252 California, San Francisco 

(415) 956-9662



Chef Michael Mina's seafood-oriented menu features intricate preparations such as potato-wrapped Idaho trout with foie gras and spiced apple stuffing. Specialty seafood with a French and Mediterranean influence including medallion of ahi tuna served rare with domestic foie gras in Pinot Noir reduction sauce and Hawaiian swordfish au poivre with pancetta-wrapped shrimp dumplings and Port wine sauce. The high-ceilinged dining room (a former bank) is decorated in restful tones of bone and bisque punctuated with mirrors and massive bouquets in giant urns. L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat.


56 Gold St, San Francisco  

(415) 433-6300



Bask in the Art Deco glamour of Bix, a downtown supper club serving updated American fare-chicken hash, potato-leek pancakes, steak tartare-as well as one of the best martinis in town. Classic American with a California influence. Highlights include steak tartare, foie gras, softshell crab, rack of lamb, chicken hash, and oven-roasted sea bass. Live jazz nightly. Full bar.L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sun.

Carnelian Room

555 California, San Francisco  

(415) 433-7500



D every day, Br Sun. California Continental menu, featuring Dungeness crab cakes, live Maine lobster, rack of lamb, Grand Marnier soufflé. The 40,000 bottle wine cellar earned Wine Spectator's Grand Award. City and bay views. Eleven private dining suites available. Full bar


1722 Market St, San Francisco    

(415) 863-3516.



The folks running this global outpost are scholars as well as chefs, serving a different cuisine every month at their casual yet stylish little restaurant. Check with the restaurant to find out about their current menu. For December, the menu will feature Russian cuisine and in January, Carta will serve a "best of" menu, featuring the most requested dishes from every month last year.

Fleur de Lys

777 Sutter, San Francisco

(415) 673-7779



For decades, our vote for romantic atmosphere has gone to this intimate, paisley-tented dining spot, where the brilliant contemporary French cooking of chef-partner Hubert Keller puts Fleur de Lys at the very pinnacle of San Francisco's haute dining. Contemporary cuisine featuring roasted lamb chop, seafood, and boneless squab. Five-course vegetarian menu is $50 per person. Valet parking. Banquet facilities. D Mon-Sat.

Fly Trap

606 Folsom St, San Francisco

(415) 243-0580



Classic San Francisco-style Italian/French cuisine featuring cassoulet, Irish lamb stew, cioppino (seafood stew), osso buco, chicken Jerusalem (chicken breast in a white cream sauce with artichoke hearts and mushrooms), and white salad (Belgian endive, water chestnuts, hearts of palm, goat cheese, and mushrooms). L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat.

French Room, The

The Clift Hotel, 495 Geary, San Francisco  

(415) 775-4700



Menu includes veal T-bone steak marinated in Guinness and honey with smoked ham and sweet potatoes; cedar plank salmon broiled on seasoned wood plank with sautéed spinach and wine bean cassoulet. B Mon-Sat, D Tues-Sun, Br Sun.


Fort Mason Bldg. A, San Francisco  

(415) 771-6222



This is undoubtedly America's best-known vegetarian restaurant, and for good reason. The setting, overlooking San Francisco Bay, is unparalleled, and the kitchen serves meatless dishes that are guaranteed to satisfy even hard-core carnivores. Freshest local ingredients are used. Highlights include linguine with artichokes; Sri Lankan curry; spring vegetable risotto. Beer and wine. L Tues-Sat, café dinners Mon-Fri, prix fixe dinner ($38 per person) Sat, Br Sun.

Hawthorne Lane

22 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco

(415) 777-9779



Chefs Anne and David Gingrass, who put Postrio in the national culinary news, have done the same with their own stunning restaurant, which inventively brings Mediterranean and Asian influences to the same table. Highlights include an exquisite sautéed fois gras and a top-notch bar menu. L Mon-Fri, D every day.

Helmand Restaurant

430 Broadway, San Francisco  

(415) 362-0641


Middle Eastern

Mahmood and Wazhma Karzai have introduced San Franciscans to Afghan food, a complex cuisine that incorporates culinary traditions from Central Asia, India, and the Middle East. The elegant dining room is a pleasant setting for gastronomic experimentation. Specialties include Afghan raviolis stuffed with leek and topped with ground beef, yogurt, and mint sauce; pan-fried baby pumpkin sweetened with sugar and topped with yogurt, garlic, and ground beef. Two hours free parking. D every day.

The House

1230 Grant St., San Francisco  

(510) 986-8612



The House is the kind of place that makes San Francisco one of the world's great restaurant towns. It is tiny, unassuming, thoroughly unpretentious and very, very good. Chef/proprietor Larry Tse melds Asian and California cuisines with a particularly artful touch; no matter how inventive his cooking, Tse's food always makes good culinary sense--and tastes great. Steamed clams in Thai-style red curry sauce is merely superb, a deeply flavorful, complexly seasoned dish that make other steamed clams and red curries taste like dishwater by comparison. There's also a hearty rack of lamb in pungent Korean kimchi marinade and seafood dishes like a mild, flaky fillet of sea bass with soy-ginger dipping sauce. L/D Tues-Sat.

Hornblower Dining Yachts

Pier 33, San Francisco    

(415) 788-8866



California cuisine served on nightly dinner dance cruises, weekend brunch cruises, and private charters. Reservations essential. D every night, Sat and Sun Br.


Hotel Vintage Court, 648 Bush St, San Francisco    

(415) 989-7154



No local list of restaurants would be complete without Masa's, which San Francisco Focus readers have rated best in the Bay Area since it opened. Chef Julian Serrano prepares French cuisine with stylized refinement. Appearance is paramount here, as are the service and the meticulous wine list. Prix fixe menus only, featuring game birds and shellfish. Jackets and ties preferred. Valet parking. D Tues-Sat.


558 Sacramento St, San Francisco    

(415) 434-4100



Traci Des Jardins, San Francisco Focus' Rising Star in 1994, presides over the kitchen at this clubby restaurant where the food takes center stage. The small, appealing menu incorporates fresh ideas, with impeccable fish, lamb, and house-cured salmon among the winners. Save room for delicious desserts like creme brulee and house-made ice creams. L/D Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat

Slanted Door, The

584 Valencia St, San Francisco  

(415) 861-8032



This good-looking two-level restaurant serves what chef/owner Charles Phan calls "Vietnamese home cooking." The menu changes weekly, and might include delicious imperial rolls, classic fresh spring rolls, "shaking beef" or caramelized shrimp. Beer and wine. L/D Tues-Sun.


5800 Geary Blvd, San Francisco

(415) 379-6720



American Provençal cuisine featuring octopus salad with potatoes, arugula, roast peppers, and fennel; fritto misto of calamari, prawns, cod, haricot vert, and eggplant; roast leg of lamb with an eggplant, zucchini, and mozzarella tower and basil oil; provençal seafood soup with yellowtail, mussels, rock shrimp, and fennel tomato broth. Valet parking. D Tues-Sun.

Universal Café

2814 Nineteenth St, San Francisco

(415) 821-4608



This airy, inviting café, is situated on an unlikely semi-industrial Mission District street. Breakfasts include roasted-on-the-premises coffee and housemade granola, and lunches and dinner feature lightly dressed salads, terrific pizzas, and sandwiches made with focaccia, as well as heartier fare. Menu changes daily. Beer and wine. B/L/D Tues-Sun, Br Sat-Sun.


600 Montgomery St, San Francisco  

(415) 433-7250



Chef Jeff Inahara's architectural East-West creations are perfectly suited to the setting: San Francisco's much-loved Transamerica Pyramid. Among the offerings: seared day boat scallops with lime risotto, or a grilled pork chop with red curry baked beans, coconut black Thai rice and mango relish. Valet parking nightly.L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat.

Woodward's Garden

1700 Mission St, San Francisco  

(415) 621-7122



Working in an open kitchen the size of a walk-in closet, chef/owners Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino turn out homey, Mediterranean-influenced dishes for appreciative patrons at the restaurant's eleven tables. The interior is comfortable and quirky. Menu changes weekly. Reservations are strongly recommended. Beer and wine. D Wed-Sun.

Zuni Café

1658 Market St, San Francisco  

(415) 552-2522



Chef Judy Rodgers presides over one of California's most distinguished restaurants. Her kitchen produces great Italian and southern French menus and a superb list of fresh seafood including a fresh oyster bar. Valet parking for dinner. B/L/D Tues-Sun.