- The Best of the City’s Fine Dining: Decades have passed since Restaurant Gary Danko first opened on the outskirts of Fisherman’s Wharf, yet the romantic dining room continues to reign, probably because the chef/owner is still in the kitchen, creating refined French-influenced food accompanied by polished service, an amazing cheese cart, and flambéed finales. For the “foodie” who simply must taste the trendsetters, Benu is your best bet; Chef Cory Lee has become one of the city’s most revered chefs, and the parade of edible works of art coming out of his flagship dining room show you why.
- Best Authentic San Francisco Dining Experience: Even top local chefs can’t get enough of Swan Oyster Depot, where patrons have been bellying up to the narrow bar to indulge in fresh crab, shrimp, oysters, and clam chowder since 1912. For a full sit-down dining experience, you can’t get more “city” than Tadich Grill, which has been serving San Franciscans since the Gold Rush and makes a point of ensuring not much has changed since.
- Best Dim Sum Feast: At Ton Kiang, you’ll rarely have to wait to be wowed by the variety of dumplings and mysterious dishes.
- Best Value: San Franciscans have a serious passion for—and much debate around—the best burritos (and tacos). For less than $10, you can order a super burrito at Taqueria Cancun and taste what all the fuss is about —most likely you’ll even have leftovers of the gargantuan tortilla tube of fillings to save for your next meal.
- Best-Kept Secret: Far, far away from Fisherman’s Wharf, hidden on a residential street a few blocks from the heart of the Castro, step through the heavy curtain at the front door and enter L’Ardoise, which has the look and feel of an old, romantic Paris bistro.
- Best Water View: Fog permitting, The Cliff House is where to take in the Pacific coastline. Perched high on a cliff above Ocean Beach, it offers an expansive scope of the crashing Pacific Ocean, sunsets, and sea lions out front on the rocks. At the other end of town, Waterbar has bayfront tables and an upstairs cocktail area with a patio looking directly onto the Bay Bridge and its nightly twinkling lightshow.
- Best Out-of-This-World Decor: Chances are, no matter where you hail from, you have never seen a place like Farallon, with its giant hand-blown jellyfish lamps, glass clamshells, kelp columns, and a sea-life mosaic underfoot. You’ll feel like you’re on the bottom of a beautiful ocean floor while you munch on its inhabitants.
- Best Urban Vibe: Restaurant trends come and go, but Nopa continually gets our vote for the best energy and crowd, which packs in nightly at the communal table (if you see a seat, grab it!), bar, and split-level open dining room.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.