San Francisco is known as one of the United States' top dining destinations, home to dozens of Michelin-starred restaurants and James Beard Award-winning chefs. Couples can cozy up at restaurants in hip neighborhoods such as the city's Mission and Castro Districts and enjoy global fusion cuisine, blending classic Californian fare with Asian and Latin American influences. Eclectic cocktail lounges such as Potrero Hill's Beehive stay open late into the evening, while clever food trucks such as El Sur Empanadas offer takeout for couples looking to enjoy a romantic night in. Spectacular decor at restaurants such as Farallon make for amazing photo opportunities, taking first dates to the next level.
© Foreign Cinema
The acclaimed restaurant, which opened in 1999 and is helmed by James Beard Award-nominated chefs John Clark and Gayle Pirie, takes its name from its open-air seating area, which presents screenings of international and classic films throughout the week for diners to enjoy during their meals. Elegant Mediterranean-inspired dinner options include five-spice duck breast, Kobe bistro steak with cocoa-ajwaan rub, and Madras curry-sesame fried chicken. A full raw oyster and caviar bar is complemented by gourmet appetizers such as tuna poke and sirloin carpaccio. At brunch, diners can enjoy clever mock Pop Tarts stuffed with organic fruit such as rhubarb and pineapple, paired with entree options such as baguette French toast with wild huckleberries or Persian-style flat omelettes.
2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-648-7600
© Rich Table
Rich Table strives to create a casual, communal atmosphere in its relaxed dining space, which is decorated with salvaged barn wood elements and anchored around an open-plan kitchen design. The restaurant is overseen by executive chef duo Sarah and Evan Rich, who bring more than three decades of experience at New York City and San Francisco's top restaurants to their new venture. Dinner service is offered daily beginning at 5:00pm, highlighting entree options such as beer-battered soft-shell crab, ricotta-stuffed pierogis with salsa roja, and 21-day dry-aged ribeye steak with bone marrow. A chef's pick prix-fixe menu is also available with participation from the entire table, along with a raw bar serving up oysters on the half shell. Clever cocktails highlight market-sourced ingredients, while wine and beer lists focus on the best craft liquors of the West Coast.
199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-355-9085
Farallon is one of San Francisco's most whimsical dining options, known for its unique custom jellyfish-themed chandeliers and blue marble staircase meant to evoke the imagery of caviar. The hip Union Square eatery is helmed by executive chef Mark Franz and is one of the city's best spots to impress a first date with a new and unexpected dining experience. A limited dinner menu prioritizes quality over quantity, showcasing entree options such as pan-roasted and confit duck, line-caught king salmon, and local fisherman's cioppino alongside a full oyster and shellfish raw bar. The restaurant's impressive wine list spans more than 20 pages of regional and international selections, complemented by classic cocktails and imported sakes.
450 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-956-6969
4.The Monk's Kettle
© The Monk's Kettle
The Monk's Kettle is widely acclaimed as one of San Francisco's best craft beer bars, named as the state's best beer bar twice by Thrillist. The lively traditional-style pub, which was opened in 2007 within the city's Mission District, serves up a world-renowned beer list featuring 28 rotating international drafts, a cask engine offering, and more than 150 vintage cellar bottle options. A seasonally-rotating scratch menu serves up elevated American-style pub fare prepared with locally-sourced ingredients, including internationally-inspired entrees such as Thai-style mussels and clever beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetarian burger options. At happy hour, couples can enjoy discounts on shareable appetizers such as baked chicken wings and pretzel knots with beer cheese fondue.
3141 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-865-9523
© Al's Place
Al's Place is a lively, casual New American restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District, owned and operated by Aaron London, known for his experience at acclaimed restaurants such as L'Astrance and Blue Hill. The Michelin-starred restaurant showcases seasonal menus highlighting the bounty of the Northern California region at dinner Wednesdays through Sundays. Family-style dinners are available for couples or larger groups, serving up delicious entrees such as 35-day dry-aged ribeye, fish mullet, and casareccia with lamb bacon alongside hearty hot and cold small plates. Elegant handcrafted cocktails are available for pairing, along with local and imported ciders and craft beers.
1499 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-416-6136
Plow is a charming farm-to-table restaurant offering from Maxine Siu and Joel Bleskacek, best known for their work at Oakland favorite Oliveto Restaurant. The Potrero Hill restaurant strives to recreate a home entertaining atmosphere at breakfast and lunch service daily, offering new Californian twists on classic comfort fare recipes. Dates can enjoy excellent brunch fare such as lemon ricotta pancakes, Dungeness crab scrambles, and pulled pork sandwiches, complemented by homestyle buttermilk biscuits and homemade granola. Extended menus are offered on weekends, featuring delicacies such as rhubarb coffee cake and walnut rosemary muffins. Full children's menus are available for couples bringing their children along on family outings. Equator coffee, Five Mountains tea, and Apple Farm apple juice are served up alongside meals, along with a selection of regional and national craft beers.
1299 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107, Phone: 415-821-7569
Barcino is one of the signature offerings of San Francisco's Absinthe Group, which also oversees top area restaurants such as Absinthe Brasserie and Bar and Bellota. The restaurant, which is helmed by executive chef Ryan McIlwraith, is named for the ancient name for the city of Barcelona, a nod to the restaurant's traditional Catalonian-inspired menus. Tapas and raw plate offerings highlight favorites such as patatas bravas, albondigas, Catalan-style omelettes, and remolatxa. Dates can share seasonal paella selections or chef's daily tapas combinations, which offer an assortment of tapas and desserts served family-style. Spanish-style gin tonics are served up alongside a menu of imported Spanish beers, cavas, vermouths, and sherries.
399 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-430-6590
Frances is one of the hottest dining destinations in San Francisco's Castro district, helmed by executive chef Melissa Perello. The restaurant, which is named for Perello's grandmother, showcases market-driven farm-to-table Californian fare at dinner service Tuesdays through Saturdays. Menus rotate daily to reflect seasonal availability, often highlighting high-quality dishes such as duck breast with escarole panade, bavette steak with vadouvan butter, and roasted cauliflower and trumpet mushroom confit. After dinner, dates can share desserts such as fromage blanc cheesecake or lumberjack cake with medjool dates, paired with boozy affogatos, Equator coffees, or Song teas. An extensive wine list highlights an impressive amount of domestic and international options, including sparkling wines and cellar selections.
3870 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, Phone: 415-621-3870
© Ichi Sushi
Ichi Sushi has been named as one of the United States' top restaurants by publications such as Zagat, Thrillist, and the San Francisco Chronicle, acclaimed as one of San Francisco's best spots for Japanese fare. The restaurant, which is overseen by executive chef Tim Archuleta and his wife and business partner Erin, serves up full menus of sustainably-sourced sashimi, nigiri, and sushi, including selections such as bincho tataki, tekka maki rolls, and vegetable futomaki. Hot entree selections include miso asari clams, kama shioyaki, and wagyu tataki. An impressive chilled sake list is available alongside a selection of Japanese beers on tap and regional wines.
3369 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-525-4750
© The Dorian
The Dorian is the latest offering from the team behind San Francisco favorite The Palm House, housed within a renovated 19th-century Victorian manor. The restaurant strives to recreate the splendor of bygone eras of bohemians and libertines, serving up classic American fare throughout the week in its posh turn-of-the-century dining parlor. Classic American fare entree options include smoked gouda mac and cheese, while global fusion options range from Korean fried chicken and waffles to ahi poke tacos. Decadent brunch options include crab cake Benedicts, ricotta pancakes, and Moroccan-style shakshuka. A high-end cocktail program offers happy hour specials, while extensive wine and beer lists highlight regional craft brews and international favorites.
2001 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, Phone: 415-814-2671
Octavia is one of the latest offerings from acclaimed Bay Area executive chef Melissa Perello, best known for her work at Castro District favorite Frances. The restaurant is housed within a gorgeous romantic Lower Pacific Heights spot, located on the street that gives the bistro its name. Expertly-crafted elevated New American fare is crafted with sustainably-sourced ingredients, focusing on comfort dishes such as striped bass with mushroom and savoy cabbage, petit filet mignon with rutabaga and creamed spinach, and English pea and bacon tagliatelle. Couples can select wines by the bottle or carafe for sharing or split loaves of the restaurant's acclaimed housemade levain bread, which is served with traditional ligurian olive oil and cultured butter.
1701 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-408-7507
Causwells is a popular American-style bistro in San Francisco's Marina district, opened by executive chef Adam Rosenblum, best known for his work at the Mission District's hip brunch spot Alba Ray's. The restaurant is best known for its beloved smash-style Americana cheeseburger, which has been acclaimed as one of the United States' best burger entrees. Couples can enjoy Mediterranean-influenced Californian fare at lunch, dinner, and late-night service throughout the week, showcasing dishes prepared with locally-sourced ingredients. Savory entrees include saffron chicken with Israeli couscous, red wine pappardelle, or falafel burgers with yogurt sauce and red bell pepper. Fine West Coast and European wines are available to complement all meals, along with a selection of draft and bottled craft beers.
2346 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, Phone: 415-447-6081
Barbacco is a unique Italian trattoria in San Francisco's Financial District, named as one of the Bay Area's top 100 restaurants by San Francisco Chronicle. The charming restaurant takes its cues from Italy's Ligurian coast region, serving up large and small plates at communal tables designed to promote a sense of neighborhood conviviality. Rustic pasta dishes are served up at lunch and dinner throughout the week, including lamb sausage and spinach cavatelli, braised kale pesto orecchiette, and asparagus and ricotta paccheri. Couples can also share tapas plates such as salumi and bruschetta platters or enjoy elegant entrees such as Sicilian pork meatballs and seared New York strip steaks. Regional and national craft beers are served up on tap, along with an impressive European wine list.
220 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111, Phone: 415-955-1919
Madcap is a delicious Californian-Japanese dining destination in Marin, located across the Golden Gate Strait from downtown San Francisco. The elevated fusion restaurant is owned and operated by executive chef Ron Siegel and is known for its impressive a la carte and chef's tasting menu options, served up in an intimate dining room space perfect for impressing dates. Dinner service is offered Thursdays through Mondays, focusing on comforting entrees such as golden sesame duck breast, bellwether ricotta ravioli, and dry-aged flannery ribeye with English peas and potatoes. Tasting menus provide diners with an opportunity to sample small plates such as rabbit tortellini with mushroom miso puree or share desserts such as goat cheese almond cake. Wines, beers, and sakes are available to complement all meals, including tasting menu pairing selections.
198 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, San Anselmo, CA 94960, Phone: 415-453-9898
© RT Rotisserie
RT Rotisserie is the latest offering from San Francisco's Rich Table restaurant group, putting a new, casual spin on New American-style rotisserie. The counter-service, walk-in-only restaurant in Hayes Valley is a great choice for couples looking for a quick, fun date idea at lunch or dinner throughout the week. Half and whole rotisserie chickens or quarter-rack pork spare ribs are customizable with sauces such as honey mustard, chimichurri, or chipotle yogurt barbecue sauces. Hearty sandwiches feature creative takes on pork belly, lamb kebab, and Southern fried chicken fillings, while vegetarian and vegan options such as umami fries and roasted cauliflower with red beet tahini expand the restaurant's menus for alternative diets. Takeout and delivery options are also available for couples looking to cozy up for a night in at home.
101 Oak St, San Francisco, CA 94102
16.El Sur Empanadas
© El Sur Empanadas
El Sur Empanadas is the physical location for the popular Bay Area food truck of the same name, originally founded in 2012 by Marianne Despres. The quirky Potrero Hill cafe is operated out of a 1970 Citroen H-Van, a nod to the restaurant's Argentinian heritage and cuisine. Delicious traditional empanadas use time-tested recipes and fillings sourced from the finest local ingredients available, including beef from local Five Dot Ranch. Couples can choose from traditional empanada flavors such as chicken or beef and egg or try adventurous flavors such as swiss chard and spinach or mushroom, shallot, and provolone. Salads, skewers, and desserts such as churros and alfajores are also served at lunchtime on weekdays.
300 De Haro St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-530-2803
Skool is an inventive seafood restaurant in Potrero Hill, named for a play on the term of a social group of fish. The restaurant is helmed by two married duos, Olia and Andy Mirabell and Hiroko and Toshihoro Nagano, and is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner service Tuesdays through Sundays. Seasonal menus emphasize creative sea entrees with Asian and Pacific fusion elements, including squid ink spaghettina, king salmon chowder, and hamachi kama. Raw bar options range from traditional oysters on the half shell to clever shareables such as seaweed hotate ceviche and "sea-cuterie" charcuterie plates. At brunch, couples can share snow crab deviled eggs or enjoy unique entrees such as ham katsu Benedict or Japanese-style karaage and waffles.
1725 Alameda St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-255-8800
18.Inverness Park Market
© Inverness Park Market
Inverness Park Market is a buzzing neighborhood market in Point Reyes, acclaimed by Eater SF as one of Marin's most unique culinary destinations. The market is one of the Bay Area's most versatile date spots, offering full coffee shop, bakery, deli, and tap room services throughout the week. Fresh, local ingredients from small purveyors stuff all homemade sandwiches, soups, salads, and savory fare such as quiches, pot pies, and burritos. Creative espresso and yerba mate beverages offer alternative milk options, perfect for pairing with house-baked muffins, turnovers, or pastries. The market's tap room serves craft beers on tap along with a selection of carefully-curated wines available by the bottle or by the glass. A large grocery section at the market also sells unique items for couples looking to plan a hillside or parkside picnic afternoon.
12301 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Inverness Park, CA 94937, Phone: 415-663-1491
© The Beehive
The Beehive is one of the Mission District's funkiest late-night spots, known for its quirky retro decor and excellent craft cocktails. The 1960s-inspired neighborhood bar strives to recreate the decadence of swanky 20th-century lounges and the free-spiritedness of San Francisco's midcentury heyday. Creative cocktails play on retro theming, including the Thunderbird, which blends passionfruit and grapefruit thyme jelly with tequila and campari, or the Beauty Mark, which infuses gin with cacao, lime, cardamom, and an egg white. Clever bar bites continue the throwback vibe, ranging from Swedish meatballs, deviled eggs, and pigs in a blanket to full fondue service.
842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA, 94110
© Son's Addition
Son's Addition is one of the Mission District's most diverse and vibrant hangouts, overseen by married duo Nick and Anna Sager Cobarruvias, known for their work at popular Bay Area and West Coast restaurants Marlowe, Maverick, and SBE. The restaurant, which became an instant hot spot after its 2017 opening, serves up traditional slow-cooked Californian entrees with unique Latin and Asian twists throughout the week at brunch and dinner service. Hearty entrees include pan-roasted king salmon, achiote-marinated half chicken, bean and vegetable ribolitta, and signature burgers with bacon-onion marmalade and white cheddar. An affordable wine selection takes dates to the next level for less, great for couples looking for high-class experiences on a budget.
2990 24th Street, San Francisco, CA, 94110, Phone: 415-500-2817
Humphry Slocombe is a delicious ice cream parlor in Oakland, founded in 2007 by Jake Godby and Sean Vahey. The shop is named after two characters from the popular 1970s British sitcom Are You Being Served and stocks several items of memorabilia related to the show for interested customers. Ice cream is prepared from high-end ingredients, showcasing unique sweet and savory flavors. Flavors rotate seasonally, but frequently feature favorites like the company's signature Secret Breakfast, which blends bourbon-infused ice cream with cornflakes. Other unusual varieties include matcha snickerdoodle, chocolate coconut passion fruit, summer corn, and Vietnamese coffee. At the company's Uptown Oakland location, diners can enjoy their treats within a space housed within a refurbished shipping container.
2335 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, Phone: 510-338-3120
22.Bardo Lounge and Supper Club
© Bardo Lounge and Supper Club
Bardo Lounge and Supper Club is a classic lounge and dining room in Oakland's gorgeous Grand Lake District, newly opened in 2018. The restaurant strives to recreate the splendor and ambiance of midcentury dinner parties, paying tribute to the American tradition of old-school home entertaining. Decor mimics a swanky 20th-century living room, showcasing furniture and design elements picked from West Coast antique and flea markets. A rotating menu of seasonal supper fare is crafted by executive chefs Brian Starkey and Anthony Salguero, showcasing upscale fare like country fried quail, barbecued pork belly, dry-aged New York strip steak, and the restaurant's signature burger, which pairs radishes, pickles, and American cheese with the restaurant's signature Bardo sauce. Reservations are strongly encouraged for the restaurant's main dining room, though walk-in seating is offered at its lounge and bar throughout the week.
3343 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610, Phone: 510-836-8737
22 Best Bay Area Date Ideas
- Foreign Cinema, Photo: Foreign Cinema
- Rich Table, Photo: Rich Table
- Farallon, Photo: Farallon
- The Monk's Kettle, Photo: The Monk's Kettle
- Al's Place, Photo: Al's Place
- Plow, Photo: Plow
- Barcino, Photo: Barcino
- Frances, Photo: Frances
- Ichi Sushi, Photo: Ichi Sushi
- The Dorian, Photo: The Dorian
- Octavia, Photo: Octavia
- Causwells, Photo: Causwells
- Barbacco, Photo: Barbacco
- Madcap, Photo: Madcap
- RT Rotisserie, Photo: RT Rotisserie
- El Sur Empanadas, Photo: El Sur Empanadas
- Skool, Photo: Skool
- Inverness Park Market, Photo: Inverness Park Market
- The Beehive, Photo: The Beehive
- Son's Addition, Photo: Son's Addition
- Humphry Slocombe, Photo: gtranquillity/stock.adobe.com
- Bardo Lounge and Supper Club, Photo: Bardo Lounge and Supper Club
- Cover Photo: susanne2688/stock.adobe.com