It’s ambitious to attempt to fit the East Bay and San Francisco into a nutshell, but we’ll give it a try by highlighting a few of our favorites. Suffice it to say that the Bay Area has no shortage of phenomenal dining options, from street food, diners, ethnic eateries, family-style, celebrity chef and Michelin starred restaurants. The biggest challenge is finding the time, budget, and amenable waistline to check it all out.
Be sure to check each restaurant’s website or social pages to confirm its most current hours of operation and services.
Baia | Barrio | Beach Chalet | Benu | Black Cat | Boulettes Larder + Boulibar | The Brew Coop | Bun Mee | Capo’s Chicago | Craftsman and Wolves | Epic Steak | Espetus Churrascaria | Estiatorio Ornos | Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine | Frances | Gather | Hopscotch | Hotel Mac Restaurant | Jaranita | Kin Khao | Lolo | Mägo | Maybeck’s | Merchant Roots | Mersea | Miller & Lux | Nopa | Niku Steakhouse | Palio | Perry’s | Pikanhas Brazilian Steakhouse | Pizzaiolo | Presidio Social Club| The Pressed Cafe | The Progress | Rich Table | Salt House | San Ho Won | Serpentine | Sessions at the Presidio | Sorella | State Bird Provisions | Town Hall | Turntable at Lord Stanley | West Coast Wine & Cheese | Wildseed
The global plant-based SoCal hospitality brand Matthew Kenney Cuisine planted a flag in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood (in the former Jardiniere space) with an Italian comfort food menu (think meatballs, pizza, and lasagna). The redone interior welcomes guests to dine-in just steps from Symphony Hall.
300 Grove St, San Francisco, 415.861.0625
With Latin American flair, Executive Chef Tim Milojevich prepares foods of the so-called Latin diaspora designed for a local audience. Fresh heirloom blue corn tortillas are a worthy partner with the not-to-be-missed birria but a seafood emphasis means standout fish tacos and ceviche, along with epic bay and bridge views. A full bar focused on agave spirits is from Michael Carlisi.
900 North Point St, San Francisco, 415.741.2000
Mill Valley’s Lara Graham Truppelli, who also runs the former mill town’s Gravity Tavern, revamped the iconic oceanfront spot, using Covid’s downtime to reimagine everything from the menu to the seating arrangements. Look for classic American fare (Louie salad, Maine lobster roll) and updated options (seared ahi sandwich with kohlrabi kim chee, grilled branzino with garlic and chorizo paella) and those eternal views over the Pacific.
1000 Great Highway, San Francisco 415.386.8439
Plan on a formal and sophisticated evening. The compositions on the tasting menu provide a full experience of this restaurant’s unique Asian fusion cuisine. On Sundays, Benu’s kitchen is offering menu previews of San Ho Won, chef Corey Lee’s new Korean fine dining concept launching in late 2021. Order here.
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, 415.685.4860
Grit meets glam at this jazzy Tenderloin supper club. Executive Chef Tu David Phu and Chef de Cuisine Robert Hurtado have designed a unique menu fusing American and international classics. Saigon bouillabaisse, California curry, and Mayan ceviche tostada are some of the choices, along with timeless cocktails and live music in the downstairs lounge. Happy hour 5:30–7 p.m.
400 Eddy St, San Francisco, 415.358.1999
Head to the Embarcadero for savory flavors of lamb, feta, and mint or the bittersweetness of barberry, bulgur, and pomegranate salad. By day, have a cozy breakfast or lunch on the patio or by the open kitchen; days and evenings, the wood-oven dining room is also open and can be booked for small private parties. Bay Bridge views punctuate an unmistakably San Francisco setting.
1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, 415.399.1155
At San Francisco’s first-ever self-pour taproom patrons use provided RFID cards as they select from the 26 beers, ciders and wine that are available — pours cost between 50 to 80 cents per ounce and your choices are added to your card. A robust menu of sharable bar snacks like street tacos, carne asada fries, fried chicken and wings plus seven big-screen televisions make this a prime spot to catch a game.
819 Valencia St, San Francisco
A fun and casual lunch spot that puts a flavorful twist on classic Vietnamese in dishes like a Hawker Bowl with eggs and fresh herbs, Hanoi style crispy catfish and pork belly buns. Sit back in this playful space and enjoy the San Francisco vibes.
2015 Fillmore St, San Francisco, 415.800.7696
If you’re craving classic Chicago-style Italian and a venue to match, the endless pizza choices and flavorful pasta and meat selections here will more than satisfy your appetite and take you back in time to the mobster days of the 1920s.
641 Vallejo St, San Francisco, 415.986.8998
At this contemporary pâtisserie in the Mission District, pastry whiz William Werner serves egg-filled muffins known as the Rebel Within, bonbons, coffee and many other sweet and savory baked goods.
746 Valencia St, San Francisco, 415.913.7713
An upscale meat lover’s mecca with a sophisticated atmosphere, Epic Steak’s bayside eatery delivers on all fronts. Professional service, choice cuts of prime rib and bittersweet chocolate fudge cake are among the things that keep patrons coming back. An upstairs bar and soaring patio are also happy hour favorites.
369 Embarcadero, San Francisco, 415.369.9955
This steakhouse boasts a tasting menu of 14 meat courses grilled with the traditional Brazilian method. Patrons control the pace of the prix fixe experience with colored signal cards.
1686 Market St, San Francisco, 415.552.8792
Seafood with Greek and Egyptian underpinnings is the latest focus for the iconic Financial District space where chef Michael Mina first made his name at Aqua. Named for a beach on the Greek island of Mykonos, the restaurant features a beachy vibe, whole fish preparations and a roaming spread cart. A fish cart with the day’s catch will be helmed by what might be the city’s first ever “fish sommelier.”
252 California St, San Francisco, 415.417.3969
First impressions matter and this establishment makes a bold one with a staple item. The rice here is blue. Not artificially dyed, but tinged by butterfly pea flowers, which is a current trending ingredient in Thailand. Topped with a dollop of shaved ice, the Thai iced tea is also as fun to look at as it is to consume. The popular Wagyu beef rolls and fried chicken round out the menu.
710 Florida Street, San Francisco, 415.814.2920
San Francisco elegance meets comfort food. The local, seasonal menu complements any trip to the city. Bar is reserved for walk-ins, but reservations are recommended.
3870 17th St, San Francisco, 415.621.3870
Nicknamed the “omnivore’s solution,” this gem gets its menu inspiration from local farmers, ranchers and artisan food producers, but executive chef Anthony Lee’s micro-seasonal fare attracts vegans too. Brunch here is a weekend favorite. A new on-site market offers meal kits and staples like coffee and eggs and is available for delivery or pick-up.
2200 Oxford St, Berkeley, 510.809.0400
An upscale diner with patio in Oakland serving regional American food with a Japanese influence. Popular items include yonsei oyster with sea urchin, salmon roe and citrus, and the First Base burger with grilled beef tongue. No time to dine in? The takeout menu features an eight-piece bucket of fried chicken.
1915 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, 510.788.6217
Filled with old-world charm, this establishment has been serving American classics since 1911. Executive chef Jaime Molina’s seasonal menu features freshly prepared fish and favorites like Chicken Cordon Bleu. Weekly specials including Friday’s half-off bottles of wine keep patrons loyal, as does the live music featured nightly.
50 Washington Ave, Point Richmond, 510.233.0576
Living up to its name as a “spontaneous colorful street celebration in Peru” won’t take much covid-free time for a new rotisserie restaurant in San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood to achieve. Sake cocktails, grilled chicken with huacatay sauce, small plates like salchipaps or whole roasted cauliflower, and chocolate cake with dulce de leche are available for heated, covered outdoor dining.
3340 Steiner St, San Francisco, 415.655.9585
From spicy curries to pad kee mao (drunken noodles) and off-the-wall cocktails, the full-flavored Thai here is sure to impress. Though the downtown location is on hiatus for now (as of September 21), sister restaurant, Nari, in Japantown, is open.
55 Cyril Magnin St, San Francisco, 415.362.7456
San Francisco-style Mexican cuisine fuses market-fresh ingredients with traditional dishes. The whole atmosphere, including the outdoor patio, is bright, colorful and festive, a reflection of Loló’s flavor-blasted menu.
974 Valencia St, San Francisco, 415.643.5656
Spanish for magician or wizard, mägo (it is pronounced with a long “a”) is chef Mark Liberman’s nickname but it also helps define the hi-lo vibe at his latest restaurant. A dish of barbecued carrots sounds simple but is first cooked in own juice in sous vide, then smoked, then grilled, and finally sautéed in brown butter, involving many hands and many days worth of work in that carrot. The 12-foot ceiling give the space a light and airy feel, the locally made plates are the right components to give a meal here the elegance it deserves.
3762 Piedmont Ave Oakland, 510.344.7214
Erik Lowe and Aaron Toensing serve inventive American standards, including fried chicken and bubbly on Tuesday and resurrection of Beef Wellington on Wednesdays. The chefs explore regional culinary traditions and translate them into a Northern California lexicon, as evidenced by their playful menu and a Negroni-centered bar.
3213 Scott St, San Francisco, 415.939.2726
American, 1365 Fillmore St, San Francisco, 530.574.7365
Merchant Roots serves many roles: its specialty food store and wine shop, casual eatery, and fine-dining restaurant. During the day, it offers pastries, sandwiches, salads, pasta that’s made on-site, cheese, and charcuterie, as well as gourmet pantry items. By night, the space turns into The Table at Merchant Roots, an intimate dinner experience featuring a rotating themed tasting menu.
Executive chef and co-founder, Parke Ulrich — formerly of Lark Creek Inn, Epic Steak and Waterbar — started this exciting venture on Treasure Island. Mersea, which means “island oasis” in Old English, serves standard American comfort food like burgers, fish and chips and the like with a local-focused Bay Area twist. Also not to be missed are the curated cocktail menu and unbeatable views.
699 Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island, San Francisco, 714.350.3889
Bay views and all booth seating upstairs and an intimate bar downstairs are part of a two-level bar and restaurant from chef Tyler Florence. Steak and American classics (lobster thermidor, Dover sole) dominate the menu but the talk of the town is the Caesar salad, cut tableside from potted Romaine and peppered by hand from a giant pepper grinder. A private back door drops you into the Chase Center.
700 Terry A. Francois Blvd, San Francisco; 415.872.6699
This American steakhouse has a distinct Japanese influence and eschews predictable fare, offering a 10-course seasonal tasting menu in addition to an à la carte menu where vegetables get the same kind of attention as meat — kimchi and koji are made on-site. Notables dishes include Japanese wagyu from the Hyogo prefecture, in-house dry-aged domestic beef, porterhouse steak and a bone-in tomahawk steak intended for sharing.
61 Division Street, San Francisco, 415.829.7817
The easy California menu shows off roasted chicken and pork chops, with a bouquet of appetizers to set the mood. Although this San Francisco destination is busy almost every night (a good sign), the wait at the legendary bar is half the fun.
560 Divisadero, San Francisco, 415.864.8643
After an extensive renovation, Palio d’Asti has been reimagined as Palio, and now offers a brand-new dining space, expanded bar and lounge, as well as private dining rooms. The menu features different regions of Italy while maintaining an emphasis on seasonal, sustainably sourced California ingredients. Dishes include house-made pastas, whole Mediterranean sea bass, and numerous wood-fired pizza options, including a terrific gluten-free option.
640 Sacramento St, San Francisco, 415.395.9800
This Union Street institution with branches on the Embarcadero and in Larkspur, is famous for classic American food, personable service, and a bustling bar. Signature dishes include Cobb salad, prime steaks, Eggs Blackstone and of course, the burger. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch weekends and holidays.
1944 Union St, San Francisco, 415.922.9022
This all-you-can-eat steakhouse in Point Richmond offers different cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken that are slowly cooked with special grills to preserve all the natural juices and flavors.
25 W Richmond Ave, Point Richmond, 510.237.7585
An Italian gem opened in 2005 with a focus on topping his handmade pizzas with locally sourced meats and produce. The menu changes daily and includes house favorites like wild nettles and pecorino pizza and braised Marin Sun Farms pork with Tokyo turnips and apples. Breakfast is served Monday though Saturday.
5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, 510.652.4888
Owner Ray Tang opened Presidio Social Club with the idea of providing guests the comforts of a club without the dues. Executive chef Wesley Shaw — a native Texan with a penchant for Southern tastes — plans many seasonal events including clambakes and pig roasts. Popular menu items include Sonoma lamb and gemelli pasta as well as the grilled bavette steak, all available on the patio, too.
101 Montgomery St, 415.561.3600
Tucked in the lobby of 3 Embarcadero Center, this Italian spot from the owners of Mill Valley’s Prabh Indian Kitchen, has a wide selection of paninis and artisanal coffee for breakfast and lunch.
3 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, 415.781.0302
The second venture from State Bird Provisions chef-proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski is as innovative as the first. Along with seasonal variations on favorites like roti, pierogis and meat-centric platters meant for sharing, sip on a craft cocktail or pick from general manager and wine director Jason Alexander’s expansive wine list.
1525 Fillmore St, San Francisco, 415.673.1294
A bright, relaxed S.F. environment for dishes made from farmers’ market ingredients, with creatively quirky cocktails and a comprehensive wine list.
199 Gough St, San Francisco, 415.355.9085
Owned by Mill Valley brothers Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal and Doug Washington, Salt House’s chef Evan Gotanda’s menu highlights a Japanese influence and includes seasonal dishes like roasted cauliflower with cashews, kabocha squash, and furikake, as well as housemade pastas.
545 Mission St, San Francisco, 415.543.8900
In collaboration with chef Corey Lee (three Michelin-starred star Benu, In Situ), head chef Jeong-In Hwang’s restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District leans into the foods of the duo’s cultural background. A tilt towards home cooking but favoring seasonal ingredients and modern techniques mean classic dishes like bibimbap features seasonal vegetables and jjigae (kimchi stew) served alongside five-year doenjang-seasoned clams. Pair it with a soju cocktail or a glass of Chablis from the European and American-sourced wine list.
2170 Bryant Street, San Francisco; 415.868.4479
Owner/chef Tommy Halvorson, formerly of Chez Panisse, Bix, and Gary Danko, puts his own Southern spin on the menu here. Honey fried chicken is a standout for brunch and dinner, as is a reimagined cocktail selection. For now, however, the restaurant acts as host for a series of chef-driven pop-up dinners and as a private event space.
2495 Third St, San Francisco, 415.252.2000
Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, this restaurant has serious ties to Marin. The fruits, vegetables, herbs and olive oil hail from our county thanks in part to the restaurant’s partnership with Skywalker Ranch. Additionally, the 100 craft beer offerings, including 24 draft options, will keep beer lovers more than satisfied. Enjoy them all on the patio, complete with Marin views.
1 Letterman Drive, San Francisco, 415.655.9413
The name, Italian for “sister,” reflects the same traditional Italian focus as the Michelin two-star Acquerello mothership with a tilt towards the contemporary. An Italian 57 cocktail blends brandy and Sicilian blood orange gin with lemon and Prosecco or sample the all-Italian wine and beer menu. Chef de Cuisine Denise St. Onge (Greens, Atelier Crenn) starts the menu with cicchetti like cacio e pepe potato chips before transitioning to antipasti (Parmesan budino with hazelnut and truffle); pasta like bucatini guanciale with kampot pepper and pecorino and mains like striped bass with manila clams, fennel and sofrito.
1760 Polk Street, San Francisco; 415.359.1212
1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, 415.795.1272
The exposed brick and warm, unconventional lighting turn Town Hall’s large indoor and outdoor spaces into intimate yet elegant environments. With a more-than-adequate wine list and savory American classics like fried chicken with rosemary crushed marble potatoes, a visit here should be on everyone’s list.
342 Howard St, San Francisco, 415.908.3900
Billed as a hub for world-renowned and up-and-coming chefs to collaborate and showcase their cuisines, Lord Stanley, has pivoted to a series of pop-ups. In partnership with Argentinian chef and entrepreneur Narda Lepes, the series begins in September with Micaela Najmanovich of Anafe restaurant in Buenos Aires, followed by Mercedes Solis of Cafè San Juan in Chile.
2065 Polk St, San Francisco, 415-518-2624
Focused on small production winemakers, the wine menu features a bottle list with over 300 selections, wines by the glass that change weekly as well as California, Oregon and Washington beers on draft and by the bottle. A rotating cheese, charcuterie and small plates menu, served with bread from San Francisco’s Acme Bread, is also offered. The Mill Valley location is permanently closed but free delivery to Marin remains.
2165 Union St, San Francisco, 415.376.9720
The plant-based trend put down roots in Cow Hollow where chef Blair Warsham serves up shareable bites of beet poke, Mexican corn cakes and a ceviche of king trumpet mushrooms. Add a “neatball” to one of the many salads and bowls on the menu to boost your protein intake or simply chill with a freshly juiced cocktail or biodynamic wine at this aspirational eatery.
2000 Union St, San Francisco, 415.872.7350