In a town with nearly 4,500 restaurants, almost 60 of which boast Michelin stars, it’s extremely difficult to narrow down the ‘best’. However, when it comes to service, atmosphere, value and deliciousness, these establishments knock it out of the park, and are undoubtedly among the top restaurants in San Francisco.
This ‘casual’ Saison spinoff from Chef Joshua Skenes has received a ton of media attention since it opened in late 2018. The good news is that in terms of space, service and food, Angler lives up to the hype. Though the name inspires visions of fishing, the self-proclaimed ‘sea life-focused’ restaurant also excels in the areas of hunting, ranching and gathering. Almost all of the hot dishes are cooked over a 32-foot hearth and open wood-fire grill (the whole chicken is perfection). However, be sure to also order some of the raw dishes, like the antelope tartare, the oysters, and if you’re in the mood to splurge, the caviar service. Saison has two dining rooms, and both have sweeping views of the Bay Bridge; opt for the main dining room if you want an airy, spacious feel and the Game Room if you want a more intimate experience and don’t mind taxidermy animals as decor. Yes, Angler is more casual than its fancy sister restaurant, but the quality of the ingredients, cooking techniques, and atmosphere are still very upscale and the prices reflect that.
Locals and tourists flock to this iconic San Francisco steakhouse for two things: meat and martinis. The former is best iterated as a well marbled prime rib that’s carved tableside and the latter is served ice cold from the shaker with a sidecar. House of Prime Rib has been open since the 1940s and not much has changed since then. The bar is always full of people waiting for a seat in the cozy English-style dining room and the service is always impeccable. Also, dinner always comes with a plethora of sides, including tossed salad, mashed or baked potato, Yorkshire pudding and creamed spinach.
Hawaiian food is pretty prevalent in San Francisco these days, but nowhere does it with more creativity and flair than Liholiho. The trick, perhaps, is that Liholiho doesn’t serve only typical Hawaiian fare, but rather dishes that also take inspiration from Chinese, Indian and Californian food. Yes, there’s Spam, but it’s house-made and served with kimchi fried rice, a smoked egg yolk, tamari, and clamshell mushrooms. The laid-back atmosphere makes you want to hang out for a while, which works well since all the dishes are meant to be shared, and you’re going to want to try as many of them as possible. Be sure to do so while also sipping on the flavorful cocktails.
For diners looking to splurge on a meal, there is nowhere more worthy (or expensive) in San Francisco than Saison. Saison feels like a special occasion dinner. A really, really special occasion. In fact, it could almost be more like a once-in-a-lifetime dinner. If you do happen to be so lucky, then rejoice in the experience of indulging in a 12+ course seasonal tasting menu of New-American food that revolves around open wood fire (much like its sister restaurant, Angler, which also made this list). You’ll want to add the wine pairings because Saison has a phenomenal list full of American and European wines with a focus on Burgundy. And if you’re going to experience this three-Michelin-star restaurant in all its glory, you won’t want to skimp on the wine.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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