Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants
Fog City 1300 Battery St./The Embarcadero. Reservations advised. Glitzy with chrome and glowing with neon on the outside, this inviting diner offers a sleek Pat Kuleto-designed interior with an open kitchen and plenty of roomy booths hugging the window-lined perimeter. Because of its design and lonely location, it reminds me of that bleak painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper (which the painter said was inspired by "a restaurant on New York's Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet"—is it coincidence that the F-car stop for this restaurant is Greenwich?), but it shakes that image with a happy roar once you’re inside. A long V-shaped bar with seating and a communal table fill the center. Menu items are designed to be shared. We started with tasty deviled eggs topped with crunchy quinoa and a sprinkling of tiny chopped chives, satisfying flash-fried blackened Brussels sprouts in citrusy ponzu sauce with chunks of crispy Asian pear, and oven roasted-yet-crunchy baby carrots in a bed of black garlic mole. Then we shared a delicate pink-fleshed trout filet served with flavorful Arbequina olives, fingerling potatoes, and the fish’s head!—all served attractively on an Alder-wood plank. Among the plentiful other main dishes are the kitchen’s signature whole chicken roasted in the wood oven and a good old American hamburger made special with a housemade bun and smoked tomato aioli. Bread, which is toasted in the oven and served with Straus butter, costs additional. Order up a cocktail—perhaps the margarita-like Paloma--and you’re ready to rock ‘n roll (however, there’s no jukebox in this former diner). Do save room for some Straus frozen custard—I had it with (OMG!) my own little pitcher of superb egg yolk caramel sauce, but plum sauce and dark chocolate sauce are also options—or perhaps a circular portion of apple pie flavored with chilis.
Foreign Cinema 2534 Mission St./21st St., Mission District. Operating within the dramatically remodeled interior of a former department store in which everything was ripped out and left bare and trendy, this wildly popular spot attracts the hordes down its long, votive-lit corridor to party and feast. Seating is either on an open-air patio (covered by a canopy in cool weather and well-heated), where diners can watch the foreign flick of the week, or in the roaring main dining room with its 20-foot-tall ceiling. Specialties include an expansive oyster bar, baked cheese with roasted potatoes, curry-roasted chicken, and chocolate pot de crème. Several communal tables are available for walk-ins.