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7 Essential San Francisco Restaurants for Rustic, Upscale Dining

San Francisco Restaurants + Bars
by Matador Creators Jan 27, 2023

San Francisco is known as the tech and start up hub of the United States. However, this city of hills, with spectacular views of the ocean and iconic architecture, should be on your list of the best places to travel for restaurants, too. In San Francisco, chefs work with nearby farmers markets to source fresh, locally grown produce that tastes like the region – not some far flung farm or the back of a semi truck. San Francisco restaurants are all about local flavor, vegetables, natural wine, and romantic settings. Think backyard string lights and ocean views. Oh, and let’s not overlook the seafood, which is exceptional, too (and you know know that if that wasn’t enough to encourage a visit San Francisco is incredibly LGBTQ friendly, too). Here are seven San Francisco restaurants you can’t miss on your next visit.

Bar Agricole


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This James Beard Award-winning cocktail bar, which only serves single origin spirits and natural wines crafted on biodynamic farms, offers a menu of small, vegetable forward plates featuring seasonal produce. Look for chicory salad, brussel sprouts, and grilled chicken on the menu at the moment. Bar Agricole is quick to point out that the simple food lets “pure” flavor shine through, and doesn’t hide behind “fussy” presentation.

Where: 1540 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Price: $$$

Zuni Café


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Drawing inspiration from French and Italian cuisine, Zuni Café’s modest dining room hardly hints at its legendary menu. The wood-fired brick oven roasted chicken for two is famous, for instance. Squid from Monterey Bay, and piccolo frito (bite sized deep fried vegetables) served with figs, highlight the restaurant’s obsession with local ingredients.

Where: 1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Price: $$

Lazy Bear


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Once a pop-up, now a brick and mortar restaurant, what makes two Michelin-starred Lazy Bear special is the communal dining experience – you’re encouraged to socialize with the diners around you. What began as a dinner party in chef David Barzelay’s (who was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine in 2016) apartment is now one of the most coveted dining experiences in San Francisco. Reservations come in the form of tickets, and there is one dinner per month. The menu changes for each dinner.

Where: 3416 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Price: $$$$

Foreign Cinema


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The romantic lighting in the outdoor and indoor dining rooms at Foreign Cinema has been described as both sensual and magical. With an extensive oyster menu and a selection of caviar, Foreign Cinema is the ideal stop for champagne and briney fruits de mer. There is also an intriguing section of the menu called urban picnic, which features whipped salt cod, baked cheese, and charcuterie. The restaurant’s unusual name stems from the fact that during dinner, it projects movies on a big screen.

Where: 2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Price: $$$



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The driving force behind the menu at Nopa is simple: Organic, wood-fired dishes served in a two story space. The menu changes every week and the produce is sourced from nearby farmers markets. Grilled and rotisserie-style dishes are the norm, and draw from Mediterranean influences. Stand out dishes include wood baked beans, wood roasted vegetable stew, and Moroccan spiced fried chicken.

Where: 560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Price: $$$

Rich Table


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The relaxed atmosphere of Rich Table is a stark contrast to the fine dining menu. There’s no dress code at the restaurant, and husband and wife team Evan and Sarah emphasize that they want to be a restaurant where friends and family come for a good time. Regardless, the food is exceptional: There’s a duck liver mousse tart, crab served in red curry, and cacio e pepe topped with sea urchin.

Where: 199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Price: $$$

Swan Oyster Depot

With just 18 seats, this walk up seafood counter is a San Francisco institution and arguably one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. The restaurant has been open since 1912, and since then even Anthony Bourdain stopped by to sing its praises. Wait times can as long as two hours from a seat at the counter, but apparently it’s worth it: Fresh oysters, seafood salads with prawns and crab, and dish called Sicilian sashimi – raw dish topped with olive oil, lemon, capers – have all earned the restaurant devoted followers.

Where: 1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Price: $$

Where to stay in San Francisco

From elegant settings to more laid back vibes, San Francisco Airbnbs and hotels have something to offer every type of traveler. Here are the three hotels for families, couples on a romantic getaway, and anyone else looking for a centrally located place to stay.

We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

The Fairmont

Since its opening in 1907, The Fairmont has been a San Francisco icon. Located on Nob Hill, the hotel is just 15 minutes from Union Square and 25 minutes from Fisherman’s Wharf by foot. The Fairmont boasts 606 luxurious rooms, graced by many famous guests from royalty to celebrities. It also features two award-winning restaurants.

Where: 950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108

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Hotel Drisco


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Hotel Drisco is a luxurious escape in the heart of upscale Pacific Heights. The Edwardian-style architecture makes the hotel feel like a secluded hideaway. The surrounding area is quiet residential streets, with lively restaurants and shops to explore. But the real experience lies within the hotel walls themselves – there are nightly wine and hors d’oeuvres receptions for guests to enjoy, making this one a great option for couples.

Where: 2901 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94115

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Hotel del Sol


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Hotel del Sol is a retro motor lodge in the Marina District. It’s only two blocks up from Chestnut Street and provides sweeping neighborhood views. The rooms are clean and colorful, and the pool is perfect for family vacationers. What’s more, you can stay here for as little as $76 per night, making it one of San Francisco’s most affordable accommodations.

Where: 3100 Webster St, San Francisco, CA 94123

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