Make reservations in advance if you want to dine at Farallon (450 Post St., 415/956-6969, www.farallonrestaurant.com, Mon.–Thurs. 5:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–11 p.m., Sun. 5–10 p.m., $30–55), a San Francisco legend. Dark, cavelike rooms are decorated in an undersea theme—complete with the unique Jellyfish Bar. The cuisine, on the other hand, is out of this world. Chef Mark Franz has made Farallon a 10-year fad that just keeps gaining ground. The major culinary theme, seafood, dominates the pricey-but-worth-it menu. Desserts by award-winning pastry chef Emily Luchetti round out what many consider to be the perfect California meal.
Another local mainstay of San Francisco haute cuisine is Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio (545 Post St., 415/776-7825, www.postrio.com, Sun.–Wed. 5:30–10 p.m., Thurs.–Sat. 5:30–10:30 p.m., $30–40). Here you’ll find everything from Puck’s famed pizzas to the best of rarified local, sustainable fare. The restaurant has three levels, all of which see their share of celebrities. Not surprisingly, reservations are highly recommended if you want to dine chez Puck.
Even with high name-brand and San Francisco–level expectations, the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton (600 Stockton St., 415/773-6168, www.ritzcarlton.com, Tues.–Thurs. 6 p.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–9:30 p.m.) measures up. Consistently named a top national restaurant by major ratings organizations, the Dining Room serves up mouth-watering French-inspired California cuisine, including plenty of meat, seafood, and creative vegetarian options. You don’t need to be a hotel guest to get a reservation here or to take advantage of the convenient valet parking.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition