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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SAN HO WON
2170 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94110
SAN HO WON is a Korean charcoal BBQ restaurant in the Mission District. This area is known for its restaurants, so there’s lots of competition, but SAN HO WON shines thanks to its chefs and founders, Corey Lee and Jeong-In Hwang.
Spare, modern interiors set the scene for an incredible meal. Which I was totally ready for because I could smell the decadent aroma of grilled meat from a block away.
I recommend this spot for adventurous eaters because San Ho Won serves authentic Korean cuisine with some ingredients that might seem unusual to Western palates.
I tasted the Baechu Kimchi from their specialty Banchan- a selection of side dishes rather like Korean tapas.
A small plate of tender napa cabbage was delicately layered, served with a dusting of seaweed flakes, and accompanied by cooked rice.
This dish was deliciously briny thanks to a shrimp ferment with a liberal use of sea salt.
Korean cuisine is a labor of love, involving lengthy preparation that includes ferments, dry aging, and exquisite marinades.
They can’t change the menu if you have food intolerances, but this Korean BBQ is a must-visit for meat-eaters without any dietary restrictions. San Ho Won is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.
2224 Mission St #A, San Francisco, CA 94110
Located in the Mission District, ten blocks from the beautiful Mission Dolores Basilica is Prubechu- a high-end restaurant serving iconic dishes from Guam and the Mariana Islands.
Taking inspiration from Chamorro culture, Chef Shawn Naputi serves up meaty and vibrant dishes teeming with flavor.
There is nothing but mouthwatering cuisine at this Mission District hotspot, and I couldn’t resist the caramelized potato soup. It was extraordinary! Sesame and sweet soy gave this classic some fusion flavor.
I followed it up with the Ko’Ko’ Wings, dry-spiced chicken wings with lemon fina’denne,’ a traditional dipping sauce from Guam.
I paired everything with their Fair Isle Harlan, a foamy and flavorful beer that hit the spot. Everything I tried here was delicious. Even better, they serve tons of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly cuisine.
State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
State Bird Provisions is smack dab in the center of the Fillmore District off Geary Boulevard. They serve small plates inspired by global cuisine with an American twist.
On this occasion, I got to try the pork belly salad, hog island oysters, and the spicy beef tongue-broccoli pancake.
Along with the inventive ingredient combinations and sensational flavors, the menu offers some of the most impeccable and artistic platings I’ve ever seen.
The menu changes, so you might not find these items if you visit, but whatever State Bird Provisions serves will be amazing. This James Beard Awarded restaurant is open daily from 5:30-10 pm.
138 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114
An Arabic comfort food restaurant located in the Duboce Triangle, near the Castro and Duboce & Noe stops, this tiny, cozy spot has charmingly casual and simple decor, but its food is a different story.
With dazzling flavor combinations and lovely plating, this is easily one of the best restaurants in San Francisco.
I tried their baked halloumi, a Mediterranean cheese that retains a delectable firmness, whether grilled or baked.
Seasoned with Meyer lemon, jalapeno, and herbs and served with pita bread, it was delicious. I was still hungry, so I ordered the ful, a mashed fava bean spread bursting with spices.
They also offer unique bottled beers, like the Taybeh IPA, which might be my new favorite brew.
If you’re craving delectably fragrant, lightly spiced ethnic cuisine, you should check out Beit Rima.
Flour + Water
2401 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110
This Mission District rustic Italian spot is just a few blocks from McKinley Square. Flour + Water serves a tantalizing array of pizza and pasta with a wide selection of wine.
I tried their Salsiccia pizza. Perfectly crispy crust, with generous portions of sausage, a little garlic, chili, and oregano- sometimes simple ingredients are the best.
The staff here go above and beyond, and this restaurant has a first-come-first-serve policy, so it’s always busy. But even if you have to wait a bit for dinner, it won’t disappoint.
2700 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Abacá is a gorgeous Filipino restaurant in North Beach just a short walk from the Fisherman’s Wharf. Spare, chic decor, and an excess of artistic plates make this one of the best restaurants in San Francisco.
I tried a steamed pork bun loaded with umami intensity and a decadent texture. Then I savored some grilled to perfection thin-cut pork skewers.
Out-of-this-world BBQ is Abacá’s speciality, but the bar offerings are equally fabulous. I took a small tour of the cocktail menu, trying the Ube-Colada and the King Bird- a bourbon and Campari cocktail infused with tropical flavors of jackfruit, pineapple, and curry leaf.
I’d recommend you try these cocktails if you visit.
1275 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Besharam is in the Central Waterfront neighborhood off 3rd Street. It’s a dazzling Indian bistro with a robust menu and a remarkable bar.
I ordered the drunken pani puris, maska paneer, pav bhaji puff, and three different types of naan. Everything was superb, teeming with classic Indian flavors that combined perfectly.
They have a wonderful collection of wine and beer, but their cocktail menu interested me immediately.
I tried the Right Above It, a gin drink with black tea, genepy -a European aperitif, lemon, and chai masala syrup, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Besharam is open Wednesday through Sunday.
644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133
China Live is an authentic Chinese restaurant in the heart of Chinatown, just off Jackson Street. Refined, sleek interiors keep the focus entirely on the food.
If you go, order the sheng jian bao pan-fried pork dumplings. That’s what I had, and they were positively exquisite.
They have a huge cocktail selection and an array of wine, whiskey, and Chinese bar food classics like Szechuan fried chicken wings and spicy Mala peanuts.
If you’ve been searching for the best restaurants in San Francisco, check out China Live.
252 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Ken is a small but high-end sushi bar in the Lower Haight neighborhood just two blocks from Buena Vista Park. Sushi here is revolutionary. But before diving into the menu, I tasted some of their homemade plum sake.
While sake is hit or miss for me, this was perfection, offering a smooth sweetness with subtle fruity notes.
For this order, I kept it simple, ordering my usual sushi go-to’s like eel and mackerel rolls, and I couldn’t believe how good it was.
Ken is a small restaurant with big flavors. So come here to satisfy huge sushi cravings.
584 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Chef Mitsunori Kusakabe, aka Chef Nori, brings his passion for authentic and traditional sushi with an innovative twist to this sushi restaurant.
KUSAKABE offers the finest sushi ingredients, like sea urchin and Wagyu beef, which I savored.
At this restaurant, they experiment with traditional Japanese ingredients and blend mouthwatering flavors in a way that had me wanting more.
I think you’ll agree, so stop by Kusabake next time you’re trying to find the best restaurants in San Francisco.
Ox + Tiger
552 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Ox + Tiger is an upscale Filipino restaurant in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood. This spot offers an array of sweet and savory dishes to satisfy everyone.
My favorite thing on their menu is the bento box, as each item is exquisitely displayed, from the rice to the pork to the cabbage. And it is oh so good.
This sushi bar is tiny, but the intimate environment only adds to the experience.