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Where To Go Next in San Francisco | April 2003

Best New Restaurants

Acme Chophouse At her spacious outpost in Pacific Bell Park stadium, Traci Des Jardins (an F&W Best New Chef 1995) uses only sustainably raised meats and local produce. Who needs Barry Bonds when the kitchen scores with made-to-order creamed spinach and the best Cubano sandwiches in town (24 Willie Mays Plaza; 415-644-0240).

Chez Spencer An art-filled loft space in an industrial alley is the site of one of the city's most daring new bistros. Chef Laurent Katgely specializes in elegant preparations of underappreciated ingredients: mackerel, fresh anchovies, antelope and birds—squab, quail, duck—fragrant from the wood-burning oven (82 14th St.; 415-864-2191).

Incanto The most ambitious Italian wine list in the city complements a menu of simple Italian dishes that emphasize pristine ingredients. Florentine sommelier Claudio Villani arranges flights of tastes while chef Paul Buscemi serves spaghetti with calamari and grilled bread topped with sautéed chicken liver from an open kitchen (1550 Church St.; 415-641-4500).

Julia Locals go wherever chef Julia McClaskey sets up her wood-fired rotisserie. At her latest restaurant, in lower Pacific Heights, she lures fans old and new with aromatic green curries and meltingly tender beef cheeks with pea sprouts (2101 Sutter St.; 415-441-2101).

Lorca Catalan chef Pepe Desvalls creates multicourse prix-fixe meals in the deconstructed style of contemporary Spanish cooking: creamy onion soup served over red pepper—potato puree and balsamic syrup; shrimp and baby eel salad; a single velvety cube of braised beef on layers of eggplant and tomato. At $28 for seven courses, this is an irresistible bargain (3200 24th St.; 415-550-7510).

Tartine Bakery Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson built a cult following for their breads in Point Reyes before opening this Mission District spot. From 1 p.m. on, bread emerges from the ovens hourly, joining morning pastries, tarts and sweet and savory bread puddings (600 Guerrero St.; 415-487-2600).

Best Lounge Menu

RNM At this stylish new lower Haight lounge, 29-year-old chef and owner Justine Miner serves a small-plates menu with items like crispy pizzas topped with pancetta and radicchio, and miniature White Castle—style hamburgers. Miner knows her way around the California pantry, and she has an eye for presentation: Her sophisticated culinary creations are beautifully plated on custom-designed pieces of asymmetrical pottery (598 Haight St.; 415-551-7900).

Best Makeovers

Home At this remake of the tony JohnFrank, Lance Dean Velasquez (an F&W Best New Chef 1996) charges half what he used to for the best pot roast in town. The menu is classic American, the prices miraculously cheap. Patrons congregate over cocktails in the Patio bar, a laid-back space with skylights and potted bamboos (2100 Market St.; 415-503-0333).

Jeanty at Jack's Philippe Jeanty transplanted his Bistro Jeanty concept from wine country to Jack's, one of the city's oldest restaurants. It took. His hearty, unfashionable, French-grandmother dishes—leeks vinaigrette, coq au vin—are perfectly at home in these historic San Francisco rooms (615 Sacramento St.; 415-693-0941).

Piperade In the space that housed his former bistro, Pastis, Gerald Hirigoyen (an F&W Best New Chef 1994) returns to his roots with French-Basque specialties like the namesake pipérade stew. Have it with an inky Irouléguy wine from the Basque country (1015 Battery St.; 415-391-2555).

Published April 2003
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