Where to Eat: East Bay and San Francisco

Michael Mina

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.

Arguello | BaiaBenu | Black Cat | Boulettes Larder + Boulibar | Bun Mee | Capo’s Chicago | Craftsman and Wolves | Epic Steak | Espetus Churrascaria | Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine | Frances | Gather | Hopscotch | Hotel Mac Restaurant | Kin Khao | Lolo | Lord Stanley | Maybeck’s | Merchant RootsMersea | Michael Mina | Namu Gaji | Nopa | Niku Steakhouse | PalioPerry’s | Pikanhas Brazilian Steakhouse | Pizzaiolo | Presidio Social Club| Rich Table | Salt House | Serpentine | Sessions at the Presidio | State Bird Provisions | The Brew Coop | The Pressed CafeThe ProgressTown Hall | Wildseed

 


 

Arguello

Mexican

Opened inside the Presidio’s Officers’ Club by Traci Des Jardins, the restaurant serves California-inspired Mexican food and drinks. Here, Chef de Cuisine Jose Alvarez works closely with Des Jardins’ and the two draw inspiration from travels to Mexico to build the food program. International wine is served but it’s the over 120 agave spirits that are truly worth checking out.

50 Moraga Ave, San Francisco, 415.561.3650

 

Baia

Italian

The global plant-based SoCal hospitality brand Matthew Kenney Cuisine arrived in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood (in the former Jardiniere space) this summer with an  Italian comfort food menu (think meatballs, pizza, and lasagna). When the time is right, the redone interior will welcome guests to dine-in just steps from Symphony Hall.

300 Grove St, San Francisco, 415.861.0625

Benu

Asian

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. Order here.

22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, 415.685.4860

Black Cat

American

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

Boulettes Larder + Boulibar

Mediterranean

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

Bun Mee

Vietnamese

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

Capo’s Chicago

Italian

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

 

Craftsman and Wolves

American

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

Epic Steak

American

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 is also a happy hour favorite.

369 Embarcadero, San Francisco, 415.369.9955

Espetus Churrascaria

Brazilian

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

Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine

Thai

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

 

Frances

Californian

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

 

Gather

Californian

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

Hopscotch

Californian

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

Hotel MacRestaurant

American

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

Kin Khao

Thai

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 temporarily closed, a new location in Dogpatch and sister restaurant, Nari, in Japantown, are open.

55 Cyril Magnin St, San Francisco, 415.362.7456

Loló

Mexican

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

Lord Stanley

American

In the short time it’s been open, this eatery by husband-and-wife team Rupert and Carrie Blease has earned a Michelin star two years in a row and three-and-a-half stars from San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer. The onion petals with sherry vinegar is a favorite and not to be missed.

2065 Polk St, San Francisco, 415.872.5512

Maybeck’s

American

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

Merchant Roots

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.

Mersea

American

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

Michael Mina

Californian

Michael Mina has clearly mastered the fine line between award-winning art and Alaskan halibut. Each brilliantly crafted dish has a delicate blend of flavors that add up to a distinctive, luxurious dining experience. Mina Family Kitchen, a takeout only concept, means all of the Mina restaurant concepts are available for pick-up and delivery daily.

252 California St, San Francisco, 415.397.9222

Namu Gaji

Korean

In a clean and natural interior with views of Dolores Park, shiitake mushroom dumplings and dishes made with produce from Namu’s private farm are among the many treats to discover.

499 Dolores St, San Francisco, 415.431.6268

Niku Steakhouse

Japanese

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

 

Nopa

Californian

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

Palio

Italian

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

Perry’s

American

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

Pikanhas Brazilian Steakhouse

Brazilian

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

Pizzaiolo

Italian

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 from 8 a.m. to noon.

5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, 510.652.4888

Presidio Social Club

American

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

Rich Table

Californian

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

Salt House

American

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

Serpentine

American

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.

2495 Third St, San Francisco, 415.252.2000

Sessions at the Presidio

American

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

State Bird Provisions

American

From local seafood and seasonal vegetables to savory pancakes, not to mention the California state bird, this uncommon dim sum–style setup has a bit of everything.

1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, 415.795.1272

The Brew Coop

American

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

The Pressed Cafe

Italian

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 Progress

Californian

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

Town Hall

American

The exposed brick and warm, unconventional lighting turn Town Hall’s large space into an intimate yet elegant environment. 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


 

Wildseed

Vegan/vegetarian

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


Dining Key