After the lukewarm experiences people shared about Midori Mushi, I ended up last night at Laurel's, a Cuban restaurant on Oak near Gough. Had tostones (fried unripe plantains) with a garlic-lime-cilantro dressing, and a soupy seafood stew in a rich tomato-saffron broth. Both were excellent, especially the stew: the broth was strongly flavored, but because it was thin it didn't overwhelm the seafood. On the side was grilled bread to dredge in the broth.
It is run by a very hospitable family. We were able to get in at 6:30 on an evening with many nearby shows, so other restaurants in the area were packed. It's my new top choice for hassle-free pre-event dinner in the Hayes Valley area.
205 Oak Street
open every night and weekday lunch