Restaurant Review

Perbacco

The five-year-old restaurant has a grand men's club air but stays true to its earthy Italian influences  

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE In the little gathering of restaurants on the 200 block of California Street deep in the Financial District, Perbacco is one of the middle children, at least physically. Mid-block positions can be awkward for restaurants, since your would-be customers are likely to have to do a bit of searching for you instead of finding you in mighty command of some conspicuous corner. On the other hand, if your nearest neighbors are Michael Mina (née Aqua) and Tadich Grill, the foot-traffic factor could tilt in your favor.Read more »

Los Yaquis

Ruddy cheer, massive beers: drinking or not, Los Yaquis has solid, home-cooked Salvadoran food

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Criolla Kitchen

Doing delta right in the Castro, with crunchy mirliton salads, shrimp po'boys, and of course, hush puppies

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DINE The soft bigotry of low expectations — one of those marvelous phrases dreamed up by George W. Bush's hardworking speechwriters, who fed him their words the way you would put junk mail through a shredder — was on my mind recently when I walked into Criolla Kitchen, which earlier this spring replaced Bagdad Cafe at the corner of Market and Sanchez streets. My expectations were low. Why? Because Bagdad Cafe was the last titan of mediocre 24-hour gay diners in the Castro. Oh, it had its charms, and it had been there forever, but people weren't piling in for the food.Read more »

Zero Zero

Restaurant review: Clouds of dough, blistered attractively

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Pasión

Technicolored marinades on a Peruvian-powered, pan-Latino menu 

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Alexander's Steakhouse

Straddling the culinary poles of France and Japan, this Brannan Street vault still delivers for fans of American red meat

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Don Pisto's

Hamburguesas in Margharitaville (and mussels with housemade chorizo) -- this bustling little spot brings adventurous Mexican to North Beach

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DINE Not all restaurants have mantras, but Don Pisto's must be "our kitchen is small." It's what we heard over and over from our server. Actually, we didn't hear her; we just read her lips as best we could. When Don Pisto's starts to fill up — and, being snug, it fills up quickly — it becomes as noisy a restaurant as I've been in. If you've ever stood near the end of a runway as a fully loaded 747 roared into the sky over your head, you'll have some idea of the decibels, which reach such levels as to become a fourth dimension. I was deafened. Maybe that was a mercy.Read more »

Morph

Decor provides the wit, food brings the cheer -- this Asian spot near Park Presidio is worth seeking out

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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE It's a competitive era in restaurant light fixtures, and this must be in part because light fixtures are one of the few levers designers can push to create a flourish. As with men's clothing (blue suit, gray suit, white shirt, blue shirt, brown shoes, black shoes?), restaurant design is largely a function of restraints and requirements, with few chances to have a bit of fun. Light fixtures, like neckties, offer a chance to add some pizzazz and style while also being useful.Read more »

Sushi Hunter

Take a break from red wine and Dean Martin soundtracks at this North Beach sushi spot

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paulr@sfbg.com

If there are farms in Berkeley, there's no reason there shouldn't be sushi in North Beach, and there is, at Sushi Hunter. And it's not only pretty wonderful, but right near the heart of things, on the corner of the block that used to host the Washington Square Bar and Grill, or the Washbag, for any Herbalists who might still linger out there nursing their vodka gimlets and memories of the good old days.Read more »

Straits Restaurant

If you like your nasi goreng with the scale and glamour of Vegas, you'll love Straits

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paulr@sfbg.com

If the archetypal American success story is, or was, the move to the bigger house in the better neighborhood, then Straits Restaurant (né Straits Cafe) is an archetypal American success. The restaurant, born late in the Reagan years in a modest corner spot in the inner Richmond, moved about five years ago to massive new digs in the Westfield Center, right in the heart of shoppers' city. It also became a small chain, with outposts on the Peninsula and as far afield as Houston and Atlanta.Read more »