As most enthusatic diners understand, there’s a wide array of considerations to factor in when selecting the perfect restaurant for a night on the town. On some occasions, you might be craving a specific genre of food – perhaps sushi, pasta, or flavorful Indian cuisine. For other events, the neighborhood may matter more, or the accolades a restaurant holds, whether they be Michelin stars or James Beard Awards. Sometimes, though, the night calls specifically for a breathtaking space, a setting that more than stands up to the high caliber of food starring on the plate. For those events, try one of these 10 destinations, some of San Francisco’s most beautiful restaurants.Read More
Take a Look at San Francisco’s Most Beautiful Restaurants
Try these restaurant for thoughtful and striking design — on top of excellent food
Empress by Boon
In 2021, chef Ho Chee Boon and Atelier LLYS design studio returned the historic Empress of China banquet hall to its former splendor, redesigning the nearly half-a-century-old restaurant but retaining some elements including the impressive wooden pergola just inside the entryway. Teal leather-wrapped booths and wooden partitions retain diners’ sense of privacy, while modern art and black tilework do little to distract from the sweeping views of Chinatown and North Beach. The old-meets-new approach to the restaurant design appropriately echos the chef’s approach to modern Cantonese cuisine.
Leo's Oyster Bar
Stepping into Anna Weinberg’s Financial District seafood haven Leo’s Oyster Bar feels a bit like receiving an invitation into a tropical garden party of the highest order, as brightly colored floral wallpaper makes an eye-catching backdrop for rattan chairs and checkerboard tiles. The idea of excess drives both the almost over-the-top decor and the menu, which stars full caviar service, a $155 grand plateau, and a popular lobster roll.
Acclaimed designer Ken Fulk gave this Embarcadeo standby a glamorous refresh in 2021, so now diners not only flock to the 30-year-old restaurant for classic California cuisine from chefs Nancy Oakes and Dana Younkin, but also to soak up the look of the handsome dining room, flush with peacock feathers and velvet-wrapped chairs. Tiffany lamps adorn the bar and taxidermy birds guard the revolving door, granting the space a pleasant air of Belle Epoch drama.
Akikos has been a San Francisco sushi destination for more than a decade but in January the restaurant moved into a new home in the East Cut, marking an elegant new era for the family-run business. Chef Ray Lee and his team prepare omakase menus for guests from a 24-seat Chef’s Stage inspired by black box theaters. Working with AvroKO, the chef and owner aimed to give the space an East-meets-West aesthetic blending shiplap and plank wood with artwork inspired by the Japanese Gutai art movement.
The high ceilings and striking chandeliers at this FiDi restaurant make an undeniably grand impression. Chef Mourad Lahlou’s eponymous restaurant centers around its bold and modern dining room, slightly softened with the warm glow of inset lights and clusters of plants. Comfortable U-shaped booths bound the room on both sides, with a handful of tables running down the center. The cobalt and black space, augmented with concrete and metal accents, makes a perfect backdrop for the menu of modern Morrocan food including the chef’s hand-rolled brown butter couscous and delicate, flower-topped basteeya.
Star chef Srijith Gopinathan and partner Ayesha Thapar stunned diners and designers with the opening of Cal-Indian destination Ettan in early 2020. Now they’ve taken their talents back up to San Francisco, debuting Copra earlier this year. The light-filled dining room embodies the bohemian chic aesthetic with vines that climb from floor to ceiling and towering shelves stocked with ceramic vessels and woven baskets. Light woods and warm neutrals only serve to underscore the abundance of greenery winding around the restaurant, which specializes in dishes from Gopinathan’s home state of Kerala in southwestern India.
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There’s something pleasantly whimsical about this mid-Market restaurant located on the ground floor of the stylish Proper Hotel. An abundance of velvet and brass, and those frilly light fixtures combine to give the petite, cool blue dining room an air of luxury without feeling too self-important. Chef Jason Fox, formerly of Michelin-starred Commonwealth, adds to the restaurant’s show-stopping reputation with a menu that includes dramatic seafood towers and a flaming baked Alaska.
This Divisidero Street pasta and pizza destination housed inside a former auto garage has always made for a one-of-a-kind dinner setting — but after reopening in 2022 following a pandemic closure and redesign, it’s more impressive than ever. Bunches of dried herbs swing from rough-hewn rafters and tangles of vining plants add texture to an already vibrant space overlooking the neighborhood. Floral wallpaper, an eclectic mix of patterned tiles, and a glassed-in charcuterie room make this one of the most visually stimulating restaurants in town.
With chef Val Cantu helming the kitchen of this Michelin-starred restaurant and his wife Carolyn, an experienced interior designer, steering the design, it’s little surprise Californios claims a spot on any reputable list of the city’s finest restaurants. The menu leverages local produce and Cantu’s Mexican heritage with spectacular results, and the dining room at the restaurant’s new home in SoMa provides a sleek, inky black backdrop, punctuated by colorful modern art and natural light that filters down from massive skylights.
The Palm Court at RH San Francisco
RH, formerly Restoration Hardware, continues to grow its restaurant portfolio with the opening of this airy atrium restaurant at San Francisco’s historic Pier 70. If you’ve ever sunk into one of the company’s relaxed, but not-too-casual Cloud Sofas, then you’ve got an idea of what to expect from the design here: a combination of California cool and modern French elements — all of it washed in palaette of carefully selected neutral tones. Calacatta gold marble and a splashing water fountain give the space a sense of Old World luxury while the menu mostly features dishes cooked on the wood-fired grill.