40 Absolute Best Restaurants In San Francisco, Ranked

It's safe to say that San Francisco is considered one of the world's greatest cities, both culturally and, of course, culinarily. And it's easy to see why — after all, so many people from so many places have, for the past couple of centuries, come and gone across the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving a mark on the local culinary scene of San Francisco.

This delightful variety of culturally-influenced cuisines, combined with the local Californian love of farm-to-table, fine dining, and all things fish, helps to comprise the quintessential elements of San Franciscan food — delicious with a charm that draws people in from far and wide, just for a taste.

But from the hundreds upon thousands of restaurants that call this coastal Californian city their home, which stand above the rest? In a city so large and bustling, it can be hard to pinpoint perfection on a plate. So, to make it easy, here is a list of the 40 absolute best restaurants in San Francisco, ranked.

40. DamnFine Co.

In a city full of downright delicious pizzas, tracking down the best of the best is a challenging test. But Damnfine Co. makes naming the prince among San Franciscan pizza damn easy since each pie served by Damnfine Co. is picture perfect with a lightly charred crust and enough cheese to please even the most staunch of pizza critics. The wine, beer, and cocktails Damnfine Co. serves alongside their famously tasty pizza pies — well, they don't hurt the rankings.

39. Pakwan Restaurant

While in San Francisco, it's important to ask yourself one simple question when choosing a restaurant: What would a local eat? Well, in the case of traditional Pakistani dish cravings, a Bay Area dweller would most likely order out from Pakwan Restaurant. From freshly fried, tantalizingly crispy samosas to perfectly charred naan and all the way down the impressive list of highly authentic and aromatic curries, Pakwan has it all. Pakwan locations can be found all across California's Bay Area, with three operational restaurants in San Francisco alone. 

38. Po'Boys Kitchen

When it comes to finding a San Franciscan restaurant that makes a meal that will truly stick to your ribs and fill you with comfort, look no further than Po'Boys Kitchen. This eatery promises the fan favorites of down-home southern-style comfort food, all of which can be found, ordered, and eaten at Po'Boys Kitchen. Popular menu items include fried chicken with sides, a bowl of shrimp and grits, and, of course, a classic Po' Boy Sandwich piled high with the customer's choice of chicken, shrimp, or fish.

37. El Farolito

While California is home to a lot of unique foods, San Francisco is a city with a particular claim to culinary fame: the Californian Mission Burrito. And, among all the amazing Mission Burritos available across the city, one restaurant stands above the rest: El Farolito. This no-frills establishment has been slinging burritos to the morning, noon, and late-night crowd of California's golden coast for years. Though El Farolito is cash only, that doesn't stop a steady trek of customers from stopping by time and time again for generously portioned authentic Mexican food, just as you'd expect from San Fransico's favorite taqueria. 

36. The Codmother Fish & Chips

Anyone familiar with San Francisco will know that most of the city is bordered by either bay or the Pacific Ocean, which means that fish is most certainly on the menu. And, at The Codmother Fish & Chips eatery, customers are guaranteed seafood satisfaction (served on a paper-lined little red basket). From classic deep-fried fish options such as fish and chips to calamari to the combo plate with thick, crispy french fries to match, it's impossible to imagine a better place to pig out on some Pacific-caught critters.

35. Dumpling Home

Ask any local lover of dumplings in San Francisco where they like to go for the best dumplings in the city, and the answer will, more than likely, be the same each and every time: Dumpling Home. This Chinese restaurant has been serving up steamed, fried, and otherwise deliciously cooked dumplings for years. Alongside dumplings, Dumpling Home also serves soups, salads, chicken wings, and more. But truly, if you're planning to partake in a meal from Dumpling Home, get some gosh darn dumplings.

34. Deli Board

Sandwiches are sandwiches are sandwiches, right? Wrong. At Deli Board in San Francisco, sandwiches resemble an art form more closely than anything else. These colossal Deli Board sandwiches are served fresh and piled intimidatingly high with so much meat the portions could very well overwhelm even the most ambitious eater. Deli Board opened in 2009 and has since served up sumptuous sandwiches to San Franciscans, putting unique West Coast twists on classic cold-cut combos.

33. Penny Roma

Penny Roma easily makes the top 40 restaurants to get some great food in San Francisco, and here's why: It's authentic, high-quality, and astoundingly affordable, thanks in part to the location, dining demographic, and (frankly) the culinary caliber. Between the restaurant's charming atmosphere and its stunning selection of pasta, antipasti, fish dishes, and more, it's hard to miss when trying a plate of Penny Roma (especially when the wine list is as long, comprehensive, and impressive as this establishment promises in their menu).

32. House of Prime Rib

It's hard to think of a more pleasing plate than one that holds a perfectly medium rare cut of prime rib, deliciously paired with all the fixings, such as a baked potato, gravy, creamed spinach, and an equally spicy and creamy horseradish sauce. At San Francisco's famous House of Prime Rib, customers can fill up on all that and more alongside delicious drinks and desserts. Be warned, the beef at House of Prime Rib is carefully selected, aged, cooked, then cut for the Bay's ultimate umami experience.

31. San Ho Won

When it comes to Korean BBQ, people can get ... intense defending their favorite place to cook meat over an open flame with friends and family alike. But only one establishment in San Francisco can boast the title of the best casual Korean food with a charcoal BBQ. That place is San Ho Won. Not only are the meats available at San Ho Won perfectly delicious, but the various accompanying banchan, soups, salads, desserts, drinks, and more also make it among the best bites in San Francisco.

30. Angler

At Angler, customers can absolutely taste the quality and attention to fine dining detail that earned this San Franciscan establishment its Michelin star rating. From the ambiance, which boasts a beautiful view of the Bay, to the upscale seafood fare, Angler offers much (if not all) of the quintessential notes one could hope to hit with a fish dish in the Bay. Local ingredients comprise most of Angler's fare, and their commitment to quality and wood fire cooking certainly doesn't hurt.

29. Zuni Café

If upscale bistro bites delight your palate, then San Francisco's Zuni Café may be the perfect place to stop for a plate of French and Italian-inspired (and wood-oven-fired) seasonal fare. Oysters and other shellfish are served at Zuni Café alongside brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, and drinks. The dining options combine elements of fine dining finesse with more rustic portions and plating. Whether winning over a foodie for a first date or catering to the less culinarily inclined, Zuni's most certainly has something that's sure to please.

28. Lazy Bear

Lazy Bear climbed its way through the San Francisco fine dining foray first as a pop-up before ascending all the way to become an established eatery with not just one but two Michelin stars to its name. This award-winning restaurant boasts a more modern take on classic American fare, a remarkable feat it achieves by effectively preserving the bold flavors of San Francisco while simultaneously maintaining an undeniable air of haute couture in each plate.

27. Pearl 6101

San Francisco's top 40 restaurants would not be complete without acknowledging the famous food of Pearl 6101, where modern Mediterranean-inspired eats are combined with a classic Californian twist on ingredients. Oysters, pasta, seafood, and specially crafted cocktails comprise the grand majority of the delectable menu at Pearl 6101, and each bite promises to be just as delicious as the last. The food and drinks of Pearl 6101 are complimented perfectly with an open, airy dining setup that invites customers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the unparalleled ambiance.

26. The Anchovy Bar

Anchovies are an entirely underrated protein, and no one in San Francisco understands this simple truth better than The Anchovy Bar. This laidback, positively laissez-faire location is the perfect pitstop for a quick beer and a bite of fish — but don't let the casual ambiance at The Anchovy Bar distract you from the high-quality service, seafood, and in-season selection of salty, savory, and sweet eats and drinks. The anchovies are sourced locally and imported to provide a wide seafood selection. The Anchovy Bar also offers a raw bar (including oysters), fish egg dishes, and more.

25. Taishoken

In San Francisco, ramen restaurant rankings are no joke — that's why Taishoken is a trusted purveyor of perfectly cooked noodles in a savory broth just waiting to be slurped down and savored. Of course, for the Japanese soup enthusiasts out there who are looking to add an extra level to an already excellent dish, there's always Taishoken's staple tsukemen, which is a cool noodle dish served with a condensed (i.e., even more flavorful) broth for dipping. Whether you're a ramen fan or a tsukemen convert, Taishoken has you covered, right up to the beer and sake selection.

24. Chapeau

For more romantic fine dining in San Fransico, look no further than the charmingly close quarters of Chapeau, a French bistro with a heart of California gold. The name of Chapeau is derived from the French word for 'hat' and serves as a small nod (as it were) to the polite greeting of tipping one's hat. In much the same way, the food at Chapeau comes across as a respectful greeting from the French culinary sphere, a place where globe-traveling gourmands and new foodies alike may partake in French fare done right.

23. Marlena Restaurant

Marlena Restaurant easily makes the list of San Francisco's top restaurants for its refreshing take on fine dining bistro food. In fact, the cuisine served at Marlena Restaurant earned the establishment a well-deserved Michelin star. The kitchen is operated by husband and wife duo, both chefs in their own right, David Fisher and Serena Chow. The menu is seasonally oriented and changes frequently to highlight the best of California's current cuisine. All of the four courses that comprise a meal at Marlena Restaurant cost a total of $75.

22. Gary Danko

At Gary Danko, a Michelin-rated restaurant named for its chef (Gary Danko), the pretentiousness of old-school American dining is refreshingly replaced by an approachable, open-aired atmosphere alongside upscale versions of classic Californian French food. The fixed-price menu at Gary Danko highlights 23 years of industry experience and excellence that has kept this award-winning establishment up and running at the famous Fisherman's Wharf, an impressive feat especially considering San Francisco is in one of the world's pickiest cities when it comes to cuisine.

21. Acquerello

What was once a beautifully high-ceilinged chapel on San Francisco's Sacramento Street transformed to become an upscale Italian eatery with two Michelin stars — the restaurant's name? Acquerello. Their game? High-end Italian food, served in-season with an atmosphere to match the impeccable flavors, service, and reputation of San Francisco's favorite fancy Italian eatery. This approach has kept Acquerello in business for over three decades and will most likely see it continue for decades to come. 

20. Hog Island Oyster Co.

Hog Island Oyster Co. is the holy grail of reasonably affordable, unquestionably fantastic fish-related foods both in San Francisco and across the Bay. Alongside the obvious (and very delicious) selection of raw, grilled, and otherwise cooked oysters and shellfish, Hog Island Oyster Co. also serves up the most delicious fried softshell crab sandwich you've ever seen, smelled, or salivated over. Just one bite of any of this restaurant's seafood fare will have you sailing in from anywhere across the globe, just for another bite.

19. Marufuku Ramen

For tonkotsu (pork) ramen lovers, there is no better place to eat in California's coastal city of San Francisco than at the renowned Marufuku Ramen. Marufuku Ramen is considered among the best ramen restaurants in America and has been serving up steaming hot bowls of its famous Hakata-style Tonkotsu ramen to hungry Bay Area locals and vacationers alike for years. Alongside ramen, this establishment also serves staples such as karaage (fried chicken) and chashu (marinated pork) bowls.

18. Frances

Chef Melissa Perello impressed the San Francisco culinary crowd with her approach to fresh, flavor-forward food with particular respect to seasonal eating at the upscale but casual eatery, Frances. Frances serves vibrant plates comprised of obviously fresh ingredients. This, combined with the comfortable but more monochrome interior design of the establishment, creates the unique experience of colorful food in an otherwise muted world. The effect? A San Francisco restaurant so good you can't help but come back.

17. Cotogna

Cotogna, meaning "quince" in Italian, is a San Francisco-based fine dining restaurant that made its claim to culinary fame with housemade pasta, wood-fired pizza, and an assortment of perfectly spit-roasted, melt-in-your-mouth meats. The menu at Cotogna changes each day to reflect and pay respect to the fresh Californian ingredients that make up the simultaneously elevated and down-home rustic fare. The assortment of fine wines to pair with each meal certainly doesn't hurt Cotogna's ranking among San Francisco's best restaurants.

16. RT Rotisserie

There are few things in life more universally beloved than the rotisserie chicken, a dish that has been close to perfected at San Francisco's own RT Rotisserie. Though the fare at this rotisserie-oriented restaurant is casual at heart, the quality of the meats and sides they serve is anything but casual. Bay Area locals swear by the succulent, savory flavors at play in each bite of RT Rotisserie's Hayes Valley location. From whole and half chickens to all the sandwiches, rice bowls, and sides in between, RT Rotisserie is worth a trip (or three).

15. Birdsong

It's not every day that you run across a restaurant with a menu that was made specifically to highlight the understated, or perhaps simply unexplored, cuisine of the Pacific Northwest — but at San Francisco's Birdsong, food-loving locals can try a taste of the Pacific Northwest without ever having to set foot outside of California. With the help of woodfire cooking and an expansive wine selection, Birdsong diners may enjoy dishes from one of two tasting menus.

14. Rich Table

Whether the name of this top San Francisco restaurant, Rich Table, refers to the richness of the food, the memories made whilst eating there, or simply to the demographic of its customers is, frankly, a mystery. In all likelihood, however, co-chefs Evan and Sarah Rich named the restaurant after themselves. Either way, Rich Table serves farm-fresh Californian food with an upscale twist, all from an open-view kitchen in an open-aired converted wood barn setting.

13. Mijoté

Mijoté is a French restaurant nestled deep in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District. Mijoté was given its name after the French word for 'simmered,' which holds a special place in Chef Kosuke Tada's heart since it was nearly the first French word he learned in culinary school. At this Bay Area-based bistro, farm-fresh Californian ingredients are welcomed into the kitchen by knowledgeable chefs who then utilize the natural bounty of their surroundings to create the ultimate French menu. The four-course dinner menu changes frequently, as does the wine list, and each experience is bound to be entirely different from the last!

12. Avery

Avery restaurant offers only the best East Asian and European cuisine available in the entire city of San Francisco, thanks in part to its chef and owner having been a part of other notable restaurants, including Benu, Atelier Crenn, Saison, and The French Laundry. The farm Avery restaurant has in Napa County, just north, probably also has something to do with this establishment's success. Combine all that with the delicious sake and Champagne plus visually stunning decor, and you're guaranteed a meal you won't forget any time soon.

11. Californios

San Francisco's list of best restaurants would not be complete without an option for an upscale Mexican meal — especially one at Californios, an eatery that boasts family roots, two Michelin stars, and a spot among the best Mexican restaurants in America. Tucked inside the cozy but clean interior of Californios — or outdoors in the lushly grown garden patio — diners can relax in comfort. The cuisine is unlike anything you've seen, offering reconceptualized takes on classic flavors as they please the palate and challenge any preconceptions you may have had about Michelin star Mexican food.

10. State Bird Provisions

State Bird Provisions isn't your typical Michelin-starred San Franciscan restaurant. In fact, it's something entirely apart from its peers. Originally named after a recipe for the California state bird, the valley quail, this restaurant has become a small-plate contemporary American food mecca, all tucked behind an unassuming storefront. The dim sum style of serving at State Bird Provisions allows guests to indulge in many of the vibrant, California fresh flavors — all in-season.

9. Trestle

Trestle is a no-frills, welcoming, affordable but upscale bistro with food so fabulous, the Michelin Guide granted the restaurant its Bib Gourmand badge of approval. Trestle offers a daily fixed-price menu at an incredibly affordable rate, offering all Bay Area foodies — regardless of budget — an option for fine dining that won't break the bank. All talk of money aside, this contemporary Californian bistro offers delicious, seasonal food in a comfortable environment with ever-hospitable staff. Could you ask for more?

8. Saison

For those of you who want a fantastic restaurant in San Francisco that offers all the fine dining flair without any of the empty belly dissatisfaction, consider Saison a solution to your eating-out problems. Upscale, all-American fare is served in an environment that reflects the restaurant's two Michelin stars. The seasonal wood-fired fare is served up in modest but plentiful portions and paired with hearty wines, all of which are combined into a full-course experience that will actually leave you feeling, well, full.

7. Benu

For the most extra-expensive experience of fine dining in San Francisco, look no further than the hallowed halls of Benu. Benu opened in 2010 and has, in the years since, racked up a grand total of three Michelin stars, officially marking the restaurant as one worth a trip to the Golden Coast. The food is comprised of Asian fusion made with seasonal Californian ingredients, all served as an exceptional, experiential bite that just may change your outlook on life.

6. Omakase

Omakase, meaning "chef's choice" in Japanese, just so happens to be the name of the best omakase available in the entire city of San Francisco. In fact, the restaurant Omakase earned itself a Michelin star for its sushi, which is made using traditional techniques and only the highest quality ingredients. For example, the fish at Omakase is sourced directly from Japan, making it some of the most freshly-exported seafood in San Francisco. Each menu is carefully and creatively crafted to give diners a meal to remember.

5. Sorrel

The aptly-named upscale Californian eatery, Sorrel, certainly earned its Michelin star with a uniquely modernistic and minimalist menu twist on what many consider to be fresh and familiar flavors. The menu at Sorrel reflects the seasonal ingredients of the Bay Area alongside forgeable items from both the restaurant's own rooftop garden as well as the multiple nearby farmer's markets. Each in-season menu will feature ingredients at their freshest, with the spring menu offering selections of lamb, morel, and rhubarb (for example).

4. Foreign Cinema

Foreign Cinema rightly earned its spot among the best restaurants in San Francisco on its culinary merit, have no doubt. But the exceptionally unique and well-executed vision that thought to combine fine dining with outdoor cinema was downright genius. As far as finding a restaurant for the perfect first date, anniversary, birthday, or just because it's a plain old Sunday like any other, Foreign Cinema is the place to go. Just make sure to reserve a seat in time for the feature film.

3. Atelier Crenn

One simply must mention Atelier Crenn when compiling a list of the best restaurants in San Francisco — after all, it's not like any old establishment can earn itself three Michelin stars if it isn't a truly exceptional eatery. Atelier Crenn has everything you could want from an upscale menu, and every part of dining there is an experiment in luxury. From the open atmosphere and the warm servers to the beverages, the melt-in-your-mouth bites of food in between sips, and the (hopefully) good company kept throughout, Atelier Crenn is worth a trip to California.

2. Nisei

Nisei is a fine dining establishment with a Michelin star that offers a fun and fresh Californian flair to Japanese cuisine. Chef David Yoshimura named the restaurant after the Japanese word for second-generation immigrants as a nod to his heritage. The menu at Nisei is subject to frequent change as it is closely tied to the freshness and seasonality of the surrounding ingredients. The interior is impeccably decorated, the food immaculately presented, and the dining experience impeachably memorable.

1. Brenda's French Soul Food

In a city like San Francisco, it's increasingly easy to find yourself drawn into the hustle and bustle of life. But at Brenda's French Soul Food, even the busiest Bay Area-based techies and artists alike may find a comforting reprieve from the day-to-day cycle in French-style Creole soul food. With brunch-time classics like beignets and biscuits and gravy, plus lunch and dinner with optional oysters, classic shrimp and grits, and a bar to boot ... it's hard to go wrong at Brenda's French Soul Food.