Seared foie gras at Haven.
With the simple equation of polished bar food and lots of wine, chef-owners Greg Faucette and Jason Limburg—veterans between them of Commonwealth, Contigo, Bar Tartine, and Per Se—have already developed a loyal following. Get the fried gnocchi, with chewy-soft potato nuggets tossed in short rib jus and shaved horseradish, or the McNugget-like sweetbreads in a glistening varnish of Buffalo Bob’s hot sauce. Carolyn Alburger
507 Divisadero St. (near Fell St.), 415-525-3485
Tony Gemignani, of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana fame, tackles a different beast here: a thick-crust Chicago style pie in a space with a 1920s, almost Disney-esque gangster vibe that’s fortified by tufted cherry-red booths. The ballyhooed quattro forni isn’t the be-all and end-all, but the deep-dish crusts are excellent, as is the cocktail program focused on brown spirits that were popular during Prohibition. Pasta e fagioli soup is served gratis with every meal. Carolyn Alburger
641 Vallejo St. (near Stockton St.), 415-986-8998
After shuttering Hyde Street Bistro for a revamp, Sancerre native Mikael Audry has reopened his restaurant as Cocotte, forgoing haute French touches in favor of more rustic fare. The new focus brings sharp takes on steak frites, beef Wellington, and other classics, among them an educational coq au vin that makes you think, “Ah, so this is how it’s supposed to taste.” The bombshell acoustics can be a bummer, but with a rotisserie flickering in the kitchen and streetcars rumbling by outside, the place abounds with old-world charm. Josh Sens
1521 Hyde St. (near Jackson St.), 415-292-4415
With its wall of glass and its tables with built-in convection burners, this modern little Japanese nabemono—or hot pot—place steams up in no time. Choose from five menu items, including traditional sukiyaki with warishita broth and thinly sliced Berkshire pork belly with a kimchee miso broth. After all the dipping of veggies and thinly sliced meat, the broth is full of flavor. At the end of dinner, the server will ask if you want to mix the broth with rice, beaten egg, green onions, and nori. Say yes. It’s delicious. Sara Deseran
1325 9th Ave. (near Irving St.), 415-731-2658
Originally published in the March 2013 issue of San Francisco.
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