La Mar Cebicheria Peruana 328 The Embarcadero/Washington St., at Pier 1˝. Here, authentic Peruvian cuisine is the focus and small plates-sharing is the format. You’ll do well to order a selection of plates from the cebiches (Peru’s national dish of marinated seafood), causas (assorted kinds of potatoes, whipped and topped with something tasty), ensaladas (Peruvian-inspired salads), empanadas (delectable little pie turnovers with various fillings and dipping sauces), and anticuchos (traditional grilled skewers of fish or meat). Larger main courses and both vegetarian and gluten-free items are also available. My favorites are the complimentary “bread” course of fried plantain, sweet potato, and regular potato chips served with two dipping sauces, and anything that contains the big kernels of chewy Peruvian corn (the crispy-crusted crescent empanadas filled with a mashed sweet corn-cilantro mix are to-die for). A dessert trio is perfect if you can’t make up your mind, but the word is that the traditional picarones consisting of warm pumpkin and sweet potato fritters with spiced honey is a winner. A full bar serves an impressive selection of pisco cocktails (it is Peru’s national drink), and I can vouch for the punch packed by both the Pisco Sour and the tasty and beautiful passion fruit-based Maracuya Sour. A few Peruvian vintages are among the wine offerings, and beer and sake are also options. The best water view is available on the tent-enclosed dockside patio, but the vast interior room with its high ceiling, banquettes, attractive minimalist décor, and exhibition kitchen--you might get to see Executive Chef cutie Diego Oka in action--has its own charms.
La Taqueria 2889 Mission St./25th St., Mission District, (415) 285-7117. No credit cards. For fast food Mexican-style, step through one of the two arches here and head to the order counter. Then pick a table, and kick back. Entertainment is provided by a colorful folk mural decorating one wall, by cooks in the open kitchen busily preparing orders, and by a jukebox with Mexican music. The menu is simple: either a taco made with two steamed corn tortillas or a burrito made with a flour tortilla. Fillings are a choice of pork, beef, sausage, chicken, or vegetarian (beans and cheese). Pinto beans and fresh tomato salsa round things out; avocado and sour cream cost a bit more. In 2014, the carnitas super burrito, dorado style, was named by FiveThirtyEight as the best burrito in the U.S., and was praised especially for its juiciness. Depending on the season, delicious housemade fresh fruit drinks include strawberry, cantaloupe, orange, banana, and pineapple.
Pick up a walk-away dessert next door at Dianda’s Italian-American Pastry, where everything is made from scratch and the cannoli are particularly good.
Le P’tit Laurent 699 Chenery St./Diamond St., in Glen Park (Monterey exit off Hwy. 280).
Louis’ 902 Point Lobos Ave., above the Cliff House, Outer Richmond. No cards. Founded in 1937 as a hot dog stand, this enterprise has been around since the heyday of the Sutro Baths. Now a coffee shop restaurant, it has been run by four generations of the same family. The menu is simple: eggs, omelettes, and pancakes for breakfast; hamburgers, fried prawns, and sandwiches for lunch and dinner. But people don’t come here for the food, they come here for the killer view at a reasonable price.