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San Francisco’s Most Iconic Restaurants

Seasons change, trends come and go, but these restaurants have withstood the test of time—and have become integral parts of the San Francisco dining scene. Here are San Francisco’s OpenTable Classics: the places that continue to excel after 10+ years. There’s a reason they’re still around: they keep giving us a reason to come back.

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The OpenTable team
10 Restaurants
Updated February 19, 2020
Restaurants:Kokkari Estiatorio, Foreign Cinema, House of Prime Rib
Price Range:$$$ - $$$$
Cuisines:Mediterranean, Californian, Steak
Neighborhoods:Financial District / Embarcadero, Mission District, Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
A photo of Kokkari Estiatorio restaurant

Kokkari Estiatorio

$$$$
Mediterranean
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.9
7943 reviews
There are many things about this financial district spot that make you feel like you’re either in an ornate ski lodge or someone’s large home in the mountains. High ceilings with wood beams, oriental rugs, warm lighting, and an oversized fireplace add wonderful ambiance to SF’s most remarkable Mediterranean restaurant. Their taramosalata and tzatziki served with warm pita are exceptional ways to start things off before the onslaught of mouth-watering meats begins (you can’t go wrong no matter what you order). Also—keep in mind—Kokkari is pricey and a conservative white-tablecloth sort of place, so choose your occasion to visit accordingly.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Foreign Cinema restaurant

Foreign Cinema

$$$$
Californian
Mission District
4.7
7791 reviews
It’s hard to believe this much-loved, uber-popular, and constantly-busy Mission restaurant has been at the top of its game since 1999. Nothing about this place feels dated. The name (and restaurant) has all the sultry mystique of an old French film, and sometimes that’s exactly what they’ll be playing in their outdoor courtyard, which is definitely where you want to sit. Brunch is a great time here, but nighttime is special—their courtyard’s strung-up lights twinkle, movies play on a brick wall, and the place just glows—so come for dinner, and order the fried chicken or pork chop.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of House of Prime Rib restaurant

House of Prime Rib

$$$$
Steak
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.8
13308 reviews
This SF classic has been around since 1949 (it’s as good as ever), and they devotedly follow the traditional steakhouse model: you’re here for one thing, steak’s what they know and they do magical things with it. They’re known for their unique food service, and have a much-loved chopped salad, which they dress tableside in a chilled spinning bowl. Their pure—21-day aged—prime rib is also carved tableside (however thick you’d like it) from roaming stainless steel carts. Your steak comes with potatoes (mashed or baked & loaded), creamed spinach or creamed corn (so good), and Yorkshire pudding. Instead of regular bread, you should opt for their special corn bread, which is amazing and served hot. This spot is a dazzling meat masterpiece, and you’ll love it.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Zuni Cafe restaurant

Zuni Cafe

$$$$
Modern European
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.6
6895 reviews
This well-lit, loft-looking space, has two-story floor-to-ceiling windows, which creates a bright and relaxing environment to eat their amazing food in. They make an epic roast chicken (for two), a very special burger, and have a nice assortment of oysters. But, really, all of their food is great and pairs well with their roundup of refreshing cocktails.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Slanted Door restaurant

Slanted Door

$$$$
Vietnamese
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.3
10245 reviews
This iconic Ferry Building spot—from famed Chef Charles Phan—sits on the embarcadero and has enormous windows, with a front-row view of the Bay Bridge, for some epic water watching. They’ve been serving elevated Vietnamese food since 1995, and this place is still constantly busy. Their shaking beef and cellophane noodles are about as famous as the restaurant itself, and their cocktails are light and delicious, so arrive early and hang out in their bar’s lounge for a bit.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Absinthe Brasserie and Bar - SF restaurant

Absinthe Brasserie and Bar - SF

$$$$
French
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
4.6
6696 reviews
Don’t be scared off by the name, there’s no chance you’ll forget anything about your meal here (though it depends how much absinthe you drink). They’ve definitely got the whole French thing down pat (great pâté too)—dim lighting, red velvet banquettes, and an undeniably romantic vibe—you could very well be in a Parisian brasserie. And while they certainly have the staples you’d hope for, they’ve been around long enough to have a few special dishes in a class of their own. A section of their menu is dedicated to these famed “Absinthe Classics”: French onion soup, soft garlic pretzels with cheddar mornay, steak tartare with quail egg yolk, and coq au vin with bacon. Clearly, they have great cocktails too, so order brazenly.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Marlowe restaurant

Marlowe

$$$$
American
SOMA
4.4
2615 reviews
This American eatery is the third restaurant from the great team behind Park Tavern and the Cavalier. They serve the same beloved burger at Park Tavern, which is made with about 20% lamb and comes with horseradish aioli and bacon. But, before you dig into that, order the deviled eggs (also with bacon) and the Brussels sprout chips.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Boulevard restaurant

Boulevard

$$$$
Californian
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.8
8304 reviews
Aside from their impressive menu of traditional Californian-French dishes, this iconic SF restaurant (a stronghold from the 90s) gives you a breathtaking view of the Bay. They’re not joking around with quality here, from the ACME bread they serve to all the locally-sourced and pristine ingredients they use, everything is top-notch. They make especially great fish—like halibut, salmon, and abalone—but their filet mignon and soft shell crab are also quite noteworthy. Their fine dining experience is great for groups, possibly on the more mature side (this is not a hip and trendy spot, it’s a classic) and ideally celebrating something special.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Spruce restaurant

Spruce

$$$$
Contemporary American
Presidio Heights
4.7
4608 reviews
Spruce is in Presidio Heights and both are quite fancy. While this upscale American restaurant is steeply priced (and probably best for a special occasion), it’s also knock-it-out-of-the-park delicious. Whatever pricey protein you choose—from the lobster and steak to the duck breast and foie gras terrine—it’ll be exceptional. A more accessible and equally delicious option here is the (enormous) burger, and if you’d prefer a more low-key experience, you can enjoy it at the bar, which has a much less formal feeling.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Perbacco restaurant

Perbacco

$$$$
Italian
Financial District / Embarcadero
4.6
6521 reviews
A busy and bustling financial district spot, which is a popular destination for all the suits who work in the area. This sister restaurant to Barbacco (next door) uses fresh and locally-sourced Californian ingredients to create classic Italian dishes. Burrata is a beloved way to start meals in the Bay, and Perbacco’s got a great one with black truffles. Their short rib is delicious as a standalone entré and also in the ragu served with pappardelle. But, their duck breast and quail “cacciatora” are also popular orders.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

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