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Leo's Oyster Bar
Leo's Oyster Bar
Patricia Chang

Your Guide to Dating in the Embarcadero and Financial District

The best date spots in the neighborhood

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Leo's Oyster Bar
| Patricia Chang

Nailing the perfect venue is an absolutely essential component to the success of a date. But here's the thing: What makes a great first date spot is definitely not the same as what makes a place the best to celebrate a special occasion or even a second date — so deciding where to take a plus-one doesn't always get the same answer. Every situation has different needs — neighborhood, vibes, price point — and it can be tricky to find the right bar or restaurant if you've never been there. So next time you're trying to pick a fitting location, just consult this guide. We've got you covered if it's the Embarcadero and the Financial District you're cornering.

In need of the best date spots in other neighborhoods? Check out this ultimate guide to dating in San Francisco.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. First date, drinks: The Barrel Room

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415 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94111

The Financial District and Embarcadero can be full of expense account- and tourist-traps, but The Barrel Room is definitely neither. Get to know your new potential someone over a dignified glass of wine (or beer or something stronger, if you prefer) in a calm setting, where you can order food if that's where the evening takes you.

2. First date, coffee: Mazarine

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720 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 398-7700
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This being downtown, most coffee shops in this neighborhood are grab-and-go affairs. Not so with Mazarine, which has plenty of seating to choose from, an essential when it comes to date number one. Plus, if things really get going (or really go south, depending on your outlook), there's beer and wine on offer here, too.

3. Second date, moderate: Barbacco

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220 California St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 955-1919
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Reasonably priced Italian small plates and lots of wine in a bustling, pretty setting are solid starters for a great second date. The conversation's up to you, but Barbacco has the rest covered.

4. Second date, expensive: Leo's Oyster Bar

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568 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 872-9982
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Inside Leo's, ferns hang from the ceiling, the bar glows gold, and splashy colors dominate the feel-good space. There are tons of pretty people eating pretty things here — besides the typical raw bar fare like oysters, clams, crab, shrimp, and lobster, the menu is full of caviar, crudo, uni — and decadence. Sip on champagne, slurp an oyster, and wow your date with your cool pick.

5. Where to lock it down: Waterbar

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399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 284-9922
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The view from luxe seafood spot Waterbar is all you need to signify serious. Located at the base of the Bay Bridge, the best time to go is at sunset, sitting on the heated patio while watching the sun go down and the bridge lights start to dance in front of you.

6. LTR, moderate: Ferry Building

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1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 983-8030
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When's the last time you wandered through the Ferry Building? The vendors have only gotten even better, and the best time to go is on Saturday mornings to fully enjoy the farmers market. Prep yourself with patience for the inevitable crowds, but if you go with the right expectations, the outing can turn into a fun, all-day way to rediscover what you love so much about this city.

7. LTR, expensive: Akiko's

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431 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 397-3218
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With chefs who have worked at some of the country's best sushi spots (Sushi Ran, Ota, etc.) and with details such as Japanese applewood-aged soy sauce, Akiko's takes its sushi very seriously. The huge key here, though, is being sure to sit at the sushi bar — the vibe just isn't as good at the tables. Then, simply put yourself in the hands of the sushi chefs behind the bar and freak out with your SO over the expert nigiri.

8. Breakup spot: Irish Times

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500 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 217-5060
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So long as you don't go during a sports game, Irish Times has the quick in-and-out service, simple drinks, and the somewhat private space you need to cut the cord.

1. First date, drinks: The Barrel Room

415 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94111

The Financial District and Embarcadero can be full of expense account- and tourist-traps, but The Barrel Room is definitely neither. Get to know your new potential someone over a dignified glass of wine (or beer or something stronger, if you prefer) in a calm setting, where you can order food if that's where the evening takes you.

415 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94111

2. First date, coffee: Mazarine

720 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102

This being downtown, most coffee shops in this neighborhood are grab-and-go affairs. Not so with Mazarine, which has plenty of seating to choose from, an essential when it comes to date number one. Plus, if things really get going (or really go south, depending on your outlook), there's beer and wine on offer here, too.

720 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102

3. Second date, moderate: Barbacco

220 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Reasonably priced Italian small plates and lots of wine in a bustling, pretty setting are solid starters for a great second date. The conversation's up to you, but Barbacco has the rest covered.

220 California St
San Francisco, CA 94111

4. Second date, expensive: Leo's Oyster Bar

568 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Inside Leo's, ferns hang from the ceiling, the bar glows gold, and splashy colors dominate the feel-good space. There are tons of pretty people eating pretty things here — besides the typical raw bar fare like oysters, clams, crab, shrimp, and lobster, the menu is full of caviar, crudo, uni — and decadence. Sip on champagne, slurp an oyster, and wow your date with your cool pick.

568 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94111

5. Where to lock it down: Waterbar

399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

The view from luxe seafood spot Waterbar is all you need to signify serious. Located at the base of the Bay Bridge, the best time to go is at sunset, sitting on the heated patio while watching the sun go down and the bridge lights start to dance in front of you.

399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

6. LTR, moderate: Ferry Building

1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

When's the last time you wandered through the Ferry Building? The vendors have only gotten even better, and the best time to go is on Saturday mornings to fully enjoy the farmers market. Prep yourself with patience for the inevitable crowds, but if you go with the right expectations, the outing can turn into a fun, all-day way to rediscover what you love so much about this city.

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

7. LTR, expensive: Akiko's

431 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108

With chefs who have worked at some of the country's best sushi spots (Sushi Ran, Ota, etc.) and with details such as Japanese applewood-aged soy sauce, Akiko's takes its sushi very seriously. The huge key here, though, is being sure to sit at the sushi bar — the vibe just isn't as good at the tables. Then, simply put yourself in the hands of the sushi chefs behind the bar and freak out with your SO over the expert nigiri.

431 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108

8. Breakup spot: Irish Times

500 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94111

So long as you don't go during a sports game, Irish Times has the quick in-and-out service, simple drinks, and the somewhat private space you need to cut the cord.

500 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94111

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