The Top 7 Restaurants in the Castro, San Francisco

Castro District Rainbow Crosswalk Intersection, San Francisco, California, USA.
Castro District Rainbow Crosswalk Intersection, San Francisco, California, USA. | © Rosangela Lima / Alamy Stock Photo

Whether dining early in the morning or late into the night, these top restaurants in the Castro make the neighborhood a foodie destination.

Known as the center of LGBTQ life in San Francisco, the Castro deserves its reputation for diverse, see-and-be-seen bars and nightlife. This small neighborhood also merits a refreshed reputation as a destination for good eats. In recent years, the scene has expanded to include more than terrific cocktails and music that thumps into the wee hours. Now, there is food to match the Castro’s energetic, come-as-you-are vibe.

1. Frances, 17th Street

Bistro, Restaurant, Contemporary, North American

In Frances’s narrow slip of a space, chef Melissa Perello whips up big flavor for a menu that changes daily, earning one Michelin star for neighborhood favorites such as bavette steak with crispy leeks and green peppercorn butter. Its signature dish, smoked bacon beignets served with maple-whipped crème fraîche, has won the admiration of many a guest.

2. Izakaya Sushi Ran

Restaurant, Japanese

Featuring the flavors of Okinawa and Japan’s far south, Izakaya Sushi Ran delivers the same impeccable quality, in a more modern outpost, as the Sushi Ran mother ship in Sausalito. The small sushi and sashimi menu gets a well-deserved nod, but the composed plates of almond-milk tofu and braised pork belly expand the realm of Japanese food into something comforting but hardly pedestrian.

3. Finn Town

Brasserie, American

Finn Town earned its reputation for great brunch with dishes such as duck confit hash and avocado toast with chimichurri and pickled kumquats, but the American comfort food menu really takes off at dinner. Crab cakes are crunchy with cornflakes, the coleslaw on the fish-fry platter earns more raves than the battered cod, and the jambalaya is fragrant with andouille sausage. The food is as fun as the crowd.

4. Anchor Oyster Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Seafood

Anchor Oyster Bar is a nautically themed, locally owned restaurant that serves fresh fish and shellfish. Start with a bowl of delicious clam chowder or cioppino, followed by oyster shooters and crab cakes, and finish your meal with a cracked dungeness crab entrée.

5. Le Marais Bakery

Bakery, Pastries

Le Marais Bakery is a petite shop, lauded for its croissants (especially the pain au chocolat et banane) and other pastries. But this laid-back bistro serves up an exceptional menu from late morning through early afternoon. Classic French salads (think frisée aux lardons), tartines and croques (monsieurs et madames) are done well, but the French onion soup with comté is the star.

6. Canela

Bistro, Spanish

The gentle glow coming through the Moroccan screens crafts an intimate scene inside cozy Canela. Add to that the menu from chef Mat Schuster that tells the tale of Spanish flavor in fine strokes. The spring pea and almond gazpacho makes a visit to Canela a must with its fresh, delicate flavor. Stay for the hand-carved jamón Iberico, Tempranillo-braised beef cheeks and local halibut with chorizo rice.

7. Poesia

Restaurant, Italian

One of the few places in San Francisco to get a “dirty” negroni (it’s made with prosecco, not gin), Poesia, restaurant and poetry lounge, sticks to an all-Italian menu. The house-made pastas get all the love: the squid ink ravioli stuffed with local crab and the fettuccine with lamb ragú are rave-worthy. The tiramisù inspires prose and poetry from even the most reluctant bard. And, with that, who isn’t ready to sing the praises of the Castro restaurant scene?

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