Travel

California Restaurants

Restaurant city
1760
1760 Polk St., Nob Hill
On Friday and Saturday nights, this sprawling space feels and sounds like a rowdy dining hall and tables are spaced just far enough that you can hear your neighbors' conversation without bumping elbows. The floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto busy Polk Street, which adds to the buzzy vibe. Menu-wise, it’s all small plates that change seasonally, however, the lobster ceviche, lollipop kale, and uni bucatini have become signature dishes. Come with a friend or a date for cocktails and a few sharing plates.
A-Won
913 Vermont Ave., Koreatown
The soup known as al tang embodies so much of what we love about Korean food: hot and spicy; packed with paengi beoseot (long, delicate bunches of white mushrooms), tofu, daikon, generous heaps of fish eggs; and punched up with chili powder and garlic. The best version in Los Angeles is at A-Won, a low-key spot that also specializes in hwe dup bap (the Korean version of sashimi), which is really more like a poke bowl. It’s mixed with seaweed, watercress, sliced cucumber and carrots over rice, along with plenty of chili paste.
Absinthe
398 Hayes St., Hayes Valley
Absinthe was an early pioneer both of the craft/artisanal cocktail scene in San Francisco (the absinthe cocktails are still amazing) and of the Hayes Valley neighborhood (they were one of the first in the area). The cuisine slants French, but not in a restricting way—you’ll find a Hawaiian swordfish alongside their famous French onion soup and coq au vin. The upstairs private space is unique in the city for being completely separate, with an exclusive-use bar and entrance.
Acacia House
1915 Main Street, St. Helena
Chef Chris Cosentino has earned a reputation as one of the culinary world's top talents (he's held his own in the TV sphere as the winner of Top Chef Masters). At Acacia House, his penchant for classic American dishes is evident on the menu. For the vegetarians among us, the whole roasted eggplant is exceptional, finished with capers, pistachios, and blistered tomatoes. If you're looking for a heartier protein, go for the Striped Bass. And if you happen to find yourself tiring of wine, there's an inventive cocktail list from which to choose, which includes a traditional Mexico City margarita.
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