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Best Californian Cuisine: Take it upstairs, kids 

Cafe at Chez Panisse

It may be the most important restaurant in Northern California, sure. Won all kinds of awards. Sold millions of cookbooks. Launched the nationwide craze for naming your vegetables after their farmers. But eating at Chez Panisse, the restaurant, is like hosting the Olympics -- we can't afford to do it more than once every four years. The cafe upstairs is no diner, either, but lots of restaurant folks we know like it better than its progenitor for two reasons: You can get a reservation (sometimes even on the same day). And you can choose what you're going to eat. Besides, we think longtime chef Russ Moore's food is just as beautifully tended as his downstairs counterpart's.

Readers' Pick:
Chez Panisse

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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