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The Best Restaurants in San Francisco (and the Celebrities Who Love Them)
It’s no surprise that shows like Top Chef, The Taste and The Chew have become popular with the masses: foodies are everywhere! While they may have been considered food snobs in generations past, today’s foodies not only love trying delicious new restaurants, but are also able to enjoy the full experience that comes along with dining out these days.
And San Francisco is one of the best foodie cities in the country right now. A major restaurant boom over the past few years has both locals and visitors alike scrambling to get reservations to some of the most coveted seats in town.
CityPASS has found the hottest restaurants in San Francisco for you to experience yourself. And don’t be surprised if you have a few celebrity sightings during your meal—everyone from Kimye to Ryan Gosling has been spotted in these delectable dining rooms.
564 4th Street
Neighborhood: SoMa (South of Market)
Not far from AT&T Park, this chic, rustic eatery is the newest project from Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino. Self-described as "a celebration of San Francisco’s diverse culinary heritage," the menu at Cockscomb is heavy on seafood and butcher’s cut meats, and includes an oyster bar, Cornish game hen, and their signature wood-oven-roasted pig’s head to share. The pork dishes are where Cockscomb really excels, especially the crispy pig ears and a “ham”burger. They also have a killer late-night happy hour menu with fantastic deals. Sit at the chef’s counter if you want to watch how the menu is put together. You might even get to meet the celebrity chef himself!
After dinner, you can stroll over to the Hotel Utah Saloon, an historical 100-year-old bar that offers live music 7 days a week. Built in 1908, the Hotel Utah Saloon is a San Francisco institution that gained popularity by serving the best beer in town, which was "brought to the Utah by horse and carriage and lowered into the cellar in wooden kegs." Today, the bar is stocked with your favorite wines and keeps 12 different beers on tap.
If you can’t decide whether you want a casual meal or something a little more upscale, then Cotogna and Quince are a perfect option for you. Chef Michael Tusk opened Cotogna as “a celebration of rustic Italian cuisine” to complement his adjoining venue, Quince, which is a fine dining experience focused on "California contemporary cuisine that celebrates the seasonal bounty of California."
A slew of celebs have been known to nosh at Cotogna, including Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, and Blake Lively. This lunch hotspot seems to be the best place in town to catch a glimpse of your favorite entertainer!
State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore Street
Neighborhood: Western Addition
Married couple Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski have been recognized with top honors for their restaurant, including a James Beard Award and Bon Appetit magazine’s Restaurant of the Year Award. Described as having a "whimsically Californian menu, served dim-sum style," State Bird Provisions is not an easy place to get a table. It’s been noted that on most evenings you can find lines 50 people deep waiting to be seated prior to the 5:30pm opening of the restaurant.
Not one to be left out, Ryan Gosling was seen eating at this hot spot when he was in town for a movie screening, which took place a few blocks away at the Sundance Kabuki. If you’re interested in channeling the same Ryan Gosling experience, be sure to check out the special programming they offer at the theatre.
1499 Valencia Street
Neighborhood: The Mission
When you think of a unique and memorable dining experience, a vegetarian-friendly restaurant is not typically what comes to mind. AL’s Place, however, breaks the mold. Chef Aaron London will make you forget all about your love of meat through his focus on fresh local produce and seafood from the Bay Area. He’s a purist when it comes to his food, having once said that "we use every part of everything—not just because it’s morally good or cost-effective, but in the pursuit of flavor." Menu items are seasonal and inventive, offering an adventurous take on familiar ingredients. Dishes are small, encouraging eaters to try a variety of creations.
A casual dinner at AL’s Place, recently named the Best Restaurant in San Francisco, is the perfect way to end a day after hanging out in the Mission’s Dolores Park. This vibrant, lush park boasts 16 acres of green lawns, palm trees, 6 tennis courts, a basketball court and a soccer field, in addition to a playground and a dog run. This park often hosts various cultural events and music festivals, but even on a quiet day it can serve as a great backdrop for a picnic.
369 The Embarcadero
When Mindy Kaling was in town to shoot some scenes for her show, The Mindy Project, she wasn’t secretive about the fact that she and co-star Chris Messina filmed at waterfront restaurant EPIC Steak. She posted two photos on Instagram with the restaurant’s epic view of the water and the Bay Bridge. Other celebrities have also been sighted here, including Dr. Dre and Lance Bass, so you may be in for a visual treat as well as a culinary one!
It’s not surprising that the production team for The Mindy Project chose EPIC Steak to highlight on the show; it’s a hip steakhouse that offers "innovative cuisine, expertly crafted cocktails and inspirational wines" along with one of the most breathtaking views in all of San Francisco. Chef Ulrich aims to craft an environmentally responsible menu, using organic local produce and sustainable seafood. He also pays homage to San Francisco’s international history through his dishes.
While there are plenty of things to do in San Francisco, take time to indulge yourself in the food. San Francisco is the ultimate spot for foodies and non-foodies alike who want to enjoy great meals in a legendary environment with a unique twist on Northern California cuisine. After all, LA and NYC aren’t the only cities where you can live like a celebrity.