Where to Eat: East Bay and San Francisco

 

It’s ambitious to attempt to fit the East Bay and San Francisco into a nutshell, but we’ll give it a try. Suffice it to say that the Bay Area has no shortage of phenomenal dining options, from street food, diners, ethnic eateries, family-style, celebrity chef and Michelin starred restaurants. The biggest challenge is finding the time, budget, and amenable waistline to check it all out.

 

Arguello | August 1 Five | Benu | Black Cat | Boulettes Larder + Boulibar | Bun Mee | Capo’s Chicago | Cliff House | Commonwealth | Craftsman and Wolves | Dabba | Epic Steak | Espetus Churrascaria | Farmhouse Kitchen Thai CuisineFrances | FredsGatherHakkasan | Hopscotch | Hotel Mac Restaurant | Kin Khao | La Folie | Lolo | Lord Stanley | Maybeck’s | Merchant RootsMersea | Michael Mina | Namu Gaji | Nopa | Niku Steakhouse | PalioPerry’s | Pikanhas Brazilian Steakhouse | Pizzaiolo | Presidio Social ClubThe CommissaryThe Pressed Cafe | Rich Table | Salt House | Serpentine | Sessions at the Presidio | State Bird Provisions | The Brew CoopThe ProgressTown Hall | Wildseed

 


Arguello

Mexican, 50 Moraga Ave, (415) 561-3650

Opened inside the Presidio’s Officers’ Club by Traci Des Jardins, the restaurant serves California-inspired Mexican food and drinks. Here, Chef de Cuisine Jose Alvarez works closely with Des Jardins’ and the two draw inspiration from travels to Mexico to build the food program. International wine is served but it’s the over 120 agave spirits that are truly worth checking out.

August 1 Five

Indian, 524 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, (415) 771-5900

A seasonal menu inspired by the regional cooking of northern and central India breaks away from staples like curry. The interior makes an inviting atmosphere for modern interpretations of Indian cuisine.

Benu

Asian, 22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, (415) 685-4860

Plan on a formal and sophisticated evening. The compositions on the tasting menu provide a full experience of this restaurant’s unique Asian fusion cuisine.

Black Cat

American, 400 Eddy St, San Francisco, (415) 358-1999

Grit meets glam at this jazzy Tenderloin supper club. Executive Chef Tu David Phu and Chef de Cuisine Robert Hurtado have designed a unique menu fusing American and international classics. Saigon bouillabaisse, California curry, and Mayan ceviche tostada are some of the choices, along with timeless cocktails and live music in the downstairs lounge. Happy hour 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Boulettes Larder + Boulibar

Mediterranean, 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, (415) 399-1155

Head to the Embarcadero for savory flavors of lamb, feta, and mint or the bittersweetness of barberry, bulgur, and pomegranate salad. By day, have a cozy breakfast or lunch on the patio or by the open kitchen; days and evenings, the wood-oven dining room is also open and can be booked for small private parties. Bay Bridge views punctuate an unmistakably San Francisco setting.

Bun Mee

Vietnamese, 2015 Fillmore St, San Francisco, (415) 800-7696

A fun and casual lunch spot that puts a flavorful twist on classic Vietnamese. Sit back in this playful space with a salad, bowl or sandwich and enjoy the stylish San Francisco vibes.

Capo’s Chicago

Italian, 641 Vallejo St, San Francisco, (415) 986-8998

If you’re craving classic Chicago-style Italian and a venue to match, the endless pizza choices and flavorful pasta and meat selections here will more than satisfy your appetite and take you back in time to the mobster days of the 1920s.

Cliff House

California, 1090 Point Lobos, San Francisco, (415) 386-3330

Great food, beautiful view and lots of history — what else could you want? An award-winning wine list? They have that too. Besides the popular Sunday buffet brunch, Cliff House features local, organic, sustainable ingredients and seafood on its everyday menu.

Commonwealth

American, 2224 Mission St, San Francisco, (415) 355-1500

This progressive American restaurant is touted as one of the most creative dining experiences in the Bay Area. Chef Jason Fox’s concepts are always evolving, and he aims to give guests something they don’t expect, taking a common ingredient and changing it to give the dish an element of surprise that’s rooted in familiarity. Go soon: Commonwealth closes its doors for good on August 26.

Craftsman and Wolves

American, 746 Valencia St, San Francisco, (415) 913-7713

At this contemporary pâtisserie in the Mission District, pastry whiz William Werner serves egg-filled muffins known as the Rebel Within, bonbons, coffee and many other sweet and savory baked goods.

Dabba

Indian, 71 Stevenson St, San Francisco, (415) 236-3984

Inspired by the Indian-Mexican restaurant Avatar’s in Sausalito, this concept comes from tech entrepreneur Andy Mercy and former French Laundry and Spruce chef Walter Abrams. Applying Abrams’ precision, palate and creativity to global culinary traditions, Dabba offers worldly flavors “wrapped in a California state of mind.”

Epic Steak

American, 369 Embarcadero, San Francisco, (415) 369-9955

An upscale meat lover’s mecca with a sophisticated atmosphere, Epic Steak’s bayside eatery delivers on all fronts. Professional service, choice cuts of prime rib and bittersweet chocolate fudge cake are among the things that keep patrons coming back. An upstairs bar is also a happy hour favorite.

Espetus Churrascaria

Brazilian, 1686 Market St, San Francisco, (415) 552-8792

This steakhouse boasts a tasting menu of 14 meat courses grilled with the traditional Brazilian method. Patrons control the pace of the prix fixe experience with colored signal cards.

Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine

Thai, 710 Florida Street, San Francisco, (415) 814-2920

First impressions matter and this establishment makes a bold one with a staple item. The rice here is blue. Not artificially dyed, but tinged by butterfly pea flowers, which is a current trending ingredient in Thailand. Topped with a dollop of shaved ice, the Thai iced tea is also as fun to look at as it is to consume. The popular Wagyu beef rolls and fried chicken round out the menu.

Frances

California, 3870 17th St, San Francisco, (415) 621-3870,

San Francisco elegance meets comfort food. The local, seasonal menu complements any trip to the city. Bar is reserved for walk-ins, but reservations are recommended.

Freds

American, 77 O’Farrell St, San Francisco, (415) 268-3550

Take a load off at Freds at Barneys New York in San Francisco. Dine on classics such as Estelle’s chicken soup, Freds chopped chicken salad, and pizza margarita, or refresh with nibbles and small plates such as posh Belgian pommes frites or a confetti of ceviche pestactora-style spooned into a martini glass. Before you know it, you will be fully recharged and ready to get back to the business of shopping.

Gather

American, 2200 Oxford St, Berkeley, (510) 809-0400

Nicknamed the “omnivore’s solution,” this gem gets its menu inspiration from local farmers, ranchers and artisan food producers, but executive chef Anthony Lee’s micro-seasonal fare attracts vegans too. Brunch here is a weekend favorite.

Hakkasan

Chinese, 1 Kearny St, San Francisco, (415) 829-8148

The rich-flavored slow-braised lamb and the crispy duck salad are popular at this San Francisco destination. Private dining rooms are offered: the Jade Room complete with lazy Susan and the larger Dragon Room for cocktail parties or dinners.

Hopscotch

California, 1915 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, (510) 788-6217

An upscale diner in Oakland serving regional American food with a Japanese influence. Popular items include yonsei oyster with sea urchin, salmon roe and citrus, and the First Base burger with grilled beef tongue. No time to dine in? The to-go menu features an eight-piece bucket of fried chicken. Happy hour 3 to 5 p.m. daily (Oakland).

Hotel MacRestaurant

American, 50 Washington Ave, Point Richmond, (510) 233-0576

Filled with old-world charm, this establishment has been serving American classics since 1911. Executive chef Jaime Molina’s seasonal menu features freshly prepared fish and favorites like Chicken Cordon Bleu. Weekly specials including Friday’s half-off bottles of wine keep patrons loyal, as does the live music featured nightly.

Kin Khao

Thai, 55 Cyril Magnin St, San Francisco, (415) 362-7456

From spicy curries to pad kee mao (drunken noodles) and off-the-wall cocktails, the full-flavored Thai here is sure to impress.

La Folie

French, 2316 Polk St, San Francisco, (415) 776-5577

Chef Roland Passot serves critically acclaimed fare in this intimate, family-run restaurant. It’s located in Russian Hill, but the menu highlights ingredients from farms in Marin and Sonoma and all along the Pacific Coast and the greater Northwest.

Loló

Mexican, 974 Valencia St, San Francisco, (415) 643-5656

San Francisco-style Mexican cuisine fuses market-fresh ingredients with traditional dishes. The whole atmosphere is bright, colorful and festive, a reflection of Loló’s flavor-blasted menu.

Lord Stanley

American, 2065 Polk St, San Francisco, (415) 872-5512

In the short time it’s been open, this eatery by husband-and-wife team Rupert and Carrie Blease has earned a Michelin star two years in a row and three-and-a-half stars from San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer. The onion petals with sherry vinegar is a favorite and not to be missed.

Maybeck’s

American, 3213 Scott St, San Francisco, (415) 939-2726

Erik Lowe and Aaron Toensing serve inventive American standards, including fried chicken and bubbly on Tuesday and resurrection of Beef Wellington on Wednesdays. The chefs explore regional culinary traditions and translate them into a Northern California lexicon, as evidenced by their playful menu and a Negroni-centered bar.

Merchant Roots

American, 1365 Fillmore St, San Francisco, (530) 574-7365

Merchant Roots serves many roles: its specialty food store and wine shop, casual eatery, and fine-dining restaurant. During the day, it offers pastries, sandwiches, salads, pasta that’s made on-site, cheese, and charcuterie, as well as gourmet pantry items. By night, the space turns into The Table at Merchant Roots, an intimate dinner experience featuring a rotating themed tasting menu.

Mersea

American, 699 Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island, San Francisco, (714) 350-3889

Executive chef and co-founder, Parke Ulrich — formerly of Lark Creek Inn, Epic Steak and Waterbar — started this exciting venture on Treasure Island. Mersea, which means “island oasis” in Old English, serves standard American comfort food like burgers, fish and chips and the like with a local-focused Bay Area twist. Also not to be missed are the curated cocktail menu and unbeatable views.

Michael Mina

California, 252 California St, San Francisco, (415) 397-9222

Michael Mina has clearly mastered the fine line between award-winning art and Alaskan halibut. Each brilliantly crafted dish has a delicate blend of flavors that add up to a distinctive, luxurious dining experience.

Namu Gaji

Korean, 499 Dolores St, San Francisco, (415) 431-6268

Currently closed while it moves from its home in the Mission to SoMa.

In a clean and natural interior with views of Dolores Park, shiitake mushroom dumplings and dishes made with produce from Namu’s private farm are among the many treats to discover.

Niku Steakhouse

Japanese, 61 Division Street, San Francisco, (415) 829-7817

This American steakhouse has a distinct Japanese influence and eschews predictable fare, offering a 10-course seasonal tasting menu in addition to an à la carte menu where vegetables get the same kind of attention as meat — kimchi and koji are made on-site. Notables dishes include Japanese wagyu from the Hyogo prefecture, in-house dry-aged domestic beef, porterhouse steak and a bone-in tomahawk steak intended for sharing.

Nopa

California, 560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, (415) 864-8643

The easy California menu shows off roasted chicken and pork chops, with a bouquet of appetizers to set the mood. Although this San Francisco destination is busy almost every night (a good sign), the wait at the legendary bar is half the fun.

Palio

Italian, 640 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, (415) 395-9800

After closing down to undergo an extensive renovation, Palio d’Asti has been reimagined as Palio, and now offers a brand-new dining space, expanded bar and lounge, as well as private dining rooms. The menu features different regions of Italy while maintaining an emphasis on seasonal, sustainably sourced California ingredients. Dishes include house-made pastas, whole Mediterranean sea bass, and numerous wood-fired pizza options.

Perry’s

American, 1944 Union St, San Francisco, (415) 922-9022

This Union Street institution with an Embarcadero location is famous for classic American food, personable service, and a bustling bar. Signature dishes include Cobb salad, prime steaks, Eggs Blackstone and of course, the burger. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch weekends and holidays.

Pikanhas Brazilian Steakhouse

Brazilian, 25 W Richmond Ave, Point Richmond, (510) 237-7585

This all-you-can-eat steakhouse in Point Richmond offers different cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken that are slowly cooked with special grills to preserve all the natural juices and flavors.

Pizzaiolo

Italian, 5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, (510) 652-4888

An Italian gem opened in 2005 with a focus on topping his handmade pizzas with locally sourced meats and produce. The menu changes daily and includes house favorites like wild nettles and pecorino pizza and braised Marin Sun Farms pork with Tokyo turnips and apples. Breakfast is served Monday though Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon (Oakland)

Presidio Social Club

American, 101 Montgomery St, 415.561.3600

Owner Ray Tang opened Presidio Social Club with the idea of providing guests the comforts of a club without the dues. Executive chef Wesley Shaw — a native Texan with a penchant for Southern tastes — plans many seasonal events including clambakes and pig roasts. Popular menu items include Sonoma lamb and gemelli pasta as well as the grilled bavette steak.

Rich Table

California, 199 Gough St, San Francisco, (415) 355-9085

A bright, relaxed S.F. environment for dishes made from farmers’ market ingredients, with creatively quirky cocktails and a comprehensive wine list.

Salt House

American, 545 Mission St, San Francisco, (415) 543-8900

Owned by Mill Valley brothers Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal and Doug Washington, Salt House’s chef Evan Gotanda’s menu highlights a Japanese influence and includes seasonal dishes like roasted cauliflower with cashews, kabocha squash, and furikake, as well as housemade pastas.

Serpentine

American, 2495 Third St, San Francisco, (415) 252-2000

Owner/chef Tommy Halvorson, formerly of Chez Panisse, Bix, and Gary Danko, puts his own Southern spin on the menu here. Honey fried chicken is a standout for brunch and dinner, as is a reimagined cocktail selection.

Sessions at the Presidio

American, 1 Letterman Drive, San Francisco, (415) 655-9413

Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, this restaurant has serious ties to Marin. The fruits, vegetables, herbs and olive oil hail from our county thanks in part to the restaurant’s partnership with Skywalker Ranch. Additionally, the 100 craft beer offerings, including 24 draft options, will keep beer lovers more than satisfied.

State Bird Provisions

American, 1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, (415) 795-1272

From local seafood and seasonal vegetables to savory pancakes, not to mention the California state bird, this uncommon dim sum–style setup has a bit of everything.


The Commissary

Spanish, 101 Montgomery St, 415.561.3600

This Spanish-influenced restaurant features the country’s traditional flavors crafted with sustainable and locally sourced ingredients from the Bay Area. We’re talking really local — the restaurant uses fresh produce and herbs from six Presidio gardens for its dishes. Under the guidance of Traci Des Jardins, The Commissary offers items such ranging from shishito peppers to grilled Spanish octopus.
   

The Brew Coop

American, 819 Valencia St, San Francisco

At San Francisco’s first-ever self-pour taproom patrons use provided RFID cards as they select from the 26 beers, ciders and wine that are available — pours cost between 50 to 80 cents per ounce and your choices are added to your card. A robust menu of sharable bar snacks like street tacos, carne asada fries, fried chicken and wings plus seven big-screen televisions make this a prime spot to catch a game.

The Pressed Cafe

Italian, 3 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, (415) 781-0302

Tucked in the lobby of 3 Embarcadero Center, this Italian spot has a wide selection of paninis and artisanal coffee for breakfast and lunch.

The Progress

California, 1525 Fillmore St, San Francisco, (415) 673-1294

The second venture from State Bird Provisions chef-proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski is as innovative as the first. Along with seasonal variations on favorites like roti, pierogis and meat-centric platters meant for sharing, sip on a craft cocktail or pick from general manager and wine director Jason Alexander’s expansive wine list.

Town Hall

American, 342 Howard St, San Francisco, (415) 908-3900

The exposed brick and warm, unconventional lighting turn Town Hall’s large space into an intimate yet elegant environment. With a more-than-adequate wine list and savory American classics like fried chicken with rosemary crushed marble potatoes, a visit here should be on everyone’s list.

Wildseed

Vegan/vegetarian, 2000 Union St, San Francisco, (415) 872-7350

The plant-based trend put down roots in Cow Hollow where chef Blair Warsham serves up shareable bites of beet poke, Mexican corn cakes and a ceviche of king trumpet mushrooms. Add a “neatball” to one of the many salads and bowls on the menu to boost your protein intake or simply chill with a freshly juiced cocktail or biodynamic wine at this aspirational eatery.

 

Dining Keyt

 

Categories: Where to Eat