10 Essential San Francisco Restaurants

Hills of brilliant restaurants stretching flavors from around the world.

waterbar restaurant san francisco

San Francisco is the land of foodies. Matching the high demands from folks who REALLY know good food are hills of fantastic restaurants that stretch flavors from around the world.

When it comes to filtering THE quintessential San Francisco restaurants, the list should really be 50+ hotspots. Unless you’re in the bay for more than a week, you should know the best of the best. Here’s a list of restaurants that truly define San Francisco, in the order of price from high to low:

1. Restaurant Gary Danko, $$$$

800 North Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109, United States (map, website)

Chef Gary Danko’s upscale restaurant in North Beach has become a San Francisco institution. To celebrate any special occasion with elegance and courses of decadent French cuisine, Restaurant Gary Danko has become the go-to hotspot.

Gary Danko #2 4x6 send
Photo: Gary Danko

2. Benu, $$$$

22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105, United States (map, website)

Leave to Michelin-starred chef Corey Lee to come up with the perfect American cuisine menu with innovative Asian influence highlighted from his world travels. Located in SoMa, Benu features rare delicacies presented with artistic flair. Don’t miss the thousand year old eggs, and monkfish liver served with local cherries and pistachio.

Corey Lee San Francisco chef
Photo: Benu

3. Nopa, $$$

560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, United States (map, website)

Located in the north of Panhandle is Nopa, perfect if you’re in the mood for Californian cuisine paired with a creative cocktail list. This two-story vivacious setting requires reservation, or you’re most likely needing to wait in line. Must eats include: Moroccan vegetable tagine and the pork chop.

Facebook Nopasf
Facebook/Nopasf

4. Zuni Cafe, $$$

1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102, United States (map, website)

Named after the Zuni tribe, the cafe opened its doors on Market Street in 1979. Since then, it’s been THE place to go for delicious roast chicken and a cool glass of martini. Kicking off the meal with fresh oysters is something that locals love to do.

Facebook Michael Lambert Zuni Cafe
Facebook/Michael Lambert

5. Foreign Cinema, $$$

2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, United States (map, website)

This Cal-Med restaurant used to be a hidden gem among hipsters in the Mission district. Though Foreign Cinema’s popularity has been welcoming all San Franciscans to enjoy, especially via its fabulous weekend brunch. The cool factor derives from its drive-in movie elements that you can enjoy at dinnertime.

Facebook Foreign Cinema
Facebook/Foreign Cinema

6. House of Prime Rib, $$$

1906 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109, United States (map, website)

Since the 1940’s, House of Prime Rib on Van Ness Ave has been serving considerably the city’s best English-style prime ribs. Expect an old-school ambiance, with delectable sides such as: spinach and baked potatoes with an excellent Yorkshire pudding.

Facebook House of Prime Rib
Facebook/House of Prime Rib

7. Delfina/Pizzeria Delfina, $$

2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115, United States (map, website)

Take advantage of multicultural culinary influences of the Bay Area and head over to Pizzeria Delfina featuring charred Neapolitan-style pizzas gorgeously paired with Italian wines. The restaurant has two locations, one in the Mission district and another in Pacific Heights.

Facebook Pizzeria Delfina
Facebook/Pizzeria Delfina

8. Swan Oyster Depot, $$

1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109, United States (map, website)

Seafood is the way to go in San Francisco, and Swan Oyster Depot offers the city’s best raw bar. No need to dress up, so pull up a stool and enjoy the taste of seaside. Get there early because there will be a line outside salivating over plates of oysters and smoked salmon. So fresh!

Swan Oyster Depot
Photo: Swan Oyster Depot

9. Tartine Bakery, $

600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110, United States (map, website)

Around the corner from Pizzeria Delfina is Mission district’s Tartine Bakery which delivers beautiful pastries and sandwiches made from organic ingredients. Don’t miss: orange morning buns, banana cream pie (a personal favorite,) and passion fruit lime Bavarian cake. Yum!

Facebook Tartine Bakery

Facebook/Tartine Bakery

10. La Taqueria, $

2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, United States (map, website)

Another beloved spot in the Mission is La Taqueria, gifting Mexican food lovers the juiciest bites of burrito goodness. Here is where every piece of your taco dream will come true. It’s THAT good.

Facebook La Taqueria
Facebook/La Taqueria

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

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