An iconic San Francisco restaurant since Traci des Jardins opened its doors, and a big part of the transformation of Hayes Valley. Elegant and consistent, it’s definitely a staple of the theater crowd. Still a big fan of the space, even if the cooking was a bit heavy-handed on my last visit.
Modern Chinese culinary emporium with a spacious set of communal tables to enjoy dumplings, Peking duck, and a variety of regional specialties, along with a fairly extensive tea selection and a full cocktail bar. Chinese specialty ingredients and kitchenwares available in a retail space adjacent to the dining room.
Quality coffee and food options, notable as the only local BB with weekend brunch. This location also has just about every exotic coffee contraption you’ll ever see, from the kyoto coffee tower of glass and brass, to the vintage La Marzocco for single origin espresso, to the siphon pot bar.
Masa Sasaki has his own exquisite edomae sushi temple, after earning Maruya its star and consulting at Omakase and Delage. Master joinery by Paul Discoe for the interiors. Pim says it's the one place for sushi in SF - with an extensive omakase as the only menu, it's not to be taken lightly. Photo via @huehuelee (Instagram).
Sylvan Mishima Brackett's artful izakaya cooking feels right at home framed by the dining room's handcrafted wood beams (which reflect his unique ties to both Japan and the Sierra foothills). From the housemade ume shu, to kelp-cured local fish, to the spectacular gyoza, you'll want to check it out for yourself. Their Teishoku lunch service (Thu-Sat) is one of the greatest hidden culinary gems of SF.
The rustic cool interior and creative menu make this a new anchor for Hayes Valley, and their consistently excellent execution makes it one of my favorite spots in the city. The pastas are notable. Great wine list and cocktails as well. Grab a seat at the bar if you can't snag a reservation; it's reserved for walk-ins and you can enjoy the full menu there.
The one and only - an excellent selection of French wines (and a smattering from other regions) imported directly by Kermit based on his decades of tastings, tours and friendships built in Europe. The wines they sell here are all shipped refrigerated; as an importer for other retailers, not necessarily the case. Photo via @prissandvinegar (Instagram).
A wander down the backstreets of Chinatown yields good fortune for your palate. Brandon Jew's California-influenced Chinese menu (with both à la carte and banquet options) is phenomenally delicious. The space is a beautiful reinvention of a building that's housed some hallowed restaurants since the 19th century.
A faithful historic renovation of Fort Baker into a resort that doesn't stop at the original military buildings; it builds on it with modern lofts overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and a remarkable spa that complement the earlier compound rather than competing with it. Highly recommended.
Passionate, exquisite cooking from Joshua Skenes, many elements influenced by kaiseki cuisine as well as cooking from the hearth. The liquid toast (pictured) reveals more flavor in one bite than you may think possible for mere mortals to taste. Renowned, Burgundy-heavy wine list curated by Mark Bright. Their new home is a stunning 19th century brick building in SoMA which features an open dining room, plus an incredible cocktail program. Along with Benu, the first SF restaurant to receive a third Michelin star.
Yikes, this place went downhill fast. Nominally-Basque tapas from Michael Chiarello, slow to non-existent service, bland dishes. A shadow of the restaurant it was a year ago. Maybe a fluke, but I won't be going back again soon. If you want great tapas and pintxos, go to Aatxe - it's worth the detour.
California small plates meets dim sum. Beautiful plating, and a creative way to see the food you want to eat before you order. A theme like this can feel like a gimmick but it truly works here, and they consistently deliver delicious food. The hype is unreal, but do try to snag a reservation if you can (or line up *very* early as a walk-in). Their encore next door, The Progress, is very good as well.
Incredibly satisfying Greek food amid plush surroundings - and quite the scene. Huge fireplaces they use to roast lamb and seasonal game. Equally great for drinks and meze at the bar, a romantic dinner, or a meal with a large group in the back. The watermelon and feta salad is the perfect welcome to summer.
Don't be fooled by the divey-looking Lung Shan restaurant exterior, Danny Bowien cooks some delicious Chinese food here. Generous portions, and they really give back to the neighborhood. Just watch out for General Tso's veal rib! Delicious but possibly the hottest dish I've ever eaten...
Casual cool Hayes Valley (that hits the) spot. Wonderful play on iconic souvlaki, with roasted lamb - or chicken, pork or sweet potato - as a sandwich or salad. You won't regret ordering it 'Greek style' with fries inside. The Greek frozen yogurt with baklava crumbles is dangerous.
Unique foraged and gleaned flora, as well as locally made pottery - I believe by appointment only. Side note: Louesa also started August many years ago in Rockridge, an incredible and pioneering clothing store that featured a lot of emerging American designers (I really wish that shop was still around).
Modern American fine dining,seated communally, dinner-party style. Chef David gets every detail of experience and dishes right. Dinner starts at mezzanine where people mingle with snacks and cocktails on their hands. After that, people are invited to the dining tables where main courses are served. Chefs tell us about dishes as they are served. The kitchen is open and people are encouraged to socialize with chefs while they are cooking.
Consistently one of the best all-around dining experiences I know, and my quintessential SF restaurant. Incredibly welcoming staff and warm atmosphere is a perfect match with stunning yet unpretentious food. Reserve *well* in advance, or try the counter seats reserved for walk-ins. Enjoy!
Downtown resto and bar from Bar Agricole owner Thad Vogler in a beautifully restored historic space (think high ceilings, honed marble, elegant leather banquettes). All-day menu with in-house cured charcuterie, cocktails, and plenty of calvados (as the name implies). Via John Parman.
One might call this a modernist soda fountain, given the extensive set of tinctures and extracts they offer as toppings. However, the interior is all original 1930's and they've brought back a number of old-time classics, like phosphates and lactarts. Now serving up some boozy creations as well. Open noon - 10pm daily.
Zen community, tea house and working farm in a stunning, lush valley overlooking the Pacific; this is one of the most grounding spaces I know, and one of the reasons I'm so grateful to call the Bay Area home. Open for public meditation on Sundays, as well as longer sittings and retreats throughout the year. Also offers a guest house and conference space. I must try staying at Hope Cottage.
One of my favorite restaurants; the more casual sister to Quince next door. Classic Italian cuisine in a welcoming space with clean lines and natural wood surfaces. Excellent pasta and pizza. Strikes an ideal balance for SF, which also makes it one of the toughest tables to get. Pictured: wild nettle sformata.
Michael Tusk's temple to Italian food, elevating pasta (among many other things) to a true art. Two Michelin stars, with a recent refurb that aims to take them higher. Service and setting has long been on the formal side, especially for SF; would like to try the latest incarnation of the dining room.
Easily one of my top restaurants in SF, and seriously underrated; consistently balanced, nuanced flavors and creative plating. Their liquid nitrogen cocktail with floc de gascogne is remarkable. Their prix fixe is the best value in the city. You'd have to go to Saison or Coi (and pay much more) to find food that tops this.
Great Japanese in a cozy space with reasonable prices - try to reserve a table in advance or be prepared for serious lines at the weekend. Menu ranges from sushi and miso black cod to housemade oboro tofu and mochi-covered strawberries, all delicious. Recommended by Joanna Menendez.