Restaurant Gary Danko
Formerly the chef at the city’s Ritz-Carlton, Gary Danko has, since 1999, run the quintessential San Francisco restaurant. Not just because he has a masterly touch with sparkling-fresh ingredients (he does; his sweet-corn soup with huitlacoche ravioli and truffles is a revelation, as is the roast lobster with chanterelles and edamame). But because—even though it’s consistently top-ranked by Zagat and Michelin, and the décor is white-linen formal—the place never feels stuffy, intimidating, or cooler-than-thou. Everyone is almost goofily nice, and you’re welcome to create the menu you want, in the order you want, pretty much any way you want. (Just finish with the chocolate soufflé.)
Tip: Although the restaurant’s 25 tables fill up two months in advance, seats at the bar are reserved for walk-ins. To score one, show up at 5 p.m., when the bar opens (half an hour before the restaurant itself).
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From Food & Wine , NOV 2011
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From Food & Wine , OCT 2009
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.