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Exclusive | San Francisco: Where to Eat

Exclusive | San Francisco: Where to Eat

The native passion for food among San Franciscans is a bonus for visitors, who can indulge their senses at every meal. Restaurants are relatively casual, and while jackets and ties are rarely required, you'll see far more of them here than in Southern California. Don't feel silly about planning allactivities around your meals. Your traveling companions will thank you for your foresight later!

Predictably, the most gay-popular restaurants are in the Castro, stretching over to Noe Valley, the Mission, and Potrero Hill. Until quite recently, the best you could hope for in the Castro was greasy diner fare or a quick slice of pizza. Thankfully, that's changing. Sumi (4243 18th St; 415-626-7864; dinner entrées: $16-23) has long been the Castro's best-kept secret, serving seasonal half-French, half-Japanese fare and sake-tinis before they came into vogue.

Côté Sud (4238 18th St; 415-255-6565; $16-28) serves up satisfying dishes from the south of France, such as a sea food basquaise and a millefeuille of vegetables. The wine list is extensive but approachable, with French wines making -- quelle surprise -- a strong showing. The interior décor brings the warm, sunny colors of Provence into a very San Franciscan space.

Next to Cote Sud, 2223 Restaurant (2223 Market St; 415-431-0692; $14-26) is very popular with the gays. Here you'll find a Pacific-Rim/Global cuisine menu with a few down-home numbers thrown in. The garlic-mashed potatoes have a cult following, though some find the service off-putting. Tip: Old-timers refer to 2223 as the "no name." Mecca (2029 Market St; 415-621-7000; $21-32) is a supper-club like setting on Market Street. It features a large, round bar and an alcove dining room. The crowd trends gay though remains quite mixed. You'll see guys in black-tie just in from an opera opening, girls in Gap T-shirts, and everything in between. The food can be magnificent although unflattering reports filter through from time to time. It's a nice place to start your night off with a drink. And it's just around the corner from the always-popular Pilsner Inn.

Home (2100 Market St; 415-503-0333; $16-30) serves up a cozy interior, homey nouveau comfort-food dishes, and a wallet-friendly price point. It remains a popular destination both for dinner and cocktails. Chow (215 Church St; 415-552-3469; $7-13) is ridiculously popular, no doubt in part due to its proximity to the Pilsner, and the prices are reasonable as well. Blue (2337 Market St; 415-863-2583; $10-19) is a competent little diner serving comfort food for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Fall hook, line, and sinker for Catch (2632 Market St; 415-431-5000; $15-25). Catch serves up a seafood-focused menu with standouts like bluenose bass, seafood ravioli, and linguine with clams. Diners can enjoy a full meal either in the main dining area or in the heated, screened patio, or enjoy sandwiches or appetizers at the bar. The large, airy space once housed the NAMES Project headquarters, as well as Harvey Milk's campaign office. Tangerine (3499 16th St; 415-626-1700; $15-28) describes itself as a ?Pacific Rim? restaurant and serves up Asian-fusion cuisine. Comfy coffee shop Morning Due Cafe (3698 17th St; 415-621-7156) serves simple cafe food and provides wireless Internet and a library of used books. It?s an unpretentious place to work or unwind.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

Part Seven

San Francisco: Introduction
San Francisco: Where to Stay
San Francisco: Where to Play/Meet
San Francisco: What to See & Do
San Francisco: Where to Shop
San Francisco: Resources

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Joe Okonkwo