Fine Dining Favorite in San Francisco

Some people might argue that all dining in San Francisco is fine dining -- by virtue of it being in San Francisco.

Issues of city pride aside, the restaurants here comprise a group of personal favorites, leaning toward the upscale, where the combination food, ambiance, and service make for a fine dining experience.

  • 01 of 10


    Jackson Square/Financial District

    56 Gold Street (at Montgomery)
    San Francisco, CA 94133

    Bix has long been popular as an after-work bar, as well as a dining destination. So it's no surprise that their cocktails are exquisitely made, always to order. Just entering Bix is a treat, as the restaurant is set off on Gold Street, a Jackson Square Historic District byway with old brick and a sense of separation from the busy streets nearby. Bix has a supper club feel, with strains of jazz through the dinner.

  • 02 of 10

    SoMa/Embarcadero South

    1 Mission Street (at Steuart)
    San Francisco, CA 94105

    Boulevard's location has a special pedigree. The Audiffred Building (1889) is one of the few structures to survive the 1906 earthquake. Boulevard is always busy so the place has a general buzz during after-work and dinner hours. If you don't have a reservation, the long bar to the side of the restaurant is a comfortable place to plant yourself with a cocktail or a bottle of wine.

  • 03 of 10

    Mission District

    3621 18th (at Guerrero)
    San Francisco, CA 94110

    Delfina is one of San Francisco's top Italian restaurants -- but it pays to think ahead because the restaurant is often booked many weeks in advance. Bar seating is available without a reservation. Hardwoods warm the interior which is a mix of metal table tops, candlelight, and artwork on the walls. Delfina has enclosed patio dining as well. It's a vibrant and warm place to take a meal, unpretentious and delicious.

  • 04 of 10

    Noe Valley

    4288 24th Street (at Douglass)
    San Francisco, CA 94114

    Firefly is a Noe Valley gem with the intimate and comfortable feel of a dining room and a friendly and laid back atmosphere. The cuisine is primarily American and Californian including vegetarian selections. Firefly is a favorite neighborhood spot but draws its patrons from around the city for its comfort food and cozy space.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Foreign Cinema

    Mission District

    2534 Mission Street (at 22nd)
    San Francisco, CA 94110

    Foreign Cinema is one of those places you have to try, just for the novel concept of dining with the backdrop of a classic film. It sounds more intrusive than it is. The outdoor patio shows films with volume kept at bay to keep conversation viable. For the full immersion, dine after sundown (when the films begin) and if at all possible, get yourself a spot on the patio.

  • 06 of 10

    Fisherman's Wharf Area

    800 North Point (at Hyde)
    San Francisco, CA 94109

    Gary Danko is a quintessential fine dining experience in San Francisco . . . provided you plan ahead with your reservations, or luck out with an early table. Gary Danko is known for its consistency in both food and service. Servers are attentive but not overbearing, and the ambiance is warm with its earth tones. The cuisine is California and classical, with emphasis on the seasonal.

    If you're new to San Francisco, cap the evening with a short walk down Hyde to the Buena Vista Cafe for an Irish Coffee, and a cable car ride from the Hyde terminus of the Powell-Hyde line.

  • 07 of 10

    Civic Center

    300 Grove Street (at Franklin)
    San Francisco, CA 94102

    Jardiniere is a great choice if you're attending an event in the Civic Center area. It's also an easy walk from Civic Center BART. A Pat Kuleto establishment, Jardiniere is tucked away in the former Kimball's Jazz Club building. Be sure to book a table upstairs, removed from the busy bar, but with a view to the scene downstairs. The ambiance is elegant but friendly, food is Californian with French influence and based on seasonal ingredients.

  • 08 of 10

    Civic Center/Tenderloin

    580 Geary Street (at Jones)
    San Francisco, CA 94102

    Millenium is an upscale vegetarian restaurant, committed to an environmental and sustainable food ethic. Millenium (along with Greens at Fort Mason) stands out as a fine dining experience where vegetarians don't have to dance around one entree or a collection of side dishes. In addition to its regular menu, Millenium also offers a five-course tasting menu.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Nob Hill

    603 Stockton Street (at Pine)
    San Francisco, CA 94108

    The atmosphere is true to what you might expect at the Ritz -- formal, hospitable, attentive, expensive. It's an elegant retreat for a romantic meal, with French cuisine and a traditional dinner menu as well as an eight-course tasting menu. The wine list has more than 1400 global selections.

  • 10 of 10

    SoMa/South of Market

    342 Howard Street (at Fremont)
    San Francisco, CA 94105

    Town Hall's location, in the 1907 Marine Electric Building is among my favorite spaces in town. The ambiance is warm and laid back with its exposed brick and hefty wooden tables. It's tucked away on Howard Street, a relatively short walk from the Embarcadero area and from BART. The menu has some delicious southern twists, like the popular barbecued shrimp appetizer. Service is friendly and informed.