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21 Restaurants That Make San Francisco Dining Great

With its diverse population and proximity to some of the best produce and farms in the entire country, it’s easy to see why San Francisco remains one of the premier dining destinations for visitors from around the world. Despite how tiny it is relative to other major cities—it’s only seven miles by seven miles, as any local can rattle off to you immediately—there are thousands of restaurants to choose from.

Of course, with that much variety it might be hard to feel like you can make a clear choice about where to dine. Featured below are several standouts that range from all-time classics rooted in deep histories to newer modern spins on a diverse set of cuisines to help make that decision a little easier.

These locations can be found all over the city, near the Golden Gate in the Marina District to the more quaint neighborhood vibe of Noe Valley. But what they share is that they embody what makes the City By the Bay such a dynamic—and delicious—place to eat. These are the San Francisco Greats.

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Noah Cho and Becky Duffett
21 Restaurants
Updated April 04, 2022
Restaurants:House of Prime Rib, State Bird Provisions, La Ciccia
Price Range:$$ - $$$$
Cuisines:Steak, Californian, Italian
Neighborhoods:Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness, Western Addition, Noe Valley
A photo of House of Prime Rib restaurant

House of Prime Rib

$$$$
Steak
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.8
12815 reviews
Founded in 1949, House of Prime Rib has remained a top destination for locals and visitors to San Francisco alike. Boasting some of the warmest hospitality in the area and those signature carts filled with towering rib roasts carved to order tableside, the restaurant has retained its frozen-in-time interior replete with red leather banquettes and generous cocktails that come with a sidecar of extra drink. For the uninitiated, prepare for a veritable feast that starts with the cult-favorite salad and continues on to a plate full of prime rib, cut to your choice, and sides such as mashed or baked potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and creamed spinach. Pro tip: Don’t forget to take advantage of a second piece of prime rib after you power through your first.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of State Bird Provisions restaurant

State Bird Provisions

$$$$
Californian
Western Addition
4.7
2152 reviews
Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinki’s lauded State Bird Provisions features some of the most creative presentations and interpretations of California cuisine. The ever-rotating small plates selections, along with essentials such as the signature state bird with provisions, a tribute to all things quail. Since opening to tremendous buzz in 2012, State Bird Provisions has racked up incredible tallies of awards, starting with plaudits from both the James Beard Foundation and Bon Appetit for Best New Restaurant and its regular appearance in the Michelin guide as a one-star restaurant.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of La Ciccia restaurant

La Ciccia

$$$$
Italian
Noe Valley
4.7
2510 reviews
The seafood-forward cuisine of Sardinia is the focus of Noe Valley favorite La Ciccia. Locals have long loved the exceptional, warm service from the team led by chef Massimiliano Conti and his partner and wife, Lorella Degan. Conti’s food is raved about for its simple but delicious preparations such as fresh spaghetti with spicy, garlicky oil and bottarga, or cured fish roe. Outside of the pastas, Conti also has a way with fish, whether it is marinated anchovies or the whole fish preparations sometimes found on the secondi menu. La Ciccia’s plaudits go beyond locals, as it has been featured by Zagat, Michelin, The New York Times, and as one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s best Italian restaurants in the Bay Area.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Nopa - San Francisco restaurant

Nopa - San Francisco

$$$$
Californian
North Panhandle / USF
4.7
2856 reviews
A favorite of both neighborhood folks who gather at the bar to industry folks looking to score a delicious late night burger, chef Laurence Jossel’s Nopa has maintained its reputation for excellent food and cocktails and its welcoming, warm interior since 2006. The open kitchen has great views of Jossel and his team roasting meats and vegetables in a wood-fired oven, which has turned out countless iterations of the legendary country pork chop, its edges smoky and charred by the oven. Regulars also frequently turn to Nopa’s burger and house-made kennebec chips, and vegetarians know that the vegetarian tagine, which can also be made fully vegan, will always represent the best in Bay Area seasonality.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Che Fico Alimentari restaurant

Che Fico Alimentari

$$$$
Italian
North Panhandle / USF
4.7
511 reviews
Che Fico was a certified hit immediately after opening in 2018. Though it has a Cal-Italian focus, it also features “cucina Ebraica,” or food from the Jewish-Roman tradition. Along with plentiful antipasti options, there are hearty meat and pasta dishes and a variety of cheeses and cured meats. Downstairs from the main dining room is Che Fico Alimentari, a market with a pantry filled with housemade goods such as giardiniera and hot sauce. You can also sign up for the wine and provisions club.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Foreign Cinema restaurant

Foreign Cinema

$$$$
Californian
Mission District
4.8
7628 reviews
Foreign Cinema has long been a shoo-in on many best-of San Francisco lists, thanks to chef and owners Gayle Pirie and John Clark, who have built the restaurant’s excellence and destination status since 1999. Before farm-to-table became a buzzword, Foreign Cinema was already taking advantage of the Bay Area’s robust produce to create vegetable preparations and creative dishes such as its “pop tarts” with seasonal fruit fillings that are a brunch staple. It has always been popular to dine outdoors at Foreign Cinema, and with that availability now in full swing, films have also resumed playing via projector on the patio wall.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Kokkari Estiatorio restaurant

Kokkari Estiatorio

$$$$
Mediterranean
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.9
7701 reviews
For more than 20 years, Kokkari has been a destination for diners looking for excellent Greek food and, especially, lusciously prepared seafood and game dishes. A mainstay at the top of the Zagat guide for Bay Area restaurants, Kokkari takes full advantage of both local ingredients and top-shelf imports from Greece. To dine inside Kokkari is to treat your nose to overwhelmingly pleasing notes of grilled meats being cooked over a hearth of charcoal, and the liberal use of lemon adds zip to Greek classics such as avgolemono, a lemon and egg soup, as well as grilled octopus.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of China Live restaurant

China Live

$$$$
Chinese
Chinatown
4.6
2204 reviews
At China Live, owner George Chen takes his decades of hospitality experience to create an immersive Chinatown experience bar none. This 30,000-square-foot complex is an ode to Chinese food in all its glorious forms. The multi-level space starts with an open and inviting ground floor split into various areas with entertaining views of cooking stations throughout the space. Chefs pleat dumplings and pull noodles for the menu, which features elements from a variety of regions across China. The best seller is the juicy shen jiang bao, consisting of a crispy pan-fried bottom and a lush, brothy, porky filling; other dishes range from Peking duck to kung pao tofu. Upstairs at Eight Tables, a more fine-dining experience means Chinese offerings in a more sumptuous setting.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Takeout available
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A photo of Bellota restaurant

Bellota

$$$$
Spanish
SOMA
4.7
1475 reviews
While the Absinthe Group has several notable restaurants in San Francisco, Bellota is its crown jewel and was named Eater SF’s restaurant of the year when it opened in 2016. While the Spanish-focused menu is filled with classic pintxos and tapas such as briny savory boquerones and smoky patatas bravas, the cocktail and wine program teems with vibrant regional wines from Spain, creamy and sweet sherries, and a multitude of gin tonic variations. The cocktails are poured in glasses adorned with fruit and flowers, which up the ante. With paellas that feed two to four, Bellota is especially good for groups.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Zuni Cafe restaurant

Zuni Cafe

$$$$
Modern European
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.6
6731 reviews
Like House of Prime Rib, Zuni Cafe is one of those indelible, classic San Francisco establishments that has maintained its excellence over several decades. Known far and wide for its roast chicken and warm bread salad for two and the craveable hamburger, Zuni has consistently loomed large at the James Beard Awards, scoring its first in 2000 for the late Judy Rogers as Best Chef: West, Outstanding Restaurant in 2003, and for its service in 2018. Dining at this corner-shaped, elegant American restaurant is a true San Franciscan treat.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Spruce restaurant

Spruce

$$$$
Contemporary American
Presidio Heights
4.8
4439 reviews
Boasting accolades such as a MICHELIN star, a distinction as Esquire’s best new restaurant of 2007, and Wine Spectator’s grand award, Spruce is an undeniable SF destination. The food at Spruce takes inspiration from California, highlighted by the fact that it sources the bulk of its produce from less than 40 miles away at the Woodside-based SMIP Ranch. That bounty features heavily in all the restaurant’s American preparations, from its breadth of fresh salads to the accompaniments and toppings of its main dishes, such as bavette or flank steak.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Waterbar restaurant

Waterbar

$$$$
Seafood
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.6
9248 reviews
It’s hard not to be swept away by the incredible Bay views at Waterbar, but even dining indoors in full view of the two massive floor-to-ceiling fish tanks and sweeping oyster bar is an amazing experience. Equally as impressive as the interior and exterior views are the seafood offerings that Waterbar provides diners with. The restaurant boasts a wide range of seafood dishes from fresh oysters to pan-seared fillets and whole fish preparations. Sustainability is at the forefront of Waterbar’s dishes, and the care with which the kitchen prepares that bounty is fully evident in the presentation of its food.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of A16 - San Francisco restaurant

A16 - San Francisco

$$$$
Italian
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio
4.4
4476 reviews
With food that stems from the southern coastal region of Campania in Italy, A16 has been a pillar of the Marina District in San Francisco since its founding in 2004. The restaurant features a narrow but welcoming interior and open kitchen so diners have a direct view of the work the chefs put into famous offerings such as the wood-oven cooked pizzas and the meatballs (which have their own cult following). Housemade pastas such as the maccaronara, a long square-ish noodle enveloped by a hearty ragu, and other rotating pastas with fresh sauces and adornments are also a hallmark of the satisfying cooking here.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Greens Restaurant restaurant

Greens Restaurant

$$$$
Vegetarian / Vegan
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio
4.6
9805 reviews
It can sometimes be hyperbolic to proclaim a restaurant as revolutionary, but there are few other ways one could describe a restaurant as influential as Greens, which was first established in 1979 and has since maintained its status as one of the premier vegetarian restaurants in the country. A long line of chefs have been influenced and inspired by both Zen Buddhism and the restaurant’s vibrant farm, Green Gulch, which provides the restaurant with pristine vegetables and fruits. Almost every dish can be made fully vegan, and the liberal use of legumes, yuba, and tofu add the depth of protein any diner can appreciate. The interior is its own work of art, featuring the work of several local artists and rich uses of several types of wood to create a warm and inviting atmosphere to match the sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Experiences available
View Experiences
A photo of Yank Sing - Stevenson Street restaurant

Yank Sing - Stevenson Street

$$$$
Dim Sum
SOMA
4.6
1666 reviews
Three generations of the Chan family have contributed to Yank Sing’s success since its opening in 1958. Since then, similar generations-long local devotion to Yank Sing’s dim sum offerings have helped maintain its status as a must-go for Bay Area natives, transplants, and tourists. Noted as a Bib Gourmand restaurant for Michelin and a long-standing place on guides from Zagat and the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s hard to argue with the critical acclaim after tasting a juicy pork soup dumpling and feeling its warm broth break free of the wrapper or taking that first bite of a pillowy barbecue pork bao.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Burma Love Downtown restaurant

Burma Love Downtown

$$$$
Burmese
SOMA
4.5
189 reviews
The Bay Area has long been a hub for Burmese food, and one of the most famous faces of that food has been the Burma Superstar restaurants. That same group opened Burma Love Downtown in Mint Plaza in San Francisco in 2019 to great fanfare, and the restaurant has been a hot spot ever since. Salads feature heavily in Burmese food, and the most famous of these is tea leaf salad, which Burma Love Downtown has its own version of, tossed tableside blending the fermented tea with the crisp ingredients — like nuts and fried garlic — that make the salad such a textural delight. There’s also mohinga, a fish chowder that is a staple of Burmese cuisine, along with other delights such as Burmese curry and pork belly with mustard greens.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Octavia restaurant

Octavia

$$$$
Contemporary American
Pacific Heights
4.7
2044 reviews
While Frances in Castro remains temporarily closed, its sibling restaurant in Pacific Heights, Octavia, has reopened. When Frances opened in 2009, rave reviews and accolades streamed in from publications such as Bon Appétit and Esquire, along with a a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. Octavia followed suit when it opened in 2015 in an even larger location. Chef and owner Melissa Perello crafts approachable comforting food at both restaurants, with seasonal dishes—buttermilk-fried quail, tagliatelle with salt spring mussels—that swap out often, plus outstanding desserts such as profiteroles with roasted strawberries and dark chocolate budino topped with whipped coffee ganache.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Experiences available
View Experiences
A photo of Akiko's Restaurant & Sushi Bar restaurant

Akiko's Restaurant & Sushi Bar

$$$$
Japanese
Downtown / Union Square
4.9
1357 reviews
Of all the exclusive and extravagant omakase bars in San Francisco—and this fish-obsessed town has a fair few—Akiko’s, opened in 1999, is a standout institution. Sushi master Ray Lee has been behind a revered presence behind the counter and many other talented chefs have come through his kitchen, including Adam Tortosa of omakase haven Robin. Akiko’s is planning on moving to a new space in the East Cut soon, so grab a perch at the cozy original outpost on Bush Street while you still can.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of International Smoke San Francisco restaurant

International Smoke San Francisco

$$$$
American
SOMA
4.5
2652 reviews
Cookbook author and television personality Ayesha Curry teamed up with prolific restaurateur Michael Mina for this meaty destination within the ground floor of the leaning Millennium Tower. The menu is truly global, smoking and saucing ribs several different ways, from earthy chipotle to sweet sesame-gochujang, then rounding them out with comforts such as Mina’s lobster mac and cheese and Curry’s warm cornbread. Plus, it's a trendy scene—sometimes, Curry’s husband basketball star Steph Curry and fellow Golden State Warriors swing through.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of ¡Chao Pescao! restaurant

¡Chao Pescao!

$$$$
Latin American
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.7
274 reviews
Chef-owner Rene Denis sunset his chic restaurant Soluna during the pandemic, replacing it with the more colorful and casual ¡Chao Pescao! in spring 2021. The menu is a mashup of his favorite childhood foods, including Colombian empanadas—which won high praise from the San Francisco Chronicle soon after the restaurant’s debut—made with tender masa and fried until crusty, as well as Cuban ropa vieja, lechon, and tostones. It’s an excellent option to grab a pre-theater mojito and a bite, but also worthy of a stop anytime.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Chili House restaurant

Chili House

$$$$
Chinese
Richmond District
4.5
277 reviews
Out in the avenues, Chili House, first established in 1988, prides itself on having the best peking duck in San Francisco, a title that few contest. Chef Han Lijun has served his legendary duck to Chinese presidents and diplomats and countless local diners on Christmas Day. But there’s no need to wait for the holidays for this quintessential SF experience—in addition to crackling duck with pancakes and all the fixings, Chili House also offers fiery chili wontons and tan tan noodles.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

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