This strong-flavored shellfish consommé hinted at pounds of fish and crustacean shells and trimmings carefully simmered a long time to extract maximum flavor, and then even more carefully clarified. Floating... More >>

  • Best Pizza

    Tommaso's

    Best Pizza It makes us happy that the oldest wood-fired brick oven in San Francisco (built in 1935, when Tommaso's opened as Lupo's, and reportedly the first such oven on the West Coast) turns out the best pizza crust in San Francisco: puffy, crispy, faintly smoky. Whether you prefer toppings of Italian sausage, clams with garlic, meatballs, scallops, tiger prawns, or clams in the shell, this is the crust you want under them. We love the room, too, with creamy-painted... More >>

  • Best Indian Pizza

    Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine

    Best Indian Pizza This delicacy was born right here in San Francisco when an old neighborhood pizzeria was purchased by Indians, who started selling Indian food in the place while still offering pizzas. Continued suggestions by the clientele to combine the two resulted in the creation of Indian pizza -- a classic crisp, thin crust layered with spinach as well as sauce, mozzarella, and the toppings of your choice, such as tandoori chicken, lamb, cauliflower, eggplant, and prawns. Sold by... More >>

  • Best Pig

    Mi Lindo Yucatan

    Best Pig This small corner restaurant is deceptively modest: Formica tables, linoleum floors, white-painted walls. The only attempt at décor is a few pieces of folkloric Mexican dress casually nailed to the walls and a couple of red stripes painted around the open kitchen. But from that tiny kitchen issues a number of exciting dishes, including our three favorite pig plates of the year: the cochinita pibil, big, luscious, juicy chunks of pork flavored with achiote that come to the... More >>

  • Best Steakhouse

    Acme Chophouse

    Best Steakhouse Taking steak as seriously as she does haute cuisine at her superb Jardinière, Traci des Jardins does honor to carnivores in this huge restaurant tucked into SBC Park. Start with a perfect Caesar salad, a wedge of crisp iceberg slathered with blue cheese dressing, spinach salad properly wilted with bacon and vinegar, or oysters, shrimp, and crab from the raw bar; then go on to beautifully charred steaks or chops (from animals naturally raised without hormones or antibiotics),... More >>

  • Best 50s Flashback Dinner

    House of Prime Rib

    Best 50s Flashback Dinner We find it reassuring that the House of Prime Rib serves exactly the same food as it did when we were kids, and deeply satisfying that the place still offers an honest meal. (And it's something of a bargain: The ritual dinner, including a salad and several sides, costs between $24.85 and $29.85. Children 10 and under dine for $8.45, complete with milk and ice cream.) The signature chopped salad comes first, dressed at your table... More >>

  • Best Food Court

    Ferry Building Marketplace

    Best Food Court We think the beautifully renovated Ferry Building is a Fairyland (pun intended) for foodies, who can wander through its skylight-lit corridors in a kind of happy daze, picking up wonderful baked goods at the Acme Bread Company, ripe cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop, and pastries topped with fresh peaches straight from the orchard at Frog Hollow Farm. Pausing in your labors, you can slurp up a few briny oysters at the Hog Island Oyster Company,... More >>

  • Best Argentine

    Villa del Sol

    Best Argentine You don't have to be on that crazy diet -- we don't even want to spell it out (you know, the A-word) -- to get the urge to sink your teeth into a big piece of meat. A lot of big pieces of meat, in fact. And that's just what's waiting for you at Villa del Sol, a small place in South San Francisco that specializes in the famous Argentine special parillada, piles of grilled meat stacked on... More >>

  • Best Barbecue

    Memphis Minnie's Bar-B-Que Joint & Smoke House

    Best Barbecue The first sign that the kitchen does barbecue right is that it always serves the sauce (sauces, really: North Carolina vinegar, South Carolina mustard, and Texas red) on the side. "Why else," the owner says charmingly, "do I spend 16 hours smoking the meat?" We approve, because it's that taste of smoke caught in the meat that we're after. We like to order a meal called the Southern Star, which features a half-sandwich each of two of our... More >>

  • Best Hidden Restaurant

    Desiree

    Best Hidden Restaurant This tiny breakfast-and-lunch place may be tucked away in the Presidio, in one of the old military office buildings now colonized by film production companies, but enough people have found a way here to feast on the farmers' market- influenced home cooking of Annie Gingrass (former chef and co-owner of Hawthorne Lane) that it has had to enlarge. You still order at the counter, but now there are a few more tables at which to enjoy breakfasts... More >>

  • Best Lobster Dinner

    500 Jackson

    Best Lobster Dinner For lovers of the sweet ivory flesh of our favorite crustacean, there's a new place in town that treats the lobster with the respect it deserves. At 500 Jackson, you can tear into a carefully steamed 2-pound Maine beauty, served split for easy access to the tender tail, with the requisite melted butter and lemon (and crackers for the claws), plus a wonderful spicy pepper slaw and a cone of house-made potato chips, for $42. Or two... More >>

  • Best Fried Chicken

    Pork Store Cafe

    Best Fried Chicken We love fried chicken both in its high form (a crisp breast at Chez Panisse) and its low (an order of the extra-spicy from Popeye's with a side of red beans and rice). But the best fried chicken we know is the honey-dipped served at the Pork Store (despite its name, which refers to the original inhabitant of the space, a butcher who'd been in residence from 1916 until the '50s). You get a disjointed half-chicken --... More >>

  • Best Small Plates

    Cortez

    Best Small Plates The small plates served here aren't tapas, but exquisitely prepared appetizers and entrees just a touch on the small side (and at somewhat lower prices than you'd expect in a place of such ambition). The menu encourages sharing, but you could just as easily dine satisfyingly by ordering a traditional three-course meal. The sophisticated cooking of married chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield is well suited to this plush, modern, dinner-only restaurant tucked into the Hotel Adagio: foie... More >>

  • Best Cuban

    Habana

    Best Cuban Fantasy is at play here in both the overwrought but pleasing décor, meant to evoke a pre-Castro 1948 Havana, and the cooking, which is more Nuevo Latino, strictly speaking, than Cuban. But who cares when everything looks and tastes so good? The bar features "hand-crafted Cuban cocktails" such as Mojitos and Hemingway daiquiris. Several ceviches are always on hand, made from pillowy-soft scallops, firm shrimp, and white-fleshed fish, along with chopped fruits, mint, and floods of lemon and... More >>

  • Best New Restaurant

    Quince

    Best New Restaurant The main attraction of this small, creamy-walled, urbane dining room is the seasonal Italian-inspired cooking of chef/owner Michael Tusk (late of Chez Panisse and Oliveto; his partner and wife, Lindsay, worked at Oliveto and Boulevard). The menu changes daily, but you'll always find impeccably fresh, inventive salads (cardoons and Jerusalem artichokes have appeared among the ingredients), possibly paired with chicken-liver crostini or pork belly, among the starters. House-made pasta is listed as a separate second course, but... More >>

  • Best Trendy Dish

    Sformato at A16

    Best Trendy Dish We're not nuts about the word "trendy," but we don't remember ever seeing sformato on menus before, even in Italy, and recently we've been offered several versions of the frittatalike, crustless quiche. We liked the firm, square version made with stinging nettles (once cooked, no more stinging than spinach) served as a starter at Quince and the round one (called sformatino) of asparagus and Parmesan at the Liberty Cafe. But the light, puffy, golden sformato at A16... More >>

  • Best Upscale Burger and Fries

    Zuni Cafe

    Best Upscale Burger and Fries There's so much other good stuff on the menu at Zuni that we tend to forget that the place makes the juiciest, most delicious hamburger around: 6 ounces of Niman Ranch beef, ground in-house, served on rosemary focaccia with garden lettuces, garlicky aioli, and the restaurant's own famous pickles. The basic burger is $11.50, and you can customize it with Gruyère ($1.50), Gorgonzola ($1.50), portobello mushroom ($1.50), or grilled onions (75 cents). What the hell,... More >>

  • Best Bakery-Cafe

    Tartine Bakery

    Best Bakery-Cafe We loved Tartine from the first moment we sank our teeth into the first thing we ordered there, now lost in the mists of time -- was it a croissant? A plain one, or one stuffed with fragrant almond frangipane? Or was it an orange-scented morning bun? Maybe we toted one of the pressed sandwiches, perhaps soppressata layered with Strauss Dairy's jack cheese and pickled onion, over to a little table? We know we were happy with any... More >>

  • Best Napa Restaurant

    Market

    Best Napa Restaurant Steak with garlic mashed potatoes, fried chicken with sweet potatoes, sautéed Idaho trout with bacon -- the list of comfort food at Market is comforting indeed, when you need a respite from overwrought, pricey haute cuisine or when you just want some delicious, affordable fare. Chef/partner Douglas Keane has worked at Gary Danko and New York's Lespinasse, where he met Managing Partner Gary Peyton (veteran of Masa's and Farallon). Keane was chef most recently at Jardinière, so... More >>

  • Best Mixed Grill

    Foreign Cinema

    Best Mixed Grill The menu at this sophisticated Mission District spot changes frequently, as do the movies projected on the wall of the big outdoor patio, but you'll often find a mixed grill on the list, an orgy of flesh that encompasses several different kinds of meat, chosen for texture as well as flavor, with interesting accompaniments. We have the happiest memories of one that included superb rare duck breast, a smoky, meaty grilled quail, and a long, thin, meltingly... More >>

  • Best Burmese

    Burma Superstar

    Best Burmese There are so many "bests" at Burma Superstar: best "falafal" (floating in the samusa dok, which is samusas broken up with the croquettes plus lentils, cabbage, and onions in what is accurately called a "nice spicy soup"), best ginger salad (gin dok, a plate covered with finely shredded ginger, dried shrimp, toasted garlic, sesame seeds, and split yellow peas, tossed at table in a spicy dressing for a fragrant, crunchy delight), best spicy chicken with fresh basil, best... More >>

  • Best German

    Suppenküche

    Best German Flying in the face of fashion, Suppenküche has been dishing out superlative German cooking in its cheerful, light-wooded corner spot in Hayes Valley for more than a decade. Our favorite starter is the Vesperplatte (an assortment of cured meats, including ham, blood sausage, and salami, with cheese and pickles), which goes perfectly with the sturdy, seed-sprinkled wheat and rye breads. But we also love the crisp pickled herring (served with sour cream, onions, pickles, and boiled potatoes), superb... More >>

  • Best Beer Bust

    Eagle Tavern

    Best Beer Bust What is a beer bust, exactly? Why, it's an all-you-can-drink brewfest for the low, low price of $8! It Band-Aids your Saturday night-induced hangover with barrels of beloved suds. The Eagle Tavern's "Sunday Beer Bust" has been popular with the cigar-chomping leather-daddy crowd, jolly bear subsets, and other fringe gay groups that eschew the gym bunny look for more than 20 years. Local bands like Pansy Division and Pepperspray, to name a few, have played on the... More >>

  • Best Gay Bar for Getting Laid

    The Detour

    Best Gay Bar for Getting Laid Since the advent of the Internet and Craigslist's notorious "Men Seeking Men" personal ads, the tacky art of cruising for sex -- as well as the careful art of flirting -- has become almost extinct. But if you're fond of the good old days and yearn for an evening of good tunes, good beer, and a good piece of ass, look no farther than the Castro's Detour. Accented with dim lighting, Tom of Finland... More >>

  • Best Gay Bar for Not Getting Laid

    The Bar on Castro

    Best Gay Bar for Not Getting Laid Make no mistake: The Bar on Castro is a terrific bar -- great music, great drinks, great-looking bartenders pouring great drinks. But we're damned if we can get laid at the place. Maybe it's that every guy is surrounded by an impenetrable clique. Maybe it's the low ceilings. Maybe it's the awesome DJs, who keep the crowd thinking on its feet rather than in its pants. Maybe we're just repulsive. Who knows? The... More >>

  • Best Reason to Risk Your Life at Sixth and Market Streets

    Arrow Bar

    Best Reason to Risk Your Life at Sixth and Market Streets Other than scoring your drug of choice, babbling incoherently at a lamppost, or getting a cash advance at the corner check-cashing center, there are few reasons to venture to Sixth and Market streets -- that is, other than to take advantage of its nightlife. Dotted with clubs like Anú, Club Six, Lit, and Mezzanine, the area is hopping, and its flagship (as far as we're concerned) is Arrow Bar.... More >>

  • Best $2 Lunch

    Saigon Sandwiches

    Best $2 Lunch It's only a cramped storefront straddling the Civic Center and Tenderloin border, but Saigon Sandwiches has the best Vietnamese sandwiches in the city -- some say the country -- and they cost all of $2. Called banh mi, the traditional sandwiches are packed within a French bread bun, and you can choose from spicy or barbecue chicken, several kinds of pork, and even liverwurst. (Pork, whether meatball, roasted, or fancy, is probably the most popular.) The bun... More >>

  • Best San Francisco-Themed Cocktail

    Cable Car at Harry Denton's Starlight Room

    Best San Francisco­Themed Cocktail It's almost a cliché, but the Cable Car cocktail at the legendary Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel is truly to die for. Served in a cocktail glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar, the Cable Car consists of spiced rum, curaçao, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Its reddish-brown hue contrasts beautifully with the cinnamon -- the colors really do hearken back to the rust tones of the streetcars -- and the flavor is neither too... More >>

  • Best Mole Sauce

    La Posta

    Best Mole Sauce La Posta is a rustic jewel in the heart of the Mission, the kind of place where regulars claim a barstool to watch fútbol and gulp down Coronas, while mothers and children crowd around tables to consume massive plates of steaming, cheese-filled enchiladas. It's the kind of place where you can have a three-hour lunch with an old friend in the late afternoon -- there's a hearty special for only $5 -- and get tended to by... More >>

  • Best Fake-Meat Restaurant

    Lucky Creation

    Best Fake-Meat Restaurant Entering Lucky Creation feels like stepping into a street-side eatery in Hong Kong. It's cramped (there are only eight tables, and the servers will seat you with strangers when there's a rush); the walls are decorated with newspaper clippings; and the waitstaff preps string beans or bean sprouts at a corner table. The décor isn't anything fancy, either, but the food, all vegetarian, is divine. As the menu rightfully proclaims, "Our cooking is a combination of art... More >>

  • Best Turkey Dinner

    Howard's Cafe

    Mmmmm, Thanksgiving: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Wouldn't you like to have some right now, in May? Indulging your off-season cravings never felt so good -- or as easy on the pocketbook -- as it does at Howard's Cafe on Wednesdays. That's turkey-dinner-special night at this alarmingly unpretentious diner in the Inner Sunset. A humble $7.95 gets you an iceberg lettuce salad with a few red beans and carrot shavings on top, off-the-bird sliced roasted turkey, gravy, stuffing, and... More >>

  • Most Obsessively Comprehensive Restaurant Review

    A Journey Through the Menu at Henry's Hunan

    SF Weekly provides some of America's best restaurant reviews. But we don't always use them in deciding what to eat. They're incomplete. Not that it's unhelpful to learn that one dish contains crisp yet creamy croquettes of crab, or that another is disappointingly dull chicken stew. But what's one to make of all the unmentioned platters in between? Thankfully, S.F. software engineer Moss Gross has taken all the guesswork out of dining out -- as long as you're dining at... More >>

  • Best Ribs With Free Delivery

    Big Nate's BBQ

    Best Ribs With Free Delivery The free delivery is only on the weekends (nice if you're sacked out in front of the TV), but during the week you can pay for delivery or swing on by yourself for the delicious, meaty Memphis-style pork ribs offered under the aegis of former Golden State Warriors superstar Nate Thurmond. (Hence the basketball references both in the décor of this otherwise bare-bones shack and on the menu: Under the Team Meal dinners, there's a... More >>

  • Best Hot Fudge Sundae

    Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory

    Best Hot Fudge Sundae Although the chocolate factory founded by Italian immigrant Domingo Ghirardelli has long since moved across the bay to San Leandro, the flagship manufactory and soda fountain in the square that bears his name still churns out confectionary delights, none of which is more acclaimed than the traditional Ghirardelli sundae. Made with the company's proprietary hot fudge sauce and topped with chopped almonds and a maraschino cherry, it'll set you back $6.25, but, hey, in this case... More >>

  • Best Fortune Cookie

    Japanese Tea Garden

    Best Fortune Cookie Fortune cookies taste pretty much the same, you say? Well, maybe, but the ones served in this venerable Golden Gate Park retreat score big-time points for no other reason than that the teahouse is the birthplace of the fortune cookie. (Please keep this a secret in Chinatown.) Japanese immigrant Makoita Hagiwara invented the crusty treat wrapped around a piece of paper more than a century ago and began serving it at the teahouse, a surviving remnant of... More >>

  • Best Irish Coffee

    Buena Vista Cafe

    Best Irish Coffee Talk about sticking with a good thing! The Buena Vista has been serving its signature elixir for half a century, and from where we sip nobody does it better. Start with the perfect Irish whiskey, toss in sugar (and coffee, of course), and then add cream aged for 48 hours and frothed to just the right consistency. Lore has it that then-owner Jack Koeppler challenged travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help re-create the "Irish coffee" served at... More >>

  • Best Cocktails

    Best Cocktails Henry Wadsworth Longfellow might have considered that time between the daylight and the dark -- when the night begins to lower, heralding a pause in the day's occupations -- as the children's hour, but we prefer to think of it as the cocktail hour, thank you very much. Fortunately, there are genius bartenders all over the city who take our preoccupation seriously. Bix 56 Gold (at Montgomery), 433-6300, www.bixrestaurant.com Bix is the city's pre-eminent supper club, with an... More >>

  • Best International Tapas

    The biggest recent trend in San Francisco dining is the proliferation of new restaurants serving tapas -- traditionally plates of salty, easily dished-up snacks (hams, cheeses, olives, perhaps oysters) served in Spanish bars to encourage lingering over drinks. Here in S.F., the definition has grown to encompass all kinds of dishes (small in size, but not in taste) from all over the globe. Iluna Basque 701 Union (at Powell), 402-0011, www.ilunabasque.com Among the two dozen or so tempting little plates... More >>

  • Five Best Ice Cream Parlors

    Pralines and Cream ... Chubby Hubby ... Blackberry Sorbet ... French Vanilla ... Chocolate Fudge Brownie ... Mint Chip ... Blueberry Cheesecake ... Chocolate Caramel Crackle ... these are a few of our favorite things. Especially on a hot spring afternoon when the sun's out and the stuff drips all over our fingers. But let's face it: We love ice cream when the fog's blasting through the Avenues; we love it when the skies are leaden and the breeze... More >>

  • Alice's Favorite Little Bites

    We caught up with the peripatetic Ms. Waters during her brief visit to New York, where she was eating pasta at Lucca, ramps at Babbo, and innards at the Spotted Pig, in between jaunts to Italy to judge a food film festival and England to attend a conference on American gastronomy, followed by a rendezvous with friends in Ireland. She told us about some of her favorite joints in S.F. to grab a bite (as opposed to a multicourse sit-down... More >>

  • Best Foie Gras

    We like chopped liver, we like liver pâté, and we like the top-of-the-line stuff, too, the plump foie gras of duck or geese, made into pâtés and terrines to be served cold or simply sliced, seared, and served hot with a myriad of different accompaniments. Some of San Francisco's best chefs are doing amazing things with this luxurious ingredient. Aqua 252 California (at Battery), 956-9662, www.aqua-sf.com Chef Laurent Manrique does a beautiful $22 plate of foie gras three ways: a... More >>

  • Five Best Breakfasts

    Breakfast is one of our three favorite meals, and as it's the first one we've been allowed to enjoy since last night's dinner, it possesses a certain anticipatory as well as gustatory importance. Luckily, there are lots of places around town where the consequence of properly breaking one's fast is respected and catered to. Here are five. Pork Store Cafe 1451 Haight (at Ashbury), 864-6981 Sit at the counter of this bare-bones temple to the great American breakfast and watch... More >>

  • Readers' Poll

    Best Restaurant Boulevard Best New Restaurant 1751 Social Club Best Hidden Restaurant Stix Roadhouse Best Chef (tie) Greg Leon/Craig Stoll Best Bar 540 Club Best Irish Bar The Irish Bank Best Gay Bar The Cafe Best Cop Bar No winner Best Pickup Bar (Straight) Cat Club Best Pickup Bar (Gay) The Stud Best DJ Bar Azie Best Martini The Orbit Room Best Weird Drink Passion Flower Best Brew Drink Green Tea Haze Best Brewpub San Francisco Brewing Co. Best Seafood... More >>

  • Best Chili

    Chili Up! - Embarcadero

    Man, it’s hard to find a good bowl of red in this town. Despite its Wild West lineage and satisfying and delectable attributes, sizzling-hot Southwestern chili is as rarely encountered around here as Tunisian torshi and Bulgarian banitsa. Filling the culinary vacuum somewhat is a chain of shopping-mall chili parlors that ladle out a nice Northern California version of the incendiary classic. Chili Up!’s renditions (there are seven of them) are warm and healthy and occasionally include plantains and apricots,... More >>

  • Best Cheap, Healthy Fast Food

    Asqew Grill

    The city's smallest fast-food chain is also its most wholesome, with fresh fruits and vegetables the common currency and grilling, not frying, the kitchencraft of choice. Sound ... uninspiring? Think again, burger boy! Asqew specializes in flame-licked skewers of meat, veggies, and seafood edged in multiethnic, end-of-the-continent touches. The results are distinctive and delicious. One skewer features chunks of smoky pork, apple, pear, and red onion doused in a sultry barbecue sauce; another alternates juicy blackened prawns with yellow squash... More >>

  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Kabuto A&S

    There's something for everyone at Kabuto A&S, newly installed in smaller but brighter digs across the street from its longtime space on Geary. For lovers of classic sushi, there's no fresher fish or greater choice than that personally selected by chef Sachio Kojima and prepared in traditional nigiri style. There's a vast array of rolls, too, in both sliced norimaki versions and big hand rolls. Diners who want cooked dishes can choose from among dozens of hot and cold ippin-ryori... More >>

  • Best Dim Sum

    Dol Ho

    Dol Ho isn't the most elegant dim sum joint in town, but the savory noontime tidbits that emerge from its tiny kitchen are fresh, eclectic, and delicious. The cheerfully ramshackle storefront setting is all Formica and high-decibel, with savvy regulars vying for goodies from (occasionally sighted) carts: delicate shrimp-chive turnovers; noodle rolls stuffed with barbecued pork; rich, velvety turnip cakes; pork dumplings with carrots, cilantro, and a half-dozen aromatic herbs; a parfait of tofu, chicken meat, and fish cake wrapped... More >>

  • Best Thin-Crust Pizza

    Arinell Pizza

    The East Coast expats among us often have a difficult time finding great pizza in San Francisco, especially the New York-style thin-and-crispy-crust variety. But since 1989, the Mission District's Arinell has filled that void admirably. Its owner, Ron Demirdjian, is originally from New York, where he says he learned the recipe "from an Italian gentleman, from Rome." Said recipe results in a 'za with a mildly tart tomato sauce, moderately applied; a non-gooey cheese; and best of all, that crust... More >>

  • Best Italian Deli

    Lucca Ravioli Company

    There's no doubt that Lucca is the real deal: sawdust on the floors; weekly specials handwritten on butcher paper; cramped aisles stocked to the gills with imported pastas, tomato paste, biscotti, and bottles of fine Italian red wine. But the front counter is where the action happens. There, chatty clerks dispense fresh packages of pasta, tubs of pesto and tomato sauce, chunks of cheese from the deli's expansive selection (don't leave without the house-imported double cream brie), and even the... More >>

  • Best Restaurant for Girlfriend Maintenance

    Cafe Jacqueline

    Best Restaurant for Girlfriend Maintenance You want romance? This tiny, Paris-style bistro stinks of romance. Tucked into a cozy storefront on upper Grant in North Beach, the restaurant serves a clientele that runs heavily toward couples engaged in affaires de coeur (that's "love affairs," you dolt) ranging from first dates to quiet silver-anniversary celebrations. Believe us, she'll melt when she walks into this joint. Most candlelit tables seat only two; the atmosphere is such that you'll keep expecting Ingrid Bergman... More >>

  • Best Continuing Education

    Tommy's Blue Agave Club

    Best Continuing Education Acquiring new stores of knowledge to impress dates, earning extra degrees to sex up your résumé -- there are many good reasons to do postgraduate work. Tommy's Blue Agave Club is an institution of higher learning for those who know a few better reasons (say, 225 of them). Tommy's Mexican Restaurant has been an institution in the Richmond District since 1965, and with 225 pure agave tequilas, it has one of the best-stocked bars this side of... More >>

  • Best Down-Home Farmers Market

    Alemany Farmers Market

    If you think high-end chocolates, wine bars, and chichi restaurants don't belong at a farmers' market, head to the southeastern corner of Bernal Heights for an earthier experience. The Alemany Farmer's Market opened at this location in 1947, and it's one of the most successful in the country. It features local growers and vendors in covered and uncovered booths hawking greens, fruits, vegetables, spices, ethnic specialties, nuts, breads, coffees, and just about anything else you'd want to put in your... More >>

  • Best Place to Change Your Mind About British Food

    White Caps Cafe

    Perhaps because of stereotypes about British cuisine, the White Caps Cafe on Geary Boulevard does not advertise that it specializes in British treats. From the outside it's no different than the hundreds of other San Francisco joints serving coffee and pastries. Inside, though, is an Anglophile's paradise of sausage rolls, shepherd's pie, and Cornish pasties. Shelves are lined with Branston Pickle, Goodhall's Steak Sauce, Devon Custard, Batchelor's Baked Beans, black pudding pastries, bangers 'n' beans, Walkers salt and vinegar potato... More >>

  • Best No-Wait Brunch

    Bistro Yoffi

    Best No-Wait Brunch There's one thing about Bistro Yoffi you'll have to forgive right off the bat: The décor looks like the Swiss Family Robinson kids' treehouse decorated with hepcat jazz records. In other words, it's a little contrived. That turns out to be a good thing, though, because it's no doubt responsible for turning away the scores of Marina-dwelling yuppies who flock to Chestnut Street on sunny weekend mornings. Thus, if you're capable of looking past the campy furnishings,... More >>

  • Best Place for a Blind Date

    Foreign Cinema

    A successful first date is a dicey proposition. You have to be funny, but you can't be a clown. You have to be smart, but you can't be a know-it-all. And, above all, you have to pick the perfect restaurant. That's why Foreign Cinema is such an excellent venue. The food is moderately priced and tasty, and finding the Cinema's nondescript facade in the heart of the Mission will prove you know the lay of the land. You can break... More >>

  • Best Handmade Coffee

    Gateway Market

    Best Handmade Coffee Phil Jaber is "into" coffee the same way the pope is "into" God. Jaber's a fanatical barista who takes artful pride in each cup he brews. And he makes those cups one at a time. After you order your fix from Phil, it's hard not to be in awe of his intensely ritualistic process. First, he advises you on choosing a bean based on your personality. Then, he expertly measures out your dose, carefully grinds it, and... More >>

  • Best Breakfast for a Beer Hangover

    Valencia Pizza & Pasta

    Best Breakfast for a Beer Hangover Try ordering a couple of scrambled eggs at any of the fancy-pants eateries around town and all the foodie jargon might just turn your stomach. Not at Valencia Pizza and Pasta. It's the perfect breakfast stop when all you crave is a large portion of pretension-free grub. The décor is delightfully low-key, with vinyl tablecloths and comfy booths. The egg plates bring to mind the greasy-spoon glories of a Midwestern truck stop. The pancakes... More >>

  • Best Breakfast for a Tequila Hangover

    Taqueria Cancun

    Mission Street is a sure bet for two things: tequila and taquerias. If too much of the former leaves you craving the latter, check out Taqueria Can-Cun. The popular late-night menu of delectable burritos has earned the fanatical devotion of hungry bar-hounds over the years, but if you decide to sleep off the booze, try Can-Cun for breakfast. It might be a little off-putting to see the place in the daylight, but one visit and you'll be hooked. Like the... More >>

  • Best Bar You Can Smoke In (Illegally)

    Phone Booth

    To nicotine aficionados, going to a bar and not smoking is ridiculous. It's like going to a movie and not being able to eat popcorn. Madness. Thankfully, you can still spark up a cancer stick in peace at the Phone Booth, a cozy Mission closet that's so small even nonsmokers get a secondhand contact buzz. But being able to smoke indoors is just the beginning of this dive's ample charms: Countless nights can be beguiled to the strains of the... More >>

  • Best Bar You Can Smoke In (Legally)

    Hemlock Tavern

    See if you can follow the immaculate logic behind the smoking area at the Hemlock Tavern: It's a hipster bar; hipsters like to check each other out and smoke cigarettes; let's build a place where hipsters can buy drinks, smoke cigarettes, and check each other out! In addition to being the perfect vantage spot for people-watching, the enclosed smoking patio at the Hemlock is well ventilated and comfy, with places to sit and plenty of c(h)atty clientele. Best of all,... More >>

  • Best Vegan Chocolate Cake

    Ananda Fuara

    Vegan desserts get a bad rap in general for being dry, flavorless, and a bit overly nutty or grainy. But those who have their doubts about being able to find dairy-free dessert options that actually taste sinful instead of sawdusty have yet to try the chocolate cake at Ananda Fuara (translation: "fountain of delight"). Rich, fudgy frosting tops the surprisingly moist cake, making for a treat that mimics traditional dairy-filled recipes so well in texture and overall appearance that it... More >>

  • Best Chocolate-Flavored Libation

    Chocolate Cake Shot at the Top

    Best Chocolate-Flavored Libation Forget the chocolate martini -- that's sooo yuppie. Lower Haight bar the Top, which hosts DJs nightly for its various house, drum 'n' bass, and downtempo parties, favors the Chocolate Cake Shot. It seems an impossible bit of science that a mix of vodka and hazelnut liqueur chased down by a sugared lemon slice can end up tasting like chocolate cake, but just mix 'em together and voilà! You've just shot the alcoholic equivalent of a Yoo-Hoo,... More >>

  • Best Use of Cactus

    Agave Wine Cocktails at Movida Lounge

    From California cactus salads to spicy Southwestern cactus jellies, the family Cactaceae is quickly turning into the Swiss army knife of the plant world. But we think that cactus is a drink best served cold, preferably with chunks of yummy seasonal fruit, as in the agave wine margaritas and sangrias at the Movida Lounge in the Lower Haight. This joint cleverly gets around being just another beer-and-wine bar with its creative cocktails, which include fierce sake Mojitos and Cosmopolitans. "But... More >>

  • Best Eritrean Food

    New Eritrea

    The physical border between Ethiopia and Eritrea has historically been contentious; indeed, the two countries argue its location in the U.N. to this day. But the nations' local cuisines live in harmony at a charming Inner Sunset restaurant (because, when it comes right down to it, there's little difference between them anyway). New Eritrea offers enough of the appropriate décor to represent its namesake without overwhelming patrons in cascades of beads and frills. Put yourself in the hands of the... More >>

  • Best Coffee Shop

    Nob Hill Grille

    According to the Random House Second Edition Unabridged, a coffee shop is "a small, usually inexpensive restaurant where refreshments and light meals are served." According to us, a coffee shop is also a place where the waitress remembers how you like your eggs the second time you come in; regulars drop by to schmooze, eat the blue-plate special, and read the paper; and nobody rushes the guy at the counter nursing his second cup of java. The Nob Hill Grille... More >>

  • Best Gumbo

    500 Jackson

    Best Gumbo The evolution of French bouillabaisse into Louisiana gumbo took the better part of a century, and God knows it was time well spent. "Gumbo, c'est bon, c'est tout," goes the old Creole saying, and this fragrant confluence of Gallic, African, Hispanic, and Native American tastes and textures -- our closest culinary equivalent to jazz -- truly is both good and everything. Like Mexican mole and Spanish paella, gumbo is a treasured edible icon with a pliable nature; there... More >>

  • Best Brisket

    East Coast West Delicatessen

    Most briskets of beef are pickled in brown sugar and saltpeter and emerge after a week or two as corned beef, an undeniably tasty delicacy, but there's nothing like a fresh, sliced brisket, braised in its own juices for several hours with onion, garlic, a bit of carrot, salt and pepper, and nothing else, for a gloriously tender alternative to your basic roast chuck. East Coast West makes a very nice brisket. It's treated with the patience and respect the... More >>

  • Best Cheesecake

    Emporio Rulli Gran Caffé

    The best thing about the newly reconfigured Union Square is Rulli's little cafe just off Stockton Street, where you can sit at the edge of the piazza, soak up the ambience, sip an espresso, and eat the best pastries east of the Pacific Ocean. Take the house cheesecake, for instance. This isn't the platinum brick of cream cheese that traditionally caps off an evening of rib-eye and martinis, but a light and airy Sicilian cassatta, a timbale of barely sweetened... More >>

  • Best Tea Shop

    Ten Ren Tea Company of San Francisco, Ltd.

    Big canisters of loose-leaf oolong, pouchong, and tung-ting line the walls of this spacious Chinatown tea emporium, where the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis shrub are proffered in several aromatic varieties. Everything from your basic black tea ($5.60 per box) to a pound of primary-grade loose-leaf wu-yi ($144) can be found on the premises, including the semifermented Iron Goddess of Mercy, the green Osmanthus King's, and the earth-red post-fermented pu-erh. Organic teas, herbal teas, and teas flavored with fruits... More >>

  • Best Candy Store

    Z Cioccolato

    We're talking candy here, not the fancy-schmancy Armagnac-infused varietal truffles that make chocoholism such a pricey proposition around these parts. Despite its Italianate moniker, Z Cioccolato is a repository of the kind of all-American sweet stuff you used to get trick-or-treating or at the five-and-dime: Necco wafers, horehound drops, saltwater taffy, candied oranges, root beer barrels, butterscotch balls, gumdrops, Walnettos, licorice in every configuration. The stuff's displayed in big open barrels, so grab a basket and choose whatever your sweet... More >>

  • Best Frozen Yogurt

    Michaelis Wine & Spirit

    Sure, this Cow Hollow liquor store sells bourbon and cabernet and Anchor Steam and all that, but its raison d'être is the frozen yogurt it serves up from a little counter in the back. Thick, rich, and creamy as a fine gelato, the stuff is a perpetual magnet for svelte, savvy locals jonesing for a low-fat (yet eminently satisfying) goodie. Although only 10 varieties are offered on any given day, they might include such temptations as Very Berry, Death by... More >>

  • Best Irish Pub

    Plough & Stars

    The greatest thing about a good Irish pub is its congenial, courtly, somber, gregarious, witty, sentimental, surly, musical, poteen-fueled ambience, and the Plough is all of that in a beaker of brew. From the sidewalk out front one can hear the sound of clinking glass, ruttish laughter, and the occasional angry expletive. The pub's long, dark, scarred-wood interior features a small stage on which Irish music is performed almost every night of the week, including step-dancing, if you like that... More >>

  • Best Juice Bar

    Juicey Lucy's Organic Juice & Food Bar

    Juicey Lucy's is a very groovy place. Vivid shades of purple, orange, and green saturate furniture, floor, and ceiling. Tabletops and altars are adorned with Buddhas and Shivas and pliable yogis. Handcrafted jewelry and vegan yam bread are sold at the counter; fresh herbs sprout from every nook and cranny; a hint of incense lingers in the air. And behind the counter is Lucy herself, chopping, juicing, and blending everything to order and radiating plenty of tranquil vibrations of her... More >>

  • Best Salsa

    Papalote Mexican Grill

    Salsa isn't just for double dipping, y'know. In Mexico, a meal without a bowl of this beloved condiment is as lacking as menudo without the pig intestines. There are a thousand saucy varieties to choose from, from the familiar tomato-onion salsa cruda to more complex regional variations involving avocado leaves, pumpkin seeds, every kind of chili pepper, and even, happily, tequila. Here in El Norte our salsa selection is limited, but the taquerias of the Mission are a good varietal... More >>

  • Best Paella

    La Fina Estampa

    The first paella was cooked up near the town of Valencia on the east coast of Spain, where the rice, saffron, and olive oil come from. That initial attempt featured snails and eels as well, but you can add anything you like to the basic triad; the trick is balancing the different ingredients with cooking time and temperature and not letting the whole thing dry out. Fina Estampa specializes in Peruvian cuisine, but its version of the Spanish classic is... More >>

  • Best Fondue

    Matterhorn Swiss Restaurant

    The ideal wintertime scenario: an Alpine lodge in Cortina, the Wallis, or maybe Truckee; a bevy of sweater-clad kindred spirits; one of those sunken stone-and-brass fire pits; and a gloriously retro cauldron of fragrant, luscious, interactive fondue. Like Mongolian hot pot and Korean barbecue, the Swiss national dish inspires cozy feelings of culinary good fellowship, as friends gather round to dunk collective forkfuls of bread, meat, and vegetables into a cheesy, bubbling hearth. Despite a chronic shortage of proximal snowflakes,... More >>

  • Best Pie Resource

    Mel's Drive-In

    Playland's Pie Stand, the Hick'ry Pit, and Bepple's on Union are but memories, and today the town is overrun with beautifully designed, delicately rendered tartes that have plenty of charm but none of the gutsy satisfaction of, say, deep-dish coconut cream pie with a butter-and-lard crust and a mountain of whipped cream on top. What's a pie-lovin' American to do, short of heading down the coast to Duarte's for an orgy of pastry-wrapped ollalieberries? There's always Mel's, where the brightly... More >>

  • Best Bourbon Selection

    The Cannery

    Bourbon, the happy offspring of mashed-up corn, limestone-rich water, and two or three centuries of backwoods know-how, is best taken at sunset in a nice thick tumbler with just enough melting ice to "let the flavors blend" (F. Sinatra) -- its sweet, golden nature inspiring reflection, quietude, and good fellowship all around. Over the past decade, this courtly elixir has inspired so much good fellowship, it's come to rival cognac and single-malt scotch in postprandial popularity, with a good dozen... More >>

  • Best Brazilian Restaurant

    Canto Do Brasil

    Wannabe Cariocas yearning for the motherland will find Canto do Brasil a languid, sultry pleasure. The welcome is as warm as an evening in Rio: Bossa nova shimmers from the stereo like waves lapping Ipanema; the house caipirinha is as sweet and potent as a midnight samba; and the bright, lusty aromas of Brazilian cuisine mingle in the air. The country's best food is from the African-influenced region of Bahia, and Canto's bobé de camarão -- prawns with coconut milk,... More >>

  • Best Vegan Restaurant

    Golden Era

    "With respect for all life, we proudly serve all dishes free of meat, poultry, fish, egg, and MSG," is Golden Era's motto, and the restaurant's low-cruelty ethos is good news indeed for diners who've taken that extra step past vegetarianism into the dairyless realm of veganism. But even chronic carnivores can delight in the fresh, satisfying flavors that emerge from Golden Era's kitchens. This affable Tenderloin eatery serves an array of delicious Pan-Asian specialties, from Thai salad to Chinese clay... More >>

  • Best Wine Bar

    Hayes and Vine Wine Bar

    The Hayes and Vine is a great place to enjoy your very own casually empirical impromptu wine-tasting, especially after a long, hard day at the office. The cellar features upward of 1,200 wines, 40 or 50 of them by the glass, creating several relaxing opportunities to educate your palate. (The 40 or 50 change every Monday, so you can return each week for further academia.) A fine way to compare and contrast them is by the flight, a grouping of... More >>

  • Best Mojito

    Habana

    Much of the pleasure of a good cocktail comes from the ambience in which it's savored, viz., a sweetly potent margarita among the Christmas lights of La Rondalla; a tumbler of single malt at the dark 'n' moody Edinburgh Castle; a crisp martini at the eternally elegant Top of the Mark. And when you want a Mojito, the very essence of sultry Caribbean gratification, the place to imbibe is Habana. In mood and detail, it's reminiscent of a Mambo Kings-era... More >>

  • Best Cheap Sushi

    Shimo Restaurant II

    There's nothing like a bonbon of tender rice and silky raw fish to stroke the taste buds, blissify the belly, and soothe the disposition. And there's nothing like getting the bill a few hirame later and realizing that those tasty little morsels, tout ensemble, were equal in value to the next payment on your Lamborghini. Not only does Shi Mo serve up absolutely delicious examples of the whole uncooked-unagi/whiff-of-wasabi genre, the end-of-the-meal stipend is also perfectly reasonable. Sit at the... More >>

  • Best Fresh Seafood

    R&G Lounge

    You can't get any fresher seafood than the crustaceans and fish pulled from the big tanks in the downstairs dining room at R&G, where the creatures swim around as décor until they're plucked out for your delectation. The lightly battered, disjointed salt-and-pepper crab is a don't-miss specialty. Fresh-steamed shrimp are served split, barely cooked through, and bathed in garlic. Other fresh fish include catfish, rock cod, and sea bass, available simply steamed or fried. Lobster, scallops, geoduck, squid, conch, clams,... More >>

  • Best Pupu Platter

    Roy's

    The best part of any tiki-accented soiree is those barbecued, coconut-coated nibbles that go so well with your third Mai Tai. Yet many island-themed venues settle for heavy, greasy appetizers that lack that old Polynesian zest and undermine the whole pupu zeitgeist to boot. Roy's, one of a nationwide chain of high-class fusion-Hawaiian restaurants, puts the pepper back in the pupu. Its Canoe Appetizer for Two is like a really classy luau in miniature. Among the treats arrayed on ti... More >>

  • Best Really Cheap Taco

    El Metate

    The term "cheap" is so insufficient to the task of pricing El Metate's delicious tacos, we're forced to elaborate. They're really cheap. For a mere buck and a quarter you get two corn tortillas piled high with radishes, onions, lime, cilantro, and one of a dozen substantial fillings, including crisp, spicy pork carnitas; grilled vegetables in season; chile colorado with steak and potatoes; and moist shards of chicken with chile rojo. A variety of salsas -- verde, negra, habanera, et... More >>

  • Best Offal

    Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar

    Best Offal We like sautéed kidneys as much as Leopold Bloom does. Luckily for us, Chris Cosentino -- who became the executive chef of Incanto, the highly regarded Italian trattoria, in the spring -- is also enamored of offal, aka variety meats, and features them on his menus. The offerings change frequently, but they might include Venetian-style pork liver, spicy lamb tripe with mint, ravioli stuffed with pigs' feet, grilled lamb's liver with polenta and arugula, or beef marrow ravioli... More >>

  • Best Chinese (Sichuan)

    China Village

    Get the three-page, densely printed menu listing the spicy Sichuan dishes (happily, in English) at this brightly lit, sparkling white restaurant on Albany's restaurant row, rather than the generic Chinese laminated menu, and you'll be rewarded with some of the spiciest, hottest, best-tasting food imaginable. You must order the fat, oily green onion cakes and crisp yet chewy sesame flat bread that the Sichuanese prefer to rice (we order rice, too, as a cooling foil for the fiery dishes). We... More >>

  • Best Chinese (Cantonese)

    Harbor Village

    Harbor Village is well-known for its dim sum, which it offers daily for lunch in a glitzy but anonymous mirrored-and-gilded room that feels like an upscale hotel lobby. But that room becomes a temple to exquisite Hong Kong-style Cantonese cooking when you order off the dinner menu, an astonishing document indeed. You know right away you're in good hands when you see the list of what's fresh: shellfish (including pricey abalone and two kinds of lobster), fish, vegetables (if you're... More >>

  • Best Chinese (Shanghainese)

    Fountain Court

    This corner restaurant, a long, narrow room with pleasant but unprepossessing décor, offers the exciting cooking of Shanghai, mostly long-cooked braises and stews rather than quick stir-fries. Start with the characteristic cold appetizer platters, including wine chicken (delicate poached chicken marinated in Shaoxing wine sauce), smoked fish (slices glazed with sweet ginger sauce), five-spice beef, and poached chilled duck with peppercorns. Continue with clay pot dishes such as the Shanghai pot-au-feu (pork ribs, ham, tofu-skin knots, and bamboo shoots, simmered... More >>

  • Best Irish Food

    Wilde Oscar's

    There are several good things to eat on the menu at Wilde Oscar's, a cozy Irish pub in a neighborhood where it's usually easy to find a parking space, a plus if you're hankering for a properly pulled pint of Guinness with a creamy head. The clam chowder is the real deal, made with cream, chopped fresh vegetables, and lots of chewy clams. The Irish breakfast is quite a plateful: two eggs any style, unfatty Irish bacon, Irish sausage, white... More >>

  • Best Vegetarian

    Greens Restaurant

    What looked and tasted revolutionary in 1979 -- a vegetarian menu that was as concerned with flavor as it was with health and morality -- is now considerably less so, as vegetables are treated with respect all over town. But Greens is still the place to go if you want inventive, delicious, exclusively vegetarian fare (dairy is a big player here, but many dishes can be prepared for vegans, too). Because of its extraordinary, sweeping bay views, Greens is especially... More >>

  • Best Cookie

    Emporio Rulli Gran Caffé

    It's a simple thing, really, but a perfect one: a preserved amarena cherry, imported from Italy, wrapped in a ball of house-made marzipan, the resulting sweetmeat rolled in sliced almonds and powdered sugar. Quite a luscious bite (perfumed, heady, but not cloying). This is our clear favorite among the excellent cookies available here (more than two dozen varieties), all priced at $19.95 a pound (which works out, at 40 to 45 cookies per pound, to about 60 cents a cookie.... More >>

  • Best Milkshake

    Gott's Roadside Cafe

    Many people love Taylor's burgers, others rave about the fish and chips, and there's a vocal group that cheers loudly for the fish tacos. But we think the best thing on the menu is the milkshake, which is about as thick as a milkshake can be and still (eventually) be drinkable. Our favorite is the refreshing mint chip (the short but impeccable field includes chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, espresso bean, and a black-and-white, made with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream);... More >>

  • Best Fried Fish

    Kokkari Estiatorio

    There are many pleasures to be had in this rather formal room, which could be in a Spanish grandee's castle rather than a Greek taverna, and is close enough to the Embarcadero to catch a sea breeze. But there's one dish that demands to be ordered. For $6.50, you get an impressive heap of fried smelts (marithes tiganites) stacked up like kindling -- plump, golden, impossibly crisp, and compulsively edible, like the piscine equivalent of french fries or potato chips.... More >>

  • Best Specialty Wine List

    A16 Restaurant

    Devised as a terrific complement to the novel, well-prepared southern Italian cooking highlighted at A16 (named for the autoroute that traverses Campania, the region around Naples including Capri and the Amalfi coast), this wine list (currently seven pages and continually expanding under wine director/co-owner Shelley Lindgren, veteran of Fleur de Lys and Bacar) features nearly two dozen wines from Campania, a good sampling from Sicily, and more southern Italian vintages from the neighboring regions of Abruzzo, Calabria, Marche, Molise, Puglia,... More >>

  • Best Sit-Down Mexican

    Chava's

    There are dozens of taquerias littering the Mission District that are ideal for quick, inexpensive snacks. But if you'd like to sit down in comfort for a while and enjoy a real meal ordered from a server rather than at a counter -- perhaps a plate of delicious pork carnitas, cheesy chile rellenos, or (on the weekends) big, restorative bowls of menudo (stewed tripe redolent of chiles) or birria (stew made from mutton or goat) -- Chava's, now relocated to... More >>

  • Best Prix Fixe

    Chapeau!

    We'd like Chapeau!'s classic French cuisine -- dishes as simple as textbook-perfect onion soup and sole meunière and as complicated as ballotine of foie gras and cassoulet -- at any price. But we like it best when we can run riot through the seasonal, evolving menu and choose our own three-course prix fixe for just $29.75 (plus a few modest supplemental charges, such as $1.75 for the foie gras or $2 for a plate of five cheeses). Even with the... More >>

  • Best Pizza by the Slice

    L'Osteria Del Forno

    We were so beguiled by the sandwiches at this tiny (10-table), cash-only, old-style North Beach restaurant that it took an idle comment by a friend to shake us from our habits. He said that his favorite pizza by the slice was the porcini sold here. We took his advice, only to find that the porcini (sautéed imported Italian mushrooms, made bianca-style, i.e., without tomato sauce) is our second favorite of the nine combinations on offer. We love L'Osteria's amazingly thin,... More >>

  • Best Indian (With Tablecloths)

    Amber India

    It's worth the trek down the Peninsula to savor Amber India's famous velvety butter chicken, as well as its other uniformly well-cooked specialties, in its comfortable, nicely decorated rooms. The lunch buffet is an amazing bargain at $11.50, including nearly a dozen hot dishes, several cold salads and savories, sliced fruits, and rice pudding. Among the best dishes on the dinner menu are naryal saar, a fragrant brothy soup full of sliced mushrooms and scented with coconut, basil, and ginger;... More >>

  • Best Indian (No Tablecloths)

    Shalimar

    You order at the counter and pick up the food when it's ready. The tables are Formica, and the napkins are paper. You grab a pitcher of water from the refrigerator, and you bus your own dishes. But the food here is so extraordinary and reasonably priced that it surpasses one's needs for amenities. Among our favorite dishes are chicken kofta (meatballs) heady with cumin; a highly spiced, long-cooked lamb stew; creamy chicken tikka masala; a wonderful buttery dish of... More >>

  • Best Tamales

    Primavera

    There are many reasons to visit the Saturday Farmers Market: In addition to the beautiful setting, which is there every day of the week, Saturday boasts the most vendors and the liveliest attendance (a nice way of saying the biggest crowds). But the irresistible draw, to our mind, is getting a plate of tamales at Primavera, a Mexican prepared-foods stand that always has a line (which is always worth standing in). We're partial to the pork version, chock-full of melting... More >>

  • Best Under-the-Radar Restaurant

    Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

    It's not what you'd call unknown, but Absinthe doesn't automatically come up when people are discussing San Francisco's best restaurants or competitively assessing celebrity chefs. Yet it consistently serves memorable, delicious food (we're still dreaming of a chilled Dungeness crab with truffle oil mayonnaise and sea beans, and the only boeuf à la ficelle we've seen on a menu in many years, perfectly prepared) in a comfortable, posh setting. Its good food is supported by thoughtful service, a superb wine... More >>

  • Best View-With-a-Drink

    Blooms Saloon

    Located on a pleasant Potrero Hill dining and shopping street, Bloom's boasts a distinctive vintage glass-brick facade, but cute as that is, it doesn't suggest the wonders revealed behind it. We're not talking about the neighborhood camaraderie, the noteworthy beer selection, the heated atmosphere during a Giants or 49ers game. We're talking about what lies beneath: all of San Francisco, exposed in a sweeping, glorious, utterly irresistible panorama. It's the kind of thrilling surprise that you can use to impress... More >>

  • Best Burrito

    Truly Mediterranean

    This is not a joke. It's wrapped in lavash rather than a stretchy tortilla; filled with falafel, lamb or chicken shawerma, or charbroiled lamb or chicken chunks instead of beans and rice; and tricked out with cucumber salad, seasoned onions, chopped parsley, broiled tomatoes, and tahini sauce in place of salsa and guacamole. But it looks and eats just like a burrito, a truly massive one as well as a truly Mediterranean one, and even at the Mission branch of... More >>

  • Best S/M Sushi Experience

    Midori Mushi

    Located in, of all places, a Days Inn hotel in Hayes Valley, this unprepossessing little restaurant doesn't look like much: five small tables crammed into a tiny circular building, with a cadre of cool young Caucasians in the kitchen and a tiny sake lounge upstairs. But just one bite of Gerard Dumuk's impeccable fish clues in the wary that this place is something special. We're haunted by Dumuk's Martha Roll, an ethereal combination of crab, mango, and mint that leaves... More >>

  • Best Vegetarian Sandwich

    Vietnam Sandwiches (aka Wrap Delight)

    Everyone who's ever tried them loves banh mi, those yummy Vietnamese sandwiches on big French rolls with cilantro and pickled carrots. But since they're invariably made with pork or pork balls or chopped pork or pork with pork sauce, vegetarians haven't been able to sample them -- until now. This tiny little hole in the wall, run by a smiling, sweet-natured woman who used to work the counter at popular Saigon Sandwiches up the block, offers several vegetarian-friendly varieties such... More >>

  • Best Late-Night Snack

    US Post Office‎

    For a city filled with fun-loving folks, San Francisco sure shuts down early. Those emerging after last call from a club or a bar are stuck with the same pedestrian late-night snack choices over and over: diner food from a number of passable, though uninspired, joints in pockets of the Castro and the Avenues. Since you're going to be eating mediocre grub anyway, why not do it in a spot with unusual local color? S.F.'s post office processing center (known... More >>

  • Best Burning Man-Esque Bar

    Sublounge

    Maybe it's Sublounge's location, in the midst of Dogpatch's darkened warehouses and unclaimed condos, that gives the nightclub that Burning Man feel. There's an oasis vibe at work, as if this were the only civilization for miles. At the same time, that splendid isolation lends an outlaw attitude to the venue -- you just know John Law isn't going to be busting in on you anytime soon. And unlike at the Odeon Bar, the freaks don't wear their freakiness like... More >>

  • Best New Chocolate Treat

    Gracie's Chocolate Nipples

    While everyone knows that food and sex go great together, it took Oakland sisters Genessa and Ami Kealoha to place the two in one convenient package. In January 2002, Genessa took an art class for which she began crafting molds of her sister's nipples. With a little help from a denture-making cast, the gals were soon handing out chocolate versions of areolas as gifts. By December 2002, the ladies had moved into the entrepreneurial world, offering both milk and dark... More >>

  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Pizzeria Delfina

    When tiny Delfina expanded into the comparatively massive storefront next door, the restaurant became much more comfortable, more chic, and (if it was possible) even more popular. Happily, the exciting rustic Italian cooking stayed the same. Whether it's a deceptively simple pasta (spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and hot chiles) or a more demanding risotto (perhaps made with butternut squash, fonduta, and truffle oil), everything is devised with care and prepared with a rigorous intensity that translates into... More >>

  • Best French Restaurant

    Fleur De Lys

    The glory of the three-star French cooking celebrated in the famed Michelin guidebook lives on, happily for local gastronomes, in this venerable downtown restaurant. The décor (walls lined with mirrors and upholstered in busy printed fabric, a trademark enormous flower display tucked under the tented ceiling) can feel a trifle fussy and old-fashioned. But the extraordinary cooking of chef/owner Hubert Keller, presented by a flawless team of friendly and knowledgeable servers, is so exhilarating that the setting begins to feel... More >>

  • Best Takeout

    Whole Foods Market

    The newest outpost of this well-known organic-food chain features an overflowing cornucopia of prepared foods. There are multiple steam tables devoted to differing "flavors": Asian, Latin American, Indian, Middle Eastern. Another hot bar is devoted to comfort foods: quartered roast chickens, garlic mashed potatoes, mac 'n' cheese. There are two big deli counters attractively stocked with large white platters filled with cooked meats and fish (rosy red flank steak slicked with chimichurri sauce, chile-dusted chicken breasts, poached salmon, skewered shrimp)... More >>

  • Best Soup

    Old Krakow Polish Restaurant

    The friend who brought us here confessed that he'd eaten at Old Krakow many times before he tried this dish, which didn't sound appealing to him; yet once tasted, it became not just his favorite soup, but also the main reason for repeat visits. It's a hearty yet somehow still delicately flavored white borscht, chunky and full of potatoes, onions, carrots, and a generous amount of sliced kielbasa in a creamy broth slightly thickened with the naturally fermented flour that... More >>

  • Best Foodie Luxury

    Aqua

    "Luxury" is the word for Aqua. The banquettes are plush, the enormous flower arrangements are exotic and overpowering, and caviar, lobster, and rare vintage wines are on offer. But still we were dazzled by the in-your-face extravagance of the soup we began our meal with one evening. This strong-flavored shellfish consommé hinted at pounds of fish and crustacean shells and trimmings carefully simmered a long time to extract maximum flavor, and then even more carefully clarified. Floating casually in the... More >>

  • Best Pizza

    Tommaso Ristorante Italiano

    It makes us happy that the oldest wood-fired brick oven in San Francisco (built in 1935, when Tommaso's opened as Lupo's, and reportedly the first such oven on the West Coast) turns out the best pizza crust in San Francisco: puffy, crispy, faintly smoky. Whether you prefer toppings of Italian sausage, clams with garlic, meatballs, scallops, tiger prawns, or clams in the shell, this is the crust you want under them. We love the room, too, with creamy-painted wooden booths... More >>

  • Best Indian Pizza

    Zante's Pizza and Indian Cuisine

    This delicacy was born right here in San Francisco when an old neighborhood pizzeria was purchased by Indians, who started selling Indian food in the place while still offering pizzas. Continued suggestions by the clientele to combine the two resulted in the creation of Indian pizza -- a classic crisp, thin crust layered with spinach as well as sauce, mozzarella, and the toppings of your choice, such as tandoori chicken, lamb, cauliflower, eggplant, and prawns. Sold by the slice and... More >>

  • Best Pig

    Mi Lindo Yucatan

    This small corner restaurant is deceptively modest: Formica tables, linoleum floors, white-painted walls. The only attempt at décor is a few pieces of folkloric Mexican dress casually nailed to the walls and a couple of red stripes painted around the open kitchen. But from that tiny kitchen issues a number of exciting dishes, including our three favorite pig plates of the year: the cochinita pibil, big, luscious, juicy chunks of pork flavored with achiote that come to the table still... More >>

  • Best Steakhouse

    Acme Chophouse

    Taking steak as seriously as she does haute cuisine at her superb Jardinière, Traci des Jardins does honor to carnivores in this huge restaurant tucked into SBC Park. Start with a perfect Caesar salad, a wedge of crisp iceberg slathered with blue cheese dressing, spinach salad properly wilted with bacon and vinegar, or oysters, shrimp, and crab from the raw bar; then go on to beautifully charred steaks or chops (from animals naturally raised without hormones or antibiotics), with classic... More >>

  • Best 50s Flashback Dinner

    House of Prime Rib

    We find it reassuring that the House of Prime Rib serves exactly the same food as it did when we were kids, and deeply satisfying that the place still offers an honest meal. (And it's something of a bargain: The ritual dinner, including a salad and several sides, costs between $24.85 and $29.85. Children 10 and under dine for $8.45, complete with milk and ice cream.) The signature chopped salad comes first, dressed at your table in a spinning bowl... More >>

  • Best Food Court

    Ferry Building Marketplace

    We think the beautifully renovated Ferry Building is a Fairyland (pun intended) for foodies, who can wander through its skylight-lit corridors in a kind of happy daze, picking up wonderful baked goods at the Acme Bread Company, ripe cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop, and pastries topped with fresh peaches straight from the orchard at Frog Hollow Farm. Pausing in your labors, you can slurp up a few briny oysters at the Hog Island Oyster Company, sip tea while... More >>

  • Best Argentine

    Villa Del Sol

    You don't have to be on that crazy diet -- we don't even want to spell it out (you know, the A-word) -- to get the urge to sink your teeth into a big piece of meat. A lot of big pieces of meat, in fact. And that's just what's waiting for you at Villa del Sol, a small place in South San Francisco that specializes in the famous Argentine special parillada, piles of grilled meat stacked on a stand... More >>

  • Best Barbecue

    Memphis Minnie's BBQ Joint

    The first sign that the kitchen does barbecue right is that it always serves the sauce (sauces, really: North Carolina vinegar, South Carolina mustard, and Texas red) on the side. "Why else," the owner says charmingly, "do I spend 16 hours smoking the meat?" We approve, because it's that taste of smoke caught in the meat that we're after. We like to order a meal called the Southern Star, which features a half-sandwich each of two of our favorites, the... More >>

  • Best Hidden Restaurant

    Dish

    This tiny breakfast-and-lunch place may be tucked away in the Presidio, in one of the old military office buildings now colonized by film production companies, but enough people have found a way here to feast on the farmers' market- influenced home cooking of Annie Gingrass (former chef and co-owner of Hawthorne Lane) that it has had to enlarge. You still order at the counter, but now there are a few more tables at which to enjoy breakfasts of softly scrambled... More >>

  • Best Lobster Dinner

    500 Jackson

    Best Lobster Dinner For lovers of the sweet ivory flesh of our favorite crustacean, there's a new place in town that treats the lobster with the respect it deserves. At 500 Jackson, you can tear into a carefully steamed 2-pound Maine beauty, served split for easy access to the tender tail, with the requisite melted butter and lemon (and crackers for the claws), plus a wonderful spicy pepper slaw and a cone of house-made potato chips, for $42. Or two... More >>

  • Best Fried Chicken

    Pork Store Cafe

    We love fried chicken both in its high form (a crisp breast at Chez Panisse) and its low (an order of the extra-spicy from Popeye's with a side of red beans and rice). But the best fried chicken we know is the honey-dipped served at the Pork Store (despite its name, which refers to the original inhabitant of the space, a butcher who'd been in residence from 1916 until the '50s). You get a disjointed half-chicken -- breast, thigh, leg,... More >>

  • Best Small Plates

    Cortez

    The small plates served here aren't tapas, but exquisitely prepared appetizers and entrees just a touch on the small side (and at somewhat lower prices than you'd expect in a place of such ambition). The menu encourages sharing, but you could just as easily dine satisfyingly by ordering a traditional three-course meal. The sophisticated cooking of married chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield is well suited to this plush, modern, dinner-only restaurant tucked into the Hotel Adagio: foie gras terrine; frisée... More >>

  • Best Cuban

    Habana

    Fantasy is at play here in both the overwrought but pleasing décor, meant to evoke a pre-Castro 1948 Havana, and the cooking, which is more Nuevo Latino, strictly speaking, than Cuban. But who cares when everything looks and tastes so good? The bar features "hand-crafted Cuban cocktails" such as Mojitos and Hemingway daiquiris. Several ceviches are always on hand, made from pillowy-soft scallops, firm shrimp, and white-fleshed fish, along with chopped fruits, mint, and floods of lemon and lime juice.... More >>

  • Best New Restaurant

    Quince

    The main attraction of this small, creamy-walled, urbane dining room is the seasonal Italian-inspired cooking of chef/owner Michael Tusk (late of Chez Panisse and Oliveto; his partner and wife, Lindsay, worked at Oliveto and Boulevard). The menu changes daily, but you'll always find impeccably fresh, inventive salads (cardoons and Jerusalem artichokes have appeared among the ingredients), possibly paired with chicken-liver crostini or pork belly, among the starters. House-made pasta is listed as a separate second course, but you can order... More >>

  • Best Trendy Dish

    A16 Restaurant

    We're not nuts about the word "trendy," but we don't remember ever seeing sformato on menus before, even in Italy, and recently we've been offered several versions of the frittatalike, crustless quiche. We liked the firm, square version made with stinging nettles (once cooked, no more stinging than spinach) served as a starter at Quince and the round one (called sformatino) of asparagus and Parmesan at the Liberty Cafe. But the light, puffy, golden sformato at A16 -- a baked,... More >>

  • Best Upscale Burger and Fries

    Zuni Cafe

    There's so much other good stuff on the menu at Zuni that we tend to forget that the place makes the juiciest, most delicious hamburger around: 6 ounces of Niman Ranch beef, ground in-house, served on rosemary focaccia with garden lettuces, garlicky aioli, and the restaurant's own famous pickles. The basic burger is $11.50, and you can customize it with Gruyère ($1.50), Gorgonzola ($1.50), portobello mushroom ($1.50), or grilled onions (75 cents). What the hell, throw in an order of... More >>

  • Best Bakery-Cafe

    Tartine Bakery

    We loved Tartine from the first moment we sank our teeth into the first thing we ordered there, now lost in the mists of time -- was it a croissant? A plain one, or one stuffed with fragrant almond frangipane? Or was it an orange-scented morning bun? Maybe we toted one of the pressed sandwiches, perhaps soppressata layered with Strauss Dairy's jack cheese and pickled onion, over to a little table? We know we were happy with any of the... More >>

  • Best Napa Restaurant

    Market

    Steak with garlic mashed potatoes, fried chicken with sweet potatoes, sautéed Idaho trout with bacon -- the list of comfort food at Market is comforting indeed, when you need a respite from overwrought, pricey haute cuisine or when you just want some delicious, affordable fare. Chef/partner Douglas Keane has worked at Gary Danko and New York's Lespinasse, where he met Managing Partner Gary Peyton (veteran of Masa's and Farallon). Keane was chef most recently at Jardinière, so you know he's... More >>

  • Best Mixed Grill

    Foreign Cinema

    The menu at this sophisticated Mission District spot changes frequently, as do the movies projected on the wall of the big outdoor patio, but you'll often find a mixed grill on the list, an orgy of flesh that encompasses several different kinds of meat, chosen for texture as well as flavor, with interesting accompaniments. We have the happiest memories of one that included superb rare duck breast, a smoky, meaty grilled quail, and a long, thin, meltingly soft house-made chicken... More >>

  • Best Burmese

    Burma Superstar

    There are so many "bests" at Burma Superstar: best "falafal" (floating in the samusa dok, which is samusas broken up with the croquettes plus lentils, cabbage, and onions in what is accurately called a "nice spicy soup"), best ginger salad (gin dok, a plate covered with finely shredded ginger, dried shrimp, toasted garlic, sesame seeds, and split yellow peas, tossed at table in a spicy dressing for a fragrant, crunchy delight), best spicy chicken with fresh basil, best mango mutton,... More >>

  • Best German

    Suppenkuche

    Flying in the face of fashion, Suppenküche has been dishing out superlative German cooking in its cheerful, light-wooded corner spot in Hayes Valley for more than a decade. Our favorite starter is the Vesperplatte (an assortment of cured meats, including ham, blood sausage, and salami, with cheese and pickles), which goes perfectly with the sturdy, seed-sprinkled wheat and rye breads. But we also love the crisp pickled herring (served with sour cream, onions, pickles, and boiled potatoes), superb fresh pea... More >>

  • Best Beer Bust

    S.F. Eagle

    What is a beer bust, exactly? Why, it's an all-you-can-drink brewfest for the low, low price of $8! It Band-Aids your Saturday night-induced hangover with barrels of beloved suds. The Eagle Tavern's "Sunday Beer Bust" has been popular with the cigar-chomping leather-daddy crowd, jolly bear subsets, and other fringe gay groups that eschew the gym bunny look for more than 20 years. Local bands like Pansy Division and Pepperspray, to name a few, have played on the main stage during... More >>

  • Best Gay Bar for Getting Laid

    The Detour

    Best Gay Bar for Getting Laid Since the advent of the Internet and Craigslist's notorious "Men Seeking Men" personal ads, the tacky art of cruising for sex -- as well as the careful art of flirting -- has become almost extinct. But if you're fond of the good old days and yearn for an evening of good tunes, good beer, and a good piece of ass, look no farther than the Castro's Detour. Accented with dim lighting, Tom of Finland... More >>

  • Best Gay Bar for Not Getting Laid

    The Bar on Church

    Best Gay Bar for Not Getting Laid Make no mistake: The Bar on Castro is a terrific bar -- great music, great drinks, great-looking bartenders pouring great drinks. But we're damned if we can get laid at the place. Maybe it's that every guy is surrounded by an impenetrable clique. Maybe it's the low ceilings. Maybe it's the awesome DJs, who keep the crowd thinking on its feet rather than in its pants. Maybe we're just repulsive. Who knows? The... More >>

  • Best Reason to Risk Your Life at Sixth and Market Streets

    Arrow Bar

    Best Reason to Risk Your Life at Sixth and Market Streets Other than scoring your drug of choice, babbling incoherently at a lamppost, or getting a cash advance at the corner check-cashing center, there are few reasons to venture to Sixth and Market streets -- that is, other than to take advantage of its nightlife. Dotted with clubs like Anú, Club Six, Lit, and Mezzanine, the area is hopping, and its flagship (as far as we're concerned) is Arrow Bar.... More >>

  • Best $2 Lunch

    Saigon Sandwich

    It's only a cramped storefront straddling the Civic Center and Tenderloin border, but Saigon Sandwiches has the best Vietnamese sandwiches in the city -- some say the country -- and they cost all of $2. Called banh mi, the traditional sandwiches are packed within a French bread bun, and you can choose from spicy or barbecue chicken, several kinds of pork, and even liverwurst. (Pork, whether meatball, roasted, or fancy, is probably the most popular.) The bun is dressed with... More >>

  • Best San Francisco-Themed Cocktail

    Harry Denton's Starlight Room

    It's almost a cliché, but the Cable Car cocktail at the legendary Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel is truly to die for. Served in a cocktail glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar, the Cable Car consists of spiced rum, curaçao, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Its reddish-brown hue contrasts beautifully with the cinnamon -- the colors really do hearken back to the rust tones of the streetcars -- and the flavor is neither too sugary nor too alcoholic.... More >>

  • Best Mole Sauce

    La Posta

    La Posta is a rustic jewel in the heart of the Mission, the kind of place where regulars claim a barstool to watch fútbol and gulp down Coronas, while mothers and children crowd around tables to consume massive plates of steaming, cheese-filled enchiladas. It's the kind of place where you can have a three-hour lunch with an old friend in the late afternoon -- there's a hearty special for only $5 -- and get tended to by a friendly waitress... More >>

  • Best Fake-Meat Restaurant

    Lucky Creation

    Entering Lucky Creation feels like stepping into a street-side eatery in Hong Kong. It's cramped (there are only eight tables, and the servers will seat you with strangers when there's a rush); the walls are decorated with newspaper clippings; and the waitstaff preps string beans or bean sprouts at a corner table. The décor isn't anything fancy, either, but the food, all vegetarian, is divine. As the menu rightfully proclaims, "Our cooking is a combination of art and creativity, it... More >>

  • Best Turkey Dinner

    Howard's Cafe

    Mmmmm, Thanksgiving: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Wouldn't you like to have some right now, in May? Indulging your off-season cravings never felt so good -- or as easy on the pocketbook -- as it does at Howard's Cafe on Wednesdays. That's turkey-dinner-special night at this alarmingly unpretentious diner in the Inner Sunset. A humble $7.95 gets you an iceberg lettuce salad with a few red beans and carrot shavings on top, off-the-bird sliced roasted turkey, gravy, stuffing, and... More >>

  • Most Obsessively Comprehensive Restaurant Review

    Henry's Hunan

    SF Weekly provides some of America's best restaurant reviews. But we don't always use them in deciding what to eat. They're incomplete. Not that it's unhelpful to learn that one dish contains crisp yet creamy croquettes of crab, or that another is disappointingly dull chicken stew. But what's one to make of all the unmentioned platters in between? Thankfully, S.F. software engineer Moss Gross has taken all the guesswork out of dining out -- as long as you're dining at... More >>

  • Best Ribs With Free Delivery

    Big Nate's BBQ

    Best Ribs With Free Delivery The free delivery is only on the weekends (nice if you're sacked out in front of the TV), but during the week you can pay for delivery or swing on by yourself for the delicious, meaty Memphis-style pork ribs offered under the aegis of former Golden State Warriors superstar Nate Thurmond. (Hence the basketball references both in the décor of this otherwise bare-bones shack and on the menu: Under the Team Meal dinners, there's a... More >>

  • Best Hot Fudge Sundae

    Ghirardelli Square

    Although the chocolate factory founded by Italian immigrant Domingo Ghirardelli has long since moved across the bay to San Leandro, the flagship manufactory and soda fountain in the square that bears his name still churns out confectionary delights, none of which is more acclaimed than the traditional Ghirardelli sundae. Made with the company's proprietary hot fudge sauce and topped with chopped almonds and a maraschino cherry, it'll set you back $6.25, but, hey, in this case decadence is worth it.... More >>

  • Best Fortune Cookie

    Japanese Tea Garden

    Fortune cookies taste pretty much the same, you say? Well, maybe, but the ones served in this venerable Golden Gate Park retreat score big-time points for no other reason than that the teahouse is the birthplace of the fortune cookie. (Please keep this a secret in Chinatown.) Japanese immigrant Makoita Hagiwara invented the crusty treat wrapped around a piece of paper more than a century ago and began serving it at the teahouse, a surviving remnant of a Japanese-village exhibit... More >>

  • Best Irish Coffee

    Buena Vista Cafe

    Talk about sticking with a good thing! The Buena Vista has been serving its signature elixir for half a century, and from where we sip nobody does it better. Start with the perfect Irish whiskey, toss in sugar (and coffee, of course), and then add cream aged for 48 hours and frothed to just the right consistency. Lore has it that then-owner Jack Koeppler challenged travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help re-create the "Irish coffee" served at Ireland's Shannon Airport... More >>

  • Best Cocktails

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow might have considered that time between the daylight and the dark -- when the night begins to lower, heralding a pause in the day's occupations -- as the children's hour, but we prefer to think of it as the cocktail hour, thank you very much. Fortunately, there are genius bartenders all over the city who take our preoccupation seriously. Bix 56 Gold (at Montgomery), 433-6300, www.bixrestaurant.com Bix is the city's pre-eminent supper club, with an art deco... More >>

  • Best International Tapas

    Iluna Basque, Mezes, Pesce and Baraka

    The biggest recent trend in San Francisco dining is the proliferation of new restaurants serving tapas -- traditionally plates of salty, easily dished-up snacks (hams, cheeses, olives, perhaps oysters) served in Spanish bars to encourage lingering over drinks. Here in S.F., the definition has grown to encompass all kinds of dishes (small in size, but not in taste) from all over the globe. Iluna Basque >701 Union (at Powell), 402-0011, www.ilunabasque.com Among the two dozen or so tempting little plates... More >>

  • Five Best Ice Cream Parlors

    Pralines and Cream ... Chubby Hubby ... Blackberry Sorbet ... French Vanilla ... Chocolate Fudge Brownie ... Mint Chip ... Blueberry Cheesecake ... Chocolate Caramel Crackle ... these are a few of our favorite things. Especially on a hot spring afternoon when the sun's out and the stuff drips all over our fingers. But let's face it: We love ice cream when the fog's blasting through the Avenues; we love it when the skies are leaden and the breeze is... More >>

  • Alice's Favorite Little Bites

    Pizzetta 211

    We caught up with the peripatetic Ms. Waters during her brief visit to New York, where she was eating pasta at Lucca, ramps at Babbo, and innards at the Spotted Pig, in between jaunts to Italy to judge a food film festival and England to attend a conference on American gastronomy, followed by a rendezvous with friends in Ireland. She told us about some of her favorite joints in S.F. to grab a bite (as opposed to a multicourse sit-down... More >>

  • Best Foie Gras

    We like chopped liver, we like liver pâté, and we like the top-of-the-line stuff, too, the plump foie gras of duck or geese, made into pâtés and terrines to be served cold or simply sliced, seared, and served hot with a myriad of different accompaniments. Some of San Francisco's best chefs are doing amazing things with this luxurious ingredient. Aqua 252 California (at Battery), 956-9662, www.aqua-sf.com Chef Laurent Manrique does a beautiful $22 plate of foie gras three ways: a... More >>

  • Five Best Breakfasts

    Breakfast is one of our three favorite meals, and as it's the first one we've been allowed to enjoy since last night's dinner, it possesses a certain anticipatory as well as gustatory importance. Luckily, there are lots of places around town where the consequence of properly breaking one's fast is respected and catered to. Here are five. Pork Store Cafe 1451 Haight (at Ashbury), 864-6981 Sit at the counter of this bare-bones temple to the great American breakfast and watch... More >>

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