Cortez (550 Geary Blvd., 415/292-6360, www.cortezrestaurant.com, nightly 5:30– 10:30 p.m., $10–15/small plate) exemplifies what happens when nouveau cuisine goes right. The Mediterranean-inspired food is utterly delectable. Friendly servers know the menu and the wine list, and are happy to make recommendations. It’s best to order two or three small plates per person, and it’s also the most fun. The more people you bring, the more dishes you get to try!
The desserts, created by a master pastry chef, are worth saving room for. The sugar and spice beignets (with a chocolate fondue for dipping) are a house favorite, but must be ordered in advance. Rservations are a good idea on weekend evenings, especially for theatergoers.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition