San Francisco is one of the most recognized cities in the world, and with good reason. Aside from a certain iconic bridge and being a trade hub, it’s also a hive of creativity. With that comes good food from people interested in making their mark on the city’s history.
I love visiting this city because there are always plenty of great San Francisco restaurants to visit.
Dinner hours can get crowded at the many delicious diners spread across the city, though, so I often find myself looking for locations open mid-afternoon when crowds are much smaller.
Mexican and Asian places are particularly good, but San Francisco has a little bit of everything.
If you’re planning a trip to the area, here are the best restaurants in San Francisco, California. It took me more than a few trips to find all of these places to eat in San Francisco, but I can heartily recommend each of them. Before we get into the reviews, though, here’s a quick list.
Best Restaurants in San Francisco
- Lazy Bear
- Liholiho Yacht Club
- House of Prime Rib
- Kokkari Estiatorio
- La Ciccia
- Rich Table
- Mister Jiu’s
- La Taqueria
- Swan Oyster Depot
- Zuni Café
- Pearl 6101
- The Morris
- Betty Lou’s Seafood & Grill
- Sotto Mare
- Monsieur Benjamin
- Tartine Manufactory
- Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup
- Lucca Delicatessen
- Akiko’s Restaurant
- Mensho Tokyo SF
- Sam Wo Restaurant
3416 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Set in the Mission District area, about three blocks down from the large Mission Playground, Lazy Bear is a restaurant that’s more about the experience than the menu.
They focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from nearby areas, often with vivid colors to highlight the dish. Presentation is big here, so I’ve never had to worry about a dull-looking dish.
Sadly, the constantly-changing menu means I can’t recommend a specific dish. However, their focus on upscale communal dining offers a unique experience among restaurants.
With two Michelin stars, you can be confident that anything you end up getting here will be good.
Liholiho Yacht Club
3560 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
“Yacht Club” isn’t the name I had in mind when I was searching for new San Francisco restaurants near me, but I’m glad I found this upscale location near Dolores Park.
Indoor seating is better if you can get it, but bring a coat in case you end up outdoors instead. Reservations are best, with each day going live at ten PM fourteen days ahead of time. Walk-ins can be seated but usually take longer.
For meals here, try the Tuna Poke as a starter for the mix of tamari-sesame, cucumber, and avocado on fish. Their Five Dot Korean-style short ribs are a great choice as a main dish, featuring pineapple, apple slaw, and roasted peanut flavors.
House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109
Great restaurants often have simple names, and that’s certainly true of this location between Washington and Jackson streets. The House of Prime Rib has a cozy and traditional atmosphere, with booths for families and tables for those visiting as a pair.
I tried their namesake dish when I visited, and the cuts were exquisite. Every prime rib is aged for at least three weeks to improve the flavor, carved tableside, and comes with salad, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding.
Sadly, this place is only available for dinner, and you may have to make reservations long ahead of time and grabbing a drink somewhere while you wait.
The menu is also short and simple: You’re getting prime rib or fish and specific side dishes. There’s almost no variation or choice here, but they’ve elevated their dish to perfection.
200 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Kokkari Estiatorio is a Greek-style restaurant set just north of the Financial District and across the street from Sydney G. Walton Square.
Classic flavors like olive oil, tomatoes, feta cheese, lemon, and fresh greens feature in their dishes, while seafood and lamb are the meats of choice.
I’ve visited mainly for lunch, where I enjoyed a watermelon and feta cheese starter – definitely a good choice for that summer. The Chicken Souvlaki is also a great choice, featuring a marinated skewer with peppery flavors and tzatziki sauce.
Consider renting the Hania room downstairs if you’re visiting with a bigger group, as it offers extra comfort and privacy.
291 30th St, San Francisco, CA 94131
La Ciccia is a relatively affordable place for casually elegant dining in San Francisco, and I appreciated that when I dropped in for an early dinner. Set close to the Upper Noe Recreation Center, this restaurant is almost aggressively Italian and features pasta as a center point of many of their dishes.
The wine recommendations are great, but I ended up on the patio and should have worn a coat. That might be for the best, though, as the inside was a little too crowded and noisy for my tastes. The menu is quite limited, with two or three main courses and side dishes available at any time. I recommend their potato gnocchi with mushrooms and tomato for the first course.
199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Founded by expert chefs Even and Sarah Rich, a couple, Rich Table has an unusual home-like atmosphere that you won’t see at most other San Francisco restaurants. It’s different from traditional upscale locations, but I always love experiencing something new when I find a restaurant.
The best way I can describe the menu here is a mix of Italian and seafood. I particularly recommend the caramelized onion tart with tomato and goat cheese as the first course, as its warmth does a lot to counteract San Francisco’s chilly air. Pasta dishes are available, but I passed on those in favor of duck breast in a Tikka Masala sauce, which was splendid.
28 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108
Mister Jiu’s is a classic in Chinatown along Waverly Place, open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner only. I’ve always enjoyed Asian food, and when I saw this place had a Michelin Star, I decided to stop by the next time I was in the area. Smart move, though the tendency to have a seasonal menu means it’s hard to pick dishes too far ahead of time.
Try the Silken Mapo Tofu if you want to warm up before the main course. It has some minced beef, but the tofu itself is light and won’t fill you up too much. Squid ink wontons and potstickers provide some added substance for the meal. This is a good place to share dishes with people, rather than each person ordering what they want.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t try the Peking-style roast duck due to time constraints, but I’m hoping my schedule will allow for that the next time I’m in the area.
470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Quince is one of the best restaurants in the highly competitive San Francisco market. Run by Chef Michael Tusk, Quince has three Michelin stars and an organic farm that grows food specifically to their specifications. The menu changes based on the chef’s whims and ingredient choices, so I can’t recommend anything in particular.
That said, this is not a notably casual dining experience. The basic four-course menu is almost two hundred dollars, while the main version is a full ten-course meal. Make sure you come with an empty stomach, lest you make the same mistake I did and wind up with more food than you can handle.
5800 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121
Set on Geary Boulevard in the Central Richmond area, Aziza is a high-end Moroccan restaurant. Despite the food’s quality, this restaurant has a relatively casual and relaxed atmosphere. Dinner is split between smaller dishes like smoked salmon and kefta (lamb/beef meatballs, with grilled grapes and other added flavors) and larger dishes like braised lamb shank.
I tried the basteeya here, which is a confit chicken with onion and spiced almond. The cornbread is a delicious side, but it’s easy to fill up on that before you even touch the main course, so I suggest ignoring it despite the quality. Parking can be limited around here, although I did find a spot nearby close to Belly Burgers. Try to arrive early.
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Nopa is a relatively social restaurant, featuring tables of various sizes around a long bar on one side. Like a surprisingly high number of restaurants in the city, it’s open Tuesday-Saturday, which upset my plans a little the first time I tried to go. Fortunately, Nopa is easy to reach thanks to its convenient location on the corner of Hayes and Divisadero near Alamo Square Park and The Independent.
The menu changes daily but mostly features a mix of Italian and American flavors. Lighter options like biscuits and butter are available if you want a light snack, while bigger meals like fried chicken, seared duck breast, and corn soup can warm you up from the inside. Nopa has a casual atmosphere, but it’s a little loud, so don’t expect too much conversation.
2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
La Taqueria is, unfortunately, an all-too-common name for Mexican restaurants. Worse, I can’t give you a link to their website, so they’re easier to get to know if you go there in person. Mostly open Wednesday-Sunday, La Taqueria offers several Mexican options but stands out with their super-sized burritos and all types of tacos.
The main thing that sets this place apart is the lack of rice in the burrito, which is usually there as a filler. La Taqueria fills things with meat instead, though make sure you ask for the food Dorado Style. That involves grilling the tortilla a little more and adds some fantastic crunch and flavor. La Taqueria is more popular every time I visit, so consider ordering ahead for takeout.
Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Set just up from California Street and off of Van Ness Avenue, Swan Oyster Depot is a go-to for seafood around the Pork Gulch and Nob Hill areas. They primarily focus on counter dining these days because of the line. So, consider getting the food to go instead of hanging around.
The lunch menu is quite extensive and features a variety of crab, prawn, shrimp, and fish plates, often with lettuce and your choice of dressing and bread. I particularly liked the smoked salmon plate, with cracked pepper and onions on the side, as a full lunch. The oysters are the highlight, though, and available as a set of a dozen with lemon and a spice Thai-style chili sauce.
1625 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Nari is set right in the heart of Japantown, with accessible parking in the Japan Center Garage. That’s no small consideration given how hard it can be to find a place to park in most other parts of the city. I’ve spent far too many hours on that. Anyway, Nari is open Wednesday-Sunday for dinner and focuses on two-course meals.
This restaurant favors bold and tangy flavors, ranging from a stone fruit salad to slow-cooked pork chops. The second courses are the real heart of the experience, though, usually including meat with some mix of fruit or vegetables to hit your taste buds hard. I recommend visiting in winter for the black cod in curry with grilled pineapple.
132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105
Angler is another seafood-focused restaurant that is open Tuesday through Saturday and offers excellent views of the storied Embarcadero waterfront area. The interior is mainly upscale, with several private spaces available if you want to dine without the noise of a regular restaurant. Leave the kids at home, though, because the drinks are definitely worth getting here.
The menu changes daily based on what Angler’s sources can obtain, but it often includes dishes like clams, oysters, and even whole lobster. The raw bar is worth trying if you particularly like seafood, often mixing cultured fruits or vegetables with carefully prepared fish to provide a more exciting flavor profile.
1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Zuni Cafe is an outstanding restaurant located within easy walking distance of notable places like the Davies Symphony Hall and the Orpheum Theater. As its position on Market Street suggests, this is a great place to visit for food before or after enjoying music. I suggest after, so you aren’t in a rush to leave.
As with many other quality restaurants, the menu changes daily, but mainly focuses on French and Italian flavors with a mix of seafood, meat, and vegetables. I visited for lunch and tried a bavette steak with spinach and potatoes, which was cut and marbled excellently.
1335 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Set on Divisadero and Fulton, Ju-Ni is a deluxe sushi bar with one chef for each of the four guests. This allows for personal commentary and attention as the food is made directly in front of you as part of a 12-course omakase menu. For those who aren’t familiar with it, omakase is essentially the chef’s choice, complete with trivia for each piece of fish.
This is relatively unusual even in the restaurants of San Francisco because there’s no menu, only the trust that the chef will provide an outstanding meal. Ju-Ni can accommodate shellfish allergies, but ask you to let them know ahead of time. I recommend visiting here at least once for the experience and regularly coming if you happen to love sushi.
6101 California St, San Francisco, CA 94121
Pearl 6101 is a comfortably upscale location just north of Alamo Elementary School. The chefs here focus on Mediterranean-style cooking with California twists and accompanying drinks. Pass on the snacks, but take a look at the starters before you get into a portion of pasta or entree. I got a nice seared tuna crudo with Kobe bavette steak, both of which were fantastic.
Like many other upscale restaurants, the menu tends to be limited here as the chefs prepare a few dishes to the highest levels of quality. The main dishes tend to be dense and rich, so I recommend finishing with their apricot sorbet to cleanse your palate before you leave.
3640 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118
Spruce is one of the most iconic restaurants in the northern part of San Francisco, and it helps that it’s open throughout the week when other places close for a day or two. Beyond their well-deserved Michelin star, Spruce holds a distinguished position thanks to a cellar of over 3500 wines and a wide assortment of original cocktails.
Put simply, go here for the drinks because they always have great choices. The food is outstanding in its own right, mostly coming from a private organic ranch. Lunch is flexible and mainly consists of fruit, seafood, and pasta with sweeter flavors, while dinner involves two courses and a dessert for a fixed price. Be sure to get the recommended wine for your meal.
2501 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA 94110
The Morris is a world-class bistro open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday at its location a block south of Franklin Square. The dining room is standard for a restaurant like this, but I recommend getting a spot at the 15-seat bar, which has full access to its menu. This is another wine-focused restaurant, so you might as well sit close to the expert.
Also, I say menu for dinner, but in practice, it’s a bit of meat or vegetables for the first course and then your choice of lobster mushroom gnocchi, mussels, or smoked beef rib for the main course. Half and whole duck are also available, but I haven’t tried those yet. If you’re not feeling up to wine, they have several nice tea varieties for a more refreshing drink.
1722 Sacramento Street near Van Ness & Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Acquerello is a fine dining establishment focusing on providing quality Italian fare throughout the Nob Hill area. With two Michelin stars, you know the food will be great, but they are a little tricky in the delivery. The seasonal and vegetable tasting menus are for full tables only, while the personal menu lets you create a four-course meal by mixing and matching options.
I recommend visiting for the personal menu the first time and coming with an empty stomach. Make sure to try the cocoa and oxtail ravioli during the second course, and if you’re not sure what to get for the main dish, the liberty duck is quite flavorful. Most people come here for special occasions, so be sure to dress nicely.
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Benu is one of the best restaurants in San Francisco, with 3 Michelin stars and numerous other well-deserved accolades. I didn’t have an easy time getting in to taste things, but you should be able to reserve a spot with a bit of persistence as long as you contact them far enough ahead.
The menu is fixed, and the whole experience at the restaurant takes about three hours. Interestingly, Benu tries to offer a different menu beyond its several-course meal each time you dine there. They probably can’t keep that up if you visit too often, but the schedule means this place works best if you only visit once a year or so.
Check them out near the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Moscone Center in the Yerba Buena neighborhood.
Betty Lou’s Seafood & Grill
318 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
For something a little more casual, Betty Lou’s Seafood & Grill offers excellent fare about two and a half blocks southeast of Washington Square. Fish and steaks are highlights here, with plenty of oysters from both the West and East coasts and a variety of pasta dishes often featuring salmon, clams, shrimp, or lobster.
I went for the grilled chicken with a side of potatoes here since it was a colder day. They’re relatively heavy on pasta with most of the dishes, and while this isn’t quite fine dining, it’s a nice stop if you’re in the area and need to get something. Walk-ins are easier at Betty Lou’s than at most of the other restaurants I’m reviewing here, which can matter if you’re short on time.
355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Californios is a reservation-focused restaurant in SoMa with two Michelin stars. Dining often takes place outside, but they use a selection of heat lamps to provide a much more comfortable experience and are transitioning back to an indoor experience. This area includes both tables along a long bench and a bar for a more personalized experience.
Californios stands out as an upscale location focused on Mexican food, which is usually much cheaper and catered towards different customers. The chefs focus on small dishes here that you consume over time, so the meal itself is going to take a while. Expect reservations at least a month out.
490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
If you’re still trying to decide where to eat in San Francisco, Cotogna is great for both lunch and dinner. Reservations are easier here, but I took advantage of their walk-in option to get a spot at the chef’s counter. Cotogna focuses on Italian fare, and it’s specifically a more casual location than the fine-dining restaurant next door, owned and run by the same chefs.
I was there with my family, so we decided to get the family meal. That serves three or four people depending on how hungry you are and comes with a selection of beans and vegetables, your choice of chicken or pork as the main dish, and a nice apple crostata for dessert. Their pizza and pasta dishes are worth looking at for lunch, though I didn’t have those.
82 14th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Rintaro is a Japanese restaurant along Folsom and 14th. The atmosphere is somewhat crowded and a little noisy, which is true to the Japanese roots of the food, but it’s definitely worth sitting up by the grills so you can enjoy the smell and sight of fresh food cooking before you.
Menu options include several types of nigiri, house dishes, and grilled meats, with an emphasis on charcoal for flavor. I particularly enjoyed the chicken-and-cheese katsu in a roasted tomato sauce. The available beers go great with their dishes, but having sake takes the entire experience up a notch.
2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Easily mistaken for a natural gardening store by name alone, Wildseed is a pleasant spot along Union and Buchanan with an aggressively plant-based menu. That’s a bit rare among the finer dining locations, but I did try a pizza with red onions, apples, cashew mozzarella, and a few other ingredients that turned out quite good.
I also noticed a sticky toffee pudding on the menu, but that feels a little much after the other dishes. The vanilla-coconut panna cotta fit my tastes much better, coming with strawberries, a blackberry jam, and some pistachios for a flavorful end to my meal there.
140 New Montgomery St #1, San Francisco, CA 94105
Mourad is another rare Moroccan restaurant, set inside the PacBell building and featuring authentic Moroccan design to match its cuisine.
Starters and entree dishes are available, primarily focusing on seafood and lamb flavors for a start. Less commonly, this restaurant serves la’acha, a Moroccan-style family dining option that feeds up to five people.
I didn’t have the chance to try that myself, but I saw another family with a chicken dish in the family format, and it’s uncommon enough to order if you get the opportunity.
I like this restaurant, but I think it’s only worth one visit due to how limited the main menu options are. Try making a reservation to enjoy the family dining when relatives are in town.
552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Sotto Mare is a proudly Italian restaurant in the heart of North Beach, emphasizing seafood dishes like Boston-style clam chowder and oysters on the half shell. Servings are generous and likely to fill you up, so make sure you come on an empty stomach for the best experience.
Italian restaurants don’t usually have the image of a seafood-dedicated spot, but that’s absolutely the case here. In fact, they’re so straightforward about it that I need to caution you against visiting with family if anyone doesn’t like seafood because they’ll be going away hungry.
Look for Sotto Mare near the intersection of Green Street and Columbus Ave, just south of Washington Square historic park in Telegraph Hill.
3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Delfina is an excellent location open Wednesday through Sunday. Set a little east of Mission Dolores Park, this restaurant offers plenty of classic Italian fare. I recommend the brick-cooked chicken if you have the appetite for it, though the brandy tomatoes are also an interesting touch.
Delfina also offers a pizza menu if you want something simple and casual. The menu is a bit short for any pizza place, but their pepperoni pizza aims for a little uniqueness with the addition of red onion. One of these is enough to feed a small family, so you probably don’t need to order more than that when you visit.
451 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Monsieur Benjamin is a pleasant French restaurant a little way west of the Symphony hall along Van Ness. While they often open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, their main focus is serving dinner from Wednesday to Sunday.
I decided to try their charcoal-grilled hamburger because you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the way they serve a common dish. It was excellent, and I followed it with a bold concord grape sorbet to take away a bit of the summer heat. The atmosphere isn’t quite formal upscale, but it’s definitely a place to dress reasonably well.
595 Alabama St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Tartine is an unusual choice for this list because it’s a chain store with more than a dozen locations, almost half of which are in South Korea. I rarely recommend chains because they tend to have lower standards than quality standalone restaurants, but the Tartine Manufactory location distinguishes itself with a pleasant spread of breakfast and lunch options.
Honestly, I’m recommending Tartine because most of the restaurants here are dinner-only and I want to eat good food in the morning, too. I ordered a delicious omelet with cheese and toast for breakfast while in the area, then came back at lunch for a pepperoni diavola pizza with vodka sauce and pickled peppers.
Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup
1620 Post St, San Fancisco, CA 94115
Daeho is a Korean-style restaurant serving beef and noodle dishes located just across from Japantown’s mall. Their highlight is kalbijjim (braised beef short ribs) which they usually serve with pickled vegetables. Daeho also offers a bit of a show with the meal, including using a blow-torch to melt the cheese directly onto the ribs.
Dishes are relatively large here, so come hungry or with someone else. The main downside to this restaurant is the long waitlist. It’s normal to take 40-60 minutes, so you may want to join the list once you’re getting in the car to visit.
2120 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Lucca Delicatessen is a lovely deli that focuses on late breakfasts, lunch, and early dinner throughout the week. They’ve also been operating in the same spot since 1929 in the hands of three generations from one family, so they’ve long since mastered their dishes and kitchen processes.
Sandwiches are the clear highlight here. I tried their Caprese sandwich, which came with mozzarella, basil, olive oil, tomatoes, and salt on a ciabatta bun. While I only visited once, they have quite a few sandwiches on the menu and clearly work as a place to get lunch regularly. Lucca is more “fast” than “fine” dining, but definitely worth it for a fast lunch.
431 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Akiko’s is a fine sushi restaurant set minutes away from the Financial District. The boutique setting has several hands-on chefs, often working with rarer fish to ensure sustainable production. The menu changes daily based on ingredients, but if you like sushi or sashimi (learn the difference here), you’re going to enjoy a visit here.
Dinners are available per piece, with an omakase option at market price if you want a surprise. I highly recommend that if you’re hungry and looking for some good food because sushi chefs often enjoy getting to follow their creativity and produce some splendid pieces. The craft Japanese beers and sake are a fine accompaniment, though not necessary to enjoy your meal.
Mensho Tokyo SF
672 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Mensho Tokyo is a small cafe along Geary and Leavenworth that focuses on ramen noodle dishes. Ramen is often associated with being ultra-cheap, but high-quality ramen is a rich soup with plenty of meat, bean sprouts, green onions, and other toppings. I recommend coming for dinner instead of lunch and getting a ride home.
Most of the dishes here are “mashi mashi,” which means “a mountain of toppings.” The dishes live up to this title, so despite being a soup restaurant, it’s definitely better to come hungry. I ordered the tori paitan ramen with extra garlic chives and green onion.
Check them out in the Tenderloin neighborhood near great places to stay in San Francisco like the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and the Courtyard by Marriott San Francisco Union Square.
Sam Wo Restaurant
713 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Sam Wo is one of the oldest restaurants in Chinatown, offering local fare since 1908. It’s also casual dining, so chances are you’ll see all sorts of people coming in for good food. The menu covers a wide selection of Chinese dishes and some classic American choices like chicken wings.
The noise is a little much for my tastes, but their jook (rice porridge) was delicious and not something I’ve had before. It might be better to order out or get delivery instead of trying to compete for a crowded seat at a small table, but the food’s worth trying either way.
San Francisco has so many great dining options that it’s hard to narrow down my favorites. You don’t have to pay too much to get superb food, though your options certainly expand if you can afford it.
Not seeing anything you like here? Check out these spots serving up boozy brunches!
Did I leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave a comment, and I’ll check it out next time I’m in the area!
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