San Francisco is a culinary hub, and it’s no surprise that the city boasts some of the best restaurants in the world. From Michelin-starred restaurants to cozy neighborhood spots, San Francisco has something to offer every palate. To help you find the perfect restaurant, we have rounded up the top 10 best restaurants in San Francisco, including what makes them unique, their specialties, and why you should add them to your must-try list.
San Francisco is a foodie’s paradise, with a diverse mix of cultures and cuisines. It has a rich food history and is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. The city is known for its seafood, sourdough bread, and fusion cuisine. You can find almost any type of food in San Francisco, from street food to fine dining.
Best Restaurants in San Francisco
If you are looking for a fancy night out or want to celebrate a special occasion, these best restaurants in San Francisco are the perfect choice:
1. State Bird Provisions
State Bird Provisions is a one-of-a-kind restaurant that has earned its place on this list of the best restaurants in San Francisco. This Michelin-starred restaurant is known for its innovative California cuisine, served dim sum-style.
The dishes are creative and ever-changing, with an emphasis on seasonal, local ingredients. Some standout dishes include the savory pancake with smoked trout and creme fraiche, and the beef tongue with radish and horseradish cream.
2. Lazy Bear
Next on our list of best restaurants in San Francisco is Lazy Bear. This beloved pop-up-turned-restaurant is proof of chef David Barzelay’s ability to organize a dynamic dining experience as memorable as his food.
The mid-century setting gives a cozy feel to the restaurant’s 1950s-era supper club theme. As the 15 courses arrive, a chef introduces them, making the presentation both theatrical and welcoming.
Though the menu changes frequently, expect delicacies such as porcini with egg yolk fudge in a wild mushroom broth and bay scallop with celtuce, a small gem, and pine nuts.
3. Liholiho Yacht Club
Hawaiian food is fairly common in San Francisco these days, but nowhere does it with more flare than Liholiho. The trick, maybe, is that Liholiho serves meals inspired by Chinese, Indian, and Californian cuisines as well as traditional Hawaiian fare.
Yes, there is Spam, but it is made in-house and served with kimchi fried rice, a smoked egg yolk, clamshell mushrooms, and tamari.
The relaxed atmosphere makes you want to stay for a while, which is ideal because all the meals are meant to be shared, and you will definitely want to taste as many as possible. A trip to Liholiho will tell you why it is on our list of best restaurants in San Francisco.
4. House of Prime Rib
House of Prime Rib, one of the best restaurants in San Francisco, is a 70-year-old Nob Hill masterpiece that will transport you to a time when plating with tweezers was unheard of.
The name says it all: House of Prime Rib serves just one thing: roast prime rib and it does it very well. At House of Prime Rib, the only options available are cut thickness, meat temperature, mashed or loaded baked potatoes, and Manhattan or martini.
Each plate includes a salad (made at the table), Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach, and potatoes, as well as a massive chunk of beef carved from one of the wheeled meat carts.
Cala makes our list of the best restaurants in San Francisco. Cala’s interior design is inspired by Mexico City’s famous modern district, La Condesa. This is because Chef Gabriela Cámara is from Mexico City.
Chef Cámara makes certain that every meal on the menu has a trifecta of classic ingredients, creative preparation, and artistic presentation.
A sweet potato grilled until creamy on the inside then tossed in the fire until the skin crisps, served with bone marrow, salsa negra, and warm tortillas, is one of the meals served at Cala. Come for a relaxed night where you will meet new people at the common table.
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Welcome to Nisei, one of the best restaurants in San Francisco. David Yoshimura, a Californios alum, channels his Japanese-American heritage into Nisei, his Michelin-starred first restaurant where Japanese soul food meets exquisite dining. With white booths and inky black walls filled with bright local art, the dining room is a serene sanctuary.
Yoshimura and his crew wrap sweet Brentwood corn, fermented blueberries, and buttery uni between sheets of shiny nori and nestle a fresh oyster in a foamy bed of English peas and wasabi.
The tasting menu may end with an array of tsukemono served over a tiny cup of bone broth miso soup with duck fat rice and a delicate rack of lamb.
7. China Live
George Chen’s huge Chinese cuisine emporium is the most upscale way to enjoy everything San Francisco’s Chinatown has to offer. However, if you want to sample a wide range of dishes — from fried scallion pancakes, soup dumplings, Peking duck to charred Chinese broccoli — China Live is your best bet.
Also, the open kitchen allows you to observe the culinary team at work, wrapping dumplings and wok-frying rice.
On your way out, stop at the marketplace to stock up on housemade condiments, and if you want to stay late, visit the upstairs bar Cold Drinks Bar, which specializes in smokey scotch-based cocktails. As a result, China Live makes our list of best restaurants in San Francisco.
8. Hog Island Oyster Co.
There’s no shortage of delicious seafood in this bayside city, but slurping briny bivalves at the Hog Island outpost (one of the best restaurants in San Francisco) is a true rite of passage.
If you arrive early (the restaurant opens at 11 a.m. daily), you can beat the queue and look forward to plates of fresh oysters served over ice after being harvested from waters up and down the West Coast.
Add fried local anchovies, beautiful crudo, or a surprisingly superb grilled cheese sandwich created with three types of melted cheese for the feast. It’s a lunch to remember, with a glass of bubbles in hand and views of the bridge outside.
Chef Francis Ang’s Abacá serves contemporary Filipino food in a bright space on the ground level of a Fisherman’s Wharf hotel, with sunflower yellow banquettes and woven baskets from the Southeast Asian archipelago, making Abacá one of the best restaurants in San Francisco.
The menu gives traditional Filipino cuisine with modern California twists, such as seafood pancit topped with smoked bay scallops and longganisa pork sausage impaled on a slender stick and served with cane vinegar for dipping and egg yolk.
Weekend brunch is a special treat, as you can enjoy chef Vince Bugtong’s pastry expertise in dishes like a chewy pandan mochi waffle and savory ensaymada French toast.
Following a comprehensive redesign by star designer Ken Fulk, this classic San Francisco restaurant has emerged as one of the best restaurants in San Francisco.
Settle into a beautiful peacock blue booth under the golden glow of romantic spotlighting and let the smooth service team guide you through a multi-course prix fixe meal created by chef and owner Nancy Oakes and chef Dana Younkin.
Dishes change frequently but adhere to the California ideal of seasonal and local, however, the Berkshire pork chop, served on the bone and roasted over a live fire to a perfect obsidian char, is always a winner.
It may be difficult to narrow down the ‘best’ in a town with roughly 4,500 eateries, with nearly 60 of them having Michelin stars.
However, when it comes to atmosphere, service, value, and deliciousness, the restaurants listed in this piece are unquestionably among the best restaurants in San Francisco.
Visit any of them and you will undoubtedly enjoy exquisite meals and a memorable gastronomic experience.