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Interview with Traci Des Jardins (Jardinière, San Francisco)

Food & Wine Best New Chef 1995 Traci Des Jardins gives an insider guide to San Francisco, from the best brunch spots to the top bars.

On San Francisco

San Francisco food is firmly routed in the school of Alice Waters-there’s a huge Cal-Med influence with a strong leaning toward seasonality and sustainability. Jardinière is more French-California. Upstairs there’s an elegant menu; downstairs is the lounge with bar food, cocktails and lots of Champagne (300 Grove St.; 415-861-5555 or jardiniere.com).

Favorite Cultural Activity

I’m a big outdoors person. I especially love Sunston Beach (I have a dog and it’s dog-friendly) and Stinson Beach, which is just an hour from San Francisco but feels like a million miles away.

Favorite Brunch Spot

My new favorite place is Bar Jules in Hayes Valley. The chef, Jessica Boncutter, is there all the time; when she’s not cooking, she’s the hostess. Just recently, I had fantastic scrambled eggs with asparagus, grilled toast and prosciutto (609 Hayes St.; 415-621-5482 or barjules.com).

Favorite Nightlife Spot

If I’m out late, I go to Zuni Café. The hamburger is always delicious and it’s only available after 10PM (1658 Market St.; 415-552-2522 or zunicafe.com).

Restaurant Recommendations

Coco 500, where Loretta Keller has been doing fried green beans since before anyone else. I’m also a big fan of her truffle mushroom flatbread (500 Brannan St.; 415-543-2222 or coco500.com).

Sebo. The fish is always impeccable at this Japanese restaurant in Hayes Valley, and the sake list is great, too (517 Hayes St.; 415-864-2122).

Slanted Door. The Jicama salad in particular is amazing (1 Ferry Building #3; 415-861-8032 or slanteddoor.com).

Fish, in Sausalito, for very simply prepared dishes like fish and chips (350 Harbor Dr.; 415-331-3474).

El Balazo. This is my funky choice: it’s a taqueria in a carwash in the Mission. They have the best carnitas (2560 Marin St.; 415-282-7130).

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