San Francisco is a hub of invention and innovation. Open-minded residents are forever seeking the next level of refinement, and the food is no different. Imaginative flavor combinations and unique dishes designed to surprise and delight dominate food menus while drinks lists reflect cutting-edge global trends.
Whether you’re a native or visiting, sampling the many diverse and divine restaurants should be near the top of your list of things to do in San Francisco. Each place embraces worldwide flavors and techniques while championing local ingredients and seasonality.
Here, meals weave narratives of heritage and prestige, spun by masters of their craft, waiting to be savored by discerning diners. If you care about where your food comes from as much as the taste and relish getting swept off your feet by impeccable service and ambiance — you’re in the right place.
Join us on a journey through the best places to eat in San Francisco.
Contemporary American/New American Dining in San Francisco
Experience SF’s contemporary and American cuisine scene, where local seasonal ingredients meet global flavors.
At the restaurant Sula, executive chef Michael Garcia celebrates Northern California’s abundant harvest, adding an intriguing Asian spin and bold flavors. He melds the diverse influences that shaped him as a San Fran native, including the dishes from Chinatown and North Beach he ate while growing up.
The result is a short and tempting dinner menu featuring braised beef dumplings and tonkatsu-drenched grilled miso lamb loin. The wine list is pared back and intentional, with each by-the-glass option selected to complement the menu.
Tucked beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and part of the exclusive Cavallo Point resort, Sula is a top upscale dining destination in San Francisco. Stunning views of the sloping Sausalito Hills are the cherry on the cake!
Welcome to the enticingly named Tenderheart. Chef Joe Hou invites you to explore San Francisco’s finest fresh ingredients with a sprinkling of Taiwanese know-how. The restaurant’s design is peacefully neutral, with razor-straight lines and nature-colored furnishings that expertly guide your attention to the food and your fellow dinner guests.
You’ll find it between the upbeat Market Street and famed Tenderloin neighborhoods. The food is a satisfying blend of hearty yet refined and flavorful but light. Pop in for drinks and bar snacks to experience the height of casual sophistication — or opt for an all-out treat and order the tasting menu.
Spectacular Shows Nearby!
Elevate your San Francisco experience with breathtaking Cirque du Soleil performances.
3. La Société
Looking for French fare with a sprinkle of contemporary California seasoning? La Société is esteemed chef Alexandre Viriot’s first executive role in America. He spent his career learning from culinary legends, such as Alain Ducasse, who holds 21 Michelin Stars.
The result is one of the best places to dine in San Francisco, with an elegant yet accessible menu and drinks list. The bright, open dining room is ideal for catching up with friends, discussing business over lunch, or sipping on cocktails.
The name Ositos means "little bear" in Spanish. It’s the nickname given to big-bearded, many-tattooed chef Seth Stowaway by colleagues in the kitchen.
At this 1-Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco, the wood-burning oven and hearth are the stage, and you and your fellow diners gather around communal tables as a rapt audience.
While waiting for the maestro to begin the performance, you sip on balanced cocktails as smoky aromas fill the air and the show gets underway. Expect lots of meat and seafood, charred, dried, smoked, melted, and plated in a live-fire feast of a tasting menu that delights every sense.
Nothing speaks to our hearts more than an all-out performance, where masters wow crowds with their skills, honed by years of commitment. Just like our artists, the chef's goal is to delight audiences and give them a memorable moment of respite from daily life.
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5. Empress by Boon
Searching for a Cantonese SF dinner spot? Boom. You sought and you found. Empress by Boon is a regal 7,500-square-foot eatery with glimmering vistas over San Francisco.
Its mouthwatering cuisine has earned it a spot in the Michelin Guide. The magnificent, high-ceilinged dining room speaks to a coveted history as the Empress of China banquet hall. The restaurant offers breathtaking views of the entire city skyline from three distinct vantage points. Each space is thoughtfully designed to showcase unique aspects of each perspective, making it an ideal choice for a romantic restaurant in San Francisco.
Chef Ho Chee Boon is best known for his culinary sorcery at Hakkasan, which he oversaw for three decades and elevated to dizzying heights as one of the world’s best-known Chinese restaurants. The colorful menu includes pork belly and black truffle, braised squab breast with rosé wine, and rich passion fruit cheesecake.
With a Michelin Star and a space in the world’s 50 best restaurants, the SF restaurant Nari is one of the loveliest spots to eat. Pim Techamuanvivit’s unique take on her home country’s cuisine is meticulously crafted and expertly executed.
As soon as the first plate lands before your eyes, it’s clear this chef is a perfectionist and you’re in for a real treat. Kick back and let the exotic aromas and tastes intoxicate you as you sink into beautifully embroidered banquettes under a canopy of vibrant green plants.
Dishes include Thai-style beef tartare, fall vegetables with herbs, and black cod in gaeng kua curry.
7. Palette Tea House
Experience dim sum at its finest at the Palette Tea House. Modern and traditional Cantonese cuisine collide in a blissful fusion of flavor, texture, and scent. Everything here is delicate, from the beautiful Chinese art adorning the walls to the impeccably pinched parcels on the plate.
This Michelin Guide-listed restaurant undeniably serves one of the best dinners in San Francisco, and the dimly lit, casual atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for intimate meals and group outings alike.
Popular Mexican and Latin American Restaurants in San Francisco
In San Fran’s best Latin American eateries, imagination intertwines with artistry. The unexpected never fails to delight and inspire.
8. El Buen Comer
There’s an air of the unassuming about El Buen Comer, but don’t be fooled by the humble ceramic dishware or joyfully cluttered decor; this is serious food. Chef Isabel — she only needs one name — hails from Mexico City and serves up a taste of home every day.
The world-renowned eatery is dedicated to cooking from scratch, whether it’s hand-rolled tortillas, slow-cooked sauces, or melt-in-the-mouth carnitas. Its fun atmosphere serves as a prime location for birthdays, family meals, and Friday nights in Bernal Heights.
The Californios restaurant is a 2-Michelin Star destination and one of the most exciting Mexican restaurants in the world. On its elevated authentic tasting menu, simple descriptions give way to unexpected delights.
Think chicharron with caviar and black truffle, plump sourdough tortillas, and grilled squab tacos — familiar, yet unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before or will taste again.
When booking, request a seat on the heated, covered patio, where you can enjoy chef Val M. Cantú's unique take on Mexican cuisine surrounded by trees, plants, and flowers.
Must-Visit Italian and European San Francisco Dinner Spots
San Francisco has every type of European eatery, from heartwarming and authentic to technical. Join us for innovative dishes paired with culinary tradition, where robust flavors marry perfectly with contemporary finesse.
Italian cuisine has the rare quality of being hearty, comforting, fresh, and intricate all at once — and San Francisco's Sorella honors that impressive tradition in true style. This upbeat ristorante in San Francisco is quietly trendy and well-regarded, specializing in approachable yet tantalizing homemade dishes.
In classic Northern Italian style, the dishware is white and unfussy, and the presentation is pretty while maintaining a rustic edge. If you’re a connoisseur of amari, you’ll be delighted by the extensive list of Italian, European, and American dishes available to taste.
The extensive wine list is all Italian, with several difficult-to-find Barolos that red-wine lovers won’t want to miss out on.
SF's Acquerello is Sorella’s big sister restaurant, offering elevated Italian fare in a beautifully lit, opulent dining room. Regal golds, reds, and glorious dark wooden beams set the scene while suit-wearing waiters and decorated chefs assume responsibility for the next few hours of your life. And a very delicious few hours it is.
One of the best restaurants in San Francisco since it opened in 1989, its ethos of simple elegance has never changed. Not that much here stays the same — the menu shifts with the seasons, the dining room is regularly updated to reflect modern tastes, and every time you come it feels like a new experience.
Much like one of our shows — even if you’ve seen the same one before, the creative energy and ingenuity of our performers make it so you can expect something a little different each time.
Looking for the best San Francisco Bay area restaurant for comfort food? Don’t worry, pleasure-seekers, you’ll find the German Radhaus tucked away in the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. Inspired by Bavarian "Biergarten," this industrial-chic dining room serves California’s finest and freshest ingredients.
The food is hearty, filling, and perfect for winter, and the beer list is long enough to satisfy even the thirstiest and fussiest of guests. Request a seat next to the huge windows for epic views over the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
13. Turntable at Lord Stanley
Headed up by Carrie and Rupert Blease, Turntable at Lord Stanley is one of San Francisco’s most exciting concept restaurants.
Pre-pandemic, it was a 1-Michelin Star eatery, but the owners flung aside the awards to affect positive change in the industry they love. And we’re here for it. Each month — that’s right, month — an upcoming chef takes center stage and shares their passion for produce, flavor, and innovation with the good people of SF.
Past favorites include Nathan Matkowsky, who brought his groundbreaking blend of French and Korean cuisine to the table — and Susan Kim, with her achingly beautiful California-inspired Korean lunch boxes and tasting menu.
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14. Swan Oyster Depot
Anthony Bourdain coined this restaurant a"happy zone," — and we think you’ll agree that Swan Oyster Depot is a seafood lover's paradise. There are just 18 seats in this seafood shack, but that doesn’t stop hungry SFers from regularly waiting an hour to dine here.
While you won’t notice anything extravagant or showy about the destination, the food is out-of-this-world. The freshest oysters, lobsters, crab, and shrimp epitomize luxury, served with simple, time-honored accompaniments that delight seafood aficionados from near and far.
Top Moroccan and Middle Eastern Food in SF
Savor the exquisite flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine at the top Moroccan restaurant in San Fran, and let the chefs and servers transport you into a world of spice, aroma, tradition, and heritage.
Last on our list of unique restaurants in San Francisco is the acclaimed Moroccan eatery, Aziza. Chef-patron Mourad Lahlou’s dreamy restaurant is named after his mother, and you can taste his love and care in every mouthful.
All menu items are designed for sharing, he explains, “We wanted lots of little plates and large platters, so people can be gossiping, bumping elbows, and arguing over whose grandmother made it better.”
Staff are courteous and attentive without ever being intrusive, and the dining room has an atmosphere that’s cozy and airy in equal measure. Whether you pop in for a quick lunch or an all-out feast for dinner, Aziza will have your taste buds singing, dancing, and performing acrobatics!
San Francisco Recommended Restaurants: A Truly Eclectic Cuisine Scene
San Fran dining is more than sustenance — every meal is an occasion. In the Golden Gate City, diners revel in the endlessly welcoming local culture’s artistry, vibrancy, and diversity. Chefs see each meal as an exciting opportunity to showcase their knowledge, experience, and dedication to SF ingredients.
Just like our dancers, acrobats, and artists, they work tirelessly, never stop practicing, and strive to outdo themselves with each performance.
Why not follow up your dining experience with an otherworldly night of thrills, awe, and wonder at one of our shows in San Francisco, where dreams come to life? Witness mesmerizing spectacles of artistry and acrobatics, and get lost in the enchantment of live entertainment at its best.
We dazzle with feats of innovation and dare to defy conformity — all in the name of putting on a show to remember.