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.
It may seem strange to pay over $300 only to have no say over what you eat or who you sit with (other than the dining companions with whom you arrived), but at this restaurant/dinner party, that’s exactly what happens – and it works. Very well. Lazy Bear is unlike any other dining experience in San Francisco. The meal (which requires advance tickets) starts with a ‘cocktail hour’ in the mezzanine where guests are treated to the first few courses (small bites) and drinks (pairings are optional), before moving downstairs to be seated at one of two very long communal tables. Each course is presented by the chef who prepared it (there are 15+) and though the menu changes often, you can count on each dish being inspired by local and seasonal ingredients, and just one part of a meal you won’t soon forget.
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.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
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.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.