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San Francisco Restaurants

2355 Chestnut Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 771 2216

Trendy Marina District spot A16 has it all: great food; an extensive, well-chosen wine list; and a happening scene. The sleek, dark space, all concrete floors and cork walls, draws local singles, who pack the bar. And chef Liza Shaw's seasonal southern Italian dishes—such as pumpkin-ricotta gnocchi with pancetta and kale, and calamari with fiorelli pasta, fennel, and marjoram—score every time. But the real draw? Chewy-crusted pizza baked in a wood-burning oven. It can be hard to book a table, especially on weekends, so plan well ahead. —Updated by John Vlahides

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10:30 pm.

1722 Sacramento Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 567 5432

The beauty is in the details at elegant Acquerello, San Francisco's top contemporary Italian table. If you arrive wearing black, you'll be offered the option of a black napkin to avoid getting white lint on your clothing. Waiters move in perfect synchronicity, delivering plates in an effortless ballet, whisking them away unseen. But most impressive is the cooking. Flavors positively sprawl across the palate in such dishes as Parmesan boudino, a custardy Italian-style soufflé served with a seasonal garnish such as paper-thin fried-eggplant curlicues or the spring's first asparagus tenders. Lobster panzarotti, a variant of ravioli, is sauced with a lush lobster-stock reduction. The 65-page wine list is one of the best in the country for Barolo and Barbaresco, with 500 selections from Piedmont. A cheese cart stocked with rare Italian varieties rounds out the evening. Reservations are essential.—John Vlahides

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 9:30 pm.

Hotel Photo
22 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 685 4860

Drawing on his time as chef du cuisine at Napa's famed French Laundry, chef Corey Lee showcases his culinary virtuosity in an elaborate 13-course tasting menu that masterfully blends Eastern and Western techniques. And big flavors come in delicate packages, such as a signature amuse-gueule that includes a flash-fried cigarette of eel wrapped in Moroccan feuille de brick (a nonbuttery filo) with a little spoonful of crème fraîche whipped with lime and salt for dipping. There's also an à la carte menu of dishes that intentionally run small—waiters call them appetizer-size—so diners may sample multiple flavor profiles. But it's not easy to create a cohesive culinary arc with three to four of them; better to opt for the tasting menu. Chef Lee places a premium on the sensory experience of the palate, but the dining room has an austere, almost too casual atmosphere. The chummy waiters, pop-rock soundtrack, and undraped blond-wood-edged tables (which look like high-end Ikea) simply don't match the caliber of the food.—John A. Vlahides

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 9:30 pm.

Hotel Photo
2030 Union Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 929 8855

Lipstick-red lacquer counters, rattan-backed chairs, and oscillating palm-frond fans lend a playful tiki-lounge-like atmosphere to this Marina District favorite. Not-to-miss items on the pan-Asian menu include melt-off-the-bone glazed ribs spiked with bits of Thai basil and melted garlic, and succulent pork dumplings with Szechuan peppercorn broth wrapped in fresh, translucent wrappers. You can offset the spiciness via the list of private-label beers and full-bar menu of fresh-fruit cocktails that come served in giant ceramic bowls. Sit at the counter to take in the drama of the kitchen; the clacking and flaming of woks are a fitting backdrop for the happening scene.—John A. Vlahides

Open Sundays through Thursdays 10:30 am to 11 pm and Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to midnight.

710 Montgomery Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 982 2622

Regardless of what time of day you sit down at the Financial District tapas bar Bocadillos, Gerald Hirigoyen's menu provides just the right treat: baked eggs with chorizo and Manchego at 7 am, grilled ham and cheese bocadillos (small sandwiches) and amazing lamb burgers at noon, and sautéed pimientos de Padrón (green peppers popular in Spain) at 10 pm. There's a solid Cal-Med wine list and fun sodas like sugarcane cola, blackberry, and that retro favorite, Fresca. The brick walls, wood floors, intimate lighting, and jovial young crowd generate a warm vibe, and the prices are extremely reasonable for the caliber of cooking. But if you want to avoid the dining masses (no reservations here), go at off-hours, between regular mealtimes. —Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 7 am to 10 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 7 am to 10:30 pm, and Saturdays 5 to 10:30 pm.

1638 Post Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 440 4959

While Asian fusion is starting to feel old-fashioned, the innovative Cal-French cuisine with a Japanese accent at Bushi-Tei seems decidedly nouveau. The Japantown restaurant serves intriguing creations that don't feel forced. To start, try big-eye tuna tartare with tobiko and wasabi crème fraîche, or seared foie gras atop pumpkin pot de crème. Plates include coq au vin with mushroom polenta and cress, and seared scallops with saffron-infused potato chowder. The cool interior matches the style of the food: Candlelight and paneled walls, made from 150-year-old wood sourced from Nagano, add warmth to the narrow space, which is dominated by an 18-foot glass communal table and floor-to-ceiling storefront windows. —Updated by John Vlahides

Open daily 11 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm.

Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley , California
Tel: 510 548 5525

When Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in 1971, she sparked a "green" revolution that spread around the world. And though focusing on local, artisanal ingredients is now de rigueur in California and elsewhere, Waters is still the master. Her strictly limited (only one option per course) seasonal menu changes daily, so each visit is like dining at the home of a friend who happens to be an incredibly talented chef. One night, the entrée might be an oven-roasted veal chop with fresh herbs and spring vegetables; another, a dish of unadorned, pristine black figs might serve as petits fours. Warm, earth-toned decor adds to the sophisticated-homey feel, and a more casual upstairs café with an à la carte menu catches the overflow.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 6 to 10 pm. There are two seatings per night.

Ferry Building Marketplace

The iconic whitewashed Ferry Building, standing proud at the water's edge behind a row of statuesque palms, is a sight in itself. Situated on a sunny patch of the Embarcadero, this sweeping, huge building opened in 1898 as a water-transportation hub for the city, but these days it's a foodie mecca. Weekdays, it draws Financial District types for lunch on the patio at MarketBar and arty freelancers skateboarding or chowing down at Gott's Roadside, a 1950s-style all-natural burger joint that also serves nouveau diner food like pistachio-espresso milk shakes. Locals come for loaves straight from the oven at Acme Bread, one of the best bakeries in the Bay Area; succulent, locally harvested oysters from Hog Island Oyster Company; and artisanal cakes from Miette, a tiny pâtisserie selling exquisite macaroons and cannelés (their candy shop in Hayes Valley is likewise a local favorite). Saturday mornings are prime time to shop for farmstead cheeses, heirloom tomatoes, homemade jams, herbs, and flowers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (open Tuesdays and Saturdays year-round, Thursdays and Sundays seasonally). The focus is, of course, on local, seasonal, and sustainable produce, with hard-to-find fare like wild nettles, fresh lavender, and free-range eggs in shades of mint and baby blue.

Fleur de Lys
777 Sutter Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 673 7779

French is the language of romance and cuisine, and Fleur de Lys is fluent in both. Open 45 years and counting, this is the last of the great Continental restaurants, and it's looking younger than ever. After a fire in 2001, the restaurant was completely renovated, with rich red fabrics, a dazzling crystal chandelier, and cozy alcoves. The canopied dining room now resembles a tent at Versailles, an appropriately regal setting for chef Hubert Keller. His menu is priced by the number of courses chosen, letting you create your own dégustation menu. Perhaps a tasting of foie gras, followed by roasted squab with truffles and a sweet ginger and Sauternes sauce. Or—and it's not often that these words occupy the same phrase—the Vegetarian Feast.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 6 to 9:30 pm, Fridays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, and Saturdays 6 to 10:30 pm.

Hotel Photo
Flour + Water
2401 Harrison Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 826 7000

Few San Francisco restaurants better typify farm-to-table cooking than Flour + Water, in the once-gritty, now-gentrified Mission District. The kitchen receives an entire pig every Tuesday—as well as a handful of small-game meats such as rabbit—and the chefs make use of the entire animal, making trotters, sausages, and fabulous salumi. Antipasti may include California sardines flash-fried in an elegantly light batter, served with a salty-tangy anchovy aïoli, while speck and balsamic-braised-radicchio pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven that blisters the tender-to-the-tooth, thin crust with smoky bits of char; whole wheat strozzapreti comes tossed with hunks of perfectly cooked, licorice-hued anise-braised rabbit. The vibe is likewise dynamic and fresh, with linen dish towels serving as napkins on the exposed walnut tables. The restaurant is small, so it's best to book at least a week ahead, or expect a wait. Thankfully Flour + Water serves dinner until 11 pm weeknights and midnight weekends—a rarity in early-to-bed San Francisco. —John A. Vlahides

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 5:30 to 11 pm and Thursdays through Saturdays 5:30 pm to midnight.

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3870 17th Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 621 3870

After a rapid rise in the San Francisco restaurant world, culminating in the Michelin-starred Fifth Floor, Melissa Perello took a break. But she's back in a big way with her 46-seat Frances, in the Castro. Admirer Gabriela Cámara says, "It's extraordinary food in a casual restaurant, cooked by people who obviously know all about fine dining." The modern Californian menu changes weekly and might include bacon beignets with maple crème fraîche or lamb with butter beans, artichokes, and olives. The thoughtful wine list includes a house red and white; blended by sommelier Paul Einbund and wine maker Marco Cappelli, it's priced at $1 an ounce (entrées, $18-$25).

Must eat: If they are on the menu, the sardines.

Chef Melissa Perello's favorite new restaurant: Corey Lee's Benu, San Francisco

Gary Danko
800 North Point Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 749 2060

Gary Danko is the city's favorite culinary son; his restaurant is both a serious dining destination and a local favorite that's convivial, never stuffy. The intimate rooms, adorned with well-chosen artwork, natural woods, and flattering spot lighting, exude a warm, neighborhood vibe. But the menu, which combines French, Californian, and Mediterranean elements, indicates a more expansive vision. Principal ingredients such as foie gras, roasted lobster, and farm-raised lamb change accompaniments with the seasons: Summer brings cherries and chanterelles; winter, earthy truffles and root vegetables. Add details like the restaurant's custom-built cheese refrigerators and the professional yet friendly service, and you have a dining experience that works on every level and appeals to everyone from casual diners to New York food snobs.

Open daily 5:30 to 10 pm.

Building A, Fort Mason
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 771 6222

This vegetarian favorite eschews the common practice of trying to make tofu taste like meat. Instead, expect a satisfyingly rich combination of textures and flavors, like an artichoke and sunchoke gratin, layered like a mini-lasagna, with Fromage Blanc custard and tomato coulis. A quirky list of mostly local, biodynamic wines skews more toward Sonoma and Mendocino than Napa, a subtle revelation of the San Francisco locavore's food politics. Though the dining room's redwood-burl fixtures and excessive use of beige feel dated, it occupies a knockout location jutting into San Francisco Bay with a wall of windows overlooking the yacht harbor, framed by the Golden Gate Bridge. If you're bicycling through Fort Mason and the surrounding Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Greens also operates a to-go counter, where you can pick up sandwiches and salads. —John A. Vlahides

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11:45 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 9 pm, Sundays 10:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 9 pm.

Hog Island Oyster Company
20215 State Route 1
Marshall , California
Tel: 415 663 9218

Hog Island Oyster Company is not strictly a restaurant, but rather an outdoor shack on Marin's Tomales Bay, built right next to the beds where the oysters grow (it might be the only shack you'll ever visit where reservations are essential, though). They don't sell anything else (except lemons), so bring your own wine, and maybe some charcoal for the grills. Oysters are plucked from the troughs—varieties range from Kumamotos to Hog Island's own Sweetwaters—and handed to you on a cafeteria tray. There's a shucker attached so that you can open them yourself. Settle in at one of the outdoor picnic tables and savor the briny flavor of the freshest mollusks you've ever gulped down. (If you can't get out of town, you'll have to content yourself with visiting Hog Island's smaller location in San Francisco's Ferry Building.)

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.

1550 Church Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 641 4500

If Incanto was in your neighborhood, you might eat there several times a week. The vaulted stone ceilings and blond wood furniture create a feeling of casual comfort. The ever-changing Cal-Ital menu is short but always seems to have just what you want: house-cured olives with salumi, a creamy bowl of polenta, or seasonal vegetables dressed in a veil of olive oil and lemon. But what Incanto does best is meat; they call it "whole beast" dining. Think Atkins goes Italian, with lots of fresh-from-the-garden veggies—you can even order an entire shank of beef, provided you call a week ahead. The wine list is lovingly crafted to show off the breadth and depth of Italy's enological bounty. So go ahead: Order that second bottle of Brunello di Montalcino and make yourself at home.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Sundays and Mondays 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 10 pm.

Jai Yun
680 Clay Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 981 7438

This San Francisco Chinese mainstay may have improved its ambiance by moving from its old spot on Pacific Avenue, but Jai Yun's eccentric service remains the same. The chef, Nei Chia Ji, speaks almost no English, and you get whatever he decides to make that day, ordering by price. At lunch, you'll do well for $20, but at dinner, the minimum is $55 a person, cash only, and reservations are now required. But you'll forget all these aggravations when the food arrives—an endless stream of epicurean tidbits, including wisps of jellyfish, crispy orange-scented beef, and glistening stir-fried eggplant. Most banquets on this scale would leave you groaning, but Jai Yun's fresh, delicate cuisine will send you out into the night deliciously sated rather than stupefied.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 9:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 6:30 to 9:30 pm.

300 Grove Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 861 5555

Jardinière is the epitome of fine dining, San Francisco–style: polished in front, organic-sustainable in back. The beautiful split-level Art Deco room features velvet drapes and a sparkling domed ceiling, while the kitchen relies on ecologically minded suppliers to produce its California-French cuisine. Dine happily, knowing your duck confit with candied kumquats (a succulent harmony of gamy-salty-sweet) was sustainably produced. If you can't commit to a full meal (or can't score a table), cozy up in J Lounge, a small alcove adjacent to the U-shaped bar with modern sofas and deep armchairs ideal for sampling bar bites and concoctions like the absinthe daiquiri (a mix of rhum agricole, fresh lime, and locally produced absinthe). Note: This is the most popular pre- and post-theater spot in town. To avoid the crush, book a time when the curtain's up. —Updated by John Vlahides

Opens daily at 5 pm.

Medjool Restaurant and Lounge
2522 Mission Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 550 9055

An adventurous spot for cocktails and dinner with the funky Mission District crowd, Medjool has an impressively high-ceilinged red and saffron dining room and a rooftop terrace with gorgeous views of downtown and the Golden Gate Bridge. The slightly overpriced menu is divided into North African, southern European, and Middle Eastern dishes. But it's the small plates that really shine, like the crunchy sumac-dusted fried calamari with aïoli or the marinated shrimp with spicy tomato jam. On weeknights, Medjool attracts the city's boho jet-setters, but steer clear on weekends, when suburban crowds move in. —Updated by John Vlahides

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Hotel Photo
Michael Mina
252 California Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 397 9222

In 2010, chef Michael Mina moved his namesake restaurant from the St. Francis hotel to the Financial District space formerly occupied by Aqua, the eatery where Mina first made his name. He completely reinvented the menu, and the space. Gone are the twice-draped linens, fancy crystal, and hotel-plate silver. In their place is a Japanese aesthetic with exposed walnut tables and just a few massive sprays of tree branches arcing to the ceiling of the cavernous dining room. Mina still incorporates luxury ingredients, though, such as foie gras, lobster, and caviar, but there's more playfulness on the new à la carte menu. Cauliflower soup comes with tiny grilled-cheese-sandwich triangles and his signature lobster potpie is now served deconstructed and spiced with aromatic cardamom and bits of persimmon that enhance the meat's savory-sweet richness. The bar is swank spot for a drink and a crab BLT or foie gras PB&J.—John A. Vlahides

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, and Sundays 5:30 to 10 pm.

Kintetsu Building
1737 Post Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 922 0337

Located in one of Japantown's quirky malls, Mifune draws crowds not for its decor—red and black Formica tables are about the extent of it—but for authentic noodles at rock-bottom prices. Served on lacquered trays with pickled vegetables and an assortment of dipping sauces, the soba, ramen, and udon all have that perfect al dente bite of freshly made pasta. Order them hot, in a comforting broth enriched with miso or shaved bonito, or cold, sprinkled with hijiki seaweed. Either way, you'll get a meal that's traditional and delicious.

Open daily 11 am to 9:30 pm.

560 Divisadero Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 864 8463

Wildly popular Nopa draws the city's youthful bon vivants for its rustic-urban cooking and inventive cocktails. The kitchen sources the best of northern California's organic produce and meats to create simple dishes that let the fresh-from-the-farm ingredients shine. Think clean and bright contemporary comfort foods, such as thick-cut grilled pork chops with lentils, sautéed chard, and mustard-seed vinaigrette, or a simple rotisserie herbed chicken with roasted squash, hazelnuts, and sherry-sautéed onions. The cavernous dining room gets crowded and loud, but if you book an upstairs mezzanine table, you'll have extra elbow room and a bird's-eye view of the action downstairs. Some find the prices steep for such simple cooking, but perfect ingredients don't come cheap. —John Vlahides

Open daily 5 pm to 1 am.

1015 Battery Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 391 2555

Named after a traditional Basque stew of ham, egg, peppers, and onions (of which it serves a fine rendition), Piperade is a bit like its namesake: a little French, a little Spanish, and all good. With its rustic-chic decor (wooden floors, bold art, and a singles-jammed communal table), the place somehow manages to be both cozy and hip. The wine list, with categories like "Bordelaise types," is approachable and fun, and the shareable menu features simple, hearty dishes like bacalao (cod fritters) and a warm terrine of sheep's milk cheese and ham.

Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

1701 Octavia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 775 8500

Husband-and-wife team Michael and Lindsay Tusk have created a jewel with their swank downtown restaurant, Quince. The two met at Oliveto—he was in the kitchen, she was in the dining room—where they picked up much of their restaurant sensibilities. Now Lindsay manages the elegantly austere dining room, which she designed and decorated with cream walls, white leather armchairs, and simple chandeliers. It's the perfect setting for Michael's seasonal Italian and French cooking. Pastas are handmade, and just about everything else is culled from nearby farms. Devotion to the perfect product is so complete that dessert could very well be simply a plate of local strawberries and grapes. Book well ahead.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays through Sundays 5 to 10 pm.

R & G Lounge
631 Kearny Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 982 7877

The look is pure Chinatown: neon signs and fish tanks in the ground-floor bar, Chinese characters and red tassels in the upstairs and downstairs dining rooms. But the crowd—everyone from families and tourists to local chefs and Asian celebrities—knows that the Hong Kong-style cooking at R & G is far from ordinary. The fresh, impeccably prepared seafood includes head-on, peel-your-own salt-and-pepper shrimp and whole, deep-fried garlic crab—the best way to sample the Bay Area's famed crustaceans. For a real San Francisco treat, call 24 hours ahead and order the house special, chicken stuffed with sticky rice and then deep-fried whole.

Open daily 11:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 861 8032

Now in its third location, trendy contemporary Vietnamese spot Slanted Door has found a suitably swank home in the northeast corner of the Ferry Building. The vast, modern glass-and-steel space has sweeping views of the bay and is always packed with posh diners ogling each other. Chef Charles Phan's menu is a blend of Asian street food and traditional Vietnamese dishes, with offerings such as barbecued Willis Ranch pork ribs basted in a sticky-sweet honey and hoisin sauce, or a brick oven–roasted whole fish of the day with a spicy ginger sauce. The wine list features numerous rieslings and other dry, floral wines that pair perfectly with the heady Asian flavors. Book way ahead or try for one of the 20 walk-in spots. To avoid feeling rushed through your meal, reserve a table at the last seating of lunch or dinner—with such spectacular views, you'll want to linger.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open daily 11 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm.

1058 Valencia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 643 5000

Chef-owner Bruce Binn—a veteran of such S.F. mainstays as Citizen Cake and the Slow Club—describes the look of his Mission District eatery Spork as looking like a "sexy Greyhound bus station." We'd say it's more like a fast-food outlet viewed through Champagne goggles: Set at a see-and-be-seen corner in a spiffed-up 1960s-vintage KFC, Spork gives a nod to the location's greasy spoon past with stainless steel sporks and orange plasticlipped coffee pots in lieu of water pitchers. Slick banquettes, modern accents, and vintage gas-station signage make the place inviting to local hipsters, all hungry for revved-up comfort food like steak stroganoff and juicy burgers. The wine list is appropriately short and reasonably priced, and while there are only a few desserts, each is simple and delicious.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 to 10 pm, Fridays 6 to 11 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 9 pm.

1911 Fillmore Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 771 7779

The ancient initials emblazoned on Rome's manhole covers and imperial landmarks popped up on trendy Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights, in the form of a bustling osteria. SPQR quickly made a name for itself serving tasty Cal-Italian food and expert wine pairings, but some loyalists got fed up with the notoriously long waits. Problem solved: As of October 2009, the restaurant finally takes reservations for tables in its buzzing, narrow space. Start with cold, hot, or fried antipasti—don't miss the griddled local calamari with salsa verde—then choose between such dishes as ricotta ravioli with lamb's quarters and fontina, and braised oxtail with polenta. Monday nights bring mainly neighborhood locals and provide the best glimpse into the lives of twentysomething Pac Heights hedonists.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm.

3640 Sacramento Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 931 5100

Nearly three years in the making, Spruce is a large designed-to-the-hilt joint that feels like it's straight out of a Williams-Sonoma Home catalog. Enter beneath an arched portico to an opulent soaring space where chocolate mohair walls, buttery leather seating, and dim lamps set the mood. The menu is stuffed with incredibly rich fare—foie gras with grape gelée, veal sweetbreads, sliced potatoes cooked in duck fat, and buttered Maine lobster. The clientele, though, is up to the challenge: The dining room is a showcase for affluent socialites in Chanel, while the marble-topped bar and lounge is packed with Laurel Heights fashion mavens gossiping over after-work cocktails.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 11 pm, Saturdays 5 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5 to 10 pm.

Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 673 1101

Opened in 1912, Swan Oyster Depot isn't a restaurant, it's a landmark. Today, the fifth generation is behind the original marble counter, and the ground rules remain unchanged. Except for the rich, creamy clam chowder, everything here is served cold. "Cooking" means tossing shrimp salad with Louie dressing (sort of a homemade Thousand Island), shucking oysters, or cracking crab (ask Frank to make you the special Dijon-butter-mayo sauce for dipping). The stools at the long, narrow counter fill up during the lunch hour, so try to get there before or after noon. But be warned, the owners close when they sell out. '

Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 5:30 pm.

Taco San Buena Taco Truck
2598 Harrison Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 559 6127

No culinary tour of San Francisco would be complete without a visit to a taquería—they're everywhere around town, and locals have all sorts of opinions about who makes the best tacos and burritos. For al pastor (marinated grilled pork) and carnitas (a sort of confit of pork), you'd be hard-pressed to do better than the gleaming stainless-steel taco truck at the corner of Harrison and 22nd streets in the Mission. Choose between simple tacos of grilled meat topped with onion, cilantro, and salsa or burritos stuffed with meat, rice, beans, and optional guacamole, sour cream, and cheese. This place is the real deal, and local Mexican families line up every day for these and other succulent meats, including a perfectly stewed, tender lengua (tongue, best served with mild salsa, not hot) and other innards, such as brain and cheek meat. If you're squeamish, order the grilled chicken. The food comes on a paper plate, but fear not: You can sit down indoors at the neighboring Mis Antojitos restaurant (which owns the truck) and round out the meal with a cold bottle of beer. If you're downtown, look for two other lunchtime-only taco trucks operated by the same family, one at Sansome and Pacific streets, the other at the corner of Sansome and Bush.—John Vlahides

Open daily 9 am to 10 pm.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 487 2600

The queue moves as slowly as a Cold War–era breadline, and you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere to sit, but the cakes, pastries, and cookies at Tartine are worth the hassle. The James Beard Foundation thinks so, too: In 2008, co-owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson together won the coveted award of Outstanding Pastry Chef. The bakery uses organic ingredients wherever possible and local milk and eggs. In addition to baked goods, Tartine sells hot pressed sandwiches, such as soppressata and fontina with broccoli rabe pesto. The staff may be prone to hauteur, but who cares, when the frangipane-stuffed croissants are this sublime? If you can't find a table, head to nearby Dolores Park (at 18th and Dolores streets).—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays 8 am to 7 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 7:30 am to 7 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 7:30 am to 8 pm, Saturdays 8 am to 8 pm, and Sundays 9 am to 8 pm.

Town Hall
342 Howard Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 908 3900

The menu at Town Hall is a lively mix that chef-owners Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal, the brothers behind the stoves at Postrio, call "New Orleans meets New England." Dishes may include barbecued shrimp with spicy Worcestershire sauce and garlic herb toast, and roasted duck with toasted wild rice and gingersnap gravy. The renovated 1907 warehouse gets packed (and incredibly loud) for lunch and dinner, filling even the last seats at the bar and communal table.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5:30 to 10 pm.

Yank Sing
One Rincon Center
101 Spear Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 957 9300

One of the city's best dim sum parlors is neither in Chinatown nor the Richmond District but rather in SoMa's unlikely and soulless Rincon Center. Run by the same family for three generations, this restaurant serves up a seemingly endless array of delicious tidbits, such as snow-pea-shoot dumplings and lotus leaves stuffed with sticky rice and Chinese sausage. In addition to traditional dishes such as won tons and pot stickers, the chef offers "the Creative Collection," with inventive options that might include chicken curry in an avocado half, or lamb dumplings with mint. However full you are, don't miss the fresh-baked custard tarts.

Open Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 3 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 4 pm.

Zuni Café
1658 Market Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 552 2522

Officially, the food's called Mediterranean, but the menu of burgers, raw oysters, and Caesar salad is pure California. Opened over two decades ago by chef/owner Judy Rodgers (an original member of the Alice Waters farm-to-table school), Zuni Café has become an icon of West Coast cuisine. Multiple expansions have given the sunny space a topsy-turvy feel, but that's just part of the charm. The must-eat here is wood oven–roasted chicken, all smoky, golden-crisp skin and succulent meat, portioned for two and served with a bread salad.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11:30 am to midnight, Sundays 11 am to 11 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.