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Food & Drink

  • 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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


    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 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 (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 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


    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


    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)


    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


    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 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 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


    "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 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 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


    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 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


    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 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 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


    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


    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 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 $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 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 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 >>

  • 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 >>

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