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A black beadboard bar with back-lit wine in cabinets behind. RH Marin

The Best Mall Restaurants in the Bay Area

A dozen glorious options for where to dine while holiday shopping

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It’s beginning to look a lot like holiday shopping season, and that means many of us are hitting the mall to gather gifts for friends and family. Fighting your way through bustling parking lots and boxing out other shoppers as you attempt to get your hands on this season’s must-have items can be draining, even considering the joy you’ll feel when you see your loved one’s eyes light up as they open their present. But there’s a simple way to carve out a little bit of “you time” even in the midst of the madness: set aside some time for a mid- or post-shopping meal.

These days, malls offer much more than pallid pizza slices and sticky deep-fried pieces of chicken in a fluorescent-lit food court. Mall food can be anything from Michelin-level soup dumplings to flaky Nutella croissants, so before your head out to the mall check this list of the best restaurants at Bay Area malls.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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RH Rooftop Restaurant Marin at the Village at Corte Madera

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Of course Marin has a laidback open-air shopping center, and a trip to Nordstrom or Tesla would not be complete without one of the most outrageous rooftop lunches of them all — the new RH Rooftop Restaurant (as in Restoration Hardware). Opened during the pandemic, you can now feast on lobster roll and sip one of more than 40 wines under crystal chandeliers and olive trees. 

Salmon at RH Marin RH Marin

Gram Cafe & Pancakes at Stonestown Galleria

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Often overlooked as actually the best mall in San Francisco (the glorious parking! the clean movie theater!), Stonestown is throwing down these days with a number of exciting dining options. The one that got the biggest buzz: Gram Cafe & Pancakes drew long lines when it opened in 2019, bringing its jiggly Japanese souffle pancakes to the mall. But should you require something savory, there’s also Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, which motored in with conveyor belt sushi in 2021 (spoiler alert: there are prizes).

Udon Mugizo

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There’s absolutely no shortage of excellent dining options within Japantown’s two malls. Craving ramen? Put your name in early at Marufuku. Want sushi? It’ll slide by on conveyor belts at Tenroku or come in tasting menu format at Oma San Francisco Station. But the pro-move is a retreat behind the warm wooden walls of Udon Mugizo, where you can lose yourself in a big bowl of creamy udon crowned with smoked cod roe or uni. There may be a wait but you can head just across the hall to browse the shelves at Kinokuniya bookstore while you wait.

Mentai creamy sauce udon topped with green onions, slivers of seaweed, and pieces of tempura batter from Udon Mugizo in Japantown Lauren Saria/Eater SF

The Rotunda

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Pull on that holiday dress and tie on your best bows because the Rotunda is back, baby. And if you’re going to schelp on down to Union Square to gawk at the big tree and press your nose up against the holiday shop windows, then you must also stop in for a plate of popovers on the fourth floor of Neiman Marcus. There’s afternoon tea service if you have the time to linger over the bird's eye views of the bustling square below — just don’t forget to train your eyes upward to soak up the glow of the stained glass dome.

Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

Bonchon at the Metreon (near Westfield San Francisco Centre)

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The massive mall right on Market Street isn’t only nine stories tall, it also boasts 29 dining options, from Shake Shack smashburgers to Beard Papa’s cream puffs. But there are many downtown restaurants nearby, including the new location of the wildly popular Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon inside the Metreon. The pro move is to cut through Bloomingdale’s and cross Mission for that “hand-battered, double-fried, crazy crispy” Korean fried chicken.

A spread of fried chicken and sides at Bonchon Bonchon

Pinstripes

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Conveniently located halfway down the Peninsula, Hillsdale mall has a lot going for it. And while San Franciscans might head straight to the second location of their favorite Palette Tea House, and the San Carlos crowd will stick with the new spot for their favorite pastrami at the Refuge, the real wild card here is Pinstripes! The restaurant slash bowling alley experience, where tired parents can snack on woodfired pizza with a glass of wine — and turn kids loose on the lanes. 

Two moms eating burgers and drinking wine Pinstripes

Tootsies at the Stanford Barn

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Ah, the Stanford Shopping Center, where the tech elite love to belly up to the makeup bar at Neiman Marcus, Labradoodles in tow. If you’re not grabbing a salad at True Food Kitchen or cupcake at Sprinkles (a Stanford student lunch of choice), another underrated option is Tootsies at the Stanford Barn (technically closer to the mall than the horses). Owner Rocco Scordella is originally from Puglia, and his breakfasts and lunches range from Nutella croissants to chicken panino, and either is great with a cappuccino.

Cappuccino Tootsies

True Food Kitchen

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After some al fresco shopping at Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza, side-step the heavier options and opt instead for a healthy-ish meal at True Food Kitchen, restaurateur Sam Fox’s restaurant chain founded in partnership with Andrew Weil and backed by none other than Oprah. The menu puts on airs about being anti-inflammatory and generally good-for-you — but health claims aside, you can’t go wrong with menu favorites including the lemon and garlicky Tuscan kale salad and spaghetti squash casserole smothered in crushed tomatoes.

Left Bank

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From vibrant Indian cuisine to artful tapas, San Jose’s Santana Row hosts a veritable smorgasbord of dining options. But if you’re looking for something both elegant and relatively approachable, Left Bank Brasserie’s chic, bistro-inspired dining room makes a great choice. On the front patio you’ll have views of the Row’s towering tree and inside, the holidays usually mean flourishes like red ribbons tied up all into bows and twinkling lights draped around the window frames. On the menu expect well-done versions of French classics including escargots, beef bourguignon, and bouillabaisse.

Din Tai Fung

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Sure, there are a lot of great dumpling options in San Francisco — but Din Tai Fung, the international dumpling powerhouse, is undeniably excellent. You’d be more than forgiven for making a pilgrimage to Santa Clara’s Westfield Valley Fair mall just to bury yourself in delicate XLB stuffed with Kurobuta pork, truffle, and crab, but during the holiday shopping season you’ve got even more good reason to make a trip to the South Bay shopping destination. Just don’t forget to leave room for some of the non-dumpling dishes like spicy shrimp and pork wontons, crunchy green beans sauteed in garlic, and bouncy rice cakes wok fried with chicken or shrimp.

A steamer basket filled with 10 soup dumplings. Din Tai Fung

Estelle Bakery & Pâtisserie

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There are few better options for fresh baked pastries in the greater Sacramento area than Estelle’s, which moved to its current location at Downtown Commons (or DoCo, as the locals call it) in 2018. The menu spans breakfast and lunch with sweet options ranging from French toast topped with bananas, caramel, and pecans to savory bites likes croque monsieur and fluffy vegetable quiche. Even if you’re not in the market for a full meal, swing through to pick up some post-shopping treats like a delicate danish, a box of assorted macarons, or a canelé (available on weekends only).

Land Ocean Restaurant Roseville

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Land Ocean, with its three locations across the region including at the Roseville Galleria, is proudly locally owned and serves up big Ruth’s Chris-Houston’s-Mastro’s energy, dishing out grilled artichokes, seared ahi tuna salads, and various burgers in an artful-in-a-restrained-kind-of-way space. The stars of the menu are the steaks, which can be ordered with an accompanying lobster tail if you want to full land-ocean experience. Wash it down with a glass of bubbles (Chandon, perhaps, if you want something local) or a martini, which come infused with pomegranate or jalapeno.

RH Rooftop Restaurant Marin at the Village at Corte Madera

Salmon at RH Marin RH Marin

Of course Marin has a laidback open-air shopping center, and a trip to Nordstrom or Tesla would not be complete without one of the most outrageous rooftop lunches of them all — the new RH Rooftop Restaurant (as in Restoration Hardware). Opened during the pandemic, you can now feast on lobster roll and sip one of more than 40 wines under crystal chandeliers and olive trees. 

Salmon at RH Marin RH Marin

Gram Cafe & Pancakes at Stonestown Galleria

Often overlooked as actually the best mall in San Francisco (the glorious parking! the clean movie theater!), Stonestown is throwing down these days with a number of exciting dining options. The one that got the biggest buzz: Gram Cafe & Pancakes drew long lines when it opened in 2019, bringing its jiggly Japanese souffle pancakes to the mall. But should you require something savory, there’s also Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, which motored in with conveyor belt sushi in 2021 (spoiler alert: there are prizes).

Udon Mugizo

Mentai creamy sauce udon topped with green onions, slivers of seaweed, and pieces of tempura batter from Udon Mugizo in Japantown Lauren Saria/Eater SF

There’s absolutely no shortage of excellent dining options within Japantown’s two malls. Craving ramen? Put your name in early at Marufuku. Want sushi? It’ll slide by on conveyor belts at Tenroku or come in tasting menu format at Oma San Francisco Station. But the pro-move is a retreat behind the warm wooden walls of Udon Mugizo, where you can lose yourself in a big bowl of creamy udon crowned with smoked cod roe or uni. There may be a wait but you can head just across the hall to browse the shelves at Kinokuniya bookstore while you wait.

Mentai creamy sauce udon topped with green onions, slivers of seaweed, and pieces of tempura batter from Udon Mugizo in Japantown Lauren Saria/Eater SF

The Rotunda

Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

Pull on that holiday dress and tie on your best bows because the Rotunda is back, baby. And if you’re going to schelp on down to Union Square to gawk at the big tree and press your nose up against the holiday shop windows, then you must also stop in for a plate of popovers on the fourth floor of Neiman Marcus. There’s afternoon tea service if you have the time to linger over the bird's eye views of the bustling square below — just don’t forget to train your eyes upward to soak up the glow of the stained glass dome.

Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

Bonchon at the Metreon (near Westfield San Francisco Centre)

A spread of fried chicken and sides at Bonchon Bonchon

The massive mall right on Market Street isn’t only nine stories tall, it also boasts 29 dining options, from Shake Shack smashburgers to Beard Papa’s cream puffs. But there are many downtown restaurants nearby, including the new location of the wildly popular Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon inside the Metreon. The pro move is to cut through Bloomingdale’s and cross Mission for that “hand-battered, double-fried, crazy crispy” Korean fried chicken.

A spread of fried chicken and sides at Bonchon Bonchon

Pinstripes

Two moms eating burgers and drinking wine Pinstripes

Conveniently located halfway down the Peninsula, Hillsdale mall has a lot going for it. And while San Franciscans might head straight to the second location of their favorite Palette Tea House, and the San Carlos crowd will stick with the new spot for their favorite pastrami at the Refuge, the real wild card here is Pinstripes! The restaurant slash bowling alley experience, where tired parents can snack on woodfired pizza with a glass of wine — and turn kids loose on the lanes. 

Two moms eating burgers and drinking wine Pinstripes

Tootsies at the Stanford Barn

Cappuccino Tootsies

Ah, the Stanford Shopping Center, where the tech elite love to belly up to the makeup bar at Neiman Marcus, Labradoodles in tow. If you’re not grabbing a salad at True Food Kitchen or cupcake at Sprinkles (a Stanford student lunch of choice), another underrated option is Tootsies at the Stanford Barn (technically closer to the mall than the horses). Owner Rocco Scordella is originally from Puglia, and his breakfasts and lunches range from Nutella croissants to chicken panino, and either is great with a cappuccino.

Cappuccino Tootsies

True Food Kitchen

After some al fresco shopping at Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza, side-step the heavier options and opt instead for a healthy-ish meal at True Food Kitchen, restaurateur Sam Fox’s restaurant chain founded in partnership with Andrew Weil and backed by none other than Oprah. The menu puts on airs about being anti-inflammatory and generally good-for-you — but health claims aside, you can’t go wrong with menu favorites including the lemon and garlicky Tuscan kale salad and spaghetti squash casserole smothered in crushed tomatoes.

Left Bank

From vibrant Indian cuisine to artful tapas, San Jose’s Santana Row hosts a veritable smorgasbord of dining options. But if you’re looking for something both elegant and relatively approachable, Left Bank Brasserie’s chic, bistro-inspired dining room makes a great choice. On the front patio you’ll have views of the Row’s towering tree and inside, the holidays usually mean flourishes like red ribbons tied up all into bows and twinkling lights draped around the window frames. On the menu expect well-done versions of French classics including escargots, beef bourguignon, and bouillabaisse.

Din Tai Fung

A steamer basket filled with 10 soup dumplings. Din Tai Fung

Sure, there are a lot of great dumpling options in San Francisco — but Din Tai Fung, the international dumpling powerhouse, is undeniably excellent. You’d be more than forgiven for making a pilgrimage to Santa Clara’s Westfield Valley Fair mall just to bury yourself in delicate XLB stuffed with Kurobuta pork, truffle, and crab, but during the holiday shopping season you’ve got even more good reason to make a trip to the South Bay shopping destination. Just don’t forget to leave room for some of the non-dumpling dishes like spicy shrimp and pork wontons, crunchy green beans sauteed in garlic, and bouncy rice cakes wok fried with chicken or shrimp.

A steamer basket filled with 10 soup dumplings. Din Tai Fung

Estelle Bakery & Pâtisserie

There are few better options for fresh baked pastries in the greater Sacramento area than Estelle’s, which moved to its current location at Downtown Commons (or DoCo, as the locals call it) in 2018. The menu spans breakfast and lunch with sweet options ranging from French toast topped with bananas, caramel, and pecans to savory bites likes croque monsieur and fluffy vegetable quiche. Even if you’re not in the market for a full meal, swing through to pick up some post-shopping treats like a delicate danish, a box of assorted macarons, or a canelé (available on weekends only).

Land Ocean Restaurant Roseville

Land Ocean, with its three locations across the region including at the Roseville Galleria, is proudly locally owned and serves up big Ruth’s Chris-Houston’s-Mastro’s energy, dishing out grilled artichokes, seared ahi tuna salads, and various burgers in an artful-in-a-restrained-kind-of-way space. The stars of the menu are the steaks, which can be ordered with an accompanying lobster tail if you want to full land-ocean experience. Wash it down with a glass of bubbles (Chandon, perhaps, if you want something local) or a martini, which come infused with pomegranate or jalapeno.

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