1658 Market Street,
Phone: (415) 552-2522
I have to admit that I didn’t have high hopes for Judy Rodger’s New American, Zuni Cafe. For starters, they had an attitude every time I called for a reservation. And all anyone talked about was their famous Brick Oven Roast Chicken. Was it really worth fighting for a reservation for chicken? The answer surprisingly is yes. The Chicken is that good. It’s cooked in their Wood-Fired Oven ’til the skin’s crispy, sliced up and served over a warm bread salad with pine nuts, currants and garlic to sop up all of the delicious juices, then topped with a fistful of vinegary greens. And while I normally discourage people from spending time on the raw bar at a destination restaurant known for other things, the oysters here are some of the best I’ve had to date on the West Coast. The Drake’s Bay oysters from Point Reyes are a must as are any from Tomales Bay, especially the Pacific Hog Island.
There’s a decidedly Mediterranean bent to the menu, which features dishes like Smashed Beets with Garlic & Bottarga, and Spaghetti with Clams, Peas, Basil and Aioli. One of my favorite appetizers was fresh Fava Bean Pods A La Plancha, scattered with bright yellow mustard blossoms, spring onions and preserved limequats, and of course, the Zuni Caesar Salad, which ranks right up there with the best of them. We overate so we only had room for their signature, Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream.