San Francisco is known around the world as one of the United States' top culinary destinations, home to a wide variety of globally-influenced dining options and chef-driven restaurants. For couples looking for more unconventional first date ideas, acclaimed touring company Extranomical Tours offers city tours and day trip packages to nearby attractions such as Muir Woods, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite National Park. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
Extranomical Tours is one of San Francisco's premiere sightseeing excursion tour companies, perfect for couples looking to get out of the city for a chance to connect. The company offers unique city tour options exploring the metropolitan region's best attractions, including special interest tours such as culinary and beverage tours. Alcatraz tour packages explore the city's famed island prison, exploring the cells of notorious former inmates such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud as part of 45-minute audio tours. Couples can also enjoy day-trip excursions to area attractions such as the Napa and Sonoma Valley wine region, Yosemite National Park, Muir Woods, and Lake Tahoe.
1590 Yosemite Ave Suite A, San Francisco, CA 94124, Phone: 415-357-0700
© John's Grill
John's Grill is one of San Francisco's most legendary dining establishments, named as one of the United States' top 10 restaurants by Esquire magazine. The historic Union Square restaurant was the first new restaurant opened to the public following San Francisco's historic 1906 earthquake, known as a top dining destination for international celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Lauren Bacall, Marlon Brando, Shirley Temple, and Francis Ford Coppola throughout the 20th century. Today, diners can cozy up in wood-paneled booths and enjoy excellent signature dishes such as Sam Spade's lamb chops, named for the private detective character created by author Dashiell Hammett, a frequent restaurant customer. Maltese Falcon-themed decor is also showcased throughout the restaurant, including a second-floor lounge space of the same name which showcases nightly music performances.
63 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-986-0069
3.Sam Wo Restaurant
© Sam Wo Restaurant
Sam Wo Restaurant is the oldest restaurant within San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood, opened at its original Washington Street location the year after the city's 1906 earthquake by a trio of immigrant siblings from China's Taishan village. The restaurant, which is now located on Clay Street, serves up lunch, dinner, and late night fare daily, known for high-quality classic Cantonese entrees such as Kung Pao shrimp, sesame chicken, sweet and sour pork, and beef with broccoli or bok choy. House fried rice entrees are available, along with chicken, shrimp, duck, beef, and vegetarian chow mein and chow fun platters. A selection of rice porridge jooks can also be complemented with classic appetizers such as fried spring rolls, Chinese-style doughnuts, and salt and pepper chicken wings.
713 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94108, Phone: 415-989-8898
4.The Starlight Room
© The Starlight Room
The Starlight Room is one of San Francisco's premiere historic cocktail lounges, opened to the public in 1928 atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The 21st-story lounge, which was restored to its original decor and splendor in 2011, showcases some of San Francisco's most spectacular 360-degree skyline views, open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays into the late night hours. Opulent interior decor recalls the lounge's 20th-century heyday, with high-backed booths and red-velvet curtains creating a decadent nightlife atmosphere. Excellent small plates utilize seasonal Bay Area ingredients, complemented by classic cocktails, including spiked punch bowls. On Sundays, a drag brunch event is presented, with small plates service available for all attendees. Couples should note that an upscale dress code is strictly enforced, with clothing items such as flip-flops, jerseys, baseball caps, and cut-off shorts strictly prohibited.
1504, 450 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-395-8595
5.San Francisco Champagne Society
© San Francisco Champagne Society
San Francisco Champagne Society is one of the city's most exclusive wine lounges, originally established in 2014. The reservation-only lounge is open to the public seven days a week, offering lounge space for up to 20 guests at a time. Champagne tasting experiences range in price from $60-$500, lasting approximately two and a half hours and showcasing a tasting flight of four-ounce pours of fine champagne selections, with an emphasis on small producers and hard-to-find library bottles. Selections rotate daily, with custom tastings available by request. A small plates menu includes high-quality caviar, cheese, and smoked salmon selections, available for service for two. Couples should note that all reservations must be prepaid in advance and that colognes, perfumes, and other scented lotions are prohibited to prevent interference with wine aromas.
1097 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Omakase is an upscale sushi joint in San Francisco's Design District, helmed by executive chef Jackson Yu. High-end chef's choice menus highlight traditional Edomae-style sushi options prepared with imported Japanese fish selections, selected with the help of restaurateur Kash Feng. Two tiers of prix fixe tasting menus are offered daily, with fish selections changed daily to ensure a constantly-changing dining experience for repeat visitors. Couples can enjoy two appetizer selections along with sashimi, nigiri, owan, and yakimono selections carefully handcrafted by Yu each evening. A high-quality imported sake list is available to complement all meals, served in distinct handmade Japanese pewter cups and pitchers.
665 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-865-0633
Cassava is an excellent modern Californian and New American restaurant in Outer Richmond, acclaimed as one of the city's 38 essential dining spots by Eater SF. The restaurant, which was the recipient of the 2018 Best Weekday Breakfast award by San Francisco Magazine, offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner service Wednesdays through Mondays, including weekend and holiday brunch service. Couples can enjoy high-quality New American fare such as slow-braised short ribs, Spanish octopus and lamb sausage, and creamy heirloom polenta, served up alongside charcuterie plates and shareable appetizers such as salmon toast and buttermilk fried chicken. A four-course tasting menu is also available at dinner, highlighting entree, dessert, and wine pairing options. At breakfast and brunch, diners can enjoy elegant cocktails paired alongside coffees from Ritual Roasters and entrees such as open-faced avocado egg sandwiches.
3519 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121, Phone: 415-640-8990
© El Techo
El Techo is the rooftop cocktail bar and patio lounge of Mission District favorite restaurant Lolinda, serving up a full menu of Latin American street fare at brunch and dinner throughout the week. The lounge offers year-round al fresco rooftop seating in all weather conditions, protected by wind screens and heat lamps. Extensive small plates service focuses on casual fare such as quesadilla de hongos, pollo frito, empanadas, and fried plantains, with chicharrones and parilla dishes also offered. The restaurant has also been named as one of America's 100 best brunch spots by OpenTable, offering a full menu of Spanish-influenced brunch entrees and small plates alongside a creative cocktails del sol menu.
2516 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-550-6970
9.East Brother Beer Company
© East Brother Beer Company
East Brother Beer Company is Richmond's premiere craft microbrewery, following a philosophy of "Pride and Purpose" in crafting high-quality, classic beer styles for taproom service and regional distribution. The company is known for flagship ales such as its Bo Pils bohemian-style pilsner, Vienna-style Red Lager, Gold and Red IPAs, and English-style Oatmeal Stout, with seasonal offerings focusing on European styles such as maibocks, festbiers, English strong ales, and Baltic porters. The brewery's public taproom facility is open Wednesdays through Sundays during the afternoon and early evening hours, with popular food trucks such as La Santa Torta, Curbside Kitchen, and Thai Xpress parked onsite throughout the week. Couples can also tour the company's brewing facility on Thursday and Sunday afternoons at 4:00pm.
1001 Canal Blvd, Richmond, CA 94804, Phone: 510-230-4081
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10.E&O Kitchen and Bar
© E&O Kitchen and Bar
E&O Kitchen and Bar is an upscale modern Asian dining experience in San Francisco's Union Square district, helmed by executive chef Sharon Nahm. The three-story restaurant is known for its creative small plates service, available throughout the day or as late-night bite service in its sleek cocktail lounge space. Excellent dinner entree options include grilled kurobuta pork chops with gochujang marinade, wood-roasted char siu cod with sauteed yu choy, and the restaurant's signature fritter burger, prepared with kimchi and Indonesian-style corn fritters as buns. Shareable plates include housemade panir naan, chickpea fries, steamed duck buns, pea tendril and tofu dumplings, and crispy chicken spring rolls. Imported craft beers are available to complement all meals, along with specialty cocktails and spirit-free spritzers and sodas.
314 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94108, Phone: 415-693-0303
11.Cafe de Casa
© Cafe de Casa
Cafe de Casa is a Brazilian-style cafe and bakery offering two locations throughout San Francisco, including a location on Leavenworth Street and a South San Francisco location. The restaurant, which was opened by Brazilian immigrant Lucimar Canedo, strives to serve up authentic Brazilian street food fare alongside freshly-prepared pourover coffees, cafe com leites, and fresh-pressed tropical juices. Traditional Brazilian pão com ovo or pão com chapa breakfasts are served up daily, along with a selection of sweet and savory breakfast crepes, Brazilian-style shepherd's pies, and traditional salgado pastries. Customizable acai bowls can be topped with ingredients such as peanut butter, goji berries, and gluten-free granola.
2701 Leavenworth St, San Francisco CA 94133, Phone: 415-345-1055
Gibson is a glamorous New American dining destination in San Francisco's famed Tenderloin district, helmed by executive chef Robin Song, best known for his work at Central Kitchen and Hog & Rocks. The restaurant is the flagship dining offering of the Hotel Bijou, showcasing throwback Art Deco decor and a wood-fired hearth oven. Couples can enjoy full nightly tasting menus complete with wine pairings or choose from hearty entrees such as smoked half ducks with plums and buckwheat crepes, dry-aged bone-in ribeyes served with salsa negra, and octopus tentacles in tomato saffron sauce. Shareable appetizers include seafood platters and a variety of smoked mousses and dips served up with in-house-baked sourdough bread. An extensive cocktail program is crafted by beverage director Adam Chapman, showcasing unique savory ingredients such as liquid kelp, verbena, sake, and sea beans alongside fine gins.
111 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-771-7709
© China Live
China Live is a unique culinary and cultural destination in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood, named as one of the World's Greatest Places by Time magazine in 2018 for its comprehensive showcase of Chinese gastronomy and culture. The modern-style marketplace showcases several distinct dining experiences, including a first-floor market restaurant that was named as Eater San Francisco's 2017 restaurant of the year, showcasing a spectacular wok station designed by Joe Yick and an authentic Chinese earthen oven. Diners can choose from daily rotating menu options such as sheng jian bao dumplings, stone-oven-roasted duck Peking style, and Taipei-braised beef noodle soup. Full chef's table and tasting menus are available nightly, showcasing the splendor of si fang cai-style private chateau cuisine. Other dining experiences include Eight Tables by George Chen, named as Food and Wine's most exciting restaurant opening of 2017, and the Oolong Cafe, a 25-seat counter-service cafe showcasing fine Chinese teas and coffees accompanied by a selection of grab-and-go bites.
644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-788-8188
© Canyon Market
Canyon Market is Glen Park's premiere neighborhood full-service market, opened to the public in 2006 and operated by Janet and Richard Tarlov. The unique concept grocer and bakery showcases a wide variety of unique culinary goods, ranging from standard grocery fare to upscale bakery and butchery items. Parisian-style baguettes and loaves are baked in house daily, with a second daily bake offered to accommodate afternoon commuters. A full-service coffee bar provides a cozy ambiance for dates, serving up classic coffee and espresso-based beverages provided by Four Barrel Coffee. Delectable breakfast and lunch sandwiches are served throughout the day, including customizable sandwiches and grab-and-go wraps. Outside seating is offered seasonally, creating a quaint outdoor cafe vibe.
2815 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131, Phone: 415-586-9999
15.Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen
© Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen
Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen is a popular Venezuelan-style eatery in San Francisco, known for its signature gluten-free traditional arepas, which are prepared by hand daily with corn, yuca, taro root, and plantains and stuffed with delicious slow-cooked fillings. White and sweet yellow corn arepas are served up with shredded beef pabellón, pulled pork pernil, spicy chicken catria, or asado negro, with vegetarian and vegan options also available for diners with dietary restrictions. Arepa samplers offer miniature tasting platters of the company's most popular arepa offerings, perfect for sharing with a date. Other menu options include cachapa sweet corn crepes and platters prepared with coconut rice, black beans, and diners' choice of protein.
401 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-400-5453
Dumpling Time is a casual dumpling and beer house overseen by San Francisco's popular Omakase Restaurant Group, known for its namesake Michelin-starred eatery and popular restaurants such as Potrero Hill's Live Sushi Bar and neighborhood diner Breakfast at Tiffany's. The Cal-Asian-style bistro showcases a glass-enclosed open kitchen, letting diners watch as their dumplings are prepared fresh to order daily. Dumpling selections use family recipes sourced from restaurateur Kash Feng, ranging from open-faced siu mai to traditional bao buns, steamed har gow, and soup-style xiao long bao. Traditional Chinese noodle dishes are also available throughout the day, served up alongside meat and seafood entrees such as shrimp toast and steamed pork ribs. Diners should note that dumpling preparation times can vary depending on crowds and that some styles of dumplings sell out throughout the day.
11 Division St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-525-4797
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Mezcalito is a hip Oaxacan-style cocktail bar that has been acclaimed by publications such as Eater San Francisco, SF Weekly, and Zagat as one of San Francisco's hottest neighborhood cocktail spots. The Russian Hill hangout is known for its impressive mezcal and tequila selections, available by the shot or as part of flight tastings. Seasonally-changing menus focus on Oaxacan snacks such as quesadillas, tacos, and enchiladas, complemented by fine ceviches and shareable plates featuring options such as taquitos and sopes. A stellar brunch menu features unique entree options such as challah French toast, carnitas omelettes, and chilaquiles, accompanied by bottomless mimosa, bloody mary, and michelada options.
1821, 2323 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-441-2323
Haines Gallery has been one of San Francisco's premiere curated art galleries since 1987, named after its founder, gallerist Cheryl Haines, best known for raising the profile of public art artist Andy Goldsworthy. The contemporary-focused gallery strives to serve as a platform for internationally-recognized artists and new talent alike, emphasizing diverse works with conceptual rigor and unique visually compelling elements. The gallery, which is a member of the Art Dealers Association of America and has ties to Northern California's Asian Contemporary Arts Consortium, showcases a constantly rotating lineup of challenging and critically-acclaimed gallery exhibitions, including works by international luminaries such as Ai Weiwei, Zhan Wang, and Monir Farmanfarmaian.
49 Geary St #540, San Francisco, CA 94108, Phone: 415-397-8114
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19.Irving Street Projects
Irving Street Projects is a working artist's studio and gallery space in San Francisco's Outer Sunset district, founded in 2015 by Kelly Inouye. The arts residency and exhibition space, which has been acclaimed by publications such as SF Weekly, TimeOutSF, and Art Practical, strives to create a space for large-scale project development in the Bay Area and support the works of artists working in a variety of new and creative mediums. More than a dozen projects have been supported by the organization since its inception, including installation pieces such as Cathy Lu's Peach Garden, Lindsay Stripling's Real Imaginary Places, and Gabrielle Teschner's In the Offing. As the space serves as a working artist's studio, open gallery time is restricted to public special events, though visitors are welcome to view ongoing projects in progress through the space's large exterior windows at any time or book appointments for showings. Special events are held at the space throughout the year, including artist talks and workshops.
4331 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122, Phone: 415-508-8918
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20.SF on Tap
SF on Tap showcases the best of San Francisco's craft brewery scene, offering walking tours throughout the greater San Francisco and Bay Area regions and sampling high-quality handcrafted local beers. Experienced tour guides lead participants on walking expeditions, lasting approximately four hours and visiting three area breweries. Tour guides and brewery experts relay information about beer styles and beer-making processes, along with historical and cultural information about area neighborhoods. All tours include at least one stop at a craft brewery, along with tastings on tap at restaurants and bars. Tours include explorations of the city's SoMa, Haight, and Fisherman's Wharf neighborhoods, along with Alcatraz combination tours held in conjunction with the National Parks System. Phone: (415) 938-4677
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© Scopo Divino
Scopo Divino is an upscale wine bar located along San Francisco's bustling California-Divisadero corridor, opened to the public in 2016. The lovely Pacific Heights wine bar is named for a phrase translating as "the divine purpose of wine," reflecting its commitment to bringing the Bay Area the finest wine experiences possible. An extensive list of red and white wines are available by the glass or by the bottle, with deals available for the restaurant's regular wine club members. Wines range from well-known West Coast favorites to boutique signature varietals from the world's top wine production regions, including rare and hard-to-find variants. A delicious menu of elevated New American bar bites is available to complement all wine selections, including a raw oyster bar and cheese and charcuterie boards.
2800 California St #101, San Francisco, CA 94115, Phone: 415-928-3728
Avery is the latest offering from executive chef Rodney Wages of Benu and Saison, opened in 2018 in San Francisco's lively Fillmore District. The elevated East Asian-style restaurant crafts elegant tasting menus in a hip dining atmosphere, celebrating the Bay Area's seasonal bounty in globally-inspired dishes. Diners can enjoy delicious fare like Danish-style ebelskivers with grilled razor clams, oyster belly wrapped in morel mushrooms, and Northern Coast Mendocino lamb vol-au-vent with coastal seaweed and artichoke barigoule as part of prix fixe menus served up at dinner throughout the week. For dessert, beeswax ice cream is complemented by dark chocolate genoise and pine nut cream. An extensive beverage program highlights rare sake and fine champagne.
1552 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, Phone: 415)-817-1187
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22 Best First Date Ideas in San Francisco
- Extranomical Tours, Photo: MaciejBledowski/stock.adobe.com
- John's Grill, Photo: John's Grill
- Sam Wo Restaurant, Photo: Sam Wo Restaurant
- The Starlight Room, Photo: The Starlight Room
- San Francisco Champagne Society, Photo: San Francisco Champagne Society
- Omakase, Photo: Omakase
- Cassava, Photo: Cassava
- El Techo, Photo: El Techo
- East Brother Beer Company, Photo: East Brother Beer Company
- E&O Kitchen and Bar, Photo: E&O Kitchen and Bar
- Cafe de Casa, Photo: Cafe de Casa
- Gibson, Photo: Gibson
- China Live, Photo: China Live
- Canyon Market, Photo: Canyon Market
- Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen, Photo: Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen
- Dumpling Time, Photo: Anderson/stock.adobe.com
- Mezcalito, Photo: Mezcalito
- Haines Gallery, Photo: shotsstudio/stock.adobe.com
- Irving Street Projects, Photo: pressmaster/stock.adobe.com
- SF on Tap, Photo: okorokovanatalya/stock.adobe.com
- Scopo Divino, Photo: Scopo Divino
- Avery, Photo: Avery
- Cover Photo: Ekaterina Pokrovsky/stock.adobe.com