Restaurants in San Francisco
Chef Dominique Crenn opened this ambitious French restaurant in 2011 inspired by her father, Allain. It’s since earned two Michelin stars and turned her into a critic’s darling. Outfitted with just eight small tables, modular wooden screens, and cream-colored area rugs on concrete floors, the Atelier’s overall vibe is more stylish living room than fussy bistro. But don’t expect California-casual: The multi-course tasting menu costs $335 (plus another $220 for wine), and the resulting dishes are akin to sculptural works of art. Crenn offers just two seatings each night, making dinner a drawn-out, intimate affair. Each meal starts with a poem to set the tone for each course. The ever-changing menu focuses on produce and seafood, drawing on traditional French and Japanese techniques. (You might be treated to crab, truffles, or sea urchin.) Crenn followed up on the success of the Atelier by opening Petit Crenn, a more casual spin-off in Hayes Valley, in 2015.
Dried fruit, flowers, and herbs hang overhead and the kitchen is visible through spotless glass at this three-Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s a rather industrial, masculine space—black walls, wood tables, steel beams—all the better to highlight the eclectic dishes. The French-meets-Asian food is the vision of James Beard Award-winner Corey Lee, formerly the head chef at French Laundry. The nightly tasting menu ($295) skews primarily toward seafood and vegetables, though typically includes a few meat courses as well. Asian influences emerge in dishes like a thousand-year-old quail egg, lobster coral soup dumplings, and abalone-stuffed chicken wings. The wine list includes more than 300 bottles, with a focus on France, Germany, Austria, and California.
If you’ve only been to Manufactory for the line-out-the-door brunch, you’re missing out. The dinner menu consists of elevated comfort food, from roast chicken and fresh pasta to deftly dressed veggies and a daily-baked array of breads and spreads. Designed by architect Charles Hemminger—the aesthetic genius also behind Progress, Cala, and State Bird Provisions—the wood-on-white space is somehow both chic and calming. Giant orb paper lanterns glow overhead, glinting off the white Heath tiles and Doug fir beams.
With its white tablecloths, glimmering chandeliers, and larger-than-life floral arrangements, this elegant California-French restaurant by chef Michael Tusk feels like a throwback to a more sophisticated time. The prix fixe tasting menu ($275) changes every night, revealing a choreographed array of elaborate, eclectic dishes that have earned the spot three Michelin stars. The organic fruits, vegetables, and flowers are all sourced from Fresh Run Farm in Bolinas, which supplies Tusk’s restaurants exclusively. You can opt for the more formal dining room or the salon, where there’s a menu of a dozen caviars, spanning California to Bulgaria. Save room for dessert, chosen from a photo-worthy cart piled with decadent sweets.
Liholiho brings a sunny dose of Hawaii to fog-shrouded San Francisco, from the bright yellow open kitchen to the “Aloha” spelled out in blue tile underfoot. Chef Ravi Kapur made a name for himself cooking at Boulevard and Prospect before branching out on his own. He honed the Liholiho concept over the years with a series of pop-ups before opening in 2015. The menu is divided into small, medium, and small plates, and all are designed for sharing. Dishes might include tuna poke on nori crackers, fried game hen in a japanese curry, or grilled short ribs slathered in a kimchi pineapple glaze. Save room for the Baked Hawaii, a fluffy, modern twist on the retro Baked Alaska.
This Michelin-starred Mexican spot is a design-lover’s dream, from the mirrored, unmarked facade to the neon art in the restroom. With its black walls, low lighting, and vibrant art, the decor matches the food: splurgy and surprising. Slip into the leather banquette or snag a spot at the bar for a view of the open kitchen. Chef Val Cantu’s decadent, 16-course tasting menu changes seasonal—expect heart-stoppingly rich dishes like lobster tacos, wagyu steak, and foie gras-garnished churros. The beverage pairing, which typically includes wine, beer, and cider.
This California-Italian hybrid is everything you want in a date-night spot; consider it the cool younger sister to chef Tusk’s fancier counterpart, Quince. The interior is industrial, but warm, with exposed brick walls and steel beams, a slatted wood ceiling, and large picture windows. The entryway offers a glimpse of the wood-fired oven, usually packed with an array of tantalizing pizzas. The menu is rustic, but refined, including a daily-changing menu of spit-roasted meats, grilled fish, and handmade pasta.
State Bird was the original darling of chef-proprietors Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski, which opened to universal acclaim in early 2012. Its namesake is the California Valley quail, which also typically graces the menu. The space is warm and whimsical, from the colorful paintings to the pegboard walls and tables. This isn’t your typical high-end restaurant: Instead, the menu is comprised of tapas-style shareable plates ranging from bite-sized to small-platters. Waiters push an array of dishes around on rolling carts, from which you select your next course piecemeal. That might entail a smoked trout-parsnip “chip and dip,” a squash mochi with brussels sprouts and black truffle, or a coconut ice cream sandwich with matcha, raspberries, and yuzu caramel sauce. It’s inevitably surprising—the dim-sum-style selection results in a multicourse meal of whims.
Husband-wife chefs Evan and Sarah Rich serve creative, but down-to-earth fare in this wood-paneled Hayes Valley spot. For starters, that means thick, chewy slabs of Douglas fir-infused levain slathered in house cultured butter, porcini mushroom doughnuts, and addictive sardine chips dunked in a horseradish crème fraîche. But the true standouts are the house-made pastas in bold flavor combinations, from a sea urchin cacio e pepe to orecchini tossed with broccoli rabe, calabrian chili, and aged parmesan. Spring for the tasting menu ($99) to sample a bit of everything, from salads to sweetbreads to spaghetti.
Chef Joshua Skenes brings the fire at this rustic-chic SoMa restaurant—literally. All the cooking revolves around an open wood fire. It’s lit each morning and obsessively tended throughout the day for the wide array of grilling, searing, smoking, and roasting that depends on it. Skenes grew up hunting, fishing, and cooking over campfires in rural Florida, and he carries over that sensibility to his restaurant. The space is decked with taxidermy, stacked logs, pine cones, and exposed brick, for a cozy-woodsy feel. He and his close collaborator, Laurent Gras, work with a select group of ranchers, farmers, foragers, and fisherman to source their ingredients, shunning imported and commercial goods. Though the vibe is bucolic, the pricing is very much of-the-city: The tasting menu is a $300 splurge.
Chef-owner Aaron London is a Sonoma native, and it shows in his farm-fresh, California-centric food. The restaurant itself is pristine, with high ceilings, white walls and tile, and a smattering of potted in the windows. The menu is divided into “snackles” (small apps), cold dishes, and hot dishes. London previously worked at high-end spots like Daniel and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and he adopted the same reverence for produce. Case in point: The “eat-with-your-hands” salad of baby lettuces, herbed avocado, and pistachio. The lettuce is delivered weekly from Blue Dane Garden in Grass Valley still potted in soil, then picked right before serving. Cold dishes might include cured trout or a a chilled green bean casserole served with burrata, tomato, and pickled padrons. Hot dishes are often fruit- and vegetable-focused, like a stone fruit curry with black lime-cod or goat’s milk grits served with shelling beans, grapes, and mushrooms.
SPQR serves modern Italian fare in an intimate setting. The lighting is low and the decor is sleek. Reserve a table under the whimsical nautical paintings in the dining room or snag a table at the chef’s counter, which places you right in front of the open kitchen. The menu spans antipasti, primi, and secondi sections, but the real reason you’re here is the pasta. Skip the rest and go for the pasta tasting menu, which on any given night spans gnocchi, risotto, bucatini, squid ink spaghetti, and buckwheat fusilli. It’s expertly paired with Italian wines selected by wine director Shelley Lindgren, who has a knack for introducing diners to lesser-known grapes.
After a childhood spent cooking alongside his grandmother in India, chef Srijith Gopinathan graduated from culinary school and honed his skills at a series of high-end hotels in India. Since arriving in the U.S., he has expanded his repertoire to encompass what he calls “Cal-Indian cuisine,” imbuing farmer’s market ingredients with traditional Indian spices. The result is an exotic, high-end spin on Southern Indian cuisine—one that earned him two Michelin stars in 2016. The Spice Route prix fixe menu features dishes like Maine lobster in a curry broth, duck breast with rhubarb and basil, and slow-cooked lamb served over basmati rice, snap peas, and cumin-lime yogurt. (The lamb and game bird dishes are cooked in an authentic tandoori oven.) The overall experience is decidedly high-end, from the extensive wine list to the glittering chandeliers overhead.
Delfina has been a neighborhood mainstay since before the Mission was cool (read: gentrified). Owners Anne and Craig Stoll set up shop in 1998, offering fresh Italian fare in an upscale setting. The decor is minimalist, with wood accents and industrial fixtures; all the better for people-watching out the wrap-around windows facing Valencia Street. Delfina is known for its pasta, including the classic spaghetti, made with plump plum tomatoes and deftly spiced with pepperoncinis, and the tripe alla fiorentina. Heartier dishes include grilled fish, roast chicken, and wood-grilled steak. The pizzeria next door offers pie combinations carbonara with guanciale, pecorino, scallions, black pepper, and a runny farm egg.
The ambiance is colorful and informal at this Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, from the decor to the bold curries. Kin Khao—which translates to “eat rice”—is the passion project of chef Pim Techamuanvivit, who was born and raised in Bangkok. (Her stated mission: “To liberate her beloved Thai cuisine from the tyranny of peanut sauce.”) All Techamuanvivit’s produce, mushrooms, meat, and seafood is sourced from local Northern California purveyors, from Half Moon Bay to Napa. The menu is separated into bites, meats, seafood, greens, and curries. The dishes are shareable and generously spiced, from the “Pretty Hot Wings” glazed with fish sauce, garlic marinade, tamarind, and Sriracha to the dry-fried Duroc pork ribs in a turmeric curry paste. Don’t miss Kin Khao’s modern spin on curries, like the rabbit green curry or the mackerel gaeng som sour curry. (You can sample a bit of everything with the $65 “friends and family” prix fixe menu.) Cap off your meal with the black rice pudding, a sweet, dark concoction served with caramelized apples, burnt coconut sugar caramel, salty coconut cream, and a sprinkling of puffed rice, peanuts, and sesame praline.
Lazy Bear began a decade ago as a self-serious supper club in the home of David Barzelay; today it’s morphed into a Michelin-starred, ticketed affair where seats often sell out a month in advance—in a single day. Modeled after those original in-home affairs, diners are first invited to mingle in the restaurant’s loungey mezzanine for cocktail hour. Then they’re seated at two long, communal dining tables for a 3-hour, 14-course dinner while a crew of chefs slave away just across the open space. Everyone in the restaurant is served at once. The eclectic menu is set every night—and frequently changes according to the chefs’ whims. Splurge for the beverage pairing (another $100 on top of the nearly $200 tasting menu), which consists of seven or eight drinks spaced out over the course of the meal, spanning wine, beer, and cocktails. Having a hard time snagging a dinner party ticket? Barzelay announced the opening of an a la carte spin-off, the Lazy Bear Den, in late 2018. That menu skews more casual, including snacks, skewers, and cocktail-friendly bites.
Chef Mourad Lahlou’s Michelin-starred Moroccan restaurant blends old-world flavors with modern cooking techniques and design. The glamorous 6,000-square-foot space is modeled after a grand Moroccan home, decked with intricate tiling, vibrant rugs, and twinkling lights. The highlight of the menu is the La’acha family-style dishes, such as lamb shoulder cooked with moyer prune, cumin, almond, and chicories, or snapper served alongside calcot onion, radish, summer beans, and charmoula. Pair your meal with an Old World red, displayed in the glass-encased wine cage suspended above the lounge.
Bar Tartine veterans Anthony Myint and Jason Fox opened this progressive Californian eatery in 2010. Adorned with black and wood banquettes, exposed bulb pendants, and artful herb bouquets and wreaths, the vibe is decidedly modern. The $95 tasting menu ($160 with wine pairings) showcases hyper-seasonal ingredients and playful preparations, from the potato chips dipped in a malt mousse foam to a smoked beef flatbread topped with walnut puree, green beans, and rooftop-dried herbs. The menu is as fun as it is flavorful, showcasing surprising accents like popcorn puree and shrimp mousse. There’s also an a la carte menu available, for those not in the mood to splurge.
This Nob Hill restaurant exclusively serves a seasonal tasting menu. At just $98, the seven-course menu is one of the best high-end dining deals in the city. The NorCal preoccupation with the hyper-local is on full display here—you can watch the plating in the open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant. Many of the ingredients are sourced from the restaurant’s one-acre garden and orchard in Los Gatos, California, where chef-owners Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara grow vegetables, greens, herbs, fruit, flowers, and snails.
This buzzy follow-up to State Bird Provisions by Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza is named after The Progress Theatre, which opened in 1911. The spot serves banquet-style meals in an inviting, wood-swathed space; the stylish setting is the work of Wylie Price, the design guru also behind Ramen Shop, State Bird, Trick dog, and Kronnerburger. The shareable dishes are broken down into sections: raw and salads; vegetables and grains; and seafood and meats. We recommend the smoked ricotta salad, served with squash, carrots, chickories, maitake mushrooms, and a bracing drizzle of apple-cider maple and sage vinegar, the squid ink noodles, and the dry-fried brussel sprouts. Or opt for one of the heartier platters, which serves 2 to 6 people. The rotating offerings might include BBQ duck, grilled lamb, or rabbit. The cocktail offerings are inventive and festive. Try the melon baller, which combines pineapple rum, melon liqueur, Calvados, and China China liqueur.
Since opening in 2007, this Presidio Heights restaurant remains a neighborhood favorite. The ambiance is one of old-school elegance, from the Baccarat crystal chandelier overhead to the dark mohair walls. Chef Mark Sullivan, formerly of Slow Club and 42 Degrees (RIP), turns out classic dishes that emphasize local ingredients. He relies on SMIP Ranch, a private farm near Woodside, for his supply of just-picked herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Spruce is particularly beloved by oenophiles: The wine list features more than 2,500 bottles from around the world. In addition, the restaurant works with distillers and wine-makers to create its own house spirits and wines, including a single barrel Kentucky bourbon, a single malt scotch, a Willamette Valley pinot noir, a German riesling, and an array of gins.
Bar Agricole alum Brandon Jew opened this ambitious homage to Cantonese food in 2016, melding traditional flavors and modern cooking techniques. Located in the former Four Seas space, the sunny, airy dining room presents a mashup of old and new, from the minimalist, mid-century wood furniture to the ornate gold floral chandeliers overhead, salvaged from Four Seas. The restaurant serves inventive twists on classic dishes—think Dutch Crunch BBQ pork buns, a chicken feet terrine flavored with lime, chili, and sorrel, and Hodo tofu skin served with sungold tomatoes, purslane, and cured egg yolk. The vibe is lively and fun, from the open kitchen to the spicy, sweet, and tea-steeped cocktails by bar manager Danny Louie. (The beer line-up is equally impressive, featuring brews hailing from Belgium to Chicago to Baltimore.) Request a table with a view of the Transamerica Building out the window.
Most know Outerlands for its perpetually-slammed weekend brunch, which includes Instagram-famous dishes like the Eggs-in-Jail and cast iron Dutch pancake. But at night, the restaurant becomes the ideal neighborhood spot. Candlelight flickers off the driftwood-collaged walls, regulars congregate around the polished concrete bar (the cocktails are excellent), and the scent of baking bread and braised meat fills the air. Whatever you do, start with the bread and butter, which is baked in house and is some of the best in the city. The rotating menu features a dozen or so items, from salads and roasted vegetable starters to steak, ricotta dumplings, clam and mussel stew, and butter drenched fish. The dishes marry inventive flavor profiles and seasonal ingredients.
Chef Geoffrey Lee earned his stripes at Sushi Ran and Akiko’s before opening this intimate, 12-seat omakase bar. (The name translates to “twelve” in Japanese.) The expert training paid off—the spot earned a Michelin star in 2017. Three sushi chefs toil over a dozen diners, meticulously preparing each bite. The omakase menu spans 18 eye-opening courses, from sake-cured albacore to golden eye snapper flecked with kelp salt. The fish, which is all flown from Tsukiji Market, might be garnished with citrus, miso butter, or yuzu-tinged hot sauce.
Fittingly for a restaurant situated in a museum, In Situ transforms food into fine art on a global scale. The menu is the result of foodie crowdsourcing: Chef Corey Lee contacts renowned, boundary-pushing chefs around the world—from Chicago to Berlin—to contribute a dish and its recipe, which he faithfully recreates using local ingredients. The resulting 14-dish menu is a dazzling display of ingenuity and inventive flavors. The menu displays the name of each dish’s creator, their location, the ingredients, and the date it was conceived.
Unlike typically spare sushi spots, this new Japanese restaurant embraces color and texture,
from the fuchsia and rose mosaic behind the bar to the watercolor blue wallpaper. Chef-owner Adam Tortosa trained under Katsuya Uechi in Los Angeles and previously worked at Akiko’s. The omakase-style menu progresses from lean to fatty fish, from a starry flounder served with Meyer lemon, shiso, and blood-orange kosho to a bluefin shoulder marinated in poblano soy. The seafood is skillfully complemented by citrus, spice, and soy (even a layer of black truffle, if you’re feeling decadent…). The furniture, dishware, and decor are sourced from local artisans, and the fish hails from California and Japan. Skip the beer in favor of the extensive sake list, available by the bottle or glass.
This cozy, narrow neighborhood restaurant serves peak Californian cuisine. All the ingredients are sourced from Northern California farms and local city markets, and the menu changes daily according to what’s fresh. Chef Melissa Perello named the restaurant after her grandmother, aiming for a homey, comfortable vibe. The food is refined without being intimidating, from a red snapper served with cranberry beans, tomatoes, kaffir lime, and red pepper jus to the spaghetti topped with basil, garlic, Sungold tomatoes, Grana Padano, and uni butter. Start with the chickpea fritters and order a smattering of the vegetable sides to share.
Compared to the cozy confines of Frances, chef Melissa Perello’s first restaurant, this follow-up is luxuriously spacious. It looks ripped from a magazine spread, with its distressed wood floors, white walls, and black Shaker chairs and pendant lights. Beyond its looks, the food’s also a bit fancier than Frances. You may spot selections like duck liver mousse or wagyu tartare on the menu. But you’ll also find well-done classics like duck, a petit filet, or a perfectly grilled fish. The pastas are made in-house, as is the fresh-baked bread by pastry chef Sarah Bonar. (Loaves are also available, should you want to take one to go.) Order a la carte or go for the tasting menu ($75).
This cozy Noe Valley mainstay is known for its neighborhood vibe and Italian hospitality. Co-owner Massimiliano Conti cooks recipes from his native Sardinia using organic produce and sustainable fish. Even the wine list is all Italian. The space is narrow and intimate, lit by candlelight and dotted with crisp white tablecloths. The specials change frequently, but a few local favorites are in regular rotation. One is the Prupisceddu in Umidu cun Tomatiga, a baby octopus stew in a spicy tomato base. And if you see squid ink pasta on the menu, it’s a must-order: It’s laden with fresh seafood and deftly flavored with citrus zest.
Owned by Miguel Jara for nearly 50 years, this modest Mission taqueria has rightfully earned national acclaim. Jara opened the spot in 1973 serving simple, authentic recipes cribbed from his mother and tasting tours across Mexico. La Taqueria has since been named a “classic” American restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, as well as the best burrito-maker in America by FiveThirtyEight. It’s known for quintessential Mission-style burritos, expertly rolled by Jara’s staff of longtime employees. That infamous concoction consists of pinto beans, meat, salsa, monterey jack cheese, and avocado, all smothered in hot sauce and bundled into a fresh flour tortilla. (No rice; that’s just filler that detracts from the meat, according to Jara.) The carnitas, which are slow-cooked for hours with orange, garlic, and salt, are the way to go. Regulars know to order their burrito dorado-style: seared on the grill for a crispy, golden-brown finish.
This 48-seat bistro serves upscale comfort food in an unpretentious setting. Owned by Paul Einbund, formerly the beverage director at Frances, the menu is inventive and a little fun, featuring items like a Chartreuse slushy, fried pork cracklins served with honey and cayenne, beef striploin with blue cheese and avocado, and buckwheat doughnuts dunked in a whisky creme anglaise. If you’re hungry, consider the smoked duck, which can be ordered whole ($120) or halved ($60).
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