San Francisco’s 10 Most Gorgeous Restaurants
They’re more photogenic than we are
Living in such a picturesque city--breathtaking bay views, soaring hills and candy-colored Victorians--pretty much dictates the need for equally beautiful spaces. From a converted movie theater to a SoMa spot Obama visited, you’ll get your fill of both good food and high design at these ten handsome eateries.
Leo’s Oyster Bar
The folks behind Marlowe, Park Tavern and The Cavalier know a thing or two about good-looking spaces, and their newest venture is no different. The Ken Fulk-designed hot spot is meant to evoke 1950s Beverly Hills meets Manhattan night club and features custom palm-frond wallpaper, rattan furnishings, brass lighting and a pink onyx bar.
What to order: Lobster roll and a dozen oysters
568 Sacramento St.; 415-872-9982 or leossf.com
Boor Bridges Architecture (The Mill, Sightglass SFMOMA, Trou Normand) put its stamp on yet another Bay Area design star. A hidden gem among Chinatown’s cheesy tourist traps, Mister Jiu’s aims to impress with both its menu and its good looks. Gilded lotus-flower chandeliers, jade-green ceilings and tables embedded with lazy Susans are all nods to tradition, done up in a totally modern way.
What to order: Peking duck with crepes
28 Waverly Place; 415-857-9688 or misterjius.com
The whitewashed interior with nautical touches complements the seafood-heavy menu but feels more modern art gallery than shabby chic. Pendant lights hang from ropes and white resin pieces with French phrases adorn the walls--both of which evoke the maritime mood of Brittany, the hometown of chef-owner Dominique Crenn.
What to order: Whole-roasted trout with a frothy cider mousse
609 Hayes St.; 415-864-1744 or petitcrenn.com
The newer, sleeker, more sophisticated sister to neighboring State Bird Provisions, The Progress is a place to see and be seen. Housed in the historic Progress Theater, which dates back to 1911, the space exposes the building’s original vaulted ceilings with wooden lathe artifact. Consider it part history lesson, part trendy dining experience--if you can score a reservation, that is.
What to order: Double duck broth dumplings with morels and turnips
1525 Fillmore St.; 415-673-1294 or theprogress-sf.com
Modern meets traditional at this FiDi hot spot, with a patchwork of antique Moroccan carpets inset into a marble floor and a twinkle of lights throughout the dining room meant to elicit the feel of night markets.
What to order: Duck confit basteeya
140 New Montgomery St.; 415-660-2500 or mouradsf.com
Housed in the historic Pacific Telephone Building, this grandiose space is simple in its design--lofty ceilings, brick walls, a curved bar and a tasteful nude hand-painted on the wall--but still makes a bold statement. The large corner booth is the best seat in the house for people watching.
What to order: Charcuterie and cheese board
140 New Montgomery St.; 415-975-0876 or trounormandsf.com
This restaurant has been collecting accolades since it won a James Beard Award for its Aidlin Darling-designed interior back in 2011, and it’s not hard to see why. Just look up at the pièces de résistance: undulating, glass-tube sculptures affixed to each skylight, designed by Nikolas Weinstein Studios.
What to order: Roast pork leg and belly
355 11th St.; 415-355-9400 or baragricole.com
It may feel like a cozy fireplace lounge, but this restaurant might boast one of the most expensive interiors in town. Designed by the famous Cass Calder Smith, it’s a dim, brick-lined space set with heavy wood beams and levitating circular steel fireplaces. But its newest claim tofame is that it’s the place President Obama visited on his most recent stop in town.
What to order: Happy-hour octopus tacos
25 Lusk St.; 415-495-5875 or 25lusk.com
An homage to life in Oaxaca, the restaurant is anchored by a pre-Columbian Zapotec-inspired bar and a suspended glass case full of alebrijes (wood animal carvings) collected from the team’s travels. Just ask the bartender for a few of the backstories.
What to order: Gulf Coast shrimp
2337 Broadway, Oakland; 510-338-3273 or calaveraoakland.com
The warm, earthy interior is meant to feel like a living room away from home, and Berkeley’s own Meyer Sound Laboratories has won awards for its design acoustics (they’ve made it so that you can actually hear what your dinner companions are saying amid the crowds). But the best part is the landscaped courtyard, perfect for sharing a few margaritas on a balmy weekend afternoon.
What to order: Grilled summer squash tlayuda
2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-926-6300 or comalberkeley.com