Who’s hungry? It’s damn near impossible to round up the best restaurants in San Francisco, but thought we’d give it a shot by asking our followers: “If you could only eat at one San Francisco restaurant for the rest of your life, which one would it be?”
After receiving hundreds of impassioned responses, we’re a bit closer to knowing which SF restaurants locals absolutely swear by. We narrowed this list down (in no particular order) by choosing restaurants recommended multiple times or in comments with the most likes. Scroll to the bottom for a map and check out our original Facebook and Instagram posts for dozens more recommendations.
Did your favorite make the list?
You’d be hard pressed to find a San Franciscan that’s not a fan of Original Joe’s. Croatian immigrant Tony Rodin opened opened this Italian-American restaurant in 1937, and it’s grown into a local institution with an exhibition kitchen and iconic red leather booths. Try their prime rib, spaghetti and meatballs, and butter cake.
Location: 601 Union St, North Beach
This old-school English restaurant is one of the most reviewed restaurants in the city, and for good reason. This is where you’ll find high-quality prime rib to enjoy alongside excellent wines and cocktails. The atmosphere is taken up a notch with jolly fireplaces and traditional decor.
Location: 1906 Van Ness Ave, Polk Gulch
3. El Farolito
This classic late-night favorite offers enormous portions and quality meat options for a massive burrito that will hit the spot. Be sure to try their chiles rellenos and quesadillas while you’re at it. Keep in mind that they are cash only!
- 2779 Mission St, Mission District
- 2950 24th St, Mission District
- 1230 Grant Ave, North Beach
- 4817 Mission St, Excelsior
- 394 Grand Ave, South San Francisco
Kokkari Estiatorio is an SF staple with fantastic Greek fare in a romantic dining atmosphere. Their menu offers a modern take on traditional Greek dishes, spotlighting essential ingredients such as lamb, fresh yogurt, and oregano.
Location: 200 Jackson St, Embarcadero
This Pier 39 hotspot is one of Yelp’s top-rated restaurants in SF. You won’t be disappointed with waterside dining, fresh-baked sourdough, and the freshest sustainable seafood available. Try their famous clam chowder, crab cakes, and seafood penne.
Location: Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf
Enjoy a Columbian and Venezuelan twist on Californian cuisine at MaMo, which amps up the tropical flavors in dishes like avocado burrata, tequeños, truffle yucca fries, arepas, ajiaco soup, and more.
Location: 3659 Buchanan St, Marina District
Get your Korean barbecue fix at this popular spot known for their flavorful beef soup, or kalbijjim. These enormous portions of braised beef rib stew can be adorned with customizable toppings like chewy rice cakes and bubbling melted cheese.
- 1620 Post St, Japantown
- 3995 Alemany Blvd, Ingleside Heights
8. Cafe de Casa
This modest Brazilian cafe is the 10th-most-highly-rated restaurant in San Francisco out of over 2,000 others on Google Reviews. They’re known for serving delicious sweet and savory Brazilian pastries, fresh açaí bowls, gluten-free crepes, cheese bread sandwiches, and so much more.
- 3985 17th St, Castro District
- 2701 Leavenworth St, Fisherman’s Wharf
- 1165 Airport Blvd, South San Francisco
9. Beit Rima
Enjoy a healthy serving of Arabic comfort food at Beit Rima. Favorites include their chicken shish tawook plate, beef kabob plate, lamb shank, and baba ghanoush.
- 138 Church St, Duboce Triangle
- 86 Carl St, Cole Valley
This San Francisco staple is one of the city’s most famous pizza places, helmed by 13-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana features dozens of diverse pizzas in different styles, ranging from Sicilian to classic American to coal-fired.
Location: 1570 Stockton St, North Beach
This waterside seafood grill has a hopping oyster bar, and their $35 mimosa option gets you a bottle of prosecco with your choice of juices to serve it with. Popular brunch options include a Dungeness crab benedict, corned beef hash, huevos rancheros, and a well-rounded American breakfast combo with all the works.
Location: 817 Terry A Francois Blvd, Mission Bay
12. Loló Restaurant
In addition to Loló’s margarita, which may be enjoyed with tequila or mezcal, you’ve got to go all in on their flavorful tacos. Favorites include the taco tropical with panko shrimp on jicama tortillas, as well as the classic fish tacos with tempura fried cod and habanero aioli.
Location: 974 Valencia St, Mission District
These square sourdough pizzas have some of the most creative toppings ever and go amazingly with extensive craft beer options. Popular menu items are the Mapo Tofu Pizza with Tokyo turnips and sichuan peppercorns, the clam chowder pizza, and the cheesy garlic monkey bread.
- 553 Divisadero St, Alamo Square
- 59 9th St, Civic Center
Ok, this isn’t exactly a restaurant, but it’s a must for everything from ice cream to groceries to café fare. Both of their markets have a deli menu where you can get absolutely fantastic sandwiches, soups and salads for takeaway. You also don’t want to miss out on their gourmet ice cream. Our favorite part about Bi-Rite is that they’re a Certified B Corporation, meaning they meet incredibly stringent parameters for sustainable business practices.
- Bi-Rite Market: 550 Divisadero St, Alamo Square
- Bi-Rite Market: 3639 18th St, Mission District
- Bi-Rite Creamery: 3692 18th St, Mission District
15. Puerto Alegre
Puerto Alegre has one of the most impressive margarita menus we’ve ever seen, not to mention plenty of delicious food! Locals have sworn by this family-owned Mission institution for over 50 years.
Location: 546 Valencia St, Mission District
Shizen Sushi Bar & Izakaya is one of San Francisco’s most well-known and coveted vegan restaurants. They plate up absolutely exquisite vegan sushi using classic shojin and sushi techniques for a totally unique dining experience. Iconic ingredients include tapioca, mountain yam, konjac, bean curd, and more. Check out their specialty rolls such as the Open Invitation with pumpkin tempura and avocado crema, or the Surprise Ending with beets, kale, and spicy alioli.
Location: 370 14th St, Mission District
17. La Taqueria
This no-frills taqueria is an SF icon when it comes to delicious, straight-up Mexican food. Meat options include beef, pork, sausage, chicken, beef tongue, and beef head. Ask for extra salsa verde or make it a super burrito with all 3 cheeses, guacamole and sour cream.
Location: 2889 Mission St, Mission District
18. Tommy’s Joynt
Tommy’s Joynt is one of San Francisco’s most quintessential no-frills restaurants, if not for their brisket carved on the spot, then for their unbeatable prices. Think $3.50 beer, $5 well drinks, and $6 martinis.
Location: 1101 Geary Blvd, Civic Center
19. Foreign Cinema
This magical outdoor patio is adorned with string lights and features a large screen to project films, making it perfect for a romantic date. Enjoy delicacies like oysters, creative salads and entrees made from sustainable ingredients. Pair with quality champagne, wine, and cocktail options.
Location: 2534 Mission St, Mission District
20. Tadich Grill
You can’t get much more classic than Tadich Grill, which was founded in 1849! That makes it the oldest continuously-run restaurant in California and the 3rd oldest in the United States. This classic seafood restaurant astounds with colorful oyster platters, silky chowder, fresh-caught grilled fish dishes, and tasty crab cakes.
Location: 240 California St, Embarcadero
21. Cha Cha Cha
This Caribbean restaurant on the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park has a fun and boisterous environment with dynamic and flavorful dishes to match. It’s a great place for groups to share a pitcher of sangria and dig into easily shared plates like ceviche, jerk chicken, and paella.
Location: 1801 Haight St, Haight-Ashbury
Boulevard is arguably one of the most beautifully-decorated restaurants in the city, but the Californian menu is equally as impressive. They offer a set price menu and an à la carte menu, both of which focus on fresh local ingredients that vary by season. Spend the day on the Embarcadero and top it off with a beautifully cooked pork chop, filet mignon, or ahi tuna tartare.
Location: 1 Mission St, Embarcadero
Here’s your spot for “pier to plate” dining, courtesy of an SF institution that’s spent 50 years at Pier 47 in Fisherman’s Wharf. It started out as a small coffee shop for local fisherman, eventually evolving into a full waterside restaurant preparing delicious meals from the day’s catch. Classic dishes include Dungeness crab cakes, “Lazy Man’s” Cioppino, and a Shellfish Saute.
Location: 1965 Al Scoma Way, Fisherman’s Whatf
24. Burma Superstar
Locals have sworn by this award-winning Burmese restaurant for decades. You really can’t go wrong with their creative and colorful menu, but popular dishes include the fresh and crunchy Tea Leaf Salad, the 22-ingredient Rainbow Salad, the vegetarian samusa soup with falafel and lentils, and the signature Burma Cooler beer drink with fresh lemons and ginger.
Location: 309 Clement St, Inner Richmond
Zazie’s serves exceptional brunch and dinner menus, with specialties including mascarpone polenta cakes, braised lamb shank, and countless egg dishes for brunch. Zazie’s is also unique for being completely tip-free; that is, no tips are expected because their staff is paid a living wage and given full benefits, paid time off, and more. Try a brunch, lunch, or dinner on their comfortable heated patio!
Location: 941 Cole St, Cole Valley
26. John’s Grill
This old-school steakhouse near Union Square dates back to 1908 (celebrating its 115th anniversary this year!) and is famous for hosting celebrities and big local names. As the first downtown restaurant to open after the 1906 earthquake, John’s Grill has been an essential gathering place for over a century. Take a seat in its dark paneled dining room for a trip back in time. Popular menu items include the Jack LaLanne seafood combo salad, Sam Spade’s lamb chops, the New York steak, and clam chowder.
Location: 63 Ellis St, Civic Center
27. San Tung
San Franciscans flock to Chinese food veteran San Tung for their seriously to-die-for chicken wings. You really can’t go wrong with their Northern-style Chinese menu with dishes like black bean sauce noodles and shrimp and leek dumplings.
Location: 1031 Irving St, Inner Sunset
28. Underdogs Tres
Enjoy an afternoon at this sports bar-meets-taqueria serving up tacos done “Nick’s Way” — that is, with a crispy corn tortilla wrapped in a soft corn tortilla. The slow-cooked meats and high-quality ingredients speak for themselves without adding stuffiness to a laid-back atmosphere. They also work to prioritize sustainability in everything they do, which resulted in a Surfrider Ocean Friendly certification.
Location: 1224 9th Ave, Inner Sunset
29. Golden Era
Vegans swear by this tried-and-true plant-based restaurant with Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, and Thai influences. You’ll notice the freshness of the ingredients in every single dish, from the non-fried spring rolls with peanut sauce to the hearty noodle soups. Bring a group and settle in for a great time.
Location: 395 Golden Gate Ave, Civic Center
Get your fill of homestyle Peruvian food in this welcoming restaurant and rotisserie. Despite expanding to various locations around SF and the Bay Area, Limón hasn’t lost its identity as a family-owned restaurant that began here in SF’s Mission District. The rotisserie chicken is an absolute must, but you’ll want to keep coming back for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
- 524 Valencia St, Mission District
- 1001 S Van Ness Ave, Mission District
San Francisco’s popular Greek restaurant chain Souvla has multiple successful locations all around the city. Their spit-roasted meat sandwiches are to die for, not to mention delicious fresh salads, Greek fries, and more. With its laid-back, casual setting and tasty, healthy fare, Souvla is a great choice for a quick lunch or dinner.
- 517 Hayes St, Hayes Valley
- 531 Divisadero St, Lower Haight
- 758 Valencia St, Mission District
- 2272 Chestnut St, Marina District
- 2505 3rd St, Dogpatch
32. Dumpling Home
The neighborhood-favorite restaurant opened in 2020 under the ownership of Lily Wong and quickly built a loyal fanbase for its hand-folded soup dumplings. As of the July 2023 Michelin Guide release, Dumpling Home is the cheapest Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in San Francisco. As a rule you shouldn’t skimp on these delicate and steamy xiao long bao soup dumplings, which come with fillings including beef, pork, and chicken at prices ranging between $8.95-10.95 for 4, and $15.95-16.95 for 8.
Location: 298 Gough St, Hayes Valley
33. Sotto Mare
Opened in 2007, Sotto Mare is synonymous with SF’s beloved seafood stew, cioppino. This popular restaurant is packed with historic photos, mounted fish, and other nautical bric-a-brac. No need to throw on a suit and tie, but you will want to don one of their plastic bibs if you plan to tackle a bowl of cioppino.
Location: 552 Green St, North Beach
This Jackson Square restaurant specializes in handmade Italian pastas and spit-roasted meats. The menu changes daily based on what’s available from local suppliers, meaning you’ll get the best fresh produce, meats, and dairy products from tried-and-true places like Fresh Run Farms in Bolinas.
Location: 490 Pacific Ave, North Beach
Top Dollar named this beautiful spot the nation’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurantin 2021. State Bird Provisions, helmed by Chef Proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, has an exquisite, ever-changing selection of unique American cuisine. It started out specializing in quail dishes, but has since evolved greatly. Highlights include fig toast with black sesame balsamic and goat cheese, fried Wolfe Ranch quail, and melting chocolate pistachio torte.
Location: 1529 Fillmore St, Fillmore District