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San Francisco Restaurants

Dining In the City and Bay Area

This is a very selective listing of recommended restaurants, in San Francisco with one exception. We'll add to the list as restaurants and cafes are reviewed. Here are a few of the best places in a great dining city.

New Museum Restaurant - in the Park

The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, one of the city's great civic art museums, has been rebuilt in its previous location in Golden Gate Park, after severe earthquake damage. It's now open to the public, and the new museum building includes a great new restaurant to tempt museum goers and park people alike.

The very fresh food being served in the cafe ranges from salads and burgers to full meals including steak, chicken, and pasta dishes -- with a concentration on obtaining food from local sources. It is, other words, California cuisine of high quality. Takeout is available, in addition to tables with a grand (floor-to-ceiling) view of Golden Gate Park. Diners can visit the restaurant without entering the museum.

Museum hours are: 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, and 9:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m., Friday. Museum admission : $6 - $10. These regular hours begin on Tuesday October 18.

The museum will be open free to the public from noon on Saturday Oct. 15, until 5 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 16

Rubicon

558 Sacramento (between Sansome and Montgomery)
A consistently hot place to dine is Rubicon. It's owners include Francis Ford Coppola, Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. The decor is simple but the food is not: house-cured salmon with fennel & creme fraiche, Maine scallops with truffle oil, pork tenderloin and venison. The kitchen and wine-serving staff are superb and the house wine is from Coppola's Napa Valley winery. The interior has a loft like, sophisticated New York-style ambiance, with high ceilings, bricks, dark wood and exposed beams.
Reservations: 415-434-4100.

Gary Danko

800 North Point Street
After winning top awards as chef at the Ritz-Carleton, Gary Danko has his own eponymous restaurant, and has won raves since it opened in 1999. This is elegant French/California cuisine, focusing on fixed price meals. The fixed-price menu is arranged by courses: eight appetizers, five fish selections, six meat items, a cheese cart and eight desserts. Ideally, diners choose a dish from each category, but dishes are also available a la carte. The bill is determined by the number of dishes: $48 for three courses, $57 for four, $66 for five and $75 for six. There's also a five-course tasting menu for $66, which can be paired with wines for an additional $29. This is complex, exquisitely delicate cuisine. The ingredients are absolutely fresh and the tastes are amazing. The wine list has more than 900 items. Expect dishes such as lobster, poached oysters, medallions of salmon, and guinea hen set on cooked cabbage and apples. Reservations: 415-749-2060.

Tadich Grill

240 California St. (between Front and Battery streets)
This is one of the city's old standbys (and the oldest operating restaurant in California). This quintessential fish house, at 240 California Street, is in the midst of the city's Financial District.. The specialty is pan fried seafood, and the Tadich has served many generations of fond regulars. Try the old-fashioned desserts. Information: 415-391-2373- - no reservations taken.

Aqua

252 California Street - at Battery
Michael Mina, the executive chef of Aqua, focuses on making his dishes as simple as possible -- he's a minimalist who infuses his cuisine (mainly seafood and beef) with basic flavors -- bringing out the best in a particular food. For instance, Mina's petrale sole, smothered in five kinds of onions with a scallion sauce and delicate crispy fried potatoes. he has reinvented the traditional pot pie into something special - lobster inside with wild mushrooms and vegetables. Reservations: 415-956-9662

Rose Pistola & Rose's Cafe

532 Columbus Ave. (between Green and Union)
Named after one of the pioneer women (and cook) of North Beach, Rose Pistola has won the affections of local and visitors alike. The surroundings are glamorous, and the food is a selection of delicious Italian combinations. The food is based on Ligurian cuisine, and many of the same dishes are available at the less formal Rose's Cafe, at 2298 Union Street, in the Marina district. Reservations: 415-399-0499

Fleur de Lys

777 Sutter Street (near Taylor)
Highlighted by Bon Appetit Magazine in its Year 2000 review of America's best restaurants, Fleur de Lys is the happy result of Hubert Keller meeting his wine Chantal and founding a restaurant. Along with maitre d' Maurice Rouas, the Kellers offer the utmost in romantic fine dining, with superb cooking and service. The atmosphere is dramatic with low lights, heavy curtains, round tables with starched tablecloths, but it is also intimate. Reservations: 415-673-7779

Slanted Door

Ferry Terminal Building - Embarcadero
Charles Phan -- not a professional cook -- opened his restaurant in the Mission district in 1996. It became an instant success, and remains one of the finest Asian restaurants in the nation. With the refurbishing of the landmark Ferry Building, the restaurant now has an extreme modern design, and windows look out to the bay. This is prime Vietnamese cuisine. The imperial rolls are crispy on the outside,with an incredibly moist interior -- shrimp pork, vegetables, rice noodles. All of the fish dishes are tasty and extremely fresh. Five spice chicken is better (more subtle) than at any other local place. And the desserts are not particularly Vietnamese except for the French influence (think creme caramel and brulee). Reservations: 415-861-8032

The French Laundry

6640 Washington St. (Creek St), Yountville
This renowned restaurant is an hour's drive from the city, and well worth a ten-hour drive. The setting is Yountville, a little town in the middle of the Napa Valley. It has been labeled the best restaurant in the United States for several years. In what was formerly a French laundry (also a brothel), chef Thomas Keller has fashioned a dining place that is truly remarkable. For those whose time and money are no object, this is the place to have at least one meal in your lifetime. This is French inspired cuisine with incredibly subtle California touches, all flavored with fresh herbs that come from the garden just outside the restaurant door. The wine list is simply superb (even for a Napa Valley restaurant), and the service is subtle and complete. The French Laundry is a world class dining experience.

To reserve, call exactly two months to the day in advance, preferably in the morning: 707-944-0167

Note on French Laundry Serving Hours:
Dinners are served daily, and lunch Friday through Sunday.


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