Restaurants in San Francisco
No doubt about it, San Francisco is a fabulous food city. In fact, those in the know rate this as the restaurant capital of the country. There are over 3,000 eateries to sample, some of them home to the best chefs and finest ingredients in the land. With an emphasis on artisan culinary delights, impressive famers' markets, creative fine-dining and speciality food stores, San Francisco is a thrill for foodies.
Local dishes are typically ingredient driven, incorporating farm fresh produce and the best of regional wineries, dairies and organic produce suppliers. No one cuisine dominates; there is rather a wonderful variety to experience. Asian fusion food is well represented, with a strong emphasis on fresh local seafood. For Italian dishes head over to North Beach; for Chinese and other Asian dishes, make a beeline for Chinatown. The Mission district is home to a huge variety of Mexican and Latino restaurants.
San Francisco is a health-conscious city, and vegetarians and vegans will find more options than they had ever dreamed possible. The city is notorious for clamping down on unhealthy kids' meals as well, so parents will be happy with the healthy choices presented. In January annually, you can enjoy 'Restaurant Week', where you can enjoy a fixed-price two-course or three-course meal at over 100 top restaurants for either $15 or $25 per person (lunch) and $40 or $65 per person for dinner.
Tips of 15 to 20 percent are expected for good service. Make reservations well in advance as impromptu fine-dining isn't really an option.
Award-winning, top Californian chef Gary Danko has built up a culinary name for himself by combining classical French cuisine with Mediterranean and Californian cooking, incorporating major culinary traditions from around the world into his work. His fine dining restaurant is a very special experience, and not only for the exquisite food; the service is impeccable and the atmosphere quietly elegant with no hint of stuffiness. Perhaps the best way to experience Danko's ingenuity is by way of a fixed-price seasonal tasting menu, which might include glazed oysters, seared filet of beef with potato gnocchi and roasted pears with ginger and nutmeg ice-cream. Reservations essential. Dinner nightly. Elegant dress attire requested.
Address: 800 North Point at Hyde Street (Fisherman’s Wharf)
Telephone: (415) 749 2060
Winner of several national and local awards, One Market features upscale American fare specialising in fresh meat and fish dishes. There are remarkable views of the waterfront and historic Market Street that can be enjoyed while dining on ahi tuna steak or the daily roast. For a unique dining experience, the restaurant also features a special 'Chef's Table' located inside the kitchen from where the group is guided through the exquisite tasting menu served by the chef himself. There is live jazz every evening. Closed Sundays. Dinner Monday to Saturday and lunch on weekdays only. Reservations essential.
Address: 1 Market Street, Embarcadero
Telephone: (415) 777 5577
Located in the Art Nouveau Audiffred Building near the waterfront, the mosaic floor, central open kitchen and striking decor perfectly complement the artistic dishes created by culinary star Nancy Oakes. One of the city's best restaurants, Boulevard is always packed and is ideal for a special occasion. Specialities include wood-roasted dishes like the rack of lamb, pork loin, or a variety of seafood. Reservations essential. Dinner daily; lunch on weekdays only.
Address: 1 Mission Street, Embarcadero, SoMa
Telephone: (415) 543 6084
The Slanted Door
Chef Charles Phan prepares real Vietnamese home cooking at The Slanted Door and his food is so flavourful and incredibly fresh that even the likes of Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton have sought it out. The establishment attempts to recreate the richness of Vietnamese street food with Western style service. The menu includes fresh spring rolls, green papaya salad, chicken claypot and grilled scallops, as well as delicious desserts such as vanilla bean crème brûlée and a collection of Oriental teas. Its location overlooks San Francisco Bay and also has a to-go section for quickly prepared takeaway meals. Lunch and dinner daily.
Address: 1 Ferry Building #3
Telephone: (415) 861 8032
Dining at this much-loved rustic restaurant is a quintessential San Francisco experience. The eclectic Italian-Mediterranean fare includes the legendary brick-oven roasted chicken with a Tuscan-style bread salad, hamburger on grilled rosemary focaccia bread, and the classic Caesar salad. The bustling copper-topped bar serves drinks as well as the very freshest selection of oysters. It is a great place for a pre- or post-Opera House drink and is always crammed with an eclectic crowd. Reservations recommended. Closed Monday.
Address: 1658 Market Street, Civic Center, Hayes Valley
Telephone: (415) 552 2522
With high ceilings and enormous windows overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay, Greens boasts one of the most dramatic dining spaces in the city and offers outstanding, creative meatless dishes that have earned it a place as one of the top vegetarian restaurants in the country. Owned by the Zen Buddhist Center, dishes use the finest organic ingredients and the delicious meals attract non-vegetarians as well as vegetarians. Open for lunch and dinner daily. There is a special fixed-price dinner on Saturdays. Brunch on Sundays.
Address: Building A, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard, Marina
Telephone: (415) 771 6222
Critically-acclaimed chef Craig Stoll's Delfina is defined by its ultra-fresh seasonal Italian cuisine, reasonable prices and a warm atmosphere. One of the most popular restaurants in San Francisco today, Delfina is continuously abuzz with happy diners. Dishes on the daily-changing menu are kept simple but extraordinary and might include thick Tuscan soup, butternut panna cotta or roasted chicken. The handmade pastas, braised meats and fish dishes are all full of flavour. Reservations essential. Dinner daily.
Address: 3621 18th Street (Mission District)
Telephone: (415) 552 4055
Hollywood Café is simply the best restaurant in San Francisco to get a classic all-American breakfast: Denver Omelette, Eggs Benedict with Dungeness Crab, French Toast with Fried Bananas and Blueberries, and the list goes on. Lunch is just as good with a range of excellent sandwiches, including a particularly enormous BLT. The portions are large, and come accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice or excellent coffee.
Address: 530 N Point Street, Fisherman's Wharf
Telephone: (415) 563-3779
Historic John’s Grill
An iconic San Francisco restaurant filled with history, John's Grill was established in 1908 and is famous for its classic ambiance of wood-paneled walls and dimly lit interior. Meat and fish are the specialities here, preferably grilled. The clam chowder is wonderful too, but the real stars of the show are the lamb chops and the steak, served with gratis vegetables, bread and sparkling water. This restaurant was featured in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, a much loved crime classic. This fact is celebrated everywhere from the etching on the glassware to the falcon statues for sale in the souvenir cabinet. Located just off Union Square.
Address: 63 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA
Telephone: (415) 986 0069
Become our San Francisco Travel Expert
We are looking for contributors for our San Francisco travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to San Francisco or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.