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15 Reliable Places to Eat Around Union Square

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It’s the time of year for weekend sojourns to shopping meccas, and if you’re fulfilling holiday-related obligations around Union Square, you’re going to need to plan for what happens when you’re bone-tired and hangry several hours into the belly of the beast. Options for food and drink around the area can be dicey, with most designed to entrap unwitting tourists. But there are plenty of places, some just a block or two away, to get a satisfying lunch or dinner that won’t leave you feeling robbed and annoyed.

From an elegant spot for afternoon tea to a solid Japanese-imported ramen, here are your best bets for dining around Union Square.

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.

1. Akiko's Restaurant

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431 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 397-3218
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In early 2022, this family-run omakase restaurant is moving to a new space in the East Cut, but for now you can still find some of San Francisco’s best sushi in the Union Square neighborhood. Akiko’s chef and owner Ray Lee wows with a one-two punch of quality ingredients and innovative techniques making Akiko’s one of the city’s essential dining experiences. The restaurant is an intimate space so reservations are always encouraged. 

Charcoal-kisses otoro from Akiko’s Joseph Weaver

2. Sons & Daughters

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708 Bush Street Between Bush &, Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 994-7933
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If you’re chasing those shiny Michelin stars around the Bay Area, then don’t overlook Sons & Daughters with its quintessentially Californian tasting menus built around seasonal produce from local farms. The interior of the restaurant was redone during the pandemic and sports warm woods and an elegant fireplace.

A roasted saddle of lamb and sweetbread with celery and English peas. Sons & Daughters/Facebook

3. Tacorea

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809 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 885-1325
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Korean meets Mexican cuisine at Tacorea, explaining that odd portmanteau of a name. Don’t be off put: Fusion delights are well worth it, including kimchi burritos — the big Ricardo is a smothered version — quesadillas, and bowls like “Mama Lee’s” spicy pork. More stoner-y food includes tater tot nachos. Portions are huge and service is kind.

4. Del Popolo

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855 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 589-7940
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Having slung his top-notch Neapolitan pizzas from a specially rigged, wood-oven-equipped truck for several years, local pizzaiolo Jon Darsky opened this lower Nob Hill spot, and now has a Michelin Bib Gourmand listing under his belt. It’s easily some of the best pizza in the city, but the menu also boasts some excellent salads and other seasonally changing starters, like tempura-fried butternut squash, and tasso spiced pork ribs with celery root remoulade.

5. Peacekeeper

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925 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 504-2502
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With soaring ceilings and large skylights, this Lower Nob Hill watering hole feels almost like the outdoors — if the outdoors offered a menu of thoughtful cocktails with Oaxacan influence at a modern bar dressed with wood-topped stools. The namesake Peacekeeper is a spicy blend of serrano tequila, pineapple, ginger, and lime — perfect for sipping next to the bar’s fireplace.

The sunny interior of Peacekeeper with tall ceilings and large skylights. Patricia Chang

6. Golden Gate Tap Room

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449 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 677-9999
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Just off the square is this TV-filled arcade bar where, by virtue of having Skee-Ball, pinball, and hoops machines, is going to skew pretty bro-y most days. It’s more sports focused than its other recently opened counterparts in the city like Brewcade and Coin-Op Game Room, and it’s not a place where you’re going to “dine” in any real sense of that word — it’s a place to drink lots of beer and graze on things like popcorn shrimp and chicken nachos, i.e. the bare necessities that might be necessary after braving the crowds.

7. Sears Fine Food

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439 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 986-0700
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A must-visit for locals and tourists alike, Sears Fine Foods is a historic diner that’s been in operation on the square for almost 80 years. The house specialty is Swedish pancakes, served 18 to a plate, and breakfast is served daily until 3 p.m. There’s also a lunch menu and dinner starts at 5 p.m., featuring an all-American menu of steaks and chops and an above-average prime rib. Be warned, this place is always busy, especially around breakfast hours, and you’ll often run into a line.

8. Cesario's

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601 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 441-9898
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It’s the only spot near Union Square serving up old-school, red-sauce Italian, and Cesario’s has probably some of the best of that genre of food that you’ll find outside North Beach. Chicken parmesan, lasagna, and penne Bolognese are the specials of the house here, and it’s all served on white tablecloths in a cozy dining room overlooking Mason Street. If Italian comfort food is what you’re craving and you don’t mind the small hike up the hill, this is a good bet where getting a table likely won’t be a problem.

9. Ryoko's Japanese Restaurant & Bar

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619 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 775-1028
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Ryoko’s is way, way outside the ordinary: It’s in a basement and open late while a DJ (typically a good one) plays loudly to keep the atmosphere lively. When ordering, stick mostly to the basics, though some weird house creations (like a Kentucky roll with fried chicken) are worth a try. Overall, it’s a refreshingly departure from the Union Square usual — and pretty much anything else.

10. The Rotunda

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150 Stockton St Level Four
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 249-2720
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If you’re going to dine in Union Square, might as well pull out all the stops, right? The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus is all white tablecloths and fine dining, set beneath the store’s iconic stained glass dome with unparalleled views of the square itself. The traditional move is to catch afternoon tea though dinner is also offered.

Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

11. Mensho Tokyo SF

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672 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 800-8345
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This ramen spot comes directly to SF from Japan and specializes in the creamy, chicken-y tori paitan ramen. There’s a perpetual line outside, but it typically moves fairly fast, and in true Japanese fashion this is a get-in-get-out type of ramen shop with communal seating and limited options. The ramen options are all good, but if you’re in the mood for something rich and heartier, go for the spicy lamb ramen, which comes filled with ground lamb and garnished with chile oil.

12. Bartlett Hall

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242 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 433-4332
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This spacious, often busy outpost is just one block off the square, on O’Farrell, and has a focus on beer, burgers, and fried stuff. There is typically at least one in-house brew on tap, made in the microbrewery that occupies the rear of the space, as well as eight others on tap, and a solid (if brief) cocktail selection featuring things like a barrel-aged Manhattan. Brunch includes a good huevos rancheros, and Eggs Benedict with an optional topping of carnitas and jalapeño hollandaise. Expect the place to be packed with football fans on Sundays watching one of the many TVs around the bar, but otherwise Bartlett Hall makes for an easy resting spot before tackling Macy’s head-on.

13. Shalimar Restaurant

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532 Jones St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 928-0333

Some of the best Indian-Pakistani food in the city (at prices well below those at nearby New Delhi Restaurant) can be found a few blocks from Union Square on Jones Street. Shalimar is well known for their chicken Jalfrezi and excellent tikka masala, but the restaurant itself is stark, and fluorescent-lit, so it’s no place for visiting moms, first dates, or the especially health-code sensitive.

14. Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen

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401 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 775-7979
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Since it opened, Jasper’s has been a reliable pre-theater, post-shopping destination with a solid cocktail situation and plenty of hearty, slightly upscale, pub-style dinner options. Think poutine topped with duck confit, wings three ways (Sriracha Buffalo, Asian, and salt & vinegar), and a mac and cheese made with smoked gouda. Also, for this ’hood, the prices are pretty reasonable.

15. New Delhi Restaurant

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160 Ellis St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-8470
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PBS-famous chef Ranjan Dey opened this upscale Indian restaurant in 1988, and while the regal atmosphere might feel a bit dated after all these years, it still serves reliably good food within stumbling distance of Union Square. Prices are a bit higher than your average Indian restaurant, but you won’t go wrong with any of the curries or the tandoori options. There’s also a full bar.

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1. Akiko's Restaurant

431 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Charcoal-kisses otoro from Akiko’s Joseph Weaver

In early 2022, this family-run omakase restaurant is moving to a new space in the East Cut, but for now you can still find some of San Francisco’s best sushi in the Union Square neighborhood. Akiko’s chef and owner Ray Lee wows with a one-two punch of quality ingredients and innovative techniques making Akiko’s one of the city’s essential dining experiences. The restaurant is an intimate space so reservations are always encouraged. 

431 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108

2. Sons & Daughters

708 Bush Street Between Bush &, Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94108
A roasted saddle of lamb and sweetbread with celery and English peas. Sons & Daughters/Facebook

If you’re chasing those shiny Michelin stars around the Bay Area, then don’t overlook Sons & Daughters with its quintessentially Californian tasting menus built around seasonal produce from local farms. The interior of the restaurant was redone during the pandemic and sports warm woods and an elegant fireplace.

708 Bush Street Between Bush &, Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94108

3. Tacorea

809 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Korean meets Mexican cuisine at Tacorea, explaining that odd portmanteau of a name. Don’t be off put: Fusion delights are well worth it, including kimchi burritos — the big Ricardo is a smothered version — quesadillas, and bowls like “Mama Lee’s” spicy pork. More stoner-y food includes tater tot nachos. Portions are huge and service is kind.

809 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108

4. Del Popolo

855 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Having slung his top-notch Neapolitan pizzas from a specially rigged, wood-oven-equipped truck for several years, local pizzaiolo Jon Darsky opened this lower Nob Hill spot, and now has a Michelin Bib Gourmand listing under his belt. It’s easily some of the best pizza in the city, but the menu also boasts some excellent salads and other seasonally changing starters, like tempura-fried butternut squash, and tasso spiced pork ribs with celery root remoulade.

855 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108

5. Peacekeeper

925 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94109
The sunny interior of Peacekeeper with tall ceilings and large skylights. Patricia Chang

With soaring ceilings and large skylights, this Lower Nob Hill watering hole feels almost like the outdoors — if the outdoors offered a menu of thoughtful cocktails with Oaxacan influence at a modern bar dressed with wood-topped stools. The namesake Peacekeeper is a spicy blend of serrano tequila, pineapple, ginger, and lime — perfect for sipping next to the bar’s fireplace.

925 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94109

6. Golden Gate Tap Room

449 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Just off the square is this TV-filled arcade bar where, by virtue of having Skee-Ball, pinball, and hoops machines, is going to skew pretty bro-y most days. It’s more sports focused than its other recently opened counterparts in the city like Brewcade and Coin-Op Game Room, and it’s not a place where you’re going to “dine” in any real sense of that word — it’s a place to drink lots of beer and graze on things like popcorn shrimp and chicken nachos, i.e. the bare necessities that might be necessary after braving the crowds.

449 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94108

7. Sears Fine Food

439 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

A must-visit for locals and tourists alike, Sears Fine Foods is a historic diner that’s been in operation on the square for almost 80 years. The house specialty is Swedish pancakes, served 18 to a plate, and breakfast is served daily until 3 p.m. There’s also a lunch menu and dinner starts at 5 p.m., featuring an all-American menu of steaks and chops and an above-average prime rib. Be warned, this place is always busy, especially around breakfast hours, and you’ll often run into a line.

439 Powell St
San Francisco, CA 94102

8. Cesario's

601 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94102

It’s the only spot near Union Square serving up old-school, red-sauce Italian, and Cesario’s has probably some of the best of that genre of food that you’ll find outside North Beach. Chicken parmesan, lasagna, and penne Bolognese are the specials of the house here, and it’s all served on white tablecloths in a cozy dining room overlooking Mason Street. If Italian comfort food is what you’re craving and you don’t mind the small hike up the hill, this is a good bet where getting a table likely won’t be a problem.

601 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102

9. Ryoko's Japanese Restaurant & Bar

619 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Ryoko’s is way, way outside the ordinary: It’s in a basement and open late while a DJ (typically a good one) plays loudly to keep the atmosphere lively. When ordering, stick mostly to the basics, though some weird house creations (like a Kentucky roll with fried chicken) are worth a try. Overall, it’s a refreshingly departure from the Union Square usual — and pretty much anything else.

619 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102

10. The Rotunda

150 Stockton St Level Four, San Francisco, CA 94108
Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

If you’re going to dine in Union Square, might as well pull out all the stops, right? The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus is all white tablecloths and fine dining, set beneath the store’s iconic stained glass dome with unparalleled views of the square itself. The traditional move is to catch afternoon tea though dinner is also offered.

150 Stockton St Level Four
San Francisco, CA 94108

11. Mensho Tokyo SF

672 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

This ramen spot comes directly to SF from Japan and specializes in the creamy, chicken-y tori paitan ramen. There’s a perpetual line outside, but it typically moves fairly fast, and in true Japanese fashion this is a get-in-get-out type of ramen shop with communal seating and limited options. The ramen options are all good, but if you’re in the mood for something rich and heartier, go for the spicy lamb ramen, which comes filled with ground lamb and garnished with chile oil.

672 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102

12. Bartlett Hall

242 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

This spacious, often busy outpost is just one block off the square, on O’Farrell, and has a focus on beer, burgers, and fried stuff. There is typically at least one in-house brew on tap, made in the microbrewery that occupies the rear of the space, as well as eight others on tap, and a solid (if brief) cocktail selection featuring things like a barrel-aged Manhattan. Brunch includes a good huevos rancheros, and Eggs Benedict with an optional topping of carnitas and jalapeño hollandaise. Expect the place to be packed with football fans on Sundays watching one of the many TVs around the bar, but otherwise Bartlett Hall makes for an easy resting spot before tackling Macy’s head-on.

242 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102

13. Shalimar Restaurant

532 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Some of the best Indian-Pakistani food in the city (at prices well below those at nearby New Delhi Restaurant) can be found a few blocks from Union Square on Jones Street. Shalimar is well known for their chicken Jalfrezi and excellent tikka masala, but the restaurant itself is stark, and fluorescent-lit, so it’s no place for visiting moms, first dates, or the especially health-code sensitive.

532 Jones St
San Francisco, CA 94102

14. Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen

401 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Since it opened, Jasper’s has been a reliable pre-theater, post-shopping destination with a solid cocktail situation and plenty of hearty, slightly upscale, pub-style dinner options. Think poutine topped with duck confit, wings three ways (Sriracha Buffalo, Asian, and salt & vinegar), and a mac and cheese made with smoked gouda. Also, for this ’hood, the prices are pretty reasonable.

401 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102

15. New Delhi Restaurant

160 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94102

PBS-famous chef Ranjan Dey opened this upscale Indian restaurant in 1988, and while the regal atmosphere might feel a bit dated after all these years, it still serves reliably good food within stumbling distance of Union Square. Prices are a bit higher than your average Indian restaurant, but you won’t go wrong with any of the curries or the tandoori options. There’s also a full bar.

160 Ellis St
San Francisco, CA 94102

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