San Francisco’s Union Square claims so many destination dining options it’s almost dizzying. The California Historical Landmark, designated as such when the public plaza was used as a rallying area for the Union Army throughout the Civil War, is one of the city’s finest areas for a bit of shopping and strolling. Longtime favorites such as Sears Fine Food and the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus have held it down for years, and newcomers including Hed Very Thai and Corzetti make a case for the new brass, too. Try any of these 17 standouts to get a taste of what downtown San Francisco has to offer.Read More
17 Reliable Places to Eat Around Union Square
From an elegant spot for afternoon tea to a modern Vietnamese restaurant, here are your best bets for dining around Union Square
Hed Very Thai
Perhaps nowhere else in San Francisco can a diner order khao gaeng-style Thai dishes, arriving in so many tiny dishes and bowls. Naruephon “Billie” Wannajaro’s first restaurant outside of Thailand is a lovely place to stop in for lunch or dinner, enjoying everything from papaya salad to chicken satay.
Sons & Daughters
If you’re chasing those shiny Michelin stars around the Bay Area, then don’t overlook dinner at Sons & Daughters. Now leading the kitchen is chef Harrison Cheney, serving tasting menus inspired by Nordic cuisine and built on seasonal produce from local farms. The interior of the restaurant was redone during the pandemic, now featuring warm woods and an elegant fireplace.
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 excellent salads and other seasonally changing starters.
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.
Sears Fine Food
A must-visit for locals and tourists alike, Sears Fine Foods is a historic diner that’s been in operation on the square for over 80 years. The house specialty is Swedish pancakes, served 18 to a plate, and breakfast is served daily until 2 p.m. There’s also a lunch menu, and dinner starts at 5 p.m., featuring an all-American menu of steaks and seafood, such as the cioppino. Be warned, this place tends to be busy, especially around breakfast hours.
Cesario’s is the only spot near Union Square serving up old-school, red-sauce Italian, and it’s some of the best you’ll find outside North Beach. Chicken parmesan, lasagna, and penne Bolognese are the specials of the house, 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, it’s a good bet getting a table won’t be a problem.
Ryoko's Japanese Restaurant & Bar
Ryoko’s is way, way outside the ordinary: It’s in a basement and open late-ish, 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 the “sexy roll” topped with melted American cheese) are worth a try. Overall, it’s a refreshing departure from the Union Square usual — and pretty much anything else.
Miller & Lux Provisions Cafe
Much has been written about chef Tyler Florence’s new twin outposts in Union Square, and as of November 6, the sweet and savory locations are open. From the pastry team, there are macarons, croissants, and chocolate peanut butter muffins. Over on the savory side, get an entire rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes or a smoked salmon benedict.
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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 entrees are also offered for a heartier meal.
The newest restaurant from Adriano Paganini’s restaurant empire is this testament to Italian coastal cooking. The walls are papered with lemon trees where the cherry red doesn’t show through, and the food itself is nearly as vibrant: seafood and shellfish ciuppin, Ligurian pasta fazzoletti al pesto, and Lambrusco spritzes.
Mensho Tokyo SF
This ramen spot comes directly to San Francisco from Japan and specializes in creamy, chicken-y tori paitan ramen. 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 miso ramen, which comes filled with ground lamb and garnished with chili oil.
Bottle Club Pub
Bottle Club Pub is in that squishy area that is maybe Union Square and maybe Tenderloin, but makes it onto this list for a number of reasons. This Future Bars spot is in an area awash with other bars from the group (namely Zombie Village and Bourbon & Branch). But that’s a definite indicator that you’ll get some strong, well-crafted cocktails with a showstopper element — in this case, an enormous bottle and decanter collection situated on rotating shelves. Plus the pub has a small but mighty food menu featuring fish and chips, a smash burger, and fried chicken. It’s also kid-friendly if you have little ones in tow.
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Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen
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 braised short rib, wings, and a mac and cheese made with Monterey Jack, Swiss, and cheddar cheeses.
New Delhi Restaurant
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.
Chef Pim Techamuanvivit’s popular and more casual restaurant Kin Khao is inside the Parc 55 Hotel. The menu tends toward being seasonal, but among the favorite items is the mushroom hor mok, a curried mushroom dip with coconut cream. It’s served in a jar, for spreading over rice crackers. Try the “pretty hot wings” as well, which are marinated in fish sauce and garlic, then glazed with tamarind and sriracha, or the Yaowaraj noodles with chicken, egg, scallions, cilantro, and XO sauce. There’s a vegetarian version, as well, if you’re so inclined.
Bodega SF is the reimagined comeback for Tenderloin favorite Bodega Bistro, which shuttered back in 2017. Matt Ho, son of one of the restaurant’s co-owners, brought back the family restaurant as a pop-up during the pandemic, but now the Vietnamese spot has permanently relocated to a Union Square-adjacent spot with some modern touches befitting Ho’s time as manager at Nobu Palo Alto. The restaurant serves old favorites, such as the shaking beef and pho at lunch, as well as updated dishes like the bun cha made with heritage pork belly and cha ca, a whole branzino fish that is deboned and butterflied. If you’re feeling thirsty for cocktails, there’s a sister bar, the Felix, conveniently located next door.
Chef Joe Hou is the head of the new LINE SF hotel’s restaurant, Tenderheart, serving food that leans on his first-generation Chinese-American heritage. Expect twists on classic dishes, such as sakura boneless ribs made with a fermented black bean glaze, or the fried quail tossed in a sweet and sour sauce. If you’re more in the mood for drinks, head to the rooftop bar Rise Over Run, which also serves small plates and cocktails.