10 Best Restaurants in San Francisco You Need to Try
Known among tourists for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and Lombard Street (the world’s most crooked street), San Francisco also boasts a culinary scene that has put the city on the map for foodies. And we’re about to share the most delicious aspects of it with you in this guide to the 10 best restaurants in San Francisco.
This coastal Californian city is famous for its seafood dishes, including cioppino – an Italian-American seafood soup invented in San Francisco – clam chowder, Pacific oysters, and Crab Louie to name a few. Chinese food, burritos, and sourdough bread are other beloved staples of the city’s food scene. (Fun fact: San Francisco is the birthplace of the fortune cookie). You’ll find all of this cuisine and more at the best restaurants San Francisco has to offer.
How did we decide what are the top 10 restaurants in San Francisco? We scoured the internet to find the award-winning, storied, top-rated, and most popular restaurants in the city – from longtime favorites to exciting newcomers – to bring you the ultimate list for 2023. We hope you brought your appetite!
10 Best Restaurants in San Francisco
There’s no shortage of nice restaurants in San Francisco, but this list contains the cream of the crop. Each establishment has its own restaurant specialty, whether seafood, burritos, vegan food, sushi, or something else entirely. Let’s dive into this West Coast world of creative culinary excellence and variety.
It’s only fair that a seafood joint kicks off this list of the 10 best restaurants in San Francisco, with it being a seaside city and all! Owned and operated by a local family, the Fog Harbor Fish House has been serving up fresh, sustainable seafood for more than 20 years – straight from the city’s iconic Fisherman’s Wharf, 365 days a year.
This storied San Francisco culinary institution has won numerous awards, including Tripadvisor’s ‘Top 5 Best Everyday Dining in the United States’ and Yelp’s ‘Top Five Most Popular Restaurants in San Francisco.’
The restaurant is known for its incredible view from Pier 39, and of course its outstanding seafood dishes, including cioppino, whole Dungeness crab, Alaskan halibut, and many more. The Fog Harbor Fish House also serves another San Francisco favorite: sourdough bread.
Michelin star restaurant KUSAKABE has rightly earned its place among the top 10 San Francisco restaurants. Owned by Kyoto, Japan-born chef Mitsunori Kusakabe, the restaurant earned a Michelin star just five months after it opened in 2014.
KUSAKABE is known for omakase style dining (or chef’s choice), with a delectable 18-course menu or a 12-course option available Tuesdays and Thursdays. Guests can also indulge in omakase with a sake pairing. Dishes like charcoal grilled miso glazed Alaskan black cod and Japanese umami dashi egg custard with smoked trout caviar are other staples on the menu.
With this level of innovation, it’s no wonder that KUSAKABE has earned Google’s highest rating among Japanese restaurants in San Francisco, or top 100 awards from OpenTable and the San Francisco Chronicle. Former President Obama has even dined there!
3. La Taqueria
Seafood and sushi not your cup of tea? No problem! The 10 best restaurants in San Francisco have a wide variety to offer, including one of the city’s favorite foods: the burrito. This and other Mexican delights can be found at La Taqueria, which has operated from San Francisco’s historic Mission district for over 30 years.
La Taqueria is all about fresh ingredients, which is why customers keep coming back for its tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, tamales, and seafood dishes. However, attention to detail goes into more than just the food. La Taqueria’s restaurant exterior features a striking mural called ‘La Llorona’s Sacred Waters’ painted by artist Juana Alicia.
Looking for the best lunch in San Francisco? Restaurant and wine bar Bouche specializes in French cuisine and features a brunch menu that includes dishes like steak à cheval, moules Marinière (Mediterranean mussels stew), and crêpe au chocolat for those who prefer something sweet. For dinner, a seasonal prix fixe (or fixed price) menu is on offer, enabling guests to benefit from the creative freedom this affords the chefs for selecting ingredients.
One of the best restaurants in San Francisco, Bouche has made Winetraveler’s list of the 15 Best Restaurants in San Francisco to Wine & Dine, as well as Gayot’s list of the city’s Top 10 French Restaurants.
5. Zuni Café
Blending rustic and cosmopolitan allure, Zuni Café is undoubtedly one of the top 10 restaurants in San Francisco. It has a long history in the city, opening in 1979, expanding its space in 1987, and beginning to receive national acclaim when partner Judy Rodgers published The Zuni Café Cookbook in 2002. At the time, the restaurant was undergoing an evolution from Mexican to more Eurocentric cuisine, due to Judy’s culinary training in France.
Zuni Café is a two-time James Beard award winner, for Outstanding Restaurant in the country in 2003 and Outstanding Service in 2018. With daily changing menus, there are always new restaurant lunch specials to try. Seasonal organic ingredients, as well as traditional French and Italian cuisine, inspire most of the restaurant’s dishes, including its famous chicken for two roasted in a wood-fired brick oven.
6. Mister Jiu’s
In a city boasting the world’s second-largest Chinatown, no list of the 10 best restaurants in San Francisco would be complete without Chinese-influenced cuisine. That’s exactly what you’ll find at contemporary Chinese-American restaurant and bar Mister Jiu’s, which opened in 2016 in a historic building in Chinatown.
“Dinner at Mister Jiu’s is an ode to traditional banquet-style dining with a modern spin,” explains the restaurant’s website. With a mix of individually-plated and shared dishes on the tasting menu, there’s something for every diner. Local, seasonal ingredients take center stage at Mister Jiu’s, where, “In the spirit of Chinese banquet dining, the meal culminates in a communal entree of your choosing.”
With this level of care for the food and guest experience, it’s no surprise that Brandon Jew, chef-owner of Mister Jiu’s, earned a James Beard award for Best Chef in California in 2022. The restaurant also took home the James Beard award for Best Restaurant Cookbook for Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown that same year.
Is your idea of the best lunch in San Francisco something a little more casual and comforting? Look no further than Pink Onion. Serving up pizzas, paninis, and pastas, this family-owned restaurant knows how to do Italian food right!
With over 500 five-star reviews on Yelp, guests love Pink Onion for its homestyle cooking. Dishes like homemade Sicilian meatballs, slow cooked bolognese, and eggplant Parmesan transport you back to Italy, where the restaurant sources several ingredients from.
In addition to its lunch and dinner menus, Pink Onion also offers catering packages and boasts a five-star status on ezCater. The restaurant was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Pizza in the Bay Area Guide in 2022, as well.
8. Greens Restaurant
If you’re seeking a vegan menu, the delectable Greens Restaurant has tons of options, with nearly its entire menu being vegan and the rest being ‘vegan possible’. Main courses like wild mushroom gumbo and chipotle barbecued eggplant are the stars of the show, with small plates like grilled peaches and blistered shishito peppers rounding out the selection.
Opened in 1979, Greens is proud to have a legacy of women chefs at the restaurant’s helm. Recently, the superb cuisine has earned Greens a spot on the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2022 Top Restaurants in San Francisco list, as well as the publication’s 2021 Top Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurants in the Bay Area list.
9. Atelier Crenn
French chef-owner Dominique Crenn heads up Atelier Crenn, easily one of the 10 best restaurants in San Francisco. After earning her third Michelin star in 2018, Dominique became the first woman in America to receive that honor. Atelier Crenn also made it onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2021.
Atelier Crenn describes its tasting menu as, “A gastronomic discovery inspired by sustainable and seasonal cuisine, where solid tradition and new inspirations are at the forefront of our experiences.” The experience features local fish and seafood, plus produce grown at the restaurant’s farm in Sonoma, California.
Now a franchise restaurant with locations across California, Texas, and New York, Marufuku Ramen started in San Francisco’s Japantown in 2017. The menu features various types of ramen and rice bowls, as well as Japanese fried chicken and other favorites. Authentic Hakata-style Tonkotsu ramen is proudly featured on the menu and described as, “Milky and umami rich broth made from boiling pork bones for long hours, ultra-thin artisanal noodles that match perfectly with the broth, and Cha-shu made from specially selected pork.”
In 2022, Marufuku Ramen topped Secret San Francisco’s list of the 20 Exceptional Ramen Restaurants In San Francisco Recommended By Locals. “This legendary San Francisco ramen spot is to die for,” the publication stated.
Which of these top 10 San Francisco restaurants will you try next? Or, maybe you have an idea to add to our list. Did we miss your restaurant? Shoot us a message! We’re always on the lookout for innovative, delicious, nice restaurants in San Francisco.
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.