SPiCES!, whether the original on Sixth Avenue or the branch on Eighth, both just north of Clement. Lively, spicy Sichuanese food, an owner who learned his look from David Cassidy and John Travolta, lots of ornamental giraffes. On the menu: chou dofu, fabulous deepfried tofu squares in a bed of dried chiles, malantou in a sesame dressing, hotpot, bitter melon. The Chinese name of the place is La Meizi, said by Fuchsia Dunlop to be a fond reference to Sichaunese women but by a Taiwanese informant to suggest a woman belonging to an unsavory occupational category. (La = spicy, meizi = little sister.)
Udupi Palace on University Avenue in Berkeley. Absolutely everything on the menu is divine.