The Dining Cryptographer: Ame and Incanto (San Francisco, CA)
If you think about it, providing restaurant recommendations has a bad positive feedback loop. If you all go to the two places below, they’ll be too crowded. So my advice is to hack into the conference’s computers and steal the recommendations for tomorrow.
Ame in the St. Regis is great for both lunch and dinner. The vibe is elegant and sophisticated, but not overbearing or stuffy. You can take either a date or a business associate—but I don’t recommend doing both at the same time. The menu is what I like to think of as New American Celebrity Chef, but with Asian accents. The sashimi dishes are good, but I prefer the more involved fish and game dishes. Actually, ignore the menu and just order “Lissa’s Staff Meal”: cuttlefish noodles with sea urchin, wasabi, and umami soy sauce. And be sure to check out the sake menu. There’s a lot to choose from, and the staff will help you if you’re unsure. This place has won a lot of awards recently, and for good reason. It’s not cheap; though; this place will blow your per diem. (689 Mission St., 415-284-4040, www.amerestaurant.com)
Incanto is a neighborhood Italian restaurant that’s good enough to make you want to move so it’s in your neighborhood. The menu is relatively simple, but the food is well-prepared and delicious. Chef Chris Cosentino isn’t trying to do Italian cuisine from any particular part of Italy; he instead tries to use local California ingredients in Italian preparations. Like the website says: “Yes, the food we serve at Incanto represents a part of Italy that is called ‘California.'” The menu changes regularly, but I like any dish that uses offal. They do “whole beast” dinners for larger parties or or “leg of beast” dinners for groups of six to eight, but a week’s advance notice is required for those. Great wine list, too. (1550 Church St, 415-641-4500, www.incanto.biz)