San Francisco is a city for diners, and these days, it’s a city for the coolest of diners. The Golden City has some of the most revered — and hippest — restaurants around. And you don’t even have to leave home to explore them. Here are our picks for the coolest restaurants in San Francisco where you can order takeout on Caviar.
Founded in 2003, Pacific Catch was an early pioneer of sustainable seafood eating. A member of the Seafood Watch program, the restaurant’s fresh food remains completely delicious while changing regularly; expect surprising and interesting finds, like the Poke Bomb Trio, inari sweet-soy pockets stuffed with rice, and three kinds of poke.
San Francisco welcomes a Southern dining tradition at this casual dining spot, where guests choose one meat (including fried chicken, catfish, BBQ spare ribs, and others) and three sides; the list is nearly endless, but standouts include grits, cream biscuits, red beans and rice, and shockingly good vegan collard greens.
Danny Bowien’s popular cross-coast experiment is still as buzzy as it was over a decade ago when it first opened its doors in the Mission. Some of the dishes that contributed to the restaurant’s fame — like the Thrice-Cooked Bacon and Rice Cakes — are still available and can be ordered right to your doorstep tonight.
In San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, Flores offers an upscale take on Mexican food, with masa as the star ingredient. From the handmade corn tortillas featured in the quesadilla de hongos — they’re filled with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and kale — to the crunchy chorizo flautas, Flores’ bites are unforgettable.
With two cool San Fran locations — one in the Mission and one in the Panhandle — Nopalito is the go-to for fresh, reliable Mexican food. The Plato Completo, a rice bowl featuring arroz Mexicano, beans, guacamole, and cilantro with a choice of protein, is just one must-try at this Bay Area eatery.
Fourteen years have not diminished the cool factor of this sushi spot in Potrero Hill, where fresh fish arrives thrice weekly from Japan’s fish markets. For over a decade, chef Jerry Chen has been at the helm here, creating stunning dishes — and you’d be wise to trust his vision with the Live Sushi, a chef’s-choice selection of six pieces of nigiri, four pieces of sashimi, and a spicy tuna roll.
In the Financial District, chefs Ken Tominaga and Michael Mina offer a unique take on the izakaya — small snacks designed to be paired with cocktails. The seasonal menu changes regularly, but diners can expect superlative bites of sushi, sashimi, Tokyo fried chicken, and more.
Brenda Buenviaje and her wife, Libby Truesdell, co-own a number of incredibly cool Bay Area restaurants, and Brenda’s French Soul Food, in the Tenderloin, is but one of them. Inspired by Buenviaje’s hometown on New Orleans’ West Bank, this hot spot offers up Creole inspiration. Beignets, served three to an order, are non-negotiable.
Vietnamese comfort food comes to life in San Francisco’s Marina District at this pho-centric restaurant. Beyond the savory and life-affirming soup, Vietnamese food lovers will find a host of fan favorites, from a whole menu section dedicated to bún — vermicelli salad — and one just for foods classically paired with beer. (Go for the crispy, spicy chicken wings.)
San Franciscans swear by this sushi spot, which offers plenty of off-the-radar dishes, like monkfish liver paté and grilled whole squid. Rolls expand into artistry. Try the Devil Mountain Roll, a towering creation of deep-fried spicy salmon, cream cheese, and avocado with house special sauce.
Lokma brings breakfast, brunch, and dinner to Richmond — Turkish-style. There may be no place cooler for a weekend morning hang. Consider the Turkish breakfast, which includes pastirma (air-dried, cured beef), scrambled eggs, Turkish sausage, feta, olives, fresh fruit, muhammara, and kaymak, a type of clotted cream.
In the Mission, South Indian fare doesn’t get cooler or more delicious than at Udupi Palace, where dosas — airy crêpes — are among the signature dishes. This vegetarian restaurant offers a compendium of rich, enticing flavors, from the spicy chana batura to the crispy samosas, which come filled with spiced potatoes.
Open since 1958, over half a century hasn’t worn off the coolness factor of San Francisco’s third-generation, family-owned dim sum restaurant. It’s hard to choose a favorite among the restaurant’s jewel-toned dumplings and snacks, but, hard-pressed, most would agree that the steamed BBQ pork buns are a must-order.
Named for the famed autostrada that connects Canosa with Naples, A16 has served top-notch pies in the Marina District since 2004. No amount of time has diminished the restaurant’s coolness, though, and it’s still worth investing in their benchmark Margherita pie.
Tataki, open in Pacific Heights since 2008, was the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the United States. Today, you can order this of-the-moment seafood right to your dining table. And while there is plenty to admire at Tataki, fire up your taste buds with the Extinguisher, a roll made from spicy albacore, cucumber, avocado, habanero masago, and spicy aioli.
Cole Valley’s Padrecito serves up a seasonal take on Mexican food, with ceviches, enchiladas, and tacos that change with the weather. And don’t skip the sweet corn esquites, made with corn, árbol crema, and queso fresco.
Michelin-starred chef Brandon Jew has expanded his empire from Mister Jiu’s to Mamahuhu, a Chinese-American restaurant with an upscale bent. This incredibly cool spot leans into classics, but ingredients are the focus here, and dishes like the rice-battered and impossibly crispy sweet and sour chicken never fail to deliver — right to your doorstep, that is.
Named for chef Samir Mogannam’s mother, Rima, this Palestinian-Jordanian restaurant in the Castro urges diners to share plates, like the mezze sampler, which comes with hand-kneaded pita bread.
San Francisco’s hippest Burmese restaurant — technically restaurants, since there are now multiple outlets — belongs to owner Desmond Tan. There are so many dishes to fall in Burma love with that it’s almost impossible to choose, but do yourself a favor and order the chicken kebat, wok-tossed with onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, mint, tamarind, and turmeric.
In the Mission, you’ll find San Francisco’s sole Chamorro — or Guamanian — restaurant. Crispy, dry-fried “Koko” wings, caramelized potato soup, and tinaktak — coconut-braised beef served with handmade egg noodles, green beans, and tomatoes — are the don’t-miss dishes at this stellar, and extremely cool, spot.
Auntie April’s serves what is arguably the best soul food in San Francisco at this Bayview spot, where the fried chicken and waffles are always hot, and the scene is even hotter. There are no duds on the menu, but you can’t go wrong with Auntie April’s Famous Shrimp & Grits, with shrimp smothered in a rich, Cajun-inspired gravy.