Every once in a while you come upon a restaurant and a chef that reminds you what it’s all about. In July, I wrote here about one such chef, the remarkable Eddy Bonilla of La Fusion, who has been thrilling diners at his Financial District restaurant for over 10 years. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of dining with Bonilla more than a handful of times–and my estimation of his talents has only risen.

Before opening La Fusion, Bonilla spent nearly a decade and a half helming the kitchen at San Francisco’s legendary Zuni Cafe, an experience which left him with a keen understanding of his craft. That knowledge is reflected in his straightforward menu of classic latin-inflected dishes like lomo saltado, chuleton, and lamb shank. And of course we mustn’t forget Bonilla’s signature dish, the rotisserie chicken–served with bread salad, just as it has been at Zuni for so many years.

La Fusion Chef - Zuni Cafe Chicken

Chef Eddy Bonilla prepared the famous rotisserie chicken at Zuni Cafe for 15 years before bringing it to La Fusion. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

You can also see that understanding in the economical construction of the chef’s kitchen. Four high-tech burners, a rotisserie oven, a fryer and not much more. Nothing unnecessary, nothing out of place. One assumes that’s the only way it’s possible for the chef to do what he does, which amounts to a minor miracle: Bonilla cooks every dish himself. From the mis en place to the final dessert, his are the only hands in the La Fusion kitchen.

La Fusion in FiDi San Francisco

The pass at San Francisco’s La Fusion, with chef Eddy Bonilla’s stunning lamb shank in the foreground. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

This helps explain the consistency of the fare at La Fusion: Bonilla’s restaurant rates a solid 4.5 stars on both Yelp and Google reviews, no mean feat. And the chef isn’t afraid to throw his diners a few curveballs, either. On a recent visit, I tried the seafood pot pie, a unique dish of puff pastry stuffed with prawns, fish, mushrooms and potatoes in an intensely flavorful chipotle-guajillo sauce. It was one of the most unusual and hearty seafood dishes I’ve had recently, and I’ll be sure to order it again.

A well-fed crowd on a recent evening at San Francisco’s La Fusion. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

I’ve also found the starters to be a gold mine. Bonilla’s empanadas are some of the best anywhere, and the menu offers three types, beef, seafood and veggie, all served with both huacatay and piquillo pepper aioli. The arugula salad is also a treat, with roasted beets, walnuts, pickled onions and feta, and finished with a tart lime vinaigrette.

My favorite among the appetizers, however, has to be the ceviche de atun. I love a well-prepared ceviche, and this one just might beat them all. A combination of ahi tuna with sesame oil, soy sauce, red onions, corn and Leche de Tigre (the blend of citrus, chiles, aromatics, and fish stock that is central to proper Peruvian ceviche), this version also slyly incorporates mushrooms. This perfect and counterintuitive addition makes the dish stand out among all the versions I’ve had.

Eddy Bonilla at La Fusion in San Francisco

Chef Eddy Bonilla plates his lamb shank, just one of the many high points on his stellar menu. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

La Fusion has the dessert course covered as well. In addition to a wonderful torta de chocolate with strawberry coulis, Bonilla also offers a Neapolitan version of flan, made with mascarpone cheese and topped with fresh caramel sauce. These are both excellent, but for me the true star of the dessert menu is the banana and dulce de leche empanada. I suggest you save a little room for this treat; life is short.

La Fusion is open for lunch Monday through Friday, and for dinner Wednesday through Friday. If you’re looking to dine on Saturday, the restaurant has begun taking special tables with advance notice. Contact them for more details.


La Fusion
475 Pine Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 781-0894