Katia’s: A Russian Tea Room 600 5th Ave./Balboa St., Sunset District. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Russian neighborhood, among side streets lined with noteworthy vintage houses, this intimate restaurant offers traditional thick beet-and-cabbage borscht, breaded ground-chicken cutlets Pozharski, and golubtsi--cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef. For dessert, try boiled cheese dumplings topped with exquisite fresh sour cream. Live guitar music is scheduled on Saturday evenings.
Across the street, teeny, tiny Globus specializes in Slavic books.
Khan Toke Thai House 5937 Geary Blvd./24th Ave., Outer Richmond District. Diners remove their shoes before entering a maze of lushly decorated small dining rooms. The richly embellished tables are low to the ground. Some have floor pillows for reclining, while others have wells in the floor beneath into which legs can dangle. Many of the unusual Thai herbs used in preparing dishes for the extensive, well-executed menu are grown in a courtyard behind the restaurant. The extensive menu is heavy with delicious choices, and a large selection of vegetarian items is available.
Kokkari Estiatorio 200 Jackson St./Front St., Financial District. Named for a small fishing village on the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea, this stylish and very popular restaurant serves sophisticated versions of Greek cuisine. Starters include traditional spanakotiropita (spinach-filled filo pies) and pikilia (an array of delicious classic spreads served with grilled housemade pita and rice-filled dolmathes). Entrees include fabulous grilled lamb chops with memorably good baked potato wedges, a grilled whole striped bass, and what might be the best rendition of moussaka west of Athens. Among the delectable desserts are a creamy rice pudding with poached peaches and cherries, and an expansive array of Greek cookies and baklava—they taste even better with a cup of strong stone-ground Greek coffee prepared in a giant urn over hot sand, or with a glass of ouzo selected from ten varieties. Seating here is a decided bonus and includes both comfortable booths and upholstered chairs.
A sister restaurant, Evvia, is located in Palo Alto.