With the gilded Civic Center commanding the view, the Van Ness and Civic Center areas of San Francisco deliver an upscale variety of dining ideal for visiting dignitaries and socialite patrons of the arts, including the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Ballet and the Asian Art Museum. From glamorous restaurants like Jardinière, housed in a historic brick building across the street from Civic Center, to the famous San Francisco Zuni Café, a dot com era destination for stellar American cuisine, Civic Center definitely has the upscale aspect. Being a central San Francisco landmark, Civic Center also features a variety of eclectic, international restaurants. One of the most popular Brazilian restaurants in San Francisco, Espetus Churrascaria, features endless rounds of choice beef served all-you-can-eat style.
Absinthe Brasserie and Bar
398 Hayes St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.551.1590
French. Consistent and classy, Absinthe Brasserie and Bar is busy on almost any night of the week and steps from the San Francisco Symphony and Opera House. With a full bar stocked with premium libations and single malts, accessible French fare (the leg of lamb is stellar) and an excellent dessert menu featuring indulgent choices like lavender creme brulee, Absinthe has it all in one dark and rich atmosphere.
Alamo Square Seafood Grill
803 Fillmore St., San Francisco CA 94117; Tel. 415.440.2828
Seafood. Given the moniker, it’s easy to expect a menu chalk full of the fruits of the sea when visiting Alamo Square Seafood Grill – and this restaurant doesn’t disappoint. This San Francisco seafood restaurant does right by locals with generous portions of fresh seafood favorites like salmon, snapper, swordfish and tuna, all prepared to order. Creative appetizers are also ocean-centric, and the wine list features many pairing opportunities.
601 Eddy St., San Francisco CA 94109; Tel. 1.877.447.3201
Southeast Asian. A snazzy restaurant offering Southeast Asian cuisine, Bambuddha Lounge is decked out with the sort of low-profile seating, jewel tones and new-modern furnishings that one would expect to find in a posh nightspot. The menu draws on the Philippines, Bali and Thailand for the palate-invigorating fare, and the specialty cocktails make it easy to want to hand the car keys to someone else.
CAV Winebar and Kitchen
1666 Market St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.437.1770
Contemporary American. CAV Winebar & Kitchen takes an untraditional approach to the dining experience, with the wine list being the focus that the menu is crafted around. This critically acclaimed restaurant and wine bar in San Francisco impresses with a lengthy wine list representing selections from around the globe and a small menu of contemporary American and French fare.
399 Grove St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.861.2228
Californian. For diners who peak at the dessert menu before appetizers, San Francisco's established Citizen Cake restaurant is where it is. In addition to cakes of all shades for dessert at the successful patisserie/restaurant/bar hybrid, lunch and dinner are decidedly eclectic, drawing on varying European and Asian influences for the seasonally driven Californian cuisine.
1686 Market St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.552.8792
Brazilian Steakhouse. For lovers of Brazilian steakhouses, where the all-you-can-eat salty meat comes on skewers hot from the flames and the salad bar features delights like pao de queijo (cheese bread) and fresh Brazilian sides, Espetus Churrascaria is a classy San Francisco spot for what is affectionately known as a meat ambush. A nice selection of cocktails and wines complements the menu of savory fare.
25 Mason St., San Francisco CA 94102; 415.409.3276
Southern. A top-notch team of culinary minds populates the kitchen at Farmer Brown, delivering creative Southern food that revisits the roots of the soulful, vibrantly flavorful cuisine. The philosophy of this attractive San Francisco restaurant favors a local, seasonal approach, supporting local and African-American farmers and using organic, biodynamic and/or sustainably raised ingredients whenever possible.
House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco CA 94109: Tel. 415.885.4605
Steak. A landmark restaurant in San Francisco, the House of Prime Rib has been a satisfying neighborhood dining spot for over 60 years. The moniker leaves no doubts about the menu’s star player, and the kitchen uses only the finest, Eastern corn-fed beef aged 21 days for the prime rib dishes. Accompaniments like fresh horseradish, mashed potatoes, seasonal greens or creamed spinach give this honorable dining spot a comfort-food appeal.
687 McAllister St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.673.9353
Californian. Within the elegantly decorated walls of Indigo, socialites and opera buffs sip glasses of vino from the ten-time Wine Spectator award-winning wine list and dine with performance anticipation. New American favorites populate the seasonally driven, ever-changing menu with flavorful meats, seafood dishes, salads and inventive soups, making Indigo a well-traveled stop on the San Francisco dining circuit.
300 Grove St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.861.5555
French. In the shadow of San Francisco's golden-domed Civic Center, Jardinière is a glamorous restaurant housed in a landmark brick and glass San Francisco building. Inside the elegant, Pat Kuleto-designed dining room, one of the most extensive wine lists in the city pairs seamlessly with the French-inflected cuisine prepared with a brilliant assembly of Northern California’s seasonal bounty.
1122 Post St., San Francisco CA 94109; Tel. 415.775.1988
Indian. Greeting hungry San Franciscans with the gossamer-draped and pillow-clad appeal of an Indian palace, Maharani is a critically acclaimed dining spot consistently ranked as one of the best Indian restaurants in San Francisco. In addition to delivering outstanding Indian cuisine prepared with free-range meats and organic vegetables, this restaurant showcases Bollywood films in its private dinner theater, runs a microbrewery on site, and is renowned for generous hospitality.
Market Street Grill
1231 Market St., San Francisco CA 94103; Tel. 415.487.4414
Californian. Located in the historic Hotel Whitcomb, the Market Street Grill is a San Francisco fine dining spot that impresses with an elegant, slightly Old-World appeal. The menu of seasonal Californian cuisine takes culinary cues from Europe and Asia and focuses on farm fresh local products. The wine list showcases selections that span the globe.
Opaque – dining in the dark
689 McAllister St., San Francisco CA 94102
American. As Northern California's first dark dining restaurant, Opaque allows diners to embark on a uniquely sensual journey that stems from a revolutionary approach to the culinary world. Seated in a pitch-black dining room, diners embrace the talents of their other four senses as they get to know their surroundings and cuisine by listening to the voices of their dining companions, navigating the table with curious fingers, inhaling exotic aromas and awakening their palates with the complementing and contrasting flavors of the creative New American cuisine. The menu is pre-fixe and reservations are required.
199 Gough St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.552.7132
Mediterranean. With a bistro ambiance, Paul K serves Mediterranean cuisine in San Francisco with a sleek and exotic twist. An unusual array of large and small plates takes the cuisine beyond that of traditional Mediterranean restaurants into the realm of modern Mediterranean. Paul K also boasts a full bar and wine list with choice selections from California and France.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
1601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco CA 94109
Steak. Located near the San Francisco Civic Center, Ruth's Chris Steak House is a beautiful restaurant for business luncheons or dinner events. Featuring two banquet rooms, large enough to seat up to 90 guests, this San Francisco restaurant is ready to wine and dine their guests. Ruth's Chris is also home to an award winning wine list for those who prefer to drink top-notch wines. Online reservations are suggested.
131 Gough St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.252.1369
American. Favoring local purveyors and innovative techniques, American comfort food gets an appealing facelift at the well-loved Sauce. Cream of mushroom soup is translated as Portobello bisque, fish & chips is composed of market fresh selections with a citrus vinaigrette, tater tots are enlivened with smoked ham and Tillamook cheddar, meatloaf arrives wrapped in bacon, and mac & cheese features roasted chicken, peeled asparagus, hand-rolled pasta and four-cheese cream.
Soluna Cafe & Lounge
272 McAllister St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.621.2200
Californian. Soluna Café & Lounge is a Civic Center dining spot where inventive, seasonally inspired Californian cuisine reigns supreme. Brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner menus are comprised of artfully presented dishes for everyone from meat lovers to pasta fanatics to vegetarians, and the wine list offers ample pairing opportunities.
1658 Market St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.552.2522
Modern European. The award-winning Zuni Café has been called the quintessential San Francisco restaurant. The menu changes daily, bringing creative dishes inspired by Italian and French traditions and prepared with locally farmed, sustainably harvested meats, fish and produce. The fabulous cocktails and big, window fronted bar attract tourists, models and politicos alike.