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13 Outstanding Places to Eat and Drink at Santana Row

All the places to fuel up during your holiday shopping run

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So you’ve planned a trip to Santana Row. Making dinner plans at this luxury retail and residential destination is as essential to fully experiencing the area as is admiring extravagant window displays, daydreaming yourself into the cute apartments perched above the shops, or keeping tally of the Lamborghinis and Maseratis up and down the main drag. Santana Row prioritized outdoor seating long before the pandemic made it mainstream so expect European-style patios just about everywhere you look.

We’ll be the first to admit that the street has its fair share of quality chains. For a night out, Yardhouse, Maggiano’s, and Veggie Grill are reliable standbys. But allow us to throw out a few local recommendations to mix things up:

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Meso Modern Mediterranean

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If you’re looking to impress your date, venture away from the main stretch to Meso, where the owner’s intention is to make you feel like you’re enjoying a meal along the shores of the Mediterranean. Expect a flatbread laden with artichokes, kasseri cheese, and tahini; creamy hummus studded with garbanzos alongside disks of fluffy, fresh-baked pita; and succulent lamb shank laid on a bed of couscous, all served on speckled ceramic dishes in a room with ocean-blue accents, mosaic tile floors and tabletops, and intricate latticework.

Tumeric Roasted Cauliflower Meso Modern Mediterranean

Ozumo Santana Row

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Travelers and locals alike find their way to Ozumo, nestled beside the grand Hotel Valencia. This creative dining concept (think sushi bar meets sake lounge and robata grill) offers a number of izakaya specialties (a.k.a. Japanese pub food) like yakitori chicken skewers and okonomiyaki (savory green onion pancakes) as well as a wide range of nigiri and sashimi options. Don’t forget to accompany your meal with a sake tasting or one of the establishment’s inventive signature cocktails like the Giddy Geisha or the Tokyo Old Fashioned.

Two sushi rolls on white plates Ozumo Santana Row

Sauced BBQ & Spirits

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For brisket and baked beans, stop by Sauced BBQ, a trendy industrial joint with intentionally “rusty” corrugated metal siding, weathered wood, metal chairs, and neon signage. Make sure to accompany your sauce-saturated ribs with deep-fried delights like jalapeño poppers stuffed with pulled pork, sharp cheddar, and cream cheese (playfully referred to as hand grenades)—and for dessert, deep fried Oreos.

A tray of barbecue meats with a beer in the background Sauced BBQ & Spirits

Pizza Antica

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Does anything say “comfort food” quite like a hot cheesy slice? Pizza Antica’s Italian-style thin-crust pies and wood fired oven matches their mission to embody the classic Roman pizzeria. You don’t need a discerning palate to taste the quality. Partnering with local farmers, ranchers, meat curers, cheese producers, and bakers, their local ingredients earn them a wholesome rustic flavor. As for toppings, we encourage you to try the heirloom potato pizza or the spicy fennel sausage… but they’ve got all your classic standbys too. And if you don’t mind getting cozy with your carbs, go ahead and order a side of spaghettini or gnocchi while you’re there.

Two hands holding a margherita pizza Pizza Antica

LB Steak

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For those dressier special occasions, book a reservation at LB Steak, a classy venue serving prime and bone-in steaks with naturally-raised beef. There’s an air of gravitas about the rooms with their dark wood paneling, low lighting, and wine rack wall displays—while the cowhide chairs add a cheeky touch. Outdoors seating areas are sectioned-off by rich red curtains. The menu ranges from carpaccio and fillet mignon to tomahawk rib eye and several kinds of Japanese wagyu beef.

Pieces of wagyu steak on a black plate with salt and chile flakes on the side. LB Steak

Chika - Gourmet Mexican Rosticeria

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This gourmet Mexican rosticeria delves into the nuances of chicken through fritters, fajitas, burritos, and bowls. It’s a quirky establishment. Their mascot is a rooster with long lady legs. Their patron saint is a 1960s woman who drank men under the table and wrote recipes on the back of casino matchbooks (“in immaculate handwriting, of course. Right next to some of her favorite dirty jokes,” their website informs us.) Their menu doesn’t fool around though. One of the fan favorites is a wet burrito, generously loaded with rotisserie chicken, beans, corn, queso oaxaca, fried kale, and your choice of quinoa or cilantro rice—all drizzled in a spicy creamy morita sauce. They also offer a killer lemon coconut cheese flan, some solid cocktails, and the best chips and guac on the Row.

A plate of chicken with salsa, grilled vegetables, tortillas, and a cocktail. Chika

Oveja Negra

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If you value presentation over serving size, Oveja Negra is the option for you. Though the portions may be small, these pleasingly plated tapas are reminiscent of abstract art. Treating his plates like canvas, the chef embellishes dishes by layering ingredients, strategically placing microgreens, sprinkling seasonings, and drizzling or brushing sauces across its surface. We recommend the raised beef cheeks, Oveja Negra’s signature dish. It contains tender meat with potato puree, seasonal mushrooms, and a full-bodied sauce with red wine.

Stores have come and gone from the street, but Cocola is one of the OGs. This iconic French-style patisserie at the heart of the Row has been a faithful standby over the years. It’s the perfect way to indulge in a little decadence—whether you choose to order a mocha and macaroons or a chai and cheesecake. Finding it is relatively easy. Keep an out for the storefront with the dapper couple painted across the entrance. A 19th-century lady in a puff-sleeved gown and a mustachioed young gentlemen flank the doorway as if inviting guests into their tea-time ritual.

A tower of multicolored macarons. Cocola

Straits Restaurant

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If you’re craving Southeast Asian fusion make a beeline for Straights. To achieve intricate flavor profiles, this modern Singaporean establishment combines elements of Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, Nonya, and Indian cuisine. The house favorite is the roti prata, a traditional Indian flatbread crowned with scallions and served with a mouth-watering yellow coconut curry dip. But there are plenty of noteworthy options on the menu. Make sure to load up on spicy basil chicken, curried vegetables, and lemon grass beef. The lychee martinis are also a must. Heads up: Straights opens its dance floor and notches up its music in the evenings. So if you’re hoping for a lowkey kind of meal, stop by for lunch instead.

A whole lobster on ice with lemon and sauces. http://www.straitsrestaurants.com/

Amber India

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One of the long-reigning North Indian cuisine options here in the South Bay, Amber India is a must. It might be tempting to fill up on their stuffed naan, but make sure to pace yourself. You’ll want to save room for the butter chicken and tandoori sea bass. Here, vegetarians are well taken care of too. The pleasing blend of spices in the eggplant masala and aloo asparagus is enough to convert the carnivores.

A Bun Keema sandwich. Amber India

Left Bank

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Left Bank is a sister restaurant to LB Steak and though it might be the simpler of the two siblings, it is by no means less tasty. Acting as the brasserie on the block, Left Bank serves French cuisine with iconic regional dishes like escargot, cheese fondue, and beef bourguignon. There are also daily specials prompted by the chef’s happy excursions to the local farmer’s markets.

A plate of sliced duck in sauce. Left Bank

El Jardín

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As far as ambiance is concerned, El Jardin can’t be beat. Offering light bites and cocktails in a tiled garden patio flush with leafy green plants and string lights, it’s the perfect way to kill time before your dinner plans or draw out the evening after your meal. So order tacos and tequila, then settle in to enjoy the live music because this open-air venue hosts contemporary Latin pop singers and traditional mariachi bands.

Smitten Ice Cream

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Located on the edge of the Plaza de Valencia with its cow-sized chameleon statues, Smitten Ice Cream offers some of the best people-watching views of Santana Row. Not your run-of-the-mill parlour, Smitten serves ice cream churned to order ensuring fresh flavor and silky smooth texture. The Brr Machine, an invention by the shop’s founder Robyn Sue Fisher, turns locally-sourced ingredients into pure creamy goodness in 90 seconds flat. In the early days, Robyn placed her device in a little red wagon and wheeled it up and down the streets of San Francisco—but after growing a cult-like following, her operation got a whole lot less barebones. Today, her handful of brick-and-mortar operations serve exploratory flavors like earl grey with chocolate chips, cheesecake, and American pie to dessert foodies across the Bay.

An ice cream sundae in a cup. Smitten Ice Cream

Meso Modern Mediterranean

If you’re looking to impress your date, venture away from the main stretch to Meso, where the owner’s intention is to make you feel like you’re enjoying a meal along the shores of the Mediterranean. Expect a flatbread laden with artichokes, kasseri cheese, and tahini; creamy hummus studded with garbanzos alongside disks of fluffy, fresh-baked pita; and succulent lamb shank laid on a bed of couscous, all served on speckled ceramic dishes in a room with ocean-blue accents, mosaic tile floors and tabletops, and intricate latticework.

Tumeric Roasted Cauliflower Meso Modern Mediterranean

Ozumo Santana Row

Travelers and locals alike find their way to Ozumo, nestled beside the grand Hotel Valencia. This creative dining concept (think sushi bar meets sake lounge and robata grill) offers a number of izakaya specialties (a.k.a. Japanese pub food) like yakitori chicken skewers and okonomiyaki (savory green onion pancakes) as well as a wide range of nigiri and sashimi options. Don’t forget to accompany your meal with a sake tasting or one of the establishment’s inventive signature cocktails like the Giddy Geisha or the Tokyo Old Fashioned.

Two sushi rolls on white plates Ozumo Santana Row

Sauced BBQ & Spirits

For brisket and baked beans, stop by Sauced BBQ, a trendy industrial joint with intentionally “rusty” corrugated metal siding, weathered wood, metal chairs, and neon signage. Make sure to accompany your sauce-saturated ribs with deep-fried delights like jalapeño poppers stuffed with pulled pork, sharp cheddar, and cream cheese (playfully referred to as hand grenades)—and for dessert, deep fried Oreos.

A tray of barbecue meats with a beer in the background Sauced BBQ & Spirits

Pizza Antica

Does anything say “comfort food” quite like a hot cheesy slice? Pizza Antica’s Italian-style thin-crust pies and wood fired oven matches their mission to embody the classic Roman pizzeria. You don’t need a discerning palate to taste the quality. Partnering with local farmers, ranchers, meat curers, cheese producers, and bakers, their local ingredients earn them a wholesome rustic flavor. As for toppings, we encourage you to try the heirloom potato pizza or the spicy fennel sausage… but they’ve got all your classic standbys too. And if you don’t mind getting cozy with your carbs, go ahead and order a side of spaghettini or gnocchi while you’re there.

Two hands holding a margherita pizza Pizza Antica

LB Steak

For those dressier special occasions, book a reservation at LB Steak, a classy venue serving prime and bone-in steaks with naturally-raised beef. There’s an air of gravitas about the rooms with their dark wood paneling, low lighting, and wine rack wall displays—while the cowhide chairs add a cheeky touch. Outdoors seating areas are sectioned-off by rich red curtains. The menu ranges from carpaccio and fillet mignon to tomahawk rib eye and several kinds of Japanese wagyu beef.

Pieces of wagyu steak on a black plate with salt and chile flakes on the side. LB Steak

Chika - Gourmet Mexican Rosticeria

This gourmet Mexican rosticeria delves into the nuances of chicken through fritters, fajitas, burritos, and bowls. It’s a quirky establishment. Their mascot is a rooster with long lady legs. Their patron saint is a 1960s woman who drank men under the table and wrote recipes on the back of casino matchbooks (“in immaculate handwriting, of course. Right next to some of her favorite dirty jokes,” their website informs us.) Their menu doesn’t fool around though. One of the fan favorites is a wet burrito, generously loaded with rotisserie chicken, beans, corn, queso oaxaca, fried kale, and your choice of quinoa or cilantro rice—all drizzled in a spicy creamy morita sauce. They also offer a killer lemon coconut cheese flan, some solid cocktails, and the best chips and guac on the Row.

A plate of chicken with salsa, grilled vegetables, tortillas, and a cocktail. Chika

Oveja Negra

If you value presentation over serving size, Oveja Negra is the option for you. Though the portions may be small, these pleasingly plated tapas are reminiscent of abstract art. Treating his plates like canvas, the chef embellishes dishes by layering ingredients, strategically placing microgreens, sprinkling seasonings, and drizzling or brushing sauces across its surface. We recommend the raised beef cheeks, Oveja Negra’s signature dish. It contains tender meat with potato puree, seasonal mushrooms, and a full-bodied sauce with red wine.

Cocola

Stores have come and gone from the street, but Cocola is one of the OGs. This iconic French-style patisserie at the heart of the Row has been a faithful standby over the years. It’s the perfect way to indulge in a little decadence—whether you choose to order a mocha and macaroons or a chai and cheesecake. Finding it is relatively easy. Keep an out for the storefront with the dapper couple painted across the entrance. A 19th-century lady in a puff-sleeved gown and a mustachioed young gentlemen flank the doorway as if inviting guests into their tea-time ritual.

A tower of multicolored macarons. Cocola

Straits Restaurant

If you’re craving Southeast Asian fusion make a beeline for Straights. To achieve intricate flavor profiles, this modern Singaporean establishment combines elements of Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, Nonya, and Indian cuisine. The house favorite is the roti prata, a traditional Indian flatbread crowned with scallions and served with a mouth-watering yellow coconut curry dip. But there are plenty of noteworthy options on the menu. Make sure to load up on spicy basil chicken, curried vegetables, and lemon grass beef. The lychee martinis are also a must. Heads up: Straights opens its dance floor and notches up its music in the evenings. So if you’re hoping for a lowkey kind of meal, stop by for lunch instead.

A whole lobster on ice with lemon and sauces. http://www.straitsrestaurants.com/

Amber India

One of the long-reigning North Indian cuisine options here in the South Bay, Amber India is a must. It might be tempting to fill up on their stuffed naan, but make sure to pace yourself. You’ll want to save room for the butter chicken and tandoori sea bass. Here, vegetarians are well taken care of too. The pleasing blend of spices in the eggplant masala and aloo asparagus is enough to convert the carnivores.

A Bun Keema sandwich. Amber India

Left Bank

Left Bank is a sister restaurant to LB Steak and though it might be the simpler of the two siblings, it is by no means less tasty. Acting as the brasserie on the block, Left Bank serves French cuisine with iconic regional dishes like escargot, cheese fondue, and beef bourguignon. There are also daily specials prompted by the chef’s happy excursions to the local farmer’s markets.

A plate of sliced duck in sauce. Left Bank

El Jardín

As far as ambiance is concerned, El Jardin can’t be beat. Offering light bites and cocktails in a tiled garden patio flush with leafy green plants and string lights, it’s the perfect way to kill time before your dinner plans or draw out the evening after your meal. So order tacos and tequila, then settle in to enjoy the live music because this open-air venue hosts contemporary Latin pop singers and traditional mariachi bands.

Smitten Ice Cream

Located on the edge of the Plaza de Valencia with its cow-sized chameleon statues, Smitten Ice Cream offers some of the best people-watching views of Santana Row. Not your run-of-the-mill parlour, Smitten serves ice cream churned to order ensuring fresh flavor and silky smooth texture. The Brr Machine, an invention by the shop’s founder Robyn Sue Fisher, turns locally-sourced ingredients into pure creamy goodness in 90 seconds flat. In the early days, Robyn placed her device in a little red wagon and wheeled it up and down the streets of San Francisco—but after growing a cult-like following, her operation got a whole lot less barebones. Today, her handful of brick-and-mortar operations serve exploratory flavors like earl grey with chocolate chips, cheesecake, and American pie to dessert foodies across the Bay.

An ice cream sundae in a cup. Smitten Ice Cream

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