On the San Francisco forum, people always want to know where they should dine when they come to San Francisco. Here are a few of the restaurants that are recommended quite frequently. With a variety of price ranges and cuisine, there should be something for just about everyone. This list by no means even begins to cover all of the dining options in The City. These are only a few to help you get started.

Special Occasion & Upscale Dining

Gary Danko, (near Fisherman's Wharf, Russian Hill) $$$$ A great choice for special ocassion dining or any memorable night out. Do be prepared to spend quite a bit on a meal. Not a good spot for children.

Boulevard $$$$ Lunch is offered if that is what you desire. Not good for children. Be prepared to spend quite a bit.

Farallon. $$$$.  One of the best seafood restaurants in the city.  Just off of Union Square and right in the middle of the theatre district.  Excellent food and flawless service.  The interior is an underwater fantasy - you have to see it to believe it.

Foreign Cinema (Mission District) $$$ to $$$$  This is well-recommended restaurant, and popular with the hipsters.  The food is wonderful; service is good; and its one of the best places to watch a foreign cinema movie shown on the wall during dinner.  For some, it's "a night to remember" experience.

Aqua.  (Financial District) $$$$, 252 California St. (at Battery) (415) 956-9662.  One of the best seafood restaurant in the city.  Food and service are both excellent; the desserts are pieces of art.


Ace Wasabi Rock 'n' Roll Sushi, (Marina District) 3339 Steiner St. (near Chestnut, (415) 567-4903 ; Innovative sushi and fun atmosphere.

Ebisu , 1283 Ninth Ave., near Golden Gate Park. (Inner Sunset District, and an outlet at the SFO in the Food Court area of Terminal G). This is a neighborhood place that draws from beyond.

Ozumo ,  (Embarcadero & Financial District) sushi with a view, and big with the Financial District set, owing to its location on 161 Steuart Street,  along a row of great eateries (Shanghai 1930), and near from Rincon Center's residential towers, and adjacent to the Harbor Court Hotel. While just south of Market Street, it's more properly thought of as the Embarcadero area, owing to its gorgeous views of the bay.

Dim Sum  

Dim sum, translated loosely from Cantonese as "a little bit of heart," is sometimes known as "tea lunch," and is a way of life among the Cantonese. Service usually begins about 10 a.m. and continues until about 1 or 2 p.m. It consists of small plates of bite-sized dishes, heavily favoring meat, seafood and poultry that is drunk with tea. This is no place for a vegetarian, and even the tofu dishes often are mixed with meat. This is also no place for those who shy from seafood, especially shrimp.  Shrimp seems to show up in almost everything.  In traditional places, servers push dim sum carts with one, two or three types of dishes, often covered with lids. They are steamed,  fried or braised or boiled.  Each dish has a dollar value and the number of dishes are marked on your tally kept on the table. When seated, you will be asked what kind of tea you want. Typical choices include oolong, jasmine and Chrysanthemum. When you are ready, ask a server to get someone to add up your bill. Although some places advertise dim sum "all day" or offer some items on the menu at dinner, don't. Just don't. Dim sum should be had when the kitchen is busiest and the stuff is freshest, not when it's been sitting around all day. You may run across some restaurants who bill items as "Mandarin dim sum." No such thing. They may be small items you can snack on, but they are not dim sum.

For more on Dim Sum, a good introduction is on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dim_sum

Oriental Pearl (Chinatown), 760 Clay Street near Grant Ave. Good value and pleasant surroundings.

City View, 662 Commercial Street / Montgomery & Kearny streets, edge of Chinatown and the Financial District. Simple, clean, pleasant location and food. The choice of many in the Financial District.  

Y Ben House Restaurant (Great value), 835 Pacific Ave., Chinatown. Bare bones, no nonsense,  and a full-on Chinatown dim sum experience. Don't expect fancy or bright and attractive. Come here to experience the hustle and bustle, the large tables that accomodate big families, the old-fashioned dim-sum carts that pass by your table. Don't hesitate to ask them to show you what's under those lids. The containers may look banged up and well-used, the dishes are tasty, and while not unusual are tasty, standard dim sum fare. Go around 11 a.m. or expect a wait.

Yank Sing , 101 Spear St. (South of Market, Financial District); (415) 957-9300;  Very good dim sum, in attractive restaurant with full bar and other accoutrements one expects in a Financial District type place. Located inside Rincon Center, the former San Francisco main Post Office.

Other Favorites

Frequently recommended by the San Francisco Forum:

The Slanted Door, (Embarcadero area) 1 Ferry Building, No. 3 (Market Street and Embarcadero), (415) 861-8032 ;  $$$ A favorite of locals, as well as visitors, the Slanted Door is located in the foodie showcase, the Ferry Building and offers Vietnamese cuisine and excellent views of the Bay and the Bay Bridge. Executive Chef Charles Phan is a local boy made good, and 18 of his family members work here, too. It can get pretty loud at times, so this may not be the place to go if you are looking to have a quiet meal. Sometimes a tough place to get a reservation, but go for lunch, or walk in at 5 p.m. and put your name on the waiting list for the walk-in tables the restaurant always saves for early diners.

Swan Oyster Depot (Polk Gulch, sort of) 1517 Polk St. (at California), Tel. (415) 673-1101; $ Nothing fancy about this place, just great, fresh seafood and clam chowder. Not a good place for large groups. Counter seating only. If you go at peak lunch hour, there are typically long waits so go early to avoid a line. Close at 5:00 so do not plan on this for dinner. Not far from the California Street cable car terminus.

Mama's (North Beach) $ Probably one of the most frequent recommendations on the forum for breakfast. 

Off the Beaten Path, but with rewards 

Farmer Brown, (Tenderloin); 25 Mason Street at Market, (415) 409-3276; Southern, Creole, "neo-soul," hip and interesting. Venture into the the big, bad Tenderloin (not very far -- just a block from the cable car turnaround on Powell and Market Street, folks), and sample some good food with atmosphere. Jay Foster uses mostly African-American farmers to supply organic food for the kitchen, and the clientele is diverse and urbane. Oh, and there's music.

Vegetararian - With a View

Greens in San Francisco is a great place to go for fine eating for the vegetarian.  It is a sophisticated restaurant with fine dining and a great view. 

What a View! (not in SF but 30 miles South)

Bella Vista Continental Restaurant.  $$$$  13451 Skyline Blvd, Woodside, (650) 851-1229.  This restaurant is located in Woodside, outside San Francisco.  (To find the TripAdvisor reviews of it, look under Woodside, California.) The town of Woodside is about one hour of driving south of San Francisco on the ridge of the coastal mountain range amidst redwood trees.   When it is not socked in by fog, the night-time views of the entire South San Francisco Bay area are unmatched. Reservations are required weeks or even months in advance especially for tables with views.