We’ll be honest: the likelihood that you’ll go to Atelier Crenn more than once in your life is very low. Unless you recently came into a large trust including several small islands and a food budget. A meal here involves a $315 multi-course tasting menu (service included, alcohol not) that is inventive, delightful, and French-inspired. The menu is in the form of a whimsical poem, and there’s a good chance you’ll be served mushrooms crafted to look like rocks or a unicorn or whatever the chef feels like today. This is the most special of special occasion restaurants, but if you’re into unique dining experiences and don’t mind spending the money for them, this is one of the best options in town.
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Tacko is a Nantucket-themed Mexican restaurant in Cow Hollow. You should just stick to the tacos.
Balboa Cafe is a throwback spot in Cow Hollow whose best asset is its Bloody Mary’s.
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Prepare to pay a lot of money for some delicious raw things - like oysters and beef tartare - at Petit Marlowe in SoMa.
Lalime’s in North Berkeley does inventive French food in a cozy atmosphere that feels like you’re eating in someone’s house.
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Petit Crenn in Hayes Valley involves not-stuffy French food that's simple and well-executed, both for a casual brunch or a tasting menu at dinner.
Berkeley’s Chez Panisse is famous for starting the whole "farm-to-table" movement, and it's still doing an incredible prix fixe menu.
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