I love to indulge in delicious food and drink—who doesn’t right? Finding new places to eat is definitely one of my favorite ways to not only explore the city but also spend time with friends and family because again, we’re eaters. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area has spoiled me with a huge variety of restaurants and pop-ups that cover more cuisines than I can probably list. From over-the-top Michelin-starred cuisine to incredible Mission-style burritos to world-class seafood and everything in between, San Francisco is known for being one of the best cities in the world to eat. I plan on tackling our impressive array of dining experiences one spot at a time!
And so I bring to you this series of the best restaurants to eat and drink in San Francisco and beyond! Whether it’s new restaurants hitting the ever-changing San Francisco dining scene, or a place that I’ve been frequenting since before I can remember, they’re places that I’d enthusiastically recommend to anyone! I’m an adventurous eater, so get ready for a very non-discriminatory, cravings-inducing list of places each month.
With that said, here are ten San Francisco Bay Area restaurants I recommend checking out in the coming weeks and what to order at each! I hope this list gets you started on your Bay Area post-height-of-Coronavirus eating journey. Just don’t forget your mask and be sure to check hours of operation prior to visiting.
Check out my previous Best of San Francisco & Bay Area Restaurant posts here!
My Top San Francisco Bay Area Restaurant Picks: Winter 2021
Miller & Lux | Steakhouse | 700 Terry A Francois Blvd
For the ultimate modern steakhouse experience, make a reservation at celebrity Chef Tyler Florence’s newest establishment, Miller and Lux. The interiors are spacious, luxurious and welcoming and idea for both date night and small groups. It’s a glamorous steakhouse that offers dry aged steaks; a raw bar and classy touches like both a champagne and dessert cart that makes the dining experience extra special and memorable. If you’re lucky you’ll spot Chef Tyler doing his thing in the kitchen and mingling with guests throughout the restaurant! Located right in Chase Center’s Thrive City, home of the Golden State Warriors, it’s one of the perfect restaurants in the area to grab an elegant dinner pre-Warriors games & concerts!
What to order:
Plateau De Mer with Humboldt Bay Oysters, Scallop Crudo, Louisiana Shrimp Cocktail, Bluefin Tuna Tartare; Caviar Doughnuts with Crème Fraîche Custard, Kaluga Caviar; Miller & Lux Caesar for two prepared tableside with Hand Harvested Romaine, Spanish Anchovies, Sourdough Croutons, Meyer Lemon; 32 ounce Tomahawk Rib Eye Steak; Creamed Kale; Thumbelina Carrots; and desserts and Champagne from the carts!
Check out my Forbes piece on Miller & Lux here.
Boulevard | California Cuisine | 1 Mission St
The San Francisco Establishment, Boulevard Restaurant, has recently re-opened with new interiors on the stunning Embarcadero waterfront. Chef Nancy Oakes has revamped the seasonal menu with a selection of innovative dishes that make the best of the local bounty Northern California is known for. They are currently offering two unique dining experiences: a set price menu which can be enjoyed in the dining room and an à la carte menu which is available at the chef’s counter and in the recently expanded bar and lounge. Located in the historic Audiffred building, this is one of the few restaurants that has been around since 1993 and continues to offer world class food and views of the San Francisco Bay and bridge.
What to order:
Vermont Raclette Fritters & Cylindra Beets Toasted Pine Nuts, Chicories & Pine Cone Bud Syrup; King Crab Bisque King Crab & Scallop Boudin Blanc; Spanish Octopus & Monterey Calamari Kelp Noodles, Golden Mushrooms & Hearts Of Palm Al Limone; Berkshire Pork Chop Rye Whisky & Honey Glazed Pears, Parsnips & Sage, Pearled Barley, Pinhead Oats & Wild Rice; Rack Of Lamb Ginger & Green Chili Potatoes, Carrot “Sponge” Red Orach, Golden Carrot & Ground Cherry Relish; Quince & Apple Crisp Oat Pecan Topping With Vanilla Ice Cream & Apple Sorbet Swirl; Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding Caramel Sauce, Armagnac & Pistachio Ice Cream, Fuyu Persimmon, Sicilian Pistachio.
Check out my Forbes piece on Boulevard here!
Luce SF | Contemporary American Fare | 888 Howard St
Luce, part of the InterContinental Hotel, and a Michelin star recipient for eleven years through 2019 reopened in October. It has recently brought on a new Executive Chef, Rogelio Garcia, most recently of Spruce and a previous Top Chef contestant, who offers an incredible eight-course tasting menu that’s guaranteed to impress any lover of fine dining.
What to order: The tasting menu!
A sample of the Chefs Tasting Menu at Luce:
- Castelvetrano Sourdough and Milk Bread
- French Perlita Caviar with Lime Crème Fraiche, Corn
- Early Girl Tomato Gazpacho with Sun Gold Tomato, Lemon Olive Oil, Alaskan King Crab
- Blue Fin Tuna with Galia Melons, Avocado
- Japanese Oak Grilled Hawaiian Kampachi with Sacramento Calrose Rice, Golden Chanterelles
- Wild Alaskan Halibut with Eggplant, Jimmy Nardelo, Sauce Vin Blanc
- Pistachio Crusted Duck with Turnips, Mission Figs, Gizzard Port Reduction
- Japanese Oak Grilled Australian Wagyu wit Tuscan Kale, Australian Black Truffle, Oxtail Raviolon
Check out the full dining experience below:
Estiatorio Ornos | Mediterranean | 252 California St
Estiatorio Ornos is one of those show-stopping restaurants that require a few pics. It’s a bright, lively restaurant inspired by the idea of philoxenia or Greek hospitality. Mediterranean vibes; open windows; stalactite-like white chandeliers; flowing curtains; coral and sea green accents; lemon trees and more create a unique, fun ambiance that plays up the Ornos Beach getaway inspiration. Though the dining itself is as upscale as can be, the restaurant itself is anything but stuffy or pretentious. The newest iteration of the space offers guests an impressive tasting menu along with an à l la carte experience that pays homage to the Mediterranean seafood experience. Fun fact? It has the city’s only fish sommelier!
What to order:
Tasting of the spreads; Sea Urchin with lemon, chives and aleppo pepper; marinated big-eye tuna with pistachio oil; Mediterranean Sea Bass grilled with steamed greens ‘horta’; Dover Sole phyllo-crusted served with skordalia, haricots verts, and caviar sauce; and grilled lamb chops ‘paidakia’ with cretan-style potatoes; ouzo prawns with scallions, crushed tomato and feta grilled octopus with santorini capers, gigante beans, red onion.
Check out my Forbes piece on Estiatorio Ornos here!
Penny Roma | Italian | 3000 20th St
San Francisco based Flour + Water Hospitality Group is known for its top notch Italian restaurant, Flour + Water, and its dough production kitchen, Flour + Water Pasta Shop. Its newest endeavor is Penny Roma, is a hot neighborhood destination whose menu is centered on handmade regional Italian pastas. This chic spot is a cozy, lively and welcoming eatery to indulge on some of the freshest pasta and upscale seasonally-driven rustic Italian fare you’ll find in the city.
What to order:
Cacio e pepe; Tagliatelle alla bolognese with veal ragu, san marzano, parmigiano reggiano Agnolotti dal plin with beef and pork; Hamachi with jalapeno, radish and lemon; albacore tuna with Calabrian oil and pistachio; Scallop with sorrel and Meyer lemon; Grilled trout with chantrelles; Pork sausage with turnips and lentils; half roast chicken with cipollini, charred lemon & chile-fennel seed; and a 32 oz. bone-in ribeye.
Check out my Forbes piece on Penny Roma here!
Bungalow Kitchen Tiburon | California Cuisine | 5 Main St, Belvedere Tiburon
This new social dining experience and community clubhouse is located right on the San Francisco Bay offering guests unobstructed views of the sparkling water, Angel Island and the city skyline in the distance. With a cozy, eclectic bohemian design this is one of the those restaurants meant for more than just dining. The Bungalow Kitchen is an impressive two-stories, with enough space and seating for nearly 300 people. The expansive space is warm and welcoming, complete with plush, lounge seating; lush greenery; floor-to-ceiling windows and homey accents like book-lined shelves, fireplaces, and more. Upstairs is the salon which is home to another impressive full bar; a pool table; fireplace; ample seating to get cozy; and more stunning views.
What to order:
NorCal Shellfish Tasting with pacific oysters, Fort Bragg sea urchin and salmon roe, poached spot prawn Dungeness crab Louie, and Bodega Bay clam cocktail; and the Garden Crudité Bowl, featuring crunchy, garden vegetables served with gazpacho shooters and three dipping sauces-green goddess, lemon-poppy seed and walnut romesco.
Check out my Forbes piece on Bungalow Kitchen here!
Luna San Francisco | American Brasserie | 694 Valencia St.
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, LUNA is a modern yet timeless American brasserie offering a casual and comfortable setting that is welcoming to all. After being vacant for 6 years, and passing it a million times, I was excited to check out the reopening and launch of this American Brasserie finally. It’s the perfect combination of casual — yet elegant — and offers a great selection of upscale fare & fun cocktails!
What to order:
Oysters Hellafeller with wilted kale, brandy cream, white wine poached crawfish, parmesan crust; Bone Marrow with pickled porkbelly, cabernet braised cabbage, mustard seeds, charred country bread; Luna Burger with 8 oz chuck & short-rib blend, toasted brioche bun, cheddar, pickled applewood smoked bacon, arugula, house made thousand island aioli; Butternut Squash Rissoto with Fried sage, fall spiced parmigiano-reggiano; Heritage Pork Chop with creamy yellow polenta, forest mushrooms, poached prunes, marsala jus.
Niku Steakhouse | Japanese Steakhouse | 61 Division St
If you love dry-aged meats, Japanese A5 wagyu, innovative cocktails and an exceptional dining ambiance, take a seat at Niku Steakhouse. This spot is a meat-focused restaurant, highlighting an in-house dry aging program, exclusive cuts of coveted Japanese A5 wagyu with an emphasis on wood fired cooking. This chic steakhouse has just revitalized it’s bar program with novel cocktails & new menu items that are available for both Happy Hour and dinner service. The impressive illuminated bar houses a huge selection of Japanese Whiskeys, the perfect pairing for wagyu. Next door is The Butcher Shop, where head butcher, Guy Crims, sources his varieties of wagyu straight from Japan for the restaurants menu.
What to order:
Shigoku Oysters, Apple, Wasabi, Crème Fraîche; Wagyu Meatball, Egg Yolk, Tare, Sesame; Bone Marrow, Short Rib, Mushroom, Horseradish, Bordelaise; Black Cod, Lobster Tortelli, Broth Of Grilled Bones; American Wagyu Short Rib, Smoked, Braised, Glazed; Dry Aged Wagyu Ribeye.
Lulu’s | California-Palestinian | 1019 Camelia St
Featuring Palestinian cuisine with a fresh, modern California twist, Lulu is a warm and welcoming, bright restaurant with exposed brick walls and white interiors contrasted with vibrantly painted fig patterns, tea lights, and lush greenery. As a first-generation Palestinian and born-and-raised Californian, the menu is both an ode to her upbringing and heritage, as well as, a means of paying homage to the diversity that this area is known for. It’s a charming place to grab weekend brunch on the weekends when in Berkeley.
What to order:
The seasonal brunch boards with a mix of house-baked breads, dips, spreads, and shareable items that include: Za’atar Fried Eggs, Fried Halloumi, Labneh, Baba Ganoush, Shakshuka, Za’atar Mana’eesh, seasonal fruit; Knafeh, served as a pancake with shredded phyllo, sweet cheese, orange blossom syrup and pistachios; Lulu breakfast bowl; Kefta burger with sumac fries.
Check out my Forbes piece on Lulu Berkeley here!
ROOH SF | Indian | 333 Brannan St #150
ROOH, an Indian-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar situated in the financial district of San Francisco, is truly a dining experience worthy of the word “gastronomy”. We all know the common dishes found on Indian menus. Think chicken tikka masala, tandoori meats, biryani, naan… etc. Well you won’t find them here. Not exactly at least. At ROOH, Chef de Cuisine Pujan Sarkar does an incredible job of marrying the intense flavors of traditional Indian cuisine with the seasonality and freshness of California produce. Each dish is reminiscent of your favorite Indian dishes, yet distinct from them in terms of texture, cooking techniques and over all interpretation.
What to order:
Pomegrante glazed pork belly; Tandori octopus; Lamb shank nihari; Grilled black bass; Beef short rib curry; roti and naan.
Check out my Forbes piece on ROOH SF here!
What restaurants are you loving right now? Let me know in the comments below!
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