My Favorite 25 San Francisco Restaurants for 2017

My Favorite 25 San Francisco Restaurants for 2017

These are my favorite 25 San Francisco restaurants for 2017. This marks my 6th year of publishing this list, and every year it’s my most visited post on the blog. San Francisco is such an incredible food city — so many cuisines, so many new restaurants opening all the time, and so many that stand the test of time. This year is no exception, with 9 of the below restaurants being new to the list this year! There are also 8 that didn’t make this year’s list. Some of them are still amazing restaurants, but we just didn’t get to visit them in the last year, so it didn’t seem right to include them. Benu, Coi, The Progress and Gary Danko are good examples, and I’m sure we’ll get back to them this year. Others got edged out by better restaurants or we had a disappointing meal the last time we visited. That list includes Sons & Daughters (which is still very good, just not a stand out), The Cavalier (which I adore, but the menu never changes and I’m tired of the food), Tacolicious for the same reason, and Umami burger (there are now better burger spots, including the 2 I included on the list: Roam Burger and Causwell’s).

The saddest omission is Volta, which closed in October of 2016 after 10 months in business. The food was spectacular, the ambiance amazing, and the service perfection. Unfortunately, the Westfield Mall (who owned the building) wouldn’t let them out of lunch service, despite it being slow and unprofitable, and that basically killed one of SF’s best new restaurants.

Now on to the list of my favorite 25 San Francisco restaurants for 2017!

  1. Saison – Still the best place in San Francisco. The food is spectacular, and the ambiance warm and welcoming. Even the bread is glazed in butter and smoked in the wood-burning oven. Definitely a must visit.
  2. Hashiri – This is the best new restaurant to open in the last year. Hashiri is Japanese, has room for only about 25  diners, and offers only a tasting menu (omakase). The sushi is the best I’ve had. Anywhere in the world, including Tokyo. They have private fish delivery directly from Tsujiki fish market in Japan, and it shows. They offer 3 options for dining — a table (for $250 a head), the sushi bar ($350 a head) and the chef’s table (at $500 a head, it’s now the most expensive dinner in San Francisco). I’d recommend the sushi bar option, so that the fish goes straight from the chef’s hand to your mouth.
  3. Quince – Wow, this place deserves that third Michelin star it earned this past year! We ate there before the latest star was given and said to the staff that we thought it deserved 3 stars for its outstanding food and service. We even got a private tour of the kitchen.
  4. Michael Mina – Always a favorite of ours, this remains a staple in our restaurant repertoire. Chef Mina turns out a hell of a great meal, every time. And the creative use of ingredients is always fun to taste as well. Their wine list is almost as impressive as Quince’s.
  5. RN74 – Also by Michael Mina, those who read last year’s post will remember this one went through a total transformation under Chef Michael Lee Rafidi, and it remains one of the best restaurants in the city. The food is prepared perfectly, and is always comforting, delicious and extremely high quality.
  6. Lazy Bear – This place deserves the hype. From the ‘living room’ start to the evening, to the dinner party feel of communal dining, the ambiance is wonderful. But the food is the star, with creative and delicious bites throughout the many courses.
  7. Petit Crenn – I put this on the list last year, and it remains a real favorite. Chef Dominique Crenn does beautiful justice to the cuisine of her home town of Brittany, France. Every dish is delicious, approachable and memorable.
  8. Californios – This is a new addition to the list, and it deserves the #8 spot. I’ve never had Mexican flavors elevated to such elegance. Every course was not only creative and absolutely delicious, but an amazing showcase of latin flavors. Done as a tasting menu, this is one meal you have to try.
  9. SPQR – Still our favorite neighborhood restaurant, and with its Michelin star, the food is worth the visit every time. This place features some of the most creative pasta dishes we’ve ever tasted, and the use of seafood is incredibly creative.
  10. Mourad – This upscale sister to Aziza is all about modern food with Moroccan roots, done elegantly and deliciously. The tasting menu is not to be missed (8 gorgeous courses, paired with wines just as impressive).
  11. Spruce – I think this restaurant has been on every one of my 6 lists. The ambiance is modern but welcoming, the food consistently great, the vibe energizing, and the service perfection. The Michelin star is well-deserved. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s 8 blocks from our house.
  12. Terzo – Now 10 years old, this restaurant and Chef Mark Gordon are at the top of their game. The food is so flavorful and fresh that I find I want everything on the menu. Don’t miss the skirt steak, and if there is any sausage on the menu, order it (it’s made by the chef’s wife).
  13. DOSA – Still the best Indian food in the city with creative ingredients, combinations and presentations, yet still true to Indian flavors. The Fillmore location is the gorgeous one with a large bar (perfect for counter dining, by the way), but the Mission location is the original and has so much charm!
  14. PABU – For the sushi, sit at the sushi bar, but the izakaya-style bar food and shared plates are also awesome. The tasting menu is a great way to experience the menu, and do not miss out on the chance to have sake paired with your meal by the amazing Stuart Morris, one of the few Master Sommeliers of Sake (called a kikisake-shi).
  15. Lord Stanley – Now two years old, this restaurant is doing great things taking European food and giving it a California flair. I still can’t forget the amazing taste of cipollini onion petals with sherry vinegar…yum!
  16. Perbacco – This epic Italian restaurant does beautifully presented comforting dishes like pillowy gnocchi with wild mushrooms and papperdelle with slow cooked pork ragu like nobody’s business. Don’t miss their impressive list of Italian wines, and say a warm hello to the always stylish and welcoming proprietor, Umberto Gibin.
  17. Babu Ji – This newcomer (both to the city and to my list) is a must visit. A sister restaurant to one in New York, this place takes a friendly and fresh approach to Indian food, making it exciting and fun to eat. Don’t miss their Colonel Tso’s cauliflower, glazed in a chili sauce and deep fried.
  18. Bellota – This new Spanish tapas restaurant makes incredible food. The paella (and they usually have 5 or 6 variations) is cooked in a wood burning oven and is amazingly tasty. They also do an unbelievable white bean, pork belly and octopus stew cooked in the wood burning oven that is the dish I want the next time I’m sick on the couch with a cold….it’s so comforting! Great wine list too.
  19. Stone’s Throw – This casual, homey restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy an amazing meal with friends, sampling the incredible homemade pastas and other creative dishes.
  20. Barbacco – The casual sister to Perbacco, this place turns out delicious sharable plates that show off Italian roots. The brussels sprouts, when they are on the menu, are not to be missed. I’ve tried to replicate them at home, but can’t quite nail the amazing flavors they pull of.
  21. Namu Gaji – Korean food with a twist you can’t help but fall in love with. The dumplings are delicious, and my two faves are the stonepot (their version of bibimbap) and the KFC (Korean fried chicken) when it’s available.
  22. Out the Door/Slanted Door – This is a staple on my list every year. They do the best pho, steamed pork dumplings, and lemongrass pork of anywhere in the city. Great selection of wines and beers too.
  23. Delfina Pizzeria – While SF’s pizza scene has gotten significant in the last few years, this one remains my favorite. The Salsiccia (fennel sausage and roasted peppers) is to die for.
  24. Roam Burger – While we’ve been going to this spot on Fillmore Street for a few years, their BBQ burger with caramelized onions and jalapeno relish is our fave, but they have plenty of creative combos and also offer turkey, bison and veggie burgers.
  25. Causwell’s – Relatively new on the scene, this spot’s Americana burger is the classic cheeseburger done just perfectly. The sauce is addictive, too.

That wraps up my favorite 25 San Francisco restaurants for 2017! I hope you get a chance to try many of these, from the more casual to the truly extravagant. And feel free to add comments with your own favorites…I love hearing about new places to try.

Bon appétit!

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2 Comments

  1. Vivian - January 11, 2017

    Thanks Whitney! Always appreciate and use your list!

  2. ryan - January 13, 2017

    Saru Sushi. The zuke bin toro is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. I have been to causewell’s twice and not really sure how it makes this list. They have these flat well done patties which I understand is the style for a smashburger but if you want that just go to steak and shake.

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