Do you want to experience an elegant afternoon tea or high tea in San Francisco? In a city with endless beautiful dining rooms and Michelin-starred restaurants, there are plenty of places to feel a little fancy. We rounded up some of our favorite restaurants and tea rooms where you can don your daintiest frock and fascinator.
Although the names “afternoon tea” and “high tea” are often used interchangeably, it’s worth noting that they come from distinctly different British tea traditions. “Afternoon tea” is generally enjoyed around 4pm at low, comfortable tables laden with light snacks including sandwiches, scones, and cake. “High tea” is a more hardy after-work meal served at a dining table, nowadays often referred to as “supper.”
With that in mind, our list includes both traditional tea services and more modern versions to bring a bit of whimsy to your teatime in SF. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for a map.
Crown & Crumpet is a stylish tea room in SF’s Japantown bringing you the allure of a traditional English tea salon with none of the stuffiness. A $39 Afternoon Tea for one includes a large pot of loose leaf tea, three finger sandwiches, two warm savories, one scone, one crumpet, four bite-sized sweets, house-made lemon curd and jam, and clotted cream. They also offer a $26 Nursery Tea for children under 13 and adults 65+, which is perfect for some grandparent-grandchild bonding.
Location: 1746 Post St, Japantown
2. Son & Garden
Enjoy an extravagant meal with English, American, and Asian influences at this extremely Instagrammable restaurant. They serve delicious brunch, dinner, and cocktails, but you’ll want to try their delightful Cherry Blossom Tea Set which is enjoying a limited run through July 2023. It costs $110 for 2 people for a selection of delicate finger sandwiches, madeleines, opera cakes, raspberry and lemon tarts, New York cheesecakes, matcha scones, and more. You’ll need an advance reservation for the weekday-only experience.
Location: 700 Polk Street, Little Saigon
The grand dining room in the high-end Fairmont Hotel serves a California coast-inspired menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; but the Afternoon Tea service dating back to 1907 is something else. Be advised that you’ll need to make a reservation (Afternoon Tea is on Saturdays from 2-4pm) and the menu is quite pricey at $115 per person with mandatory gratuity and other fees. The menu includes high-quality loose-leaf tea, house-made scones, tea sandwiches, elegant pastries, French sweets, lemon curd, Devonshire cream and fruit compote. Keep an eye out for special tea services around the holidays and other festivities.
Location: 950 Mason St, Fairmont Hotel, Nob Hill
Remember that SF residents can enter the Japanese Tea Garden for free but non-residents pay an entrance fee between $12-16 depending on the time of year. That said, non-residents can get free admission before 10am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Location: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park
SF’s Neiman Marcus store is famous for its breathtaking golden skylight overlooking a grand entryway and 4 floors of shopping. The Rotunda is their elegant restaurant situated on the top floor beneath the stained-glass dome where you can enjoy an Afternoon Tea seven days a week after 2:30pm. Make sure you reserve in advance for the tea experience costing $54 per person, which will bring you a three-tiered tower flaunting a selection of finger sandwiches, pastries, sweets, and your choice of tea. For $73, your service will include a glass of Royale Henriot Brut.
Location: Neiman Marcus, 150 Stockton St, Union Square
6. Maison Danel
Maison Danel specializes in authentic French cuisine and serves a delightful Afternoon Tea in their Salon de Thé with dozens of loose-leaf tea flavors. You can choose from a few different menus at varying price points: Le Classique is Maison Danel’s signature tea service at $70 for one/$125 for two, featuring a selection of petite French sandwiches, pastries, and treats. For an extra $10 you’ll add a glass of sparkling Maison Danel Crémant d’Alsace, or you can go all-out for a full caviar service which comes to $295 for two.
Location: 1030 Polk St, Lower Nob Hill
The Palace Hotel’s Signature Tea is a a classic experience in their gleaming golden dining room. Take a seat beneath a sparkling glass ceiling to indulge in a $90 menu with assorted scones and pastries; plus tea sandwiches with high-quality ingredients such as fennel smoked salmon, Molinari finocchiona salami, and turkey galantine. The $188 menu for two includes all of the above plus two brut pairings for the sweet and savory menu items. If the tea service is too pricey, consider their all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet for an alternative where you can still experience the beautiful dining room for half the price.
Location: Palace Hotel, 2 New Montgomery St, Yerba Buena
The beautiful and cozy Dartealing Lounge is a lovely vintage escape where you can enjoy an exquisite Proper Afternoon Tea for $37 per person. The menu includes your loose-leaf tea of choice accompanied by assorted finger sandwiches; an English-style sausage roll; fresh-baked scones, sweets, and cookies; and savory hors d’oeuvre. Dartealing is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-2pm, so you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. Groups of 6+ people can reserve as a party for the “Partea Time” menu, which includes hot griddle marble tea bread and other special additions.
Location: 470 3rd St, South Beach
9. Sip Tea Room
Enjoy a delightful tea experience at Sip Tea Room, which has a cozy dining room and a quaint outdoor patio where you can enjoy your libations. The full Afternoon Tea Service comes to $49 per person for a selection of sausage rolls, tea sandwiches, an English scone, tossed greens, sweets, your choice of tea, and more. This service is available by reservation from Thursday-Sunday, although the patio is only open on weekends.
What’s great about Sip Tea Room is that they have several other options apart from the Afternoon Tea Service, so you can cut some costs while still enjoying the ambience. The Lighter Fare menu runs between $14-25 per guest for varying amounts of food, no reservation needed. Consider trying the SIP Classic Tea for $25 per person where you’ll enjoy two tea sandwiches, a scone, shortbread fingers, sausage rolls, and more alongside your personal pot of tea.
Location: 721 Lincoln Way, Inner Sunset
Lovejoy’s Tea Room is a quirky vintage tea experience with eclectic decorations and whimsical mismatched china meant to bring some playfulness to the traditional English tea. There are 6 different tea services to choose from ranging between $22-35 per person, all of which include a bottomless pot of tea, as well as a “Pub Fare” menu with individual items such as shepherd’s pie and quiche. This is a great place to try a less frivolous tea service while still enjoying the showmanship of it all.
Location: 1351 Church St, Noe Valley