Il Fornaio 1265 Battery St./Greenwich St., in Levi's Plaza, near The Embarcadero. Diners have a choice of sitting inside beneath high ceilings at tables covered elegantly with white cloths or outside on a more casual patio at marble tables sheltered by a glass windbreak. Outside seating is prime in good weather and permits enjoying an adjacent park fountain that sounds like a rushing waterfall. Items on the traditional Italian menu lend themselves to sharing, and a salad, pasta, and main course making a generous meal for two. Several pizzas and risottos are also options. Breads and desserts are housemade.
Ironside 680 Second St./Townsend St., SOMA/South Beach. Operating within a former ship repair shop, this spot features an industrial look with concrete floors, brick walls, iron beams, and weathered-wood walls yet manages to feel cozy. The main dining area downstairs has big windows to the street, while an overflow loft area upstairs hugs the wall and sports high ceilings. Lunch is counter service. Starters include long, gently curling plantain chips and also unusual fried avocado slices with smoky jalapeno aioli. Barbecue dinner plates offers the usual suspects—meaty pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, pulled pork—as well as shrimp and Portobello mushroom. Sides include tangy pickled pepper slaw, good-for-you collard greens, and cowboy beans with house-smoked bacon but also cheddar grits and mac & cheese. A tasty pressed Cubano sandwich (veggie version available) is on the menu along with several burgers and a shrimp po’boy. Dishes are prepared using meat from naturally raised animals with no added hormones or antibiotics. The weekend brunch has nothing to do with ‘que and everything to do with eggs. Six California micro brews are on tap, and housemade sangria is available along with bottled beer and wines by the glass. The Chronicle Books shop next door is a good browse.