San Francisco Restaurants
No place does elegant dining quite like Gary Danko. Despite its team of attentive tuxedo-clad waiters who ensure your wine glass is never empty, the ambience is refreshingly laid-back. The focus here is the food, presented by award-winning chef Gary Danko. The three- to five-course menu changes seasonally. It may include lobster salad with avocado, pancetta tart with herb ricotta mousse, or herb-crusted lamb loin. The wine list is something to behold too; the cellar contains over 1,200 bottles – with vintages that span three centuries – from 15 countries.
Insider Tip: Tables book up well in advance; if you can't get a reservation, grab a seat at the bar instead.
This beloved Mission district eatery is consistently filled with locals who flock here for its delicious cuisine, created by co-chefs Cortney Burns and Nick Balla. Flavours span the globe, from places such as Japan, Denmark and Hungary, and aged cheeses and spices (to name a few) are all painstakingly processed in-house. While the dinner menu may feature grilled tripe with paprika, or roasted kale with rye, come for weekend brunch and you can feast on sesame bread pudding with strawberries and ginger, or chilled plum soup with sour cream and fennel.
Insider Tip: Stop by its sister outlet, the Tartine Bakery, which is just down the street and sells wickedly good pastries.
The thing that makes Ichi stand out from the crowd is that its sushi is meant to be eaten as it is – minus extra lashings of wasabi and soya sauce. Chef Tim Archuleta serves most of his sushi pre-seasoned – a practice common in Japan, but rare here in the West. Best of all, dishes are very reasonably priced: traditional rolls start at US$3.50 and the menu tops out at US$14.50 for the Australian wagyu beef tataki. There is a large sake menu and also Asahi and Sapporo beers on tap.
Insider Tip: Ichi Sushi does not accept reservations. Just stop by, add your name to the list and order a glass of sake while you wait. Also, it only accommodates parties of six or fewer.
The recently-renovated State Bird Provisions remains one of the most media-hyped restaurants in the city. It is run by husband-and-wife team chef Stuart Brioza and pastry chef Nicole Krasinski. Food is ordered in one of two ways: from a menu of plates – featuring a pancake section, meat and fish options, and desserts – or from a dim sum-type system, in which trays or carts are whisked through the dining room by waiters.
Insider Tip: Reservations are hard to come by, so it’s best to arrive at 5.30pm for dinner, when walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis.
This is the second outlet from the owners of the popular Flour + Water Italian restaurant. Come on a balmy summer evening if you want to enjoy its leafy courtyard. Within the open kitchen, chefs whip up all kinds of Californian dishes using locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients, ranging from fried pickles with smoked oyster emulsion to hen with poached fig.
Insider Tip: For the complete Central Kitchen experience, go for the eight-course tasting menu. But it must be ordered by your entire table.