5:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.: Best Chance of a Table at the Best Local Californian Restaurant 

Drop In When Citron Opens

It's still nigh impossible to get a last-minute reservation on the weekends, but the upside of the soft economy means that at certain times you may actually be able to get a walk-in table at Citron. It's definitely not because the restaurant has fallen from the top of its form. Looking over the menu is like walking through a farmers' market, the surest marker of the seasons in our marginally seasonless climate -- everything is locally grown, sustainably harvested, and pick of the crop and, like the service, elegantly orchestrated. A recent dinner menu featured the best of late April and early May: spring asparagus soup with green garlic, pork loin saltimbocca over chanterelles and pappardelle noodles, and Pacific grouper with prawns and artichoke and baby fennel barigoule. And it's easy to forget to order when you're meandering through the stunning, almost anthropological wine list. Going early may also mean being allowed to sneak past the stately dining room onto the romantic back patio, where you can dine under vine-covered trellises.

Readers' Pick for Best California Cuisine: Chez Panisse

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