Couples looking for romantic dining experiences in the Bay Area can choose from a wide selection of cuisines and dining experiences, including traditional French and Italian bistros, upscale-rustic Californian restaurants, and unique experiences recreating Chinese dim sum service.
Bellota is an excellent choice for diners looking for unique, upscale bistro fare in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood, helmed by San Francisco's Absinthe Group, the force behind beloved city eateries such as Barcino and Absinthe Brasserie and Bar. The 140-seat bistro is housed within a National Register of Historic Places-listed building and showcases splendid Spanish-influenced menus cultivated by executive chef Ryan McIlwraith at lunch and dinner daily. Extensive tapas service is offered, along with classic menus focusing on wood-fired land and sea entrees, Old World-style stews, and hearty paellas. An all-Spanish wine list is offered, along with fine sherries on tap and a selection of Spanish cocktails, including regional favorite gin tonics.
888 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-430-6580
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Octavia is an elevated New American offering from acclaimed Bay Area chef Melissa Perello, known for her work at hip spots such as the Castro district's Frances. The restaurant, which is named in honor of the restaurant's street location in Lower Pacific Heights, serves up nightly dinner menus in a renovated 19th-century space emphasizing romantic, polished decor and down-to-earth ambiance. Expertly-crafted dishes showcase a commitment to sustainability and local sourcing, including delectable comfort fare such as English pea and bacon tagliatelle, striped bass prepared with mushrooms and savoy cabbage, duck leg confit in coconut curry, and petit filet mignon with creamed spinach and rutabaga. Diners can enjoy an extensive list of wines available by the bottle, carafe, or glass or take home loaves of the restaurant's signature house-baked levain, served with cultured butter or ligurian olive oil.
1701 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-408-7507
© Rich Table
Rich Table is the unique culinary vision of executive chefs Sarah and Evan Rich, housed within a rustic space decorated with salvaged barn wood and centered around an open-plan kitchen. The relaxed, convivial restaurant showcases clever Californian fare at dinner and late-night service, highlighting high-quality land and sea fare such as whole-roasted squab with hoisin and flowering rabe, black cod with braised kale and Asian pears, and 21-day dry-aged ribeye steaks. Couples can also choose from pasta entrees such as aged beef cannelloni or tonnarelli prepared with sea urchin or share gourmet desserts such as cream cheese panna cotta or coconut cake with brown butter ice cream. After-dinner cocktails and dessert wines are showcased on the restaurant's drink menu, along with an extensive list of fine liquors.
199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102, Phone: 415-355-9085
© Seven Hills
Seven Hills is a unique fine dining experience in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood, showcasing a delectable menu of farm-to-table Roman-style fare at dinner service each night. The intimate, romantic neighborhood restaurant is helmed by renowned executive chef Anthony Florian, emphasizing dishes crafted with handmade pastas and a bounty of produce from local Bay Area farms and purveyors. Savory pasta entrees include maccheroncelli with housemade ricotta, spaghetti alla chitarra with artichoke sugo and mint, and telicherry pepper farfalle with pecorino spuma and pancetta. Hearty land and sea options range from bavette steak with butterball potatoes to daily fresh fish catches served up with fregola and mussels. An approachable wine list features pairings meant to complement entrees, focusing on Italian and Napa Valley varieties.
1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-775-1550
Acquerello is one of San Francisco's most coveted upscale dining experiences, receiving one of the city's first Michelin star ratings upon the inception of the prestigious guide's inaugural Bay Area edition. The restaurant, which is helmed within a converted chapel facility in the city's Nob Hill neighborhood, offers fine Italian dining options cultivated by executive chef Suzette Gresham, available at dinner service Tuesdays through Saturdays. A nightly prix fixe menu showcases three to five courses of elegant fare such as llano seco pork, cozze patate with Gulf prawns, spinach creste di galli with wagyu beef Bolognese, and swiss chard and mushroom raviolo with browned butter. A seasonal tasting menu is also offered, with advance reservations required to ensure nightly availability. Wine pairings are available to complement all meals, showcasing the restaurant's excellently cultivated wine list, which has received the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award each year since 2012.
1722 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-567-5432
Benu is the latest offering from acclaimed executive chef Corey Lee, best known for his James Beard Award-winning work at The French Laundry. The elegant, minimalist restaurant, which was opened to the public in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood in 2010, has received three Michelin stars and is a proud recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award, acclaimed by international publications such as The New York Times as one of the American West Coast's best upscale restaurants. Couples can enjoy full tasting menus at dinner service Tuesdays through Saturdays, showcasing seafood, meat, and vegetable courses such as faux shark's fin and soup dumplings, Cantonese-style pork belly and blood sausage crepinette, and Beluga caviar with sweet sea urchin. An impressive wine list showcases more than 300 selections from across California and Europe, complemented by craft beers and imported sakes available by the glass. Diners should plan approximately three hours for dinner experiences and should notify the restaurant of any dietary concerns before showing up for reservations.
22 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-685-4860
Boulevard is a refined Embarcadero offering from executive chef Nancy Oakes, offering elevated American fare served up in a dining room showcasing unparalleled San Francisco Bay views. The restaurant, which has been considered to be one of the city's finest dining spots since its 1993 opening, has become a landmark in the city's Embarcadero district, known for its grand Belle Époque decor and acclaimed market-driven cuisine. Lunch and dinner service are offered daily, highlighting constantly-rotating seasonal menus featuring fare such as wood-oven-roasted Berkshire pork prime rib chops, wild Pacific swordfish with Caesar-style Yukon gold potatoes, and black wild mushroom risotto with burrata and burgundy truffles. Full lunch and dinner dessert menus highlight elegant choices such as maple creme brulee, warm pumpkin bread pudding, and the restaurant's romantic Croquembouche service for two.
1 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-543-6084
Californios is a Michelin-starred dining experience in San Francisco's Mission district, originally opened to the public as a pop-up restaurant in 2013. The restaurant, which is named in honor of the first Mexican settlers in California, has been acclaimed by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the city's most unique dining destinations, known for its constantly-changing tasting menus and small-batch wine list. Executive chef Val M. Cantu, best known for his work at Nob Hill's Sons and Daughters and for his nod as one of America's best new chefs by Food and Wine in 2017, emphasizes minimalistic elegance in all his nightly tasting menus, which source ingredients from the finest farms and purveyors possible to showcase vibrant seasonal flavors at their peak. 16 courses are offered each night, making for one of the city's most impressive tasting experiences.
3115 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-757-0994
Chapeau! is a charming and inviting French bistro known as one of the Richmond's best date night spots, helmed by executive chef Philippe Gardelle, who offers up classic French fare at dinner and early bird service Wednesdays through Sundays. The tucked-away bistro on Clement Street is known for its intimate ambiance and impressive wine list, which showcases extensive domestic and imported selections available by the glass or by the bottle. Elevated comfort fare served up includes cassoulet de Toulouse with cannellini bean ragout, roasted duck breast with carrot and coriander puree, and fine filet mignon prepared with spinach soubise and bone marrow. A vegetarian menu is available to accommodate diners with dietary needs, showcasing selections such as vegetable Napoleon with farro, barley, lentils, and curry cauliflower mousse.
126 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, Phone: 415-387-0408
, Michigan beaches
Cotogna is a rustic Italian-style eatery in San Francisco's historic Jackson Square neighborhood, named for the Italian word for "quince," a nod to its sister eatery Quince Restaurant. The bistro, which is helmed by Quince's executive chef Michael Tusk, is known for its daily-rotating menus of wood-fired fare, including delicious traditional wood-oven Italian pizzas. Housemade pastas also take center stage, including selections like raviolo with farm eggs and brown butter, gramigna with pork sausage and romanesco, tagliatelle alla Modenese, and casarecce al nero prepared with fennel and Monterey Bay squid. Spit-roasted land and sea entrees include steelhead trout with chanterelle mushrooms, duck leg confit with rutabaga, and quail prepared with butternut squash and Tuscan black cabbage.
490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-775-8508
Frances is one of the Castro's hottest dining destinations, offering market-driven New American and Californian fare served up by acclaimed executive chef Melissa Perello. The restaurant, which is named in honor of Perello's grandmother, strives to craft locally-sourced farm-to-table fare in an upscale neighborhood setting, showcasing daily-changing dinner menus of seasonal fare Tuesdays through Sundays. Diners can choose from gourmet entrees such as bavette steak with Fresno chile and fregola sarda, Atlantic cod prepared with red harissa broccolini and seared potato brandade, and cauliflower steak served with trumpet mushroom confit and medjool dates. An extensive wine list features domestic and international options, including cellar selections and house wines.
3870 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, Phone: 415-621-3870
Frascati is a cozy, inviting Mediterranean-style bistro in San Francisco's exclusive Russian Hill neighborhood, helmed by restaurateurs Rebecca and Jon Rader and executive chef Natanael Bueno. The restaurant, which offers beautiful street views of bustling Hyde Street's cable car system, serves up a unique hybrid Mediterranean-Californian menu nightly at dinner, showcasing the best seasonal ingredients available in entrees such as lobster risotto with melted leeks and burro d'Arancia, grilled pork chops with leek ash-mango salsa, and duck breast with celery root puree and citrus-herb agrodolce. Dates can share upscale appetizers such as burrata, steak tartare, and smoked salmon bruschetta with citrus mascarpone or split charming dessert options such as vanilla bean panna cotta, black and white chocolate bread pudding, or the restaurant's signature marbled Bailey's cheesecake. An eclectic wine list showcases fine global selections available by the glass or by the bottle.
1901 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-928-1406
© Gary Danko
Gary Danko is the signature restaurant of the acclaimed American chef of the same name, who has been the recipient of three James Beard Awards throughout his storied career on San Francisco's culinary scene. The Michelin-starred restaurant, which has also received the prestigious AAA Five Diamond rating, serves up French-inspired fare in San Francisco's historic Fisherman's Wharf district, known for its gorgeous Old World-style dining room and elegant decor. Diners can enjoy three, four, and five-course prix fixe menus nightly, which highlight refined options such as herb-crusted lamb loin, Dungeness crab risotto, and fennel puree branzino served with a saffron orange emulsion. Cheese and wine pairings are also served up tableside with all menus, with cocktail service also available from the restaurant's full-service bar. Couples should note that upscale attire is required, including jackets and ties for men.
800 North Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-749-2060
14.House of Prime Rib
© House of Prime Rib
House of Prime Rib is one of San Francisco's premiere steakhouses, serving up elegant prime rib entrees nightly prepared according to English traditions. The restaurant, which has been a city culinary scene staple since the 1940s, features cozy Old World ambiance with inviting fireplaces and an intimate cocktail lounge perfect for cozying up with dates. All entrees showcase the finest prime beef available on the market, meticulously aged for 21 days, carved to order, and served up directly to tables in stainless steel carts. Preparation options include petite City Cuts, thinly-sliced English Cuts, and extra-thick King Henry VIII Cuts. Fresh fish catches are also served up nightly, along with high-quality imported wine pairings and a dessert cart showcasing decadent European-style treats.
1906 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-885-4605
Kokkari Estiatorio is the sister restaurant of Palo Alto's acclaimed Evvia Estiatorio, named for the Greek legendary site of Kokkari, which is known as the site where Greek god Poseidon's son Orion prepared an elaborate banquet for the daughter of the King of Chios. The taverna-style restaurant is centered around the concept of philoxenia, or the art of turning a stranger into a friend. Old World-style decor evokes the ambiance of a Mediterranean country inn, including a wood-beamed dining space showcasing a cozy fireplace and handmade traditional pottery. Diners can choose from an extensive menu of Greek-inspired plates, including entrees such as wood-oven-roasted psari sto fourno, traditional baked lamb and eggplant moussaka, and spiced souvlaki lamb skewers prepared with tzatziki and bay leaves. Old and New World wines are available by the glass or by the bottle, along with a dessert menu showcasing traditional favorites such as baklava, galaktoboureko, and ouzo sorbet.
200 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111, Phone: 415-981-0983
La Ciccia is a charming Noe Valley restaurant owned and operated by married duo Lorella Degan and Massimiliano Conti. The rustic Italian-style eatery showcases a full menu of Sardinian fare Tuesdays through Saturdays at dinner, including high-quality delicacies such as seared lamb tenderloin tagliata, breaded pork scaloppine with smoked pancetta and saffron onions, and oven-roasted whole prawns cooked in basil and oil. Couples can also enjoy pasta entrees such as homemade spaghetti with plum tomatoes, semolina gnochetti with pork sugo and pecorino sardo, or sea urchin macaroni with tuna hearts and tomato. An extensive wine list by the glass and by the bottle showcases 180 Italian favorites, with a section dedicated specifically to Sardinian wines.
291 30th St, San Francisco, CA 94131, Phone: 415-550-8114
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L'Ardoise is an upscale French bistro in San Francisco's hip Castro district, offering dinner service Tuesdays through Saturdays in a casual neighborhood cafe setting. The restaurant, which is name for the French word for chalkboard, a nod to its rotating bistro menu, is helmed by James Beard-nominated executive chef Thierry Clement, a French Alps transplant best known for his work at the Basque-inspired Fringale. Since the restaurant's 2008 opening, it has received excellent reviews from regional and national publications such as Zagat, acclaimed for menu offerings such seven-hour-cooked traditional duck leg confit, bistro coq au vin, seafood and shellfish cassoulet, and black Angus filet mignon prepared with pommes landaises and white truffle oil. High-quality appetizers such as terrine de foie gras are available for sharing, complemented by fine French wines available by the glass or by the bottle.
151 Noe St, San Francisco, CA 94114, Phone: 415-437-2600
© Lazy Bear
Lazy Bear is a unique concept restaurant offering modern American fare served up dinner party style as part of two nightly seatings each Tuesday through Saturday evening. The restaurant, which began as a popular pop-up dining concept in the Bay Area, has moved into a permanent location showcasing midcentury decor and long communal dining tables, open for ticket sales once a month at a select time during the previous month. Ticket sales are announced on Twitter or available through the restaurant's mailing list, with separate ticket tiers for tasting menus and beverage pairings. A 15-course tasting menu showcases elegant New American fare, which rotates seasonally to take advantage of the Bay Area's produce bounty. Beverage pairings showcase specialty cocktails, draft beers, imported sakes and spirits, and a 1,000-label wine list. Dietary restrictions may be accommodated with advance notice. After the second nightly seating, diners can enjoy a late-night nightcap experience at the restaurant's mezzanine Lazy Bear Den, which serves up a la carte bar bites and the restaurant's full wine list.
3416 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-874-9921
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19.Liholiho Yacht Club
© Liholiho Yacht Club
Liholiho Yacht Club is the latest restaurant offering from Nopa's Ravi Kapur, located within San Francisco's Tendernob district near the hip Tenderloin and Nob Hill neighborhoods. The eclectic eatery serves up menus showcasing Hawai'ian, Indian, and Chinese fusion fare, open to the public Mondays through Saturdays for dinner service. Menus highlight unique offerings such as Manila clams in coconut curry, Kung Pao sweetbreads with cashews and pineapple, kimchi-glazed beef ribs, and pork jowls prepared with five-spice sausage, pistacho, and mint. Dates can cozy up in brick-walled booths and share unique dessert offerings such warm gingerbread mochi cake or baked Hawai'i with caramelized pineapple ice cream. A full menu of tropical-inspired cocktails is available throughout the evening, along with interesting and experimental draft and bottled beers.
871 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-440-5446
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Mourad is a unique modern Moroccan restaurant located within San Francisco's PacBell Building, helmed by Marrakesh native Mourad Lahlou. The restaurant is known for its contemporary Californian twists on classic Moroccan flavors such as harissa and za'atar, which are emphasized in elegant dining selections such as lamb tartare, charred octopus, and foie gras. Couples can select from a variety of family-style entrees with shareable Mediterranean plates or enjoy nightly chef's tasting menus, which pair upscale options such as caviar, aged squab, and baharat short rib with the best wines available from California, Europe, and beyond. A full cocktail menu is also available from the restaurant's bar, along with a selection of imported and regional craft beers on draft.
140 New Montgomery St #1, San Francisco, CA 94105, Phone: 415-660-2500
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Nopa is one of Alamo Square's hippest eateries, helmed by executive chef Laurence Jossel and offering dinner and late-night service seven nights a week, with additional brunch hours on the weekends. The two-story restaurant serves up a seasonal menu of organic wood-fired fare with a Californian twist, with produce and meats sourced from Bay Area farmer's markets and purveyors. Earthy, rustic entrees available at dinner include smoked brisket with date butter, black cod fish stew with Manila clams and leeks, country pork chops with rojo beans and kumquat, and rotisserie chicken served with hazelnuts and shiitake mushrooms. At brunch, diners can choose from options such as custard French toast, bangers and mash with caramelized leek cream, and apple walnut cake with huckleberry compote and brandy butter, available alongside an extensive menu of brunch cocktails, wines by the glass, and coffees from local roasters Andytown.
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, Phone: 415-864-8643
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Quince is a celebrated seasonal dining destination in San Francisco's historic Jackson Square, helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Tusk and his wife Lindsay. The upscale restaurant, which is open for dinner service daily, serves up excellent menus of French and Italian-inspired fare, including a stellar chef's tasting menu that highlights options such as Maine lobster fagoletti, carnaroli risotto, and côte de boeuf served with bordelaise sauce and calcot onion. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available from the Michelin-starred restaurant, which is also known for its extensive charcuterie program and lounge raw bar selections. An extensive wine light highlights Old World options, served alongside a selection of fine whiskeys, amaros, and single-malt scotches.
470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-775-8500
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Spruce has been acclaimed as one of San Francisco's top dining destinations since its 2007 opening, noted in international publications such as Esquire, Food and Wine, and Wine Spectator as one of the city's most romantic and upscale eateries. The Presidio Heights favorite, which has received a prestigious Michelin star rating, is helmed by executive chef Mark Sullivan and showcases a splendid menu of fine Californian cuisine crafted from locally-sourced seasonal ingredients cultivated specifically for the Bacchus Management Group. Couples can enjoy refined options at brunch, lunch, and dinner, including entrees such as handcrafted ricotta ravioli and duck sausage-stuffed guinea hen. The restaurant is also acclaimed for its immense and progressive wine and spirits program, which showcases more than 2,500 international wines alongside a carefully-cultivated selection of top-shelf liquors and limited-production brews.
3640 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118, Phone: 415-931-5100
24.State Bird Provisions
© State Bird Provisions
State Bird Provisions is the sister restaurant of popular San Francisco dining spot Progress, helmed by executive chefs and restaurateurs Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza. The rustic, intimate restaurant is known for its ever-rotating menu of excellent American small plates served up dim sum style, showcasing the bounty of California's seasonal ingredients. Servers circulate the restaurant's dining room with carts full of tapas, ranging from blackberry-marinated beets with goat cheese and guinea hen dumplings to sweet corn and garlic chive short stack pancakes prepared Asian-style. Wine pairings are available by the bottle or by the glass, with a menu of regional draft and bottled beers also offered. Couples should note that reservations at the restaurant are very difficult to secure and that walk-in spots often require lining up hours before dinner service begins.
1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, Phone: 415-795-1272
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25 Best Restaurants in the Bay Area
- Bellota, Photo: Bellota
- Octavia, Photo: Thierry Hoarau/stock.adobe.com
- Rich Table, Photo: Rich Table
- Seven Hills, Photo: Seven Hills
- Acquerello, Photo: Acquerello
- Benu, Photo: nd3000/stock.adobe.com
- Boulevard, Photo: Boulevard
- Californios, Photo: Californios
- Chapeau, Photo: lester120/stock.adobe.com
- Cotogna, Photo: Cotogna
- Frances, Photo: Frances
- Frascati, Photo: Frascati
- Gary Danko, Photo: Gary Danko
- House of Prime Rib, Photo: House of Prime Rib
- Kokkari Estiatorio, Photo: FomaA/stock.adobe.com
- La Ciccia, Photo: starush/stock.adobe.com
- L'Ardoise, Photo: L'Ardoise
- Lazy Bear, Photo: Lazy Bear
- Liholiho Yacht Club, Photo: Liholiho Yacht Club
- Mourad, Photo: Mourad
- Nopa, Photo: Nopa
- Quince, Photo: Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
- Spruce, Photo: Spruce
- State Bird Provisions, Photo: State Bird Provisions
- Cover Photo: eskstock/stock.adobe.com