It is safe to say that San Francisco has firmly established itself as a foodie city. It is nearly impossible to keep up with the constant openings and ever evolving list of restaurants to try. With a mix of old favorites and new hot spots, here are our best recommendations for where to indulge this year.
Written by Caroline Stevens
After building a reputation from her Mexico City restaurants MeroToro and Contramar, Chef Gabriela Camara relocated to San Francisco a few years ago when she decided to open a restaurant in the city. Camara was deliberate in the concept, menu and construction of her newest endeavor, and has been hailed as setting the standard for Mexican food in the Bay Area. Located in a former sound studio in Civic Center, the menu is seafood-centric with a focus on bold flavors and utilizes a range of Mexican chiles in creative ways.
149 Fell St. San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 (415) 660-7701
A hidden gem in the Richmond district, this low key Italian spot is a neighborhood favorite. Seasonal antipasti, crostini and salads accompany wood fired pizza and homemade pasta to round out the ever changing menu. With a recently expanded back patio, Fiorella is now open for brunch with a few egg dishes to complement the pizza and pasta. Be sure to stop and appreciate the unique wallpaper featuring Bay Area landmarks and local icons that adorns the restaurant’s walls.
2339 Clement St. San Francisco, CA 94121
+1 (415) 340-3041
Not your average Thai restaurant. Locally sourced and authentically inspired by Chef Pim Techamuanvivit’s origins in Bangkok, all currys, relishes and sauces are made in house. The menu features Thai dishes not often seen on other menus, with a unique combination of flavors and spices. For an adventurous meal, try to tasting menu, where the chef serves their current favorite selections.
55 Cyril Magnin St. San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 (415) 362-7456
Leo’s Oyster Bar
This may be the most instagrammable spot in town. Tucked in the heart of the Financial District, the bar is a perfect place to enjoy a cleverly crafted cocktail (and of course some oysters!) after work, but the interior of Leo’s steals the show. The happy, feel-good space has a definite tiki theme, complete with palm-frond wallpaper, splashy colors, hanging ferns, and cane furniture.
568 Sacramento St. San Francisco, CA 94111
+1 (415) 872-9982
Liholiho Yacht Club
Driven by Oahu native Ravi Kapur, Liholiho Yacht Club brings an Indian, Japanese, Korean and Northern California flair to Hawaiian cuisine. With so many unique choices on the menu, it’s worth asking your server for recommendations on what to order. But, be sure to indulge with the Baked Hawaiian for dessert. This fun spot in the Tenderloin / Nob Hill neighborhood doesn’t take itself too seriously. Pop downstairs to Louie’ Gen Gen Room, a buzzy cocktail spot in the restaurant with its own food and drink menu.
871 Sutter St. San Francisco, CA 94109
+1 (415) 440-5446
The second restaurant from award winning Chef Melissa Perello, Octavia serves nightly dinner in a casual but elegant spot on Octavia Street. Known for using seasonal ingredients to create her produce-forward, New American-California dishes, Perello complements the menu with an extensive wine list. Book ahead of time, reservations for this popular restaurant in Pacific Heights are hard to come by.
1701 Octavia St. San Francisco, CA 94109
+1 (415) 408-7507
Venture out to the outer Sunset to enjoy weekend brunch steps from the Pacific Ocean. The concise and seasonal menu changes regularly, but the restaurant’s trademark bread and sweets made in house are consistently a highlight. Locally owned and managed, Outerlands is a bit like hanging out at your hip, design conscious friend’s house. Prepare for a wait, but know it will be worth it.
4001 Judah St. San Francisco, CA 94122
+1 (415) 661-6140
Chef Dominique Crenn’s newest venture in Hayes Valley has a distinctly homey feel. Sleek and white, the restaurant itself is calm and inviting, with the menu handwritten on chalkboard. Crenn serves up dishes inspired by her grandmother and the coastal region in France where her family is from. Diners can sip champagne and enjoy oysters, or commit to the five-course family-style tasting menu.
609 Hayes St. San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 (415) 864-1744
From acclaimed chefs Chad Robertson and Liz Prieutt of Tartine Bakery fame comes the newest concept, a 5,000-square-foot space in the Mission District. Housing a coffee shop, ice cream shop, bakery and restaurant, the open space was designed to bring patrons closer to the process of baking and creating the food. The open kitchen and free flowing space support functionality while also supporting a large bar, communal tables and huge factory windows to create a minimal yet inviting space.
595 Alabama St. San Francisco, CA 94110
+1 (415) 757-0007
A San Francisco institution for nearly 40 years, Zuni Cafe focuses on seasonal French and Italian inspired recipes. Known for the roast chicken and bread salad for two, this dish has been credited as playing a significant role in the reputation of California cuisine. It takes up to 60 minutes to cook and prepare after being ordered, but there are plenty of other specialities to snack on during the wait. Located on the busy thoroughfare Market Street, Zuni Cafe also serves up burgers, caesar salads, oysters, and pizzas from the notable in-house wood oven.