15 Romantic Restaurants in San Francisco

|January 6, 2017

San Francisco is famous for a few things: its world-famous landmarks, iconic neighborhoods and, of course, the food! The San Francisco Chronicle’s annual list of the Top 100 doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the area restaurant options. This can make choosing a spot difficult on a regular night, let alone on date night.

To help you narrow down your options, we put together a list of our top 20. Whether it’s a casual night out with your longtime sweetheart, a first date or a celebratory occasion, there’s a place on the list perfect for you and yours. Preview the best, make a reservation and get ready for a night to remember!

First Date

Foreign Cinema

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

Foreign Cinema has been a San Francisco staple since 1999. So much so that September 18 has been named “Foreign Cinema Day” in the city — due to their constant excellence and community stewardship. They have an extensive list of awards and accolades, including 16 consecutive years on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants. Needless to say, this place will impress on a first date.

Even more than the awards, the astounding food and the daily changing menu, Foreign Cinema’s atmosphere stands out. Their courtyard seating is dimly lit, adorned with casually strung tea lights and accompanied by classic, romantic movies projected on the wall. The relaxed romance is perfect for a first date and it will be one you talk about for years after.

Suppenküche

Reservations are not accepted for parties less than six

Suppenküche brings the taste and feel of Germany to their quaint San Francisco bistro. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, accented with unique decor choices that will make great conversation starters!

With an emphasis on Bavarian cooking, their meals are simple without combining tastes that diminish the intensity of the food and flavors of the fresh ingredients. For a fabulous intro to German cuisine, try their Wiener Schnitzel breaded and sauteed with Roasted Potatoes and Green Salad. Pair it with a beer straight from Germany!

Liholiho Yacht Club

Romantic Restaurants San Fran

Photo courtesy of Liholiho Yacht Club and Zach Hilty

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

During the early 80s in Hawaii, the Kealoha uncles would race Hobie Cats, and throw “pop up” parties to pay for their supplies. They would go to the beach, fire up the grill, ice down the beer and get a band to play. They called themselves the Liholiho Yacht Club and that’s how the restaurant got its name — from the shared idea that throwing a party is the best way to keep doing what you love.

Inspired by the Hawaiian islands in every way, the space is bright, laid-back and lets you slow down to appreciate where you are (and what you’re eating!). It’s the perfect low-pressure date night destination. The stunning menu is a bonus! We recommend the Fried Cornish Game Hen served with broccoli, cashews and kale.

BIX

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

The lone neon sign welcoming you to BIX gives no indication of what you’re entering into. As soon as you cross the threshold, you’ll find yourself in a civilized speakeasy, supper club and an elegant saloon all wrapped into one. The two-story dining room is grand, perfect for keeping the atmosphere fun — and the live jazz certainly helps!

Driven by the quality and styles modern San Franciscan’s are eating today, BIX’s menu is a combination of the classic and the new, with a focus on local ingredients and practice of modern techniques. From New York Strip Steak and Scallops to Lobster Spaghetti and Quail, you’ll find a taste of everything here.

Jardiniere

Romantic Restaurants in San Francisco

Photos courtesy of Jardiniere, Nick Di and Frankeny Images

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

Jardiniere has been serving the Hayes Valley for 18 years. Through the years, chef Traci Des Jardins’ signature restaurant has become a constantly impressive and experimental food destination. Prepared with local ingredients, the French-inspired menu is both subtle and breathtaking. Paired with the elegant dining space and easy atmosphere, it’s the perfect quiet, quaint date spot.

Jardinie᷆re is also one of the only restaurants in the area serving the Impossible Burger. A sustainable, environmentally-friendly, meatless burger, the patty is made with all-natural ingredients such as wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes. Challenge your date to try something new, but get there early because it goes quickly and they serve a limited number!

Casual Night Out

Nopa

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

In the bustling Nopa kitchen, the chefs make absolutely everything from scratch — even the cheese. With a weekly alternating menu, they have plenty of room for creativity and experimentation. And the open air kitchen allows diners to see them at work!

You and your date can grab a seat at the bar where you’ll be able to relax and see all the kitchen action. Or, sit at one of the more intimate tables and get to know each other in the bright, open and romantic space.

Frascati

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

This cozy San Francisco bistro pulls inspiration from the Mediterranean coast and California classics. You’ll find Maple Leaf Duck Breast — with Caraway Spaetzle, Mâche-Citrus Salad, Hearts of Palm, Orange-Herb Agrodolce and Huckleberry Jus — on the menu next to a simple and delicious Grilled Pork Chop with Cranberry-Apple Compote.

The tri-level restaurant offers three different atmospheres — from ground level coziness to quaint and quieter upper levels. Wherever you’re seated, you’re guaranteed a romantic and memorable night surrounded by the bright, cheery atmosphere of the Mediterranean.

Flour + Water

Romantic Restaurants in San Francisco

Photos courtesy of Flour + Water

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

Located in the heart of the mission district, Flour + Water has been serving up a regional and Italian-inspired menu since 2009. Executive Chef Thomas McNaughton brings experiences from New York, various bay area restaurants, Germany, France, Italy and a Bologna pasta factory where he learned hand rolled pasta techniques from the pros.

Perfect for your casual date night, you can share a wood-fired pizza or carefully crafted pasta dish in their bright, comfortable and rustic atmosphere. Warm walnut tables, stained glass partitions and intimate seating are the perfect accompaniment for romance.

Chez Maman

Reservations are not accepted.

Chez Maman is one of the best choices for date night; you’ll be transported to Paris without ever leaving the city! Not only is it reasonably priced, but you can get everything from a no-nonsense burger to escargot and beef tartar. Share a bottle of champagne with your meal and you’ll be planning your trip to France.

At both locations — Hayes Valley and Potrero Hill — you’ll find a cozy atmosphere. In an effort to imitate childhood comforts, the warm colors of French countryside mix with friendly, welcoming service to make you feel right at home.

Dirty Habit

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

Dirty Habits is the place to be if you’re looking for a crafted cocktail and a casual, thriving social scene. For best romantic results, we recommend a table on the heated patio. From the fifth floor of the Palomar Hotel, you’ll get a spectacular view, access to the cozy fire pits and all the benefits of one of SF’s best menus.

Focusing on shareable plates, you and your date can split a few exciting dishes that turn classic bar staples into gourmet creations. You’ll want to come back for your next date night too!

Special Occasion

Waterbar

Romantic Restaurants San Francisco

Photos courtesy of Waterbar / Matt Wronski Photography

Seafood is the best complement to views of the bay, Bay Bridge, Treasure Island and the San Francisco skyline. Located right on the waterfront of San Francisco’s Embarcadero, Waterbar, offers some of the best and the freshest seafood in the region. They’re constantly setting new standards of sustainability, variety, and excellence in sourcing, preparation and presentation.

As such, their menu changes daily to reflect the catch of the day and other local ingredients. After your meal of trout, lobster or lamb, end the evening with one of the best desserts in the city. Inspired by the seasons, Executive Pastry Chef Eric Jackson, creates unique and flavorful combinations that will be the perfect end to your celebrations. Try the Heirloom Squash Cheesecake!

Boulevard

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

Boulevard won the James Beard Foundation’s best restaurant in the nation in 2012 and has been constantly impressive ever since. Located inside the beautiful Aûdiffred Building, the atmosphere is elegant with vibrant Belle Epoque details and spectacular Bay Bridge views. Request a table facing the Embarcadero close to the front windows for the clearest and most romantic vista.

The high-end food menu is constructed by Executive Chef and Owner, Nancy Oakes. Her accessible yet groundbreaking dishes have kept diners returning for decades! Try the pork chop and Dungeness crab salad!

Nico

Romantic Restaurants San Francisco

Photos courtesy of Nico, Michael Short and Rina Oh

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

Owner and Executive Chef Nicolas chose cooking because of his passion for food — and that passion shows through every item on the Nico menu. Before landing in San Francisco, he studied and cooked in France, Australia and Canada and brings those experiences to every dish.

At Nico, the technique and uncompromising standards of a fine dining kitchen are merged with a warm, friendly atmosphere. You won’t find tablecloths here, but simple elegance and spectacular food. The five course tasting menu changes daily due to locally sourced ingredients, but you can see a sample of the selections online.

Gitane

Reservations are available + walk-ins are welcome

Gitane combines the sexy playfulness of a 1930s cabaret with the audacious spirit of the 1970s to create a space you’ll want to come back to again and again. The sophisticated dining room is the perfect place to celebrate — surrounded by fun, eye-catching art and decor. Or, sit outside on one of San Francisco’s best locations for outdoor dining!

The menu is inspired by the European travels of a gypsy. You’ll find tastes from Southern France, with influences from Italy, Spain and the local bounty of the Bay Area. Try a plate of Poached Prawns to share and Red Trout Navarra paired with a wine from their carefully crafted menu.

Gary Danko

Romantic San Fran Restaurants

Photo courtesy of Gary Danko and Douglas Friedman

Reservations are required + walk-in seating is available at the bar

Owner and Executive Chef Gary Danko believes a great restaurant is a constant work in progress. He’s proven this at his restaurant year after year since opening seventeen years ago. With a combination of classic French cooking, inventive use of local ingredients and personable yet impeccable service, Gary Danko has become one of the absolute best places to celebrate a formal date night.

The graceful and sophisticated dining room will have you channeling your inner Humphrey Bogart and the menus will have you swooning. Choose from three, four or five courses on their dinner menu or from the tasting menu and pair it all with a wine from one of the best wine lists in the area.

Where do you celebrate date night in San Francisco?

If we missed your go-to spot, let us know! There are so many options in the bay area, there’s nearly no limit to the list.

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McGuire Real Estate

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