From delicious cuisines from all over the world to Michelin-starred restaurants, here are our favorite San Francisco restaurants.
Readers often ask us about our favorite San Francisco restaurants worthy of a stop during their visit. Not sure why we never shared the list on JOC before but here it is. We’ll continue to add or remove from the list based on our own dining experiences.
We typically eat in the city only for special occasions like birthdays or other celebrations. This list of restaurants is not what we typically eat so you don’t see many casual restaurants here. Keep in mind that dining in San Francisco can be pricey, and it’s common for an 18-20% gratuity to be automatically added to the bill.
This is probably the question we get asked most by readers. The truth is we don’t usually eat at Japanese restaurants when dining out since we already make Japanese food at home. Regardless, there are many delicious Japanese restaurants in San Francisco we’ve personally tried, and here are our top choices.
- AKIKOS – exceptional sushi (do not confuse it with Akiko’s Sushi Bar)
- Hina Yakitori – uniquely crafted yakitori course meal
- Rintaro – authentic Japanese izakaya fare
- Ken – Superb sushi and counter seating atmosphere
- Kusakabe – the closest thing to dining in Japan
- Noodle in a Haystack – creative Japanese-influenced dishes and the friendliest owners
- Mensho – great ramen spot
- Marufuku Ramen – casual ramen but always consistent
- Okane – high-quality sashimi
- Yakiniku Shodai – yakiniku course meal on par with the quality in Japan
This category is a mix of Californian and non-Asian restaurants we love. The chefs in the Californian category utilize locally sourced ingredients and many of them shop at the farmers market to decide on what dishes to create based on what’s available. The Californian menu often crosses borders and boundaries by blending ingredients and seasoning from all over the world.
- Mijote – daily French prix fixe course by Japanese chef Kosuke Tada.
- Angler – seafood-focused restaurant with live-fire cooking
- Trestle Restaurant – one of the best bargains for a delicious dinner in San Francisco
- Octavia – showcases seasonal ingredients in boundary-crossing dishes
- Kokkari Estiatorio – you can’t go wrong with any of the dishes at this renowned Greek restaurant
- Montesacro SoMa – Pinseria (Roman Pizza) with incredible crust and fabulous toppings
- RH San Francisco – experience the grandeur of RH’s dining room
- Piccino – great pasta, pizza, and food featuring products from local farms
- Flour + Water – if you love pasta, this is paradise
- Limón – whenever we crave Peruvian food, this hits the spot.
San Francisco boasts a high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants for a small city, making it a haven for fine dining enthusiasts. These restaurants are recommended for special occasions and celebrations. One recommendation we have is to always try the wine pairing if you enjoy wine. It really elevates the overall experience.
- Saison – chef Richard Lee’s culinary creations are simply extraordinary
- Nightbird – exquisite food presentation in unique tableware
- Atelier Crenn – an unforgettable culinary journey, every dish is a surprise
- Sorrel – an elegant casual dining experience in a beautiful dining room
- Spruce – solid course meal that has plenty of options to satisfy everyone
- Californios – creative Mexican cuisine like no other, prepared to be pleasantly surprised
- Avery Restaurant – splendid sake pairing with outstanding cuisine
- Ssal – Chef Junsoo’s creative and modern Korean food is a must try in San Francisco
Asian Restaurants (non-Japanese)
With a large Asian population, there are many outstanding Asian restaurants in San Francisco. From Korean to Thai to Chinese, here are our recommendations.
- Palette Tea House and Dragon Beaux – run by the family behind Koi Palace, offers the best dim sum in the city
- Daeho Kalbijim & Beef Soup – limited menu but everything is delicious, Galbi-jjim is perfectly seasoned and beef soup is perfect for the chilly San Francisco weather
- San Tung – three words: dry fried chicken. Dumplings are fantastic too.
- Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant – not for everyone’s taste but the best lamb hotpot and dipping sauce
- R&G Lounge – a San Francisco Chinatown classic, always crowded and always good. Crabs and seafood are their specialties.
- Farmhouse Thai – vibrant Thai food that never misses
- Yank Sing – long time downtown dim sum spot, easily accessible in the financial district
- San Ho Won – Korean bbq joint with a modern twist
- Nari – spectacular Thai food in a lively atmosphere
- Ox & Tiger – creative Filipino Japanese fusion and the coolest owners
Favorite Restaurants in the Greater SF Bay Area
Based on readers’ requests, here are our favorite restaurants outside San Francisco.
Peninsula and South Bay Restaurants/Bakery
- Sushi Maruyama
- Sushi Sam’s Edomata
- Curry Hyuga
- Ramen Parlor, Ramen Dojo
- Yakitori Kokko
- Village Pub
- Palette Tea Garden
- Dan Izakaya Restaurant
- Gochi Cupertino
- Pho Ha Noi
- 10 Butchers Korean BBQ
- Restaurant Chungdam
- Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine
- Pazzo Pizza
- New England Lobster Market & Eatery
- Din Tai Fung
- Kabul Afghan Cuisine
- SAKAE Sushi & Grill