The Dining Cryptographer: LuLu and Nettie's Crab Shack (San Francisco, CA)

Another day, another pair of restaurants: the first one walking distance, the second one an easy cab ride.

LuLu is in a large 1910 warehouse. This makes it a good choice for a conference lunch, as there’s likely to be a table free when you get there—although, as always, it’s smart to make a reservation. The food is Provençal in style, and generally delicious. The appetizers are usually good, and it’s worth getting a bunch for the table. The pizzas are good, but ignore them in favor of the more interesting options—unless you want to try one for everyone to share. Every day of the week, there’s a different dinner special; go Tuesday for the rabbit or Friday for the squab. Both the rotisserie pork and chicken are good. I especially like the wine list, with over 70 different wines available by the glass. They even have flights of several different wines, so you can try a bunch of things. The only real downside to Lulu is the noise. (86 Folsom St., 415-495-5775,

Nettie’s Crab Shack isn’t walking distance from the Moscone, but it’s much closer than the East Coast restaurants it styles itself after. Nothing on the menu should be unfamiliar, but it’s all reasonably priced and delicious. Try the clam chowder, the crab cakes, or the grilled squid. I also liked their fish and chips; and look at the chalkboards around the restaurant for their daily specials. Be sure to check out the wine list, with lots of good selections at very reasonable prices. And if you’re around on Sunday, their crab feed special is fantastic. (2032 Union St., 415-409-0300,

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.