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The 38 Essential San Francisco Restaurants, January 2011

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It being the beginning of 2011 and all, it’s only fitting we update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those occasions when you absolutely must spend half a paycheck. Every couple of months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

This time around, after lots of deep thoughts and reader reflections, some major housekeeping was in order. 15 Romolo and Blue Bottle Café are off due to limited food menus. We’re replacing R & G Lounge with Mission Chinese Food, a more nuanced, MSG-free offering. Tadich Grill has got to go -- though it’s a classic spot with great cioppino, that’s not enough to hold up to the hot competition 2010 created. Similarly: Coi, because a $145 eleven-course tasting menu isn’t where it’s at now. And next A16 as we give them some time to smooth out the coming Liza Shaw exit. Then finally Sebo -- impeccably sourced fish indeed, but high prices and a restrained atmosphere confine its range of appeal to true sushi buffs. Now who else is in: Hayes Valley’s steadfast charmer with a freshly energized menu, Absinthe; genre-defining Mission taqueria, La Taqueria; La Ciccia because its honest renditions of Sardinian fare are unparalleled and unique to San Francisco; Gitane -- its décor and menu add much-needed spice to the city; new FiDi destination Wayfare Tavern and finally Prospect, because chef Ravi Kapur’s intensity of focus has ushered his “relaxed” Boulevard spinoff to prominence in SF dining.

10/7: Added: Frances, The Alembic, Nopalito, Baker & Banker, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana; Dropped: Coco 500, Zuni, Absinthe, Magnolia Brewery, Boulevard
12/2: Added: Mission Chinese Food, Absinthe, La Taqueria, La Ciccia, Gitane, Wayfare Tavern, Prospect; Dropped: R&G Lounge, Coi, 15 Romolo, A16, Blue Bottle Café, Tadich Grill, Sebo

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Perbacco

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Bix Restaurant

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Slanted Door

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Swan Oyster Depot

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Canteen

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Ryoko Restaurant & Bar

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DOSA on Fillmore

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Contigo

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Frances

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Incanto

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Baker & Banker

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Beretta

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The Alembic

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Maverick

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Foreign Cinema

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Delfina/Pizzeria Delfina

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Bar Bambino

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Flour and Water

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AME Restaurant

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Tony's Pizza Napoletana

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Nopalito

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Town Hall Restaurant

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Zaré at Fly Trap

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Wayfare Tavern

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Lung Shan Restaurant\Mission Street Food

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Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

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Prospect

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La Taqueria

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La Ciccia Restaurant

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Gitane Restaurant & Bar

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Perbacco

Bix Restaurant

Slanted Door

Quince

Swan Oyster Depot

Canteen

Ryoko Restaurant & Bar

SPQR

DOSA on Fillmore

Spruce

Nopa

Namu

Halu

Aziza

Contigo

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Frances

Incanto

Baker & Banker

Beretta

Range

The Alembic

Maverick

Foreign Cinema

Delfina/Pizzeria Delfina

Bar Bambino

Flour and Water

AME Restaurant

Tony's Pizza Napoletana

Nopalito

Town Hall Restaurant

Zaré at Fly Trap

Wayfare Tavern

Lung Shan Restaurant\Mission Street Food

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

Prospect

La Taqueria

La Ciccia Restaurant

Gitane Restaurant & Bar

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