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Fodor's Northern California 2014
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Two of San Francisco's top restaurant celebrities—chef Nancy Oakes and designer Pat Kuleto—are responsible for this high-profile, high-priced eatery in the magnificent 1889 Audiffred Building, a Parisian look-alike and one of the few downtown structures to survive the 1906 earthquake. Kuleto's Belle-Époque interior and Oakes's sophisticated-American-food-with-a-French-accent attract well-dressed locals and flush out-of-towners. The menu changes seasonally, but count on standout appetizers and generous portions of dishes like Maine lobster ravioli, grilled king salmon with wild rice and vegetables that include chanterelle mushrooms, and a wood-grilled pork prime rib chop with Kabocha squash gnocchi (all the entrées come with delicious side dishes). Save room (and calories) for one of the dynamite desserts, such as dark chocolate brioche custard. There's counter seating for folks too hungry to wait for a table, and an American Wagyu beef burger with Cowgirl Creamery cheese at lunchtime that lets you eat with the swells without raiding your piggy bank. The well-chosen wine list and excellent service are also hallmarks here.
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