You can place the cooking of William Johnson (Zuni) and Melissa Axelrod (Delfina) roughly in the rustic Cal-Med genre, moving as it does from Moroccan chickpea soup to duck liver mousse with rhubarb jam to herb-perfumed roast chicken that would play well on farm tables the world over. The space, which shares a courtyard with the New Parish nightclub, is sparsely furnished but filled with the grainy strains of old jazz records. 1745 San Pablo Ave. (at 18th St.), Oakland, 510-290-0331 —J.S.
If the Lower Haight’s classic Rosamunde-Toronado night out got a master’s degree, it would probably look something like Hog’s Apothecary, where a meat-heavy menu complements 32 taps of California beer. Cicerone Sayre Piotrkowski pairs the hearty pork terrine, bacon-wrapped rabbit leg, rotating house-made sausages, and lard-fried chips with heady beers like Iron Springs’ Flashover smoked porter and Craftsman’s Triple White Sage. Most of the beer is shipped directly from the brewery for maximum freshness. 375 40th St. (at Opal St.), Oakland, 510-338- 3847 —C.P.
Embarcadero, San Francisco
Built into the bones of the old Fog City Diner that sold overpriced cioppino for years, this new version bears little resemblance to its predecessor. Real Restaurant Group (Bix, Picco) removed the dividing wall, allowing the glowing bar to fill the center of the room. For dinner, graze through paprika-sauced trumpet mushrooms, sake butter–braised clams, and a whole chicken roasted to crispy, juicy perfection. For dessert, French crullers and Straus frozen custard are worth the splurge. 1300 Battery St. (at Embarcadero), 415-982-2000 —C.A.
Fillmore, San Francisco
This Korean-inflected izakaya stakes its claim in a part of town that’s long been stagnant on the culinary front. To find the gems, venture away from the expected sashimi and yakitori. Instead, order soft, slippery tofu topped with tiny dollops of uni, oshinko, and mentaiko. A slab of eggplant slathered in sweet miso and grilled tastes as rich as roasted meat. The large wood-lined space offers a few tatami rooms where customers can get comfortable with the restaurant’s rather extensive sake selection. 1560 Fillmore St. (at Geary St.), 415-441-9294 —S.D.
Originally published in the December issue of San Francisco
Have feedback? Email us at email@example.com
Email Carolyn Alburger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Sara Deseran at email@example.com
Email Caleb Pershan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Jenna Scatena at email@example.com
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Carolyn Alburger on Twitter @CarolynAlburger
Follow Sara Deseran on Twitter @SaraDeseran
Follow Caleb Pershan on Twitter @calaesthetic
Follow Jenna Scatena on Twitter @jenna_scatena