If you have been in the Bay Area for any length of time, you have probably been asked,  What is the best restaurant in San Francisco?  You (or any resident or even a one-time visitor) undoubtedly have an answer, but if you really thought about it your answer woThumbs Up Best Restaurant 188x100uld have to be: “it depends”.

It depends on what cuisine you like, how spicy you like it, how much you want to pay, if you want to get really dressed up or want a more casual atmosphere, if you want the best value or if you want the best service, just to name a few.

The fact is, San Francisco has so many restaurants that trying them all would be a major task and new ones are opening up all the time so when you were through your original list you would still have a fairly large number still ahead of you.

The City by the Bay is a foodie’s delight, in fact, it has more restaurants per 10,000 households than any other place in the Country as discussed in the article below:


Eating Towns

San Francisco has the most restaurants of all large metros in the U.S., adjusted for the number of households. No other Eating Towns, Drinking Townsmajor metro comes close: at 39.3 per 10,000 households, San Francisco has nearly 50% more restaurants relative to its size than #2 Fairfield County, CT (the southwest corner of the state nearest New York City). All of the top eating towns are on or near the ocean. If you want lots of restaurants to choose from, move toward the coasts.

Top Metros for Eating Out
# U.S. Metro Restaurants per 10,000 households Median price per square foot of homes listed for sale
1 San Francisco, CA 39.3 $459
2 Fairfield County, CT 27.6 $222
3 Long Island, NY 26.5 $217
4 New York, NY-NJ 25.3 $275
5 Seattle, WA 24.9 $150
6 San Jose, CA 24.8 $319
7 Orange County, CA 24.8 $260
8 Providence, RI-MA 24.3 $146
9 Boston, MA 24.2 $219
10 Portland, OR-WA 24.0 $129

Note: among the 100 largest metros.

You can read the entire article here.


Based on the number of restaurants and the variety of cuisines, San Francisco is a great place to find good restaurants and it could be argued the best place in the country if not the world.  Given that, coming up with the one best single restaurant in the City would be an impossible task.

Faced with that, numerous people have created lists of the best restaurants in San Francisco. I have selected some articles from prominent sources and listed their choices below. These are in no particular order and will provide only a partial list of the great restaurants that we have to choose from.

This list will grow as I find new lists and get new selections.


The first list is from Allie Pape, a Bay Area food writer. Here is what she says about her list of the 38 Essential San Francisco Restaurants:

38-Essential-San-Francisco-Restaurants-197x100“It’s time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant…” This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs. Every few months, we add pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months) or have stepped up their game. And keep in mind, this list is presented in no particular order.

As always, this means we have to drop a few great places, and we continue to wish all the best to the fantastic Benu, Tacolicious, and Absinthe. Their spaces are filled by R&G Lounge, a longtime favorite for non-dim-sum Chinese goodness; Coi, which is having a moment thanks to the release of chef Daniel Patterson’s new cookbook; and Nopalito, which has outgrown the shadow of Nopa to become a star in its own right.”

If 38 choices aren’t enough, an even more ambitious list is provided by Michael Bauer in his The Bay’s Top 100 Restaurants.  Here is what Michael says:

“What would I say about the past year in Bay Area dining? It was a year of shakedown. A year of highs. A year when some Bay Area Top 100 Restaurantspreviously stellar restaurants fell off the list while other established places jumped to the top. Overall, however, it was a great year for new restaurants, with the likes of Rich Table setting even higher standards than in previous years.”

Michael goes on to say:

“Each year I return to the restaurants on the Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list, incorporate new ones that I reviewed or revisited in the last year, and then make my decisions as to what remains and what stays. The biggest shakeup came in 2010, when I changed out 26 restaurants; last year, it was 17.”

Michael’s list includes restaurants in the Bay Area and some restaurants are not actually located in San Francisco, but there are a total of 62 in San Francisco proper. I won’t list them all here, but you can see his complete article here.

A more conc10 Places to Eat at Nowise list is provided by Marcia Gagliardi on the tablehopper website.  She provides a list of the top 10 restaurants.



Here is her selection:

  1. 1601 Bar & Kitchen
  2. 20th Century Cafe
  3. Betelnut
  4. Campton Place Restaurant
  5. Fusebox
  6. Hakkasan
  7. Hard Water
  8. ICHI Sushi
  9. Juhu Beach Club
  10. Rich Table

You can read Marcia’s comments on each of the restaurants by going here.

A great way to try some of the best restaurants in the City at a discount is to participate in the semi-annual Dine About Town event. This is what their website says:

Dine About Town“Dine About Town, San Francisco’s restaurant week, features 3-course dinners for $36.95 and 2-3-course lunches for $18.95-representing up to a 25% discount off regularly priced menu items. The program takes place each year January 15-31 and June 1-15.”

For more information and a list of the participating restaurants, go to their website.

What do you think about San Francisco restaurants? Do you have a favorite? Have you seen another article or post about great San Francisco restaurants? Leave a comment below and tell everyone about it.

Also, you will want to watch for our upcoming Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant contest where you will have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the winning restaurant.

Jim was born in Oakland and with the exception of his 7 years in the Air Force, has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area his entire life. He is an avid fan of San Francisco and its surrounds and enjoys the beauty, culture and diversity it affords. He enjoys being able to take day trips to the ocean, the desert or to some of the highest peaks on the continent. He likes having the ability to travel from a metropolis with millions of people to a quiet spot with only nature around him within a few hours of driving time.