From the ice rink to the cable-car turnaround to the mall, walking even a couple blocks around Union Square during the holiday season means navigating through crowds of families and tourists. It’s enough to make even the sanest person go totally crazy. So yeah, you deserve a delicious meal at one of these nine restaurants in the area that are actually good.
The 9 Best Places to Eat Around Union Square (That Aren’t at the Mall)
From $1 oysters to hand-pulled noodles
We were thrilled when this Roman-style pizzeria in the Marina opened an outpost downtown. After all, there’s nothing like sharing a pizza, pasta and salad with a friend after several hours of shopping. Oh, and a glass of wine to toast a hard day’s work, of course.
37 Yerba Buena Lane; 415-872-7363 or delarosasf.com
Look closely or you’ll miss this tiny nook of a restaurant. You can’t go wrong, whether you opt for your favorite fish by the piece or go omakase and let the chef decide. Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer even calls it one of the best sushi joints in town.
431 Bush St.; 415-397-3218 or akikosrestaurant.com
The Rotunda At Neiman Marcus
Four words: popovers with strawberry butter—and they come with every meal. It’s definitely a “ladies who lunch” kind of scene, but isn’t that fun once in a while?
150 Stockton St.; 415-249-2720 x. 2465 or neimanmarcus.com
The lunch buffet is where it’s at. Come hungry—very hungry—because it’s a $20 all-you-can-eat deal ($27 weekends) with favorites like butter chicken and saag paneer.
25 Yerba Buena Lane; 415-777-0500 or amber-india.com
CafÉ De La Presse
A little slice of Paris right at the edge of Union Square and Chinatown. Come here to feel European and unwind over a bowl of French onion soup or a basket of fries.
352 Grant Ave.; 415-398-2680 or cafedelapresse.com
This isn’t your average neighborhood Thai. Owner Pim Techamuanvivit goes the authentic route, but if you don’t like spicy, be forewarned. The papaya salad and pretty hot wings are go-tos…and an order of sticky rice always helps cool down the mouth.
55 Cyril Magnin St.; 415-362-7456 or kinkhao.com
Expect standard bistro fare, but we say hold out until 4 p.m. and then gorge yourself on $1 oysters and pommes frites during happy hour.
185 Sutter St.; 415-576-8800 or gasparbrasserie.com
OK, so this one is technically in the mall, but you’ll forget that once you step inside the restaurant under the dome in the Westfield. Catch a glimpse of the action through a glass-walled area of the kitchen, where the hand-pulled noodles are made to order.
845 Market St. #480; 415-580-3001 or tastemychina.com
For soup to warms the soul, head to this hole-in-the-wall, where they dish out huge, piping-hot bowls of ramen. We dare you to finish the Katana-ya with fried chicken, pot stickers and pork.
430 Geary St.; 415-771-1281 or katanayausa.com