From grass-fed shaking beef to locally sourced golden chanterelles to salt-roasted pear sorbet, San Francisco has long been a hub of dining innovation. What new restaurants or old standbys are your favorites? We get the latest from dining critics on the best cuisine and dining trends in the Bay Area.

Map of Recommended Restaurants

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Restaurants Recommended by Food Critics and Bloggers

San Francisco



Benu (chef Corey Lee)

Park Tavern


Bar Tartine


Sandbox Bakery (opened by former chef at Slanted Door)

Deli Board




Craftsman and Wolves

Lai Hong Lounge in Chinatown (branch of Kong Kong Lounge)

M.Y. China in Westfield Mall



Charles Phan's Hard Water (not yet opened)

East Bay

Miss Ollie's in Oakland

Flora Restaurant and Bar in Oakland

Hopscotch Restaurant and Bar in Oakland

Duende in Oakland

Cosecha in Oakland

Ippuku in Berkeley (chef Christian Geideman)

Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley

Beauty's Bagel Shop in Oakland

Authentic Bagel Company in Oakland

Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar in Berkeley

Chez Panisse in Berkeley

Slow Hand BBQ in Pleasant Hill

Comal in Berkeley (former chef at Delfina's)

Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana in Oakland

Gather in Berkeley

Saul's Restaurant and Delicatessen in Berkeley

A16 (currently in San Francisco. Set to open another location in the East Bay)

Peninsula and South Bay

Chez TJ in Mountain View

Alexander's Steakhouse in San Francisco and Silicon Valley

The Sea in Palo Alto

Attic in San Mateo

Manresa in Los Gatos

All Spice in San Mateo

North Bay

Mill Valley Beerworks in Mill Valley

Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael (founding owner of member Grateful Dead)

The Tavern at Lark Creek in Larkspur

Picco in Larkspur

Restaurants Recommended by Callers

San Francisco

Halu in the Inner Richmond


Arang Korean Restaurant

Ayulta in the Mission


El Nopalito

Original Joe's Italian

The Slanted Door

Zuni Café

Goat Hill Pizza

East Bay

Hot Basil Café in Concord

The Compass Star in Martinez

Artisan Bistro in Lafayette

Taqueria El Farolito in Oakland

La Costa in Oakland

Fentons Creamery in Oakland

Champa Garden in Oakland

Disco Volante in Oakland

Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland

Peninsula and South Bay

31st Union in San Mateo

CasCal in Mountain View

Buda Thai in Mountain View

Heavenly Cafe in Scotts Valley

North Bay

Yanni's Sausage Grill of Penngrove

Rosso Pizzeria and Mozzarella Bar (good gluten-free crust)

Hole in the Wall Restaurant in Sebastopol

The Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa

Backyard in Forestville

The Thomas and Fagiani's Bar at The Thomas in Napa

Goose and Gander in Saint Helena

Scopa in Healdsburg

Spoonbar in Healdsburg


Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco editor for TastingTable.com
Michael Bauer, executive food and wine editor for The San Francisco Chronicle; member of the James Beard Foundation Restaurant Awards Committee
Carolyn Jung, dining blogger at FoodGal.com; former food writer and editor for the San Jose Mercury News

  • Kristne

    My favorite new restaurant of 2012 is 31st Union in San Mateo. As their name implies (California being the 31st state to join the union) all food is locally sourced, seasonal, artfully prepared and delicious. They also have an interesting selection of wines on tap and local spirits. It is has a refreshingly urban vibe which sets it apart from typical suburban restaurants. It has become our go to spot anytime we are in the neighborhood.

  • Joseph Humphrey- Dixie is epic, and I think people aren’t ready to completely understand that “unpretentious” movement… people keep thinking it’s meant to be fine dining, or southern home cooking… but it’s just exceptional local fare, done unpretentiously. I wonder if other people are tired of the grind of Michelin and what not, and just want to get back to preparing beautiful product without the over the top pretentiousness that was the hallmark of the last 10 or 15 years? I think simplicity will be key to the future of our scene…

  • jamiebronson

    hhotelconsult Dixie is great but it seems they are not getting much love.

    The Michelin star is arguably a kiss of death for restaurants (not necessarily financially but freedom wise). Chefs pursue the designation and in the process change their food to try and suit the tastes of Michelin inspectors. Aziza is a perfect example of this paradigm. The food started off simple and honest and has evolved to a point that we no longer like eating there: It has little resemblance to where they started but they have that Michelin star now.

  • David Hunsaker

    I agree with the comment below. 31st Union has brought a little of the city down to San Mateo. Farm to Table comfort food done in a small plate format. Ever changing beer, wine and specialty cocktail options make each visit is fresh and fun. Great service and atmosphere add to why it will be a spot to visit for years to come.

  • deb durant

    Thank you, thank you for having Micheal Bauer on as a guest. I could not be more thrilled. A consummate professional and in my opinion, always spot on – a god among men… I would like to also recommend Nojo, a small isakaya style restaurant on Fell @ Franklin. Fantastic. Thanks again – I’m glued to my radio.
    *Deb Durant, Berkeley

  • jamiebronson

    DELI BOARD IS AWESOME!!!!!! He has two places now. Both are different concepts. Who else in the city is doing this kind of sandwich?

  • I wonder what the guests have to say about the burgeoning underground dining scene in the Bay Area. Highly popular in Europe and in New York it is now starting to burst here. Example “Underground Dining at Naglee Park” Supper Club in San Jose. The chef there serves high quality French classics dishes that would rival The French Laundry and the place is booked four months ahead. What do the critics think of this emerging “underground” scene?

    • jamiebronson

      Have only been to a couple. Lazy Bear which is absolutely awful and a place over in Cole Valley whose name escapes me. The Cole Valley spot was pretty good.

  • Livegreen

    I agree about Dim Sum in Chinatown, with one exception. There’s a good one there called City View.

    Not as good as Koi Palace, but still very good, much less expensive and less crowded…

    Legendary Palace in Oakland or East Ocean Seafood in Alameda (just through the tunnel on Webster) are too good East Bay alternatives and close to each other…

  • Tanya Holland’s chicken and waffles are to absolutely die for at Brown Sugar Kitchen, and her (relatively) new place, B-Side BBQ is phenomenal as well. She is one of the few star chefs who understands what it means to be a community member — she has her restaurants in REAL neighborhoods!

  • Michael

    In the east Bay, Elevation 66 in is a brew pub with amazing beer and an amazing kitchen. In Marin, Sweetwater in Mill Valley, like Terrapin has great food and a great music venue.

  • It is too bad there wasn’t an East Bay critic to chime in!
    If you want amazing ribs, you have to go to Brown Sugar Kitchen or B-Side BBQ.
    Oakland’s Tanya Holland won Chef of the year in California. Her jerk ribs are delicious!

  • sflover89 .

    What do you critics have to say about Great Eastern Restaurant in Chinatown where President Obama ordered Dim Sum to go last year,and also Zero Zero Pizza on Folsom Street near the Moscone Center?

  • Maria

    I work in Palo Alto and enjoy the Thalis (set menu) for lunch at Amber Dhara on University Avenue. They have some other interesting dishes like Duck two ways & Scallop.

  • Tanuja

    I’m of Indian origin but I find the quality of Indian restaurants in the bay area to be dismal and everything tastes the same. Till now that is. Suddenly there are regional restaurants coming up and theres amazing quality and varied flavors that truly reflect the diversity of South Asian cuisine. Taste of Surti in Milpitas specializes in vegetarian cusinie from Gujarat. Dont miss their khandvi! And Appakadaiin Sunnyvale does Appaams to die for. Owned by a Sri Lankan it reflects cuisine from Kerala, Tamilnadu in India & Sri Lanka. Again specialized, unique and delicious.

    • jamiebronson

      Thanks for the tip. Try Dosa on Fillmore in SF. It is south Indian and hardly tastes like any other place.

  • Kevin

    Don’t forget all the amazing vegan places popping up in the East Bay and creating a huge buzz. Cinnaholic in Berkeley and Timeless in Oakland for example.

  • LeslieR_TD

    On the Peninsula, I recently discovered Don Pico’s in San Bruno–it’s Mexican with an international overlay–I have yet to order a standard taco or enchilada–there are so many excellent choices! In San Carlos, Cuisinette (French Comfort Food) is always crowded after 6:30pm.

  • newbay415

    I hate it when restaurants add healthy SF charge at varying percentages – why not include them in the price?

    Any comments?

  • newbay415

    ambrosia pizza in Larkspur is great – Mark, the owner, is an industry veteran – great pizza, pasta, specials, and many wines by the glass.
    a great place for families and adults alike.
    Mid-week is best

  • newbay415

    Chapeau! on Clement is fabulous, classical French cuisine. Philippe, chef,owner, has it down pat. Cassoulet, sweetbreads, desserts to die for.
    early bird dinner is great value

  • newbay415

    any thoughts on the foie gras ban?

    • jamiebronson

      Is the Presidio Social Club still serving Foie Gras?

      • newbay415

        doubt it – have heard that they have started fining restaurants heavily

  • newbay415

    is the book San Francisco on a shoestring still around? used to give precious advice

  • I moved to the East Bay from that Mecca of Mediterranean food : Portland, OR. I have been here 4 years and have been on a quest to find good hummus and tabouleh in the East Bay but am alway dissapointed. What am I missing? Where is that hidden jem?

    • Bread_Sticks

      Have you been to DishDash in Sunnyvale? Best babaganoush I’ve had in CA.

  • RHoover

    Chow Bistro on Church Street and Park Chow. They have restaurants in Danville and Lafayette too. Love the atmosphere as a neighborhood eat placing

  • Randall West

    Burma Superstar on Park Street in Alameda!

  • Laurie

    Naan n Curry in Concird if u want SPICY food

  • Will there be a list of the restaurants discussed on today’s program on Bay Area Bites?

  • Wendy

    Green Earth Cafe (all vegan) on Center Street in Berkeley serves locally grown organic foods for those of us who like to eat less destructively! Save room for dessert. And Concord has Lettuce In on Grant Street at Todos Santos Plaza – many vegan and a few raw dishes. Both are cozy, friendly, and very inexpensive.

  • Piccino, in the Yellow Building in SF’s Dogpatch, is better than ever. Whatever subtle changes Chef Jacob Town is making—I like it. Every mouthful of every dish is a delight.

  • Christina

    Try Chubby Noodle inside of Amante on Green St (Btw Columbus & Grant) in North Beach. Amazing spicy garlic noodles, asian fried chicken and pork tacos!

  • Margaret

    What was the name of a new restaurant in Santa Rosa mentioned by one of the callers that she thought was excellent? I believe there was “Sisters” in the name.

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