Presented by

Bulleit Local Bar

The Best Restaurants In San Francisco, 2021

Fifteen exemplary places to eat at in San Francisco.

By The Smoking Chair Editors  |  2021

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on skype
San Francisco is known for its diverse and exceptional cuisine. Here are some of our favorite spots.

A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and its Chinatown district. San Francisco is also the headquarters of companies such as Wells Fargo, Twitter, Square, Airbnb, Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Salesforce, Dropbox, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Uber, and Lyft. The city, and the surrounding Bay Area, is a global center of the sciences and arts and is home to a number of educational and cultural institutions, such as the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the University of San Francisco (USF), San Francisco State University(SFSU), the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the SFJAZZ Center, the San Francisco Symphony and the California Academy of Sciences.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

San Francisco

Mourad Restaurant

140 New Montgomery St Ste 1

$$$$ • Moroccan, Venues & Event Spaces, Bars

Amazing experience for my besties birthday. This is an overdue review, since I’ve frequented this beautiful restaurant several times.

From the contemporary decor, to the friendly and classy feel – this Michelin rated eatery (hope you guys have a star!) boasts colorful execution, artful (and generous!) portions, and most importantly — excellent food.

Having a love for Moroccan cuisine, I didn’t think a ‘better’ quality was possible from your typical Moroccan mom and pop place; I was wrong. The flavor profile is unique, memorable, and guaranteed to – at very least- surprise your taste buds.

We came with a group of 4. Highly encourage groups to try more dishes but a sexy date — or even solo drink– is perfectly acceptable. Enjoy

— Review by Ewa U.

Top Dishes: Short Rib, Lamb Shoulder, Preserve Lemon Meringue, Honey & Almond, Moroccan Duck Confit, Lamb Tartare, Duck Basteeya, Oysters, Branzino, Foie Gras

San Francisco

Ichido

50 Apparel Way

$$$$ • Seafood, Japanese, Pop-Up Restaurants

Like a trail of breadcrumbs made from post processing Sake lees, I followed the great Yelp reviews to Ichido for my birthday dinner (not saying which one). Geoffrey Reed’s Friday pop-up seems to have found a permanent home in South San Francisco’s Sequoia Sake distillery (sequoiasake.com). Sadly this has resulted in a phase out of BYOB however they now offer delicious Sequoia Sake made onsite. The evening began with their famous chili, seaweed, bonito popcorn, which did not disappoint. This was a good accompaniment for the Sake tasting which helps in selecting the one which best suits your individual taste. We chose the cloudy, lychee-floral Nigori which went really with the parade of dishes.

Many of the dishes have been featured in previous reviews so I won’t go into detail on them. Overall, I would say that the flavors, presentation and care that went into our meal was exceptional. Each dish was explained and passed with care. Highlights included the Steelhead, Mushroom Dashi and Lamb chop. There were also a few notable surprises including a Dungeness crab in curry sauce amuse Bouche (I felt the curry overpowered the delicate crab and had a slightly bitter aftertaste, a slight miss in my opinion but my companions disagreed). The other surprise course consisted of a fish trio including a jasmine tea smoked, ceviche and citrus and seaweed brined expressions of striped bass. It was stunning!

The dashi deserves special mention as it was so perfectly balanced, flavor dense and enriching that we all wanted more. A true work of art.

We loved the experience from beginning to end and hope to go back soon. Best to get there before the Michelin stars start rolling in.

— Review by Jeremy R.

Top Dishes: Chef Geoffrey, Smoked Steelhead, Coconut Panna Cotta, Lamb Chop, Striped Bass Carpaccio, Halibut, Boquerones, Braised Pork Belly, Gravlax, Cherry Smoked Salmon

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Flight Deals: SFO ↔ HNL | HNL ↔ SFO

San Francisco

Old Skool Cafe

1429 Mendell St

$$ • Soul Food, American (Traditional)

We ordered the family meal for two.

It includes your choice of two main dishes and two side dishes.

We decided on fried chicken, gumbo, Mac n cheese, collard greens.

The fried chicken looked like something out of a magazine.  It was nice and crunchy, not oily, and super moist.

The gumbo had nice plump prawns and balanced flavors.

The Mac n cheese was cooked perfectly.  

The collard greens tasted fresh.

The mashed potatoes are super buttery which balanced out well with the crispy crunchy chicken skin.

Everything tasted like it was made to order.  You’d have no idea that it was take out if I plated it in our own dishware.  Everything was picture perfect.

— Review by Michelle S.

Top Dishes: Jordan’s Fried Chicken, Abu’s Peanut Butter Stew Cup, Short Ribs

San Francisco

Yarsa Nepalese Cuisine

1310 Grant Ave

$$Himalayan/Nepalese, Indian, Salad

This is an awesome place for large groups, and the food is delicious!

First off, I was able to make a reservation for 8 here. That’s almost unheard of in this city! And Nepalese food is also great for sharing 🙂

We ordered a lot, and literally everything was delicious. My must have at any Nepalese restaurant are Momo, and Yarsa’s do not disappoint! Both the chicken and the veggie were really flavorful. You also can’t go wrong with any of the curries.

They have great naan here – you can even get gooey cheese naan!

All in all, highly recommend!

— Review by Sarah S.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Flight Deals: SFO ↔ LAS | LAS ↔ SFO

San Francisco

Atelier Cream

3127 Fillmore St

$$$$ • French

An exhilarating gastronomic experience is an understatement. Atelier Crenn prides themselves with their union of culinary work and art form. This is exactly what you get from start to finish.

We had never dined at a Michelin-starred restaurant let alone a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars. It had been in our bucket list after hearing about Chef Crenn’s story on Chef’s Table on Netflix.

The staff and service were impeccable.  It was like watching artists perform on Broadway – seamless and intentional in their movements and communication.

Now the food really speaks for itself.  You sit in anticipation as you follow each course with beautiful poetry.  There really is no other comparison.  The complexity of flavors shine through with each dish. I love how unique the presentations were – appealing not just to your taste buds but also to your other senses.

Worth every pretty penny we spent!  An unforgettable experience indeed!

— Review by Colleen D.

Top Dishes: Kir Breton, Foie Gras, Opening Palate Cleanser, Sea Urchin, Squid Ink Trout Mouse, Walk in the Forest, Wagyu Beef, White Sturgeon Caviar, Carrot Jerky, Signature 5 Courses

San Francisco

Cafe Europa

4318 California St

$$ • German, Polish, Modern European

I don’t always give out 5 star Yelp reviews, but when I do, it’s for the perfect combination of food, service, and overall vibes. Hard to pick a favorite between the borscht, the beef pierogis, and the pork schnitzel because they were all truly outstanding. Beer list not long but the Hefeweizen I got was delicious. The owner checked in on us multiple times and made us feel so at home, and the space is warm and convivial.  Feel good experience all around and an instant favorite.

— Review by Sydney R.

Top Dishes: Schnitzel, Pork Schnitzel, Cabbage Rolls, Beef Stroganoff, Pierogi, Chicken Schnitzel, Silesian Potato Dumplings in Mushroom Sauce, Veal Schnitzel, Mushroom Crepes, Hungarian Goulash

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Flight Deals: SFO ↔ SJD | SJD ↔ SFO

San Francisco

Acquerello

1722 Sacramento St

$$$$ • Italian, Wine Bars, Venues & Event Spaces

Came here for our anniversary dinner and was happy with our service and the food. We were able to reserve on short notice online and got a time that works for us. It’s nice the restaurant calls a day ahead to remind us of the dress code, vaccination proof and of our appointment. We had a good drive to get to the city but managed to get to our appointment earlier than our 5:30pm appointment. Once you get in, you do show your proof of vaccination with your id and once you are seated, you can remove your mask. And mask needs to be on when going to and from bathroom. We parked at the parking garage across the restaurant and valet was $17.

The food experience was truly amazing. Most dishes are very flavorful and exceptional for the most part. I wasn’t too excited with my tomato and nectarine and sorbet choice because I wasn’t too sure what to think between the burst of heirloom tomatoes and then going to sorbet so i I wouldn’t choose that if I had known I wasn’t too fond of the combo together. However, from the oysters to the seaweed chips and liver, to my scallops and oxtail beef and cheese with wine, my palate was extremely happy for the evening. Even the breads were so good and came out warm and so fresh. My husband got the wagyu and surprisingly, it didn’t look or tasted too fatty like what we thought it would be like. His faux foie grad pasta was really tasty too.

We want to deeply thank everyone from the restaurant for a meaningful dining experience. From the personalization of the card to wish us a happy anniversary, to the anniversary tiramisu treat and the great customer service, it’s definitely a wonderful memory for us to remember our 10th year by. We would highly recommend this place to others. The restaurant does charge a 20% surcharge and 4% for SF workers and it’s clearly noted when you reserve.

— Review by Jen N.

Top Dishes: ‘Carne Cruda’ of Rossotti Ranch Veal, Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Grilled Octopus and Corona Beans, Italian Cheeses

San Francisco

MaMo

1722 Sacramento St

$$ • American (New), Colombian, Venezuelan

If I could do more stars I would or perhaps a Michelin star!!!!
Let me begin by saying that my husband called to make a reservation and they were very nice and accommodated all of us (5 people).
We arrived at 8:15pm and they had plenty of parking – that’s right in SF!! This restaurant has a wonderful ambiance, the patio is very well light up and the inside is beautiful. Our waiter, Jorge, was so attentive. He explained the menu and suggested some drinks.
We opted for 4 amazing cocktails and of course I don’t remember the names of them now 🙁 but they were delicious and refreshing.
We ordered a couple of apatisers – sweet and fried plantains. They were perfect! I preferred the green plantain plate with beef, cheese and salad. That was to die for.
We moved to our main course. Jorge was kind enough to modify my meal and I was so please. My entire family had the Pabellón criollo and they ate everything. Even my teenager!
I had the Bavette steak and it was delicious.
We left feeling so happy of the service and meal. A highly recommend everyone checking this place our for authentic Colombian/venezuelan food.
Cannot wait to be back

— Review by Paola C.

Top Dishes: Patacones, Tequenos, House Seasoned Bavette Steak, Crispy Chicken

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

San Francisco

Shish Ke Baba

59 30th St

$$ • Kebab, Turkish, Mediterranean

Ever since I found out this place was on the Top 100 places in 2020 on Yelp…I wanted to try it! I already had high hopes coming in, yet was still blown away in the best ways possible. 5 stars and 300 reviews…am not surprised! I only wish they were open more days of the week!! They’re open Wed – Sunday (July 2021).

A staff member was so sweet and handed us a box with 2 baklava pieces on the house…so touched :’)

BEEF/LAMB WRAP
-So much flavorful and wasn’t dry at all
-Wrap was also slightly toasted giving it some texture
-Meat was moist and everything worked SO well together!
-Refreshing and also hearty at the same time!!

KEBAB PLATE
-Rice was so flavorful
-Meats marinated well and not dry
-Hummus was *chefs kiss*….we joked about just asking for tubes of this…I am going back to just buy their hummus!!!
-The bread also had a slight nutty taste to it and paired SO well with the hummus

Everything was HOT when we ate it and tasted SO fresh + quality ingredients.  Currently no dine in and they are super careful with COVID precautions (I was given a hand sanitizer dispenser right after signing receipt).

I am blown away by how good this place is and I know I am going to be loyal customer as long as they are open.

— Review by Angel L.

Top Dishes: Mixed Grill Plate, Baba’s Mix Grill, Turkish delight, Lamb Shish Kebab, Pistachio Baklava, Chocolate Hazelnut Baklava, Lentil Soup, Adana Kebab, Ezme, Chicken Shish Kebab

San Francisco

Caliente Bistro Kitchen

4828 Geary Blvd

$$ • Mexican

I’m updating my review because we have been coming here a few more times since my last review and the food gets better and better.

We tried the tofu tacos and they are delicious. Maybe not as delicious as the meat tacos, but that’s cuz I’m not a vegetarian. So if you are a vegetarian, go try them and write your review on what you think.

So far, I have tried two kinds of ceviche and my favorite so far is the octopus and shrimp one!!! Love it! Felt like I’m having a sashimi salad except even better! So delicious!

We also enjoyed the ensalada (fancy Spanish word for salad) and you can add different proteins. So if you want tofu on top, they can make it. We prefer chicken or Carne Asada.

And of course I have to mention the amazing chicken enchiladas because that’s my favorite and we order this every time except for the last time when we ordered chicken mole!

Everything is so good!

You know it’s good cuz I usually eat low carb now and I am making all kind of excuses to eat here more often and indulging in…beer to wash them all down. Yeah…

— Review by Lisa X.

Top Dishes: Tacos, Mole Con Polly Plate, Tortas, Enchiladas De Pollo Plate, Super Burritos, Ensalada, Quesadilla

San Francisco

Ernest

1890 Bryant St Ste 100

$$$$ • American (New), Seafood, Bars

This is a overdue review for our dining experience in September.

Note to make reservation at least a month in advance unless you are flexible to take any last-minute availabilities. It’s better to reserve your reservation at 7AM for a higher chance to dine during the prime hours. Our reservation was made a month in advance. Our reservation was for 5:15 PM because all prime time reservations were gone.

Upon arrival, we were greeted immediately along with a brief conversation instead of a quite moment. After verifying our vaccination status, we were guided to our table. There was recognition to our occasion. A handwritten note was simply yet chic, with the choice of card and envelope.

Our server Danaille gave us a warm welcome. She was engaging and full of energy. It took us some time to decide what to order and how to order. With her help, we were able to make our selections on the menu, meaning most of the menu items. Danielle paid attention to our dietary restrictions which was noted on the reservation. We appreciate them being proactive on paying attention to details.

We are no expert on providing every details of each dish. They were the art pieces created by Chef and his team. Our taste buds were delightfully surprised, especially with the Lo Mein and the 21 day dry-aged ribeye. The rolls were a must-have item too. A small detail caught my attention. Take a look at the lemon on couple of the photos. They took into consideration to prevent seeds of lemon from dropping so only the juice would come out.

How we were able to finish everything in 90 minutes? We didn’t. During our dinner, there was no one second that we felt rushed. Seamlessly, the team was planning out the logistic to accommodate us and the guests coming with reservations. They waited to the point that we had to give up our table on the upper floor as we were reminded that each reservation was reserved for 90 minutes only. Though, we didn’t need to leave because they already prepared a table on the first floor for us to continue our meal. Bam! That was one smart move! Downstairs by the bar area provided a different atmosphere. We enjoyed our coffee and desserts at one of the two small round tables available by the stairs. Even the shaved ice was so incredible with the right texture and a good balance of tastes. Dry and flavorless shaved ice?? Not a chance!! Didn’t expect that peanuts and grape could pair so well.

Everyone in this team put together a very good experience for us. Everyone that we encountered shown their genuine care. We were able to sense the same level of energy from all, across the board.

We strongly recommend this restaurant to everyone. We would totally come back on a randomly night even solely for the desserts and coffee. The wait will be all worthwhile for Chef’s creation and for this team!!

P.S. We spent 4 hours there and it was a blast!

— Review by Liyi D.

Top Dishes: Beef Tartare, Lo Mein, Parker House Rolls, Uni Carbonara, Live Scallop Sashimi, Beef & Bone Marrow Dumplings, Pork Tonkatsu, Sea Urchin Carbonara, Koshihikari Fried Rice, Heirloom Tomatoes

San Francisco

Gary Danko

800 N Point St

$$$$ • American (New), French, Wine Bars

I have been wanting to try this restaurant for years. I can’t believe I finally did it during the pandemic. I had full faith that it would still be wonderful. A restaurant rated so highly wouldn’t do take-out unless they could do it well.

We reserved our meal on-line and the pick-up process was pretty seemless. We arrived at our designated time and someone was there to greet us with our order. The restaurant provides detailed reheating instructions for all of their dishes. There is a lot of food and the portions are generous. After the first two courses I realized we couldn’t eat everything in one seating so I began splitting the portions. The meal lasted us two dinners.

We got the following items:

Mushroom & Leek Soup
Herb & Garlic Twists
Spring Tart with Ricotta, bacon and Parmigiano
Roast Duck
Zucchini with Basil butter
Three Grain Pilaf
Strawberry, lime, mascarpone

Everything was delicious and the reheating directions were very easy to follow. Nothing was too laborious.  

There were so many other items on the menu that I wanted to try and after going through the process once I will be sure to order take-out from here again.

— Review by Payal V.

Top Dishes: Risotto, Roast Maine Lobster, Lemon Pepper Duck Breast, Seared Filet of Beef, Glazed Oysters, Dungeness Crab Salad, Seared Ahi Tuna, Seared Sea Scallops, Warm Louisiana Butter Cake, Lobster Salad

South San Francisco

Sky Cafe

223 Grand Ave

Vegan, American (New), Asian Fusion

I initially discovered this vegan restaurant on Instagram during the pandemic. I was sooo excited to find a vegan restaurant with world flavors that happens to be fairly close to where I live! It’s about 3.5 hours away from where I live, but we don’t have anything like that around me.

My husband and I recently ate there.  The food, ambience, owner, and team were all very wonderful! There is beautiful artwork and other products from local artists and artisans that Kenny, the owner, displays to help support other local artisans. Kenny has a huge heart and his team is amazing. The place is huge. They often have live music!!! I definitely want to come back when I can to catch a live event dinner event one of these days.

My husband and I, of course, thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Hubby had a vegan chicken sandwich dish and I had vegan lamb. I really wanted to try everything on the menu, so I can’t wait to try the other dishes! We are so excited to travel back to dine again soon!

— Review by Ann N.

Top Dishes: Kebabs, Carnitas Wet Burrito, Chicken Waffle Sandwich, Lumpia, Bahn Mi Sandwich, Aloo Gobi, Filipino Sisig, Palak Paneer, Pandesal, Tacos

San Francisco

Abrazo

2000 Hyde St

$$$ • Spanish, American (New), Seafood

I made a reservation at Abrazo to have a nice dinner before attending the Juanes Concert taking place down the street at the SF Masonic Venue. We were sat immediately by very friendly and polite staff. I am a big fan of all things with Spanish influence. One person in our group had one of the best Gin and Tonic’s of their life which was a nice surprise. We ordered family style and basically shared all of the following…

1. Beef tartare – I don’t have a lot of basis of comparison, but it was a nice presentation and tasted very fresh.  
2. Cheese Board – not usually my thing but it was a great appt to share
3. Paella – was delicious. We were scraping the pegao from the pan to get every last bit of rice.
4. Lamb Shank – fall off the bone, juicy, and served in a tasty red sauce
5. Steak – Cooked very well, tender and tasty.

They were a great little spot and met all of our expectations and made for a great start to our night.

— Review by Andrew J.

Top Dishes: Seafood Paella, Lamb Shank, Charred Octopus, Ricotta Churros, Steak Tartare, Arctic Char, Cured Meats, Saffron Tortellini, Oysters, Gulf Prawns

bars