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Where to Eat Right Now

I’ll be the first to admit that I could be considered a bit jaded, especially when it comes to restaurants. Because even in a city as rich, culinarily speaking, as San Francisco, it’s still possible to have a bad meal. In essence, that’s what my job is all about—trying to steer people away from all the bad dinners out there. I take the bullet so you don’t have to.

That’s why I’m always so, so grateful and thrilled when I have a terrific meal, and glad to have this blog so I can tell you about it right away, rather than letting due editorial process take it’s course. Here, unfettered by word counts, I can tell you about the deliciousness that awaits you at Laiola, the new Chestnut Street restaurant from the boys behind Frisson.

The kitchen, headed up by chef Mark Denham (who you might recognize from, oh, any of the zillions of landmark SF kitchens he has cooked in, among them Globe, Baraka and Postrio), is cranking out some extraordinary food. Tender chickpeas and blood sausage make for an earthy, humble delight; patatas bravas, so often terrible, are delicious, fried in olive oil and accompanied by a smoky, spicy pimenton aioli; jamon-wrapped nectarines, at once salty and sweet, are accompanied by a bitter radicchio slaw. It’s all expertly complimented by a Spanish wine list featuring tons of bottles you’ve probably never heard of. Ask the staff for help deciphering the selections—they, miracle of miracles, seem to actually know what they are doing. As of Friday night, Laiola finally had the go-ahead to serve cocktails, too—Camber Lay, formerly of Frisson, is the master mixologist.

So—well, you know what to do. Go eat!