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Here is an alternative - because it is not usually on the out of town visitor's "must do" list, like the suggestions above. (I will admit I've never been to any of them but Slanted Door, and that was before it moved to its current location). Well loved by the natives, is Pesce [Moved 2013, Closed Sep 13, 2015]. Impeccably fresh seafood, and it has an accommodating long bar. It's on Polk (between Green and Vallejo) and is a friendly chichetteria in Russian Hill - the Venetian equivalent of tapas bar. Surprisingly reasonably priced hot chichetti, cold chichetti and some entrée specials on the chalkboard. If you go, definitely try the grilled octopus with celery and Yukon potatoes. There are lots of shellfish choices, some pastas, a meat or two - it is all fresh and creative, with a bargain priced wine list. No reservations though.
The parade of mediocrity continues that consists of restaurants that exist in the Castro. B and I have date night once a week. We usually alternate between a cheap/moderate place and an expensive place. Last night, we went to Starbelly and I was reminded why we hadn't gone there since 2015. Grilled fig and cress salad with blue cheese, panna cotta, honey and balsamic. The panna cotta was tasteless and added nothing. And there were literally three figs on that plate; technically, one and a half figs since the fruit was halved. For this, we were charged $9. It could have been dessert. Also, horrible plating. Try (!) to have some effort. Bavette steak, salt-crusted potatoes, grilled cebollita, mojo verde. Steak was slightly chewy and the potatoes served as "filler". Note the amount of potatoes in B's dish. I thought to myself: 'The farmers' markets in this city have amazing produce that makes the rest of the country weep for joy when they first taste what's on offer, and THIS is the best you can do for this plate? That's insulting. Really and truly.' I object to potatoes used as filler. At least they were prepared well. Halibut, grilled Little Gem lettuce, butter bean purée, chermoula and olive salsa. The halibut was overcooked and dry, and the purée an afterthought. Bill came out to $95 (with tax and 20% tip) for barely average food. We went there so you don't have to. Starbelly 3583 16th Street (Market Street) The Castro Afterwards, we went to the Castro Street branch of The Ice Cream Bar for some dessert. Brownie sundae with buttermilk ice cream and mint chip ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce