San Francisco boasts one of the top culinary scenes in the country. Michelin-starred restaurants and James Beard Award winners abound, with the city's gourmet offerings ranking among the nation's finest longstanding fine dining establishments. A large number of casual and late-night restaurants are also offered throughout hip neighborhoods. These restaurants, bars, and nightclubs are among the city's most romantic destinations, for visitors and residents looking to try somewhere new for a first date or special anniversary celebration.
Bellota is a traditional, elegant bistro from executive chef Ryan McIlwraith that strives to bring the eclectic and varied flavors of Spain to San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood. The restaurant is the latest offering by San Francisco's Absinthe Group, who are also responsible for iconic city eateries such as Absinthe Brasserie and Bar and Barcino. It offers a 140-seat dining room within a renovated building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with a 30-seat bar and lounge also serving up an all-Spanish wine list, gin-focused cocktails, and top-shelf sherry on tap. Lunch, tapas service, and dinner are served daily, with menus focusing on paellas, Old World stews, tapas, and wood-fired meat and seafood entrees.
888 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-430-6580
Beretta is a bustling Italian pizzeria in San Francisco's hip Mission District neighborhood that has gained a reputation as one of the city's top late-night eateries. The dimly-lit restaurant is helmed by executive chef Ruggero Gadali and is known for its trademark thin-crust pizzas, crafted with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Small plates service is also offered, along with outdoor brunch service on the weekends. An extensive menu of clever cocktails is served from the restaurant's bar, and many vegetarian and vegan dining options are available. To-go service is available, with a maximum of two pizzas allowed per order. Downstairs, the restaurant's private dining space accommodates groups of up to 40 and hosts culinary-focused events such as family meals, a hands-on cocktail course, and the restaurant's Monday Night Social Club.
1199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-695-1199
DOSA is an innovative chain of South Indian restaurants that was founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Anjan and Emily Mitra. The restaurant was San Francisco's first South Indian joint and offers three locations throughout the Bay Area today, including a Mission District location, a Pacific Heights location, and a location in Oakland. Authentic family recipes are adapted by executive chef Arun Gupta and the restaurant's team of talented traditional chefs, offering clever contemporary twists on classic Indian favorites. Both of the restaurant's San Francisco locations are full-service restaurants, eschewing the conventional Indian buffet setup for a more refined dining experience. A full bar program is offered at both locations, developed by the Absinthe Group's Jonny Raglin and focusing on gin and spice infusions.
995 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-642-3672
© The Bird
The Bird is an upscale fast casual fried chicken sandwich shop offering locations in San Francisco and Berkeley, including a location on Montgomery Street in the bustling SoMa neighborhood. It is dedicated to serving high-quality indulgent food on a budget, crafting signature fried chicken sandwiches with free-range chicken, berbere spices, freshly-baked buns, and housemade crunchy apple slaw. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner service are available, with variants such as signature fried chicken breakfast biscuits and bird salads with kale, beets, and apples. Sandwiches can be paired with curly or loaded fries or hash rounds to make meal platters or paired with sides such as housemade apple fritters. Beer and soda are served at lunch and dinner, with orange juice and hot drip coffee available during the morning hours.
115 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-872-9825
5.Super Duper Burgers
© Super Duper Burgers
Super Duper Burgers is a Bay Area counter-service chain that offers fast food burgers prepared with slow food values. The restaurant emphasizes fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and sustainability practices, including fully compostable packaging and carbon footprint reduction practices. It offers six locations throughout the San Francisco area, including locations in Metreon, the Financial District, Castro, and the Marina region. Locations are also offered throughout the North, South, and East Bay regions. All burgers are made with vegetarian-fed beef sourced from a local family-owned ranch, with miniature and super-sized burger options available. Chicken and vegetarian sandwiches are also offered, along with milkshakes crafted with Straus Family Creamery organic cream. Breakfast service is available at select locations, including organic breakfast sandwiches and coffee from partners Mr. Espresso.
721 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-538-3437
Ragazza is a neighborhood Neapolitan pizza joint that is owned and operated by Sharon Ardiana, who also owns Glen Park's Gialina restaurant. The restaurant's name is inspired by the Italian word for "girl," which is Ardiana's homage to the many talented female chefs throughout her family history. It opens at 5:00pm daily for dinner service, accommodating walk-in guests in its dining room, with reservations for parties of six or more available at its heated enclosed outdoor gazebo. A full dinner menu of traditional Italian favorites is available, including seasonal antipasti and insalate, traditional pastas and roasts, and a wide variety of Neapolitan-style thin crust pizzas. An extensive Italian-inspired wine and beer list is also offered, with many selections available in 500ml carafes.
311 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, Phone: 415-255-1133
Starbelly is a contemporary Californian comfort food restaurant located in San Francisco's lively Castro neighborhood, near the Mission District and the Lower Haight. The restaurant is helmed by executive chef Adam Timney, a former chef at Bay Area favorites Boccalone Salumeria and Chez Papa. The restaurant has been open since 2009 and strives to serve as a community-focused endeavor, donating portions of proceeds to local organizations such as the Castro Theatre and the arts education organization Root Division. Brunch, lunch, midday, and dinner service are offered daily, with menus highlighting new twists on traditional comfort fare such as artisan pizzas, craft beef and veggie burgers, and shrimp po'boy sandwiches. A full menu of draft and bottled local beers is available, along with an extensive wine and cocktail list.
3583 16th St, San Francisco CA 94114, Phone: 415-252-7500
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Spruce is one of San Francisco's most highly-acclaimed fine dining restaurants, receiving major industry awards and accolades since its 2007 opening from publications such as Wine Spectator, Esquire, and Food and Wine Magazine. The Michelin-starred Presidio Heights restaurant is overseen by executive chef Mark Sullivan, who crafts fine Californian cuisine from locally-sourced ingredients grown exclusively for owners Bacchus Management Group. It is one of the city's top date night and corporate gathering spots, offering seating in a modern dining room, marble-lined bar area, and intimate cafe. Brunch, lunch, dinner, and bar service highlight elegant dishes such as duck sausage-stuffed guinea hen, handcrafted ricotta ravioli, and crème fraîche cheesecake. The restaurant maintains one of the country's most extensive and progressive wine and spirits programs, offering more than 2,500 fine wines alongside an assortment of limited-production beers and top-shelf liquors.
3640 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118, Phone: 415-931-5100
9.The Wreck Room
© The Wreck Room
The Wreck Room features a casual neighborhood hangout vibe in the city's California Hill neighborhood. The large saloon-style bar offers a wide variety of table and arcade games for customers to enjoy, including pool and shuffleboard tables, miniature basketball, darts, skeeball, and vintage arcade games. Tabletop games are also available, including classic favorites such as dice, dominoes, and Connect Four. 10 large-screen televisions broadcast major sporting events, making the bar a favorite hangout for professional and collegiate game watching. 12 rotating beers are tapped regularly, including national favorites such as Stella Artois, PBR, and Shock Top and a variety of regional West Coast craft beer.
1390 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-932-6715
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Delarosa is a Roman-style pizza parlor chain that opened its first location in 2010 in San Francisco's Marina District. In 2015, a second location was opened in the city's Financial District, near the Yerba Buena Gardens and the SoMa neighborhood. It serves thin-crust artisan pizzas and Italian small plates seven days a week in an unpretentious neighborhood dining atmosphere with communal seating. Classic pasta dishes and sea and land entrees are also available, along with an extensive list of Italian and Californian wines, local craft beers, and Italian-inspired cocktails highlighting liquors such as amaro and grappa. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, with semi-private seating available for groups of 15 or more. Happy hour specials are served Monday through Friday, and brunch is available on weekend mornings.
2175 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, Phone: 415-673-7100
11.Finn Town Tavern
© Finn Town Tavern
Finn Town Tavern is an upscale New American "tavern with a twist," located within San Francisco's historic Castro neighborhood. The restaurant stands on the location of a mid-19th century tavern that was a popular gathering spot for Finnish fishermen, Gold Rush miners, and local merchants. The new venture, helmed by executive chef Joseph Walker, strives to follow in its predecessor's community-focused footsteps by donating portions of proceeds to local charities such as Shanti, Dining Out For Life, and the Richmond Ermet AIDS Foundation. Elevated gastropub dishes are served at lunch and dinner, including entrees such as buffalo-style rock shrimp, lobster cioppino, and mascarpone gnudi. Two separate bar spaces serve full dining and drink menus, including cocktails on draft created by Anthony Parks of Fifty-Fifty Cocktail Company.
2251 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114, Phone: 415-626-3466
12.4505 Burgers & BBQ
© 4505 Burgers & BBQ
4505 Burgers & BBQ is a hip San Francisco barbecue joint originally opened in 2009 as a whole animal meat source by master butcher Ryan Farr, the author of books such as Whole Beast Butchery and Sausage Making: The Definitive Guide. Today, the NoPa restaurant also serves a full menu of smoked meat entrees, including combination meat and side dish plates, meats by the pound, and sandwich and burger platters. Homestyle side dishes such as baked beans, chili, coleslaw, and potato salad are also available, along with root beer floats and fresh-baked cookies. The restaurant also serves a variety of local craft beers, root beers, and wines on tap, with six-packs and bottles of wine available for to-go sales.
705 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, Phone: 415-231-6993
© Press Club
Press Club is one of San Francisco's top wine bars and tasting venues, founded in 2005 by Jan Wiginton and Andrew Chun. The Union Square lounge is located on the basement level of the Four Seasons Hotel and showcases an impressive menu of the region's top wines, originally opened to showcase the products of eight Napa Valley region wineries. Today, it has expanded its menu to highlight beverages from around the state and around the world, including hard-to-find wine selections. Unique regional and national craft beer selections are also available for tasting, along with a menu of inventive small bar plates. The bar hosts a variety of live DJ sets and musical performances throughout the month, hosting hip dance parties regularly.
20 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-744-5000
Mourad presents modern Moroccan cuisine in an elegant setting within San Francisco's PacBell Building, operated by Marrakesh immigrant Mourad Lahlou. The restaurant brings a California twist to dishes prepared with traditional Moroccan ingredients such as za'atar and harissa, utilizing them in upscale classics such as foie gras, lamb tartare, and charred octopus. Moroccan-style family dining entrees are available, featuring shareable plates paired with a variety of Mediterranean-style sauces and side dishes. A chef's tasting menu also pairs one-of-a-kind fine dining creations with the best wines from Europe, California, and the Pacific. A full cocktail menu is served, along with a draft and bottled beer list highlighting regional craft favorites and European imports.
140 New Montgomery St #1, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-660-2500
15.Absinthe Brasserie and Bar
© Absinthe Brasserie and Bar
Absinthe Brasserie and Bar is one of San Francisco's top cocktail bars, located in the heart of its Hayes Valley neighborhood. The award-winning bar has been named as one of San Francisco's most romantic restaurants by Thrillist and TimeOut, with its famed Ginger Rogers cocktail selected as one of the city's most iconic craft drinks. The restaurant was opened in 1998 and is the signature establishment of the Absinthe Group, who also operate restaurants such as Barcino and Bellota and provide beverage programs for top restaurants throughout the city. Upscale French and Mediterranean bistro fare, including a raw bar with oyster and caviar selections, pairs with classic and modern cocktails, including a large menu highlighting the restaurant's eponymous liquor.
398 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-551-1590
16.Raven Bar and Lounge
© Raven Bar and Lounge
Raven Bar and Lounge is an intimate SoMa speakeasy and dance club themed around the legendary poem by horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. The club was originally opened in the 1990s as the Up and Down Club, noted for its Monday night jazz performances and trip-hop dance nights. Today, it brings '90s classics and modern pop and dance hits to its two vibrant dance floors, which host party nights every Friday and Saturday. Lounges on its upper and lower floors are home to three bars, which serve creative signature cocktails highlighting tropical ingredients. Design elements by San Francisco artist Michael Brennan evoke the feeling of noir film classics such as Dark Passage and The Maltese Falcon, with antique mirrors and dark leather booths adding to the secretive ambiance.
1151 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-431-1151
© Black Cat
Black Cat is a bi-level cocktail joint and jazz lounge located within the 1910 Verona Hotel in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood. The club was originally opened in 1906 two blocks away from its current location and has been given an update in the 21st century as a full restaurant, bar, and music venue, paying homage to the neighborhood's legacy of historic supper clubs and arts and entertainment venues. A full menu of creative New American fare is served for dinner and late-night service Tuesdays through Sundays, highlighting small plates and classic entrees such as lamb burgers and New York strip steaks. Jazz performances are hosted at the venue regularly, with artisanal wines, draft and bottled beers, and handcrafted cocktails available during performances.
400 Eddy St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-358-1999
Waterbar has been acclaimed as San Francisco's best seafood restaurant, located along the city's Embarcadero waterfront region and offering stunning views of the city's skyline and landmarks such as the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island. The restaurant emphasizes sustainability and community giving in its business practices, donating five cents for each oyster sold to local charity The Watershed Project. Environmentally-safe seafood is caught fresh daily and presented in a variety of upscale dishes at lunch and dinner, including the West Coast's most extensive oyster menu. Land and sea dishes and small plates are served at lunch and dinner alongside an iced shellfish and caviar menu. Brunch service is also available on the weekends, with carafes of morning cocktails available alongside favorites such as oak-roasted moules frites and pan-seared lingcod.
399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-284-9922
© BIX Restaurant
BIX Restaurant is a jazz supper club offering from namesake proprietor Doug "Bix" Biederbeck, founded in 1988 within San Francisco's historic Jackson Square. The club has received a number of accolades from international publications, including a three-star rating from the SF Chronicle and a mention in Zagat's Top 40 guide. Dinner dishes are available nightly at the venue's two-story dining room, crafted by executive chef Emmanuel Eng to highlight locally-sourced fresh ingredients acquired at the city's Ferry Building Farmer's Market. Modern American entrees include Massachusetts sea scallops, lobster spaghetti, black truffle cheeseburgers, and dry-aged New York strip steak. Expertly-concocted cocktails are served during nightly performances, which may be viewed from the restaurant's main floor seating or intimate mezzanine.
56 Gold St, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-433-6300
© Gary Danko
Gary Danko is a French-inspired restaurant located within San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf district. The acclaimed fine dining restaurant is operated by top American chef Gary Danko and has received top industry awards throughout its two decades of tenure near Ghirardelli Square, including coveted Michelin stars, AAA Five-Diamond ratings, and three James Beard Awards. Its Old World-style dining room serves three, four, and five-course prix-fixe meals highlighting gourmet dishes such as Dungeness crab risotto, herb-crusted lamb loin, and fennel puree branzino with saffron-orange emulsion. Cheese and wine pairs are presented tableside, with cocktails available from the venue's intimate bar. Elegant attire is required for all diners, including ties and jackets for gentlemen.
800 North Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-749-2060
© The Saratoga
The Saratoga is the namesake cocktail bar and restaurant of the 1908 Saratoga Hotel, located within San Francisco's eclectic Tenderloin neighborhood. The sleek, sexy bi-level bar offers New American fine dining presented by the Bacchus Management Group, highlighting modern twists on classic American comfort fare. Entrees and small plates are served at lunch and dinner, alongside an award-winning wine and spirits program that emphasizes forgotten turn-of-the-century liquors and clever cocktails crafted by bar supervisor Brandon Clements. Upstairs, a dramatic dining room offers elegant tables and a dramatic bar, while downstairs, period artwork lines the walls of a more intimate bar and lounge.
1000 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-932-6464
© Zuni Cafe
Zuni Cafe is a Hayes Valley staple for Mediterranean cuisine, originally founded in 1979 by proprietor Billy West to pay homage to the Zuni indigenous people of the American Southwest. Today, the restaurant is co-owned by chefs Judy Rodgers and Gilbert Pilgram and has been the recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award, one of the highest honors bestowed upon American restaurants. The laid-back restaurant is a favorite among tourists and locals alike, offering a diverse menu of fare crafted from locally-sourced ingredients, including famous dishes such as the restaurant's brick-oven chicken for two. Clever cocktails are served at lunch and dinner from the restaurant's zinc bar, with late-night drink service available after the restaurant's kitchen closes.
1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-552-2522
23.The Big 4
© The Big 4
The Big 4 is a classic American restaurant located within the lobby of the Scarlet Huntington Hotel, paying homage to the 19th-century Nob Hill quartet of "Big Four" Central Pacific Railroad entrepreneurs Charles Crocker, C.P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Leland Stanford, whose mansions once stood near the restaurant's present location. The restaurant is decorated to evoke the heyday of the California Gold Rush, with dark wood accents, railroading memorabilia, and a resident pianist playing diner requests. Vintage cocktails are served at the restaurant's bar, while upscale favorites such as French onion soup, cioppino, filet mignon, and oysters Rockefeller are available on its lunch and dinner menus.
1075 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108, Phone: 415-771-1140
Benu is a hip New American restaurant in San Francisco's SoMa district, originally opened in 2010. The Michelin-starred restaurant, which is helmed by James Beard Award-winning executive chef Corey Lee, is housed within the converted historic 1922 San Francisco Newspaper Company building, sharing its space with the Crown Point Press art studio and gallery. A delicious tasting menu is served nightly, blending Californian and Asian flavors in unique new entrees. All dinner tastings last approximately three hours, serving up meat, seafood, vegetable, and dessert courses selected by the chef. More than 300 European and American wine selections are available by the bottle or by the glass, along with a selection of beers and sakes.
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-685-4860
23 Best Places to Visit in San Francisco on a Date
- Bellota, Photo: Bellota
- Beretta, Photo: Beretta
- DOSA, Photo: DOSA
- The Bird, Photo: The Bird
- Super Duper Burgers, Photo: Super Duper Burgers
- Ragazza, Photo: Ragazza
- Starbelly, Photo: Starbelly
- Spruce, Photo: Spruce
- The Wreck Room, Photo: The Wreck Room
- Delarosa, Photo: Delarosa
- Finn Town Tavern, Photo: Finn Town Tavern
- 4505 Burgers & BBQ, Photo: 4505 Burgers & BBQ
- Press Club, Photo: Press Club
- Mourad, Photo: Mourad
- Absinthe Brasserie and Bar, Photo: Absinthe Brasserie and Bar
- Raven Bar and Lounge, Photo: Raven Bar and Lounge
- Black Cat, Photo: Black Cat
- Waterbar, Photo: Waterbar
- BIX Restaurant, Photo: BIX Restaurant
- Gary Danko, Photo: Gary Danko
- The Saratoga, Photo: The Saratoga
- Zuni Cafe, Photo: Zuni Cafe
- The Big 4, Photo: The Big 4
- Benu, Photo: Elenathewise/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Maks_Ershov - Fotolia.com