The Best Restaurants in San Francisco
Collected by Kimberley Lovato , AFAR Local Expert
To hear the locals rave, you'll never drink better coffee or eat a better burrito or share a more authentic pizza than you can here. San Francisco, for its relatively compact size, packs a culinary punch that larger cities never will. Classics like the Tadich Grill, Original Joe's, and Hang Ah Dim Sum Tea House, have served generations of local gourmands, but in the 1970s, firebrand chefs in the kitchens of Zuni Cafe and Greens Restaurant changed American cuisine forever. Come and taste the changes that are brewing by the bay today. You won't go home hungry.
1499 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
In the buzzy Mission neighborhood, Al's Place is the creation of former Ubuntu chef Aaron London and does genius things with seafood and vegetables, especially vegetables—vegetarians love this spot. This is one of the hottest...
1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
If one is going to throw around the word "iconic," let's make sure it's used appropriately. As with Zuni. The awkwardly shaped restaurant—it's in a narrow storefront with wider spaces on the mezzanine—was opened in 1979 by Billy West....
309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Burma Superstar lives up to its name. Opened more than 20 years ago, the Inner Richmond restaurant has gained a following for such specialties as hand-wrapped samosas filled with meat and potatoes, chili lamb, and traditional rice salad. Known for...
8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Long before it was a tourist mecca filled with souvenir shops and selfie sticks, Fisherman’s Wharf was the industrial hub of San Francisco, crisscrossed by railroad tracks and home to lumberyards and a booming fishing industry. Nunzio Alioto...
576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
The radical philosophy at this friendly Haight Street place is that good barbecue is not about the sauce. You read that correctly. If you've been smothering your meat in barbecue sauce, you've been doing it all wrong. Real Southern-style...
428 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Walk around the city and you are likely to stumble upon a food truck that dishes out some incredible grub. San Francisco residents love these modern chuck wagons, including native Carlos Muela, who opened SoMa StrEat Food Park in 2012. Its...
515 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
This popular Mexican-food mainstay in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District is one of two places in the city that claim to have invented the Mission-style burrito (the other is El Faro): a hefty, elephant-leg-size wrap distinguished from...
28 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
You enter Mister Jiu's off of Waverly Place and step first into the dark and dreamy bar, a perfect place to pause for one of the restaurant's inventive cocktails. With the mood set, follow the hallway, which gives way to the light and bright...
2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
The date-night dinner-and-a-movie standard has been taken to a new stylish height at this acclaimed restaurant in the Mission District. Grab a table on the patio under the strings of lights to dine on seasonal California cuisine while...
1 Pagoda Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
Hang Ah Tea Room's brick facade and missing letters may not be much to look at from the outside, and the interior's low ceilings, fluorescent lights, and basic furnishings won't win awards, either, but the inexpensive dim sum served inside...
One Ferry Building #3, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Chef Charles Phan's restaurant Slanted Door helped elevate Vietnamese cuisine in the United States, introducing it in all of its nuance and complexity to diners who may have tried pho soup only once, if that. When the original location closed in...
4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
Outerlands is an Outer Sunset institution. The small restaurant near Ocean Beach serves local, organic cuisine in a rustic-chic setting. Covered floor-to-ceiling in warm, rough-hewn wood, the interior invites lingering over an artisan cocktail or...
1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
Nicole Krasinski describes the novel concept of her restaurant State Bird Provisions as “dim sum and a great hors d’oeuvre party morphed into one experience.” She and her husband, chef Stuart Brioza, prepare beautifully executed...
151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Chef Corey Lee’s new food project, In Situ, is less a restaurant than an archive of the world’s best dishes (current count: 24). Travel back to the 1994 opening of the French Laundry with Thomas Keller’s Liberty Duck Breast, a bowl of tiny green...
3870 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA
Named after Chef Melissa Perello’s grandmother, Frances is a neighborhood fine-dining restaurant where the focus is on simple but elegant cuisine that lets the Northern California ingredients shine. The restaurant is only open for dinner and...
470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
A window looks in onto the pasta station in Quince's kitchen, and pedestrians strolling by on Pacific Avenue can gawk at the carefully folded tortellini—likely to be stuffed with suckling pig, or nettles. Those who actually gain...
373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Chef Daniel Patterson is a quiet storm. You might see him at the Ferry Building Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings (as I have), obsessing over the perfectly perfect cherries at Hamada Farms. He's always got a million things going on—he has...
Landmark Building A, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
Greens was founded by the San Francisco Zen Center in 1979, and the original chef, Deborah Madison, shifted the idea of vegetarian cuisine from bland sustenance to sensational tastes. Chef Annie Somerville took over in 1985 and elevated Greens to...
601 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Original Joe's has the same birth year as another pretty famous San Francisco landmark: the Golden Gate Bridge. Both are definitely worth checking out, but only Original Joe's will serve you a hearty Italian meal in a red leather booth. Back in...
1000 Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
With killer views of the waves crashing onto Ocean Beach, the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant is one of the best places to grab a bite and watch the sunset in San Francisco. Before its current incarnation, the 1925 Spanish revival building...
240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Few restaurants more than 150 years old can be called trendy, but in innovation-crazy San Francisco, there is novelty in the classics, and Tadich Grill is the classic. The late Chronicle columnist and unabashed San Francisco-lover Herb Caen...
199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
It was the sardine chips that sealed the deal: When Rich Table opened, these fried potato chips with sardine fillets threaded through were all the food media wanted to talk about. Salty, fishy, crispy: a flavor trifecta that won Evan and Sarah...
3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
The food at Atelier Crenn—with its two Michelin stars—might not even look like food. This is tweezer food, every morsel painstakingly styled on the plate. (Well, "plate" is not quite right: Food is served on unconventional surfaces like slate...
1911 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
San Francisco is one of the best dining cities in the world - so deciding where to dine when visiting is no easy feat. This small, dimly lit restaurant emanates comfort and warmth while maintaining a modern feel. My guest and I ordered eight...
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