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Outer Limits

Beach Chalet
Ken Richardson

South of Sunset: The Beach Chalet offers dining by the dunes.

Public transit makes Sunset District's dining accessible

By Hank Hamilton

If you don't keep a close eye on 'em, the outer neighborhoods can sneak in some interesting things. Food lovers who haven't been out in a while should visit the Sunset and nearby areas. Hit the museums in Golden Gate Park. If it's still daylight, stop by the yacht basin and watch the gulls being attacked by remote-control vessels. Feed peanuts to the squirrels in the Tea Garden. If the wind's up, stop by Fort Funston to watch the hang gliders--probably one of the only places where you can be eyeball-to-eyeball with a hang glider as it slips past the cliff. Afterward, check out some of the West City dining adventures. Or just grab a Muni Metro to good eats ... any excuse for a meal.

Credit card legend: A=American Express, C=Carte Blanche, D=Diners Club, Di=Discover, J=JCB, M=MasterCard, T=Transmedia, V=Visa.

Avenue 9
A new, top-notch California bistro in the middle of the Sunset's Gourmet Gulch, only a half-block from the N-Judah line. The tunnel-like front room holds an exhibition kitchen (with counter seats for spectators) down one side and tables down the other. Two people can get pretty full sharing smoked salmon on a potato latke with créme fraîche; a warm spinach salad with seared prawns and a sherry vinaigrette; and a duck breast and leg confit with chile pudding and wild mushrooms. There's a well-priced, interesting 33-item wine list with 12 served by the glass. 1243 Ninth Ave. (above Lincoln) 664-6999. Lunch, dinner 7 days, late lunch Sa-Su, late dining F-Sa. Beer and wine. $$, A, D, M, V. Reservations suggested. Parking is difficult; try Lincoln Avenue.

The Beach Chalet
Thankfully, some enterprising folks are about to reopen the Beach Chalet, which for many years was an icon of Ocean Beach and San Francisco history. If the place can't be a biker bar, then the brewpub it's to become might be the best bet. Hey, how 'bout a biker brewpub? It probably will be a more elegant product; I hope it'll be as much fun. Maybe an alternative for the after-work crowd to unwind in another glorious sunset? Give the new management a call and see what they've done with the place. Come during the day when the visitor center is open. A combination of the N-Judah and the 18-bus can get you there. 1000 The Great Highway (above Fulton) 386-8439. Light breakfast M-F; lunch, dinner 7 days. Free parking lot.

Cafe for All Seasons
For some years this shop has been delivering fresh, clean preparations of updated American dishes. The room offers a light, bright tearoom feel, usually filled wall-to-wall at peak hours. Drop in for dishes such as grilled rainbow trout with tarragon lemon-butter and chopped chives (at brunch); spaghetti with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, lemon and garlic; or pork scallops with a mustard-cream sauce and capers. Right on the K- and M-Metro lines. 150 W. Portal Ave (above Vicente) 665-0900. Lunch M-Sa., dinner 7 days, brunch Sa-Su. Beer and wine. $$. V, M, A. Limited reservations. Park on streets or in small public lot nearby.

A recently opened branch of The House in North Beach, this was SRO almost from day one. The jauntily skewed front window and entranceway warn of the impending eccentric east-west fusion cuisine inside. The place is crowded even on weeknights with a youngish crowd waiting to scarf up dishes like grilled sea bass with garlic-ginger soy sauce, and ahi BLT with wasabi mayonnaise. A short walk from the N-Judah Metro. 1269 Ninth Ave. 682-3898. Lunch, dinner Tu-Su, late dining F-Sa. Beer and wine. $$. A, D, J, M, V. Reservations available. Parking is usually difficult; try Lincoln Avenue.

We praised this one a few issues ago, but since then the menu has been better focused and the wine list has been kicked up a coupla notches. In case you've forgotten, the draw here is twofold. One is an excellent menu of South African fusion cuisine from the Cape Malay area. The other fold is a chance to try some of the excellent wines from South Africa. Near the end of the N-Judah Metro line. 4115 Judah St. (above 46th) 753-5448. Dinner W-Su. Cocktails. $$. V, M. Reservations available. Park on streets.

A pleasant, friendly, lighthearted cafe with Cal-Asian dishes in a parlorlike ambiance with pleasant music and helpful staff. The 16-item wine list goes beyond the usual neighborhood Chinese place. Try the red dumplings filled with pork and shrimp, or the tangerine beef with black mushrooms. Or call a day ahead for a four-pound whole steamed cod with garlic and ginger. Dishes will easily feed two or more. A short walk from the Forest Hill Metro station (K-, L- and M-lines). 408 Dewey Blvd. (at Laguna Honda) 665-6888. Lunch M-F, dinner 7 days. Beer and wine. $-$$. V, M. Reservations available. Park on streets or in small, free, nearby lot.

Old Krakow
Warm, cozy and very Central European, the cuisine here is authentically Polish (the only one in town?). This is not your father's Polish cooking--the late 20th century has intervened. You can still start with the marinated herring or the pickle soup, move on to potato dumplings in mushroom sauce or cabbage rolls stuffed with ground beef and rice, and finish with a blueberry pirogi. A short list of reasonably priced Californian and German wine selections. Right on the K- and M-Metro lines. 385 W. Portal Ave. (above 14th) 564-4848. Breakfast Sa-Su, lunch, dinner Tu-Su. Beer and wine. Mod$. A, M, V. Reservations available. Parking can be difficult; try down 15th.

Fine bistro dining west of Twin Peaks. White tablecloths, chimney-capped oil lamps and bottles of Perrier on the table. Classical music, an informed and caring wait-staff and a primo wine list boost the evening along. A short walk from the Forest Hill Metro station (K-, L- and M-lines). 400 Dewey Blvd. (at Laguna Honda) 661-9210. Lunch Tu-F, dinner Tu-Su. Beer and wine. $$ A, C, D, Di, J, M, V. Reservations available. Small, free parking lot.

The Seafood and Beverage Co.
at the Cliff House (Yes, the Cliff House)
You'll rediscover two things: Dishes here are very good to excellent, and some of them are beyond the domination of tourists and young people from Daly City. Dishes range all the way from hamburgers to chicken Oscar (stuffed with crab meat) and teriyaki swordfish, with pasta in between--all served to the accompaniment of ocean vistas and honking sea lions. 1090 Point Lobos (at Great Highway) 386-3330. Lunch M-Sa, dinner 7 days, brunch Su. Cocktails. $$-$$$ A, D, M, V. Reservations available. Park on streets or free lots up the hill.

Lively, fresh, inviting Thai dishes prepared with care and herbs from the backyard garden. The restaurant is off the street, behind a beauty parlor. It has a large, greenhouselike rear wall that permits a good view of the garden. The dishes are bright and clean and pleasantly spiced. While there are main courses, two can dine well sharing a half-dozen small plates. Try porpia savoey (mushrooms, chicken, onion, potato, corn, carrot and glass noodles wrapped in a thin pancake and deep fried), tom kah gai (chicken in coconut milk soup with lemon juice, chile, mushroom and galangal) and gang kua gung (shrimp curry in coconut milk). Two blocks from the L-Taraval 15th Avenue stop. 339 Taraval St. 664-7603. Dinner Tu-Su. Beer and wine. Inexp$-mod$ A, V, M, Di. Reservations available. Parking can be difficult.

General's Daughter
Stop press! Yes, it's true: We San Franciscans have to get out of town every now and then. My recent escape was up to the town of Sonoma, one hour north. Go up early on a weekend and visit Jack London Park for a walk and a bit of history, or visit the valley wineries and drop into the General's Daughter. A buncha stars for this restored home of General Vallejo's daughter with lots of space, an elegant (but contemporary) feel, trompe l'oeil wall decorations (you have to love the chickens above the door frame), and a gallery of photos of winery principals that reflect the easygoing style of the Sonoma Valley vintners. I find that the veranda and patio give a nostalgic, mid-Atlantic feel to the place. Hey, the food alone is worth the trip: thick grilled salmon steak with sun-dried-tomato mashed potatoes, Swiss chard, lobster sauce and a trio of citrus fruits; and linguine with sun-dried-tomato pesto, Calabrese sausage, goat cheese and arugula. Don't miss the buttermilk-cornmeal battered onion rings, and do ask for more of the lemon-pepper aïoli. 400 W. Spain St. 707/938-4004. Lunch M-Sa, dinner 7 days, brunch Su. Cocktails with a bar. Mod$-exp$ V, M. Reservations suggested. Free parking lot.

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From the January 1997 issue of the Metropolitan

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