Union Square is packed with overpriced and underwhelming restaurants, but there are a few spots that we think are worth a visit. The neighborhood has a reputation for luxury hotels, cable cars, and wide-eyed tourists, but it’s also a fun place to enjoy the bustle of San Francisco. Here are a few places to grab a delicious meal or refreshing drink downtown.
1. Del Popolo
There is no shortage of wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizza in SF, but Del Popolo is among the very best in the city. It’s not just about the pizza, the restaurant also features seasonally changing such as savory zucchini fritters, and a refreshing watermelon and pluot salad. You’ll also find a curated wine list with an exciting selection of orange wines alongside the classics.
Location: 855 Bush Street
Step back into post-prohibition 1930s SF where white-coated bartenders deftly serve vintage cocktails like the Jack Rose and Martinez. The bar was built in the streamline moderne style and they nail the era-specific details from barware to the vintage Victrola turntable. It’s an intimate bar, with no food but an impressive drinks menu that reads like a cocktail history book. Stookey’s is like nowhere else in SF.
Location: 895 Bush Street
Akiko’s Restaurant has served classic and unique Japanese cuisine in downtown SF for the past 30 years. Each dish that comes to your table feels like a miniature work of art, the result of exceptional ingredients and an uncommon level of experience. The restaurant’s interior features warm earth tones, exposed brick, and rosewood floors. Their passion for fresh and sustainable fish is genuine and the whole experience is sublime.
Location: 421 Bush Street
If you crave a delicious craft cocktail in Union Square, Pacific Cocktail Haven (P.C.H.) is sure to please. The beloved local bar won “Best American Cocktail Bar,” at the acclaimed Tales of the Cocktail awards, and has an extensive menu of unique cocktails. For a casual after-work drink, they feature a hi-ball hour every day until 7pm.
Location: 550 Sutter St
Sears Fine Food is arguably the most recognizable restaurant around Union Square. This classic SF restaurant opened in 1938 and has been a popular breakfast spot among locals and tourists ever since. Historic photos and antiques line the walls of the large dining room where they serve meals from 7am-9pm daily. The restaurant is best known for their Swedish pancakes, 18 per order, which come topped with warm maple syrup. For lunch and dinner, they offer a mix of classic diner and steak house fare, with a generous helping of nostalgia. Its location on the Powell-Mason Cable Car line makes for a pleasant soundtrack to a quintessential SF experience.
Location: 439 Powell Street
Michelin-starred Sons & Daughters serves thoughtfully composed Northen Califonia cuisine in a warm and intimate setting. Their seasonal and ever-changing tasting menu is prepared in the restaurant’s lively open kitchen. Each thoughtfully prepared dish is as beautiful as it is delicious. It’s an ideal place to celebrate a special occasion in the heart of downtown.
Location: 708 Bush Street
7. The Rotunda
Union Square is synonymous with upscale hotels and boutiques, and The Rotunda lives up to this reputation. Located on the fourth floor of Neiman Marcus, the restaurant is positioned below the store’s gorgeous stained glass dome and offers chic wine and cocktails alongside caviar, tuna tartare, and even a lobster club sandwich. Their Afternoon Tea service is a popular event, hosted Thur-Sun at 3pm and 3:45pm.
Location: 150 Stockton Street, Level 4.
Peacekeeper is an excellent Oaxacan-inspired cocktail bar with a warm and welcoming staff that produces some truly delicious drinks. The space is grand and airy, with a beautiful fireplace and an absurd amount of skylights and hanging plants. On those rare but cherished sunny SF days, the skylights completely retract, creating a little oasis in the middle of downtown. The bars also feature a pool table for a little sport and an intimate loft where you can get away from it all.
Location: 925 Bush Street
Tacorea effortlessly blends Mexican and Korean cuisine in a way that makes us wonder why it wasn’t done sooner. Drop by for fast casual bites like their kimchi burrito or spring for The Big Ricardo, a wet California burrito with bulgogi, red enchilada salsa, and more. The portions are generous and prices are fair, which is s refreshing change for this typically pricey part of town.
Location: 809 Bush Street
If you need a casual brunch spot, Heist offers an elevated take on the classics. The menu ranges from classic pancakes and eggs to burgers and salads, with a few standouts like their ricotta toast with seasonal jam, and cappuccino made with local coffee roaster Linea.
Location: 678 Post St