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Recently renovated bar at Boulevard Patricia Chang

13 Romantic Restaurants for a Night Out in San Francisco

Snuggle into a plush booth and enjoy a great meal at these dinner destinations

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With such a stellar collection of cuisines and restaurants, San Francisco makes it easy to enjoy a delicious night out. But where should you go when you want to take that special someone somewhere that screams romance? While there will always be the classic steakhouses or red-checkered tablecloth joints, there are also lots of gems that pull off the aura of romance just as well.

Romance is more than just candles or a hushed atmosphere, so we’ve made a list of 13 of the most romantic restaurants in San Francisco — each of which has just a little something extra to take date night up a notch. Some have plush booths for snuggling and others have white tablecloths or impressive views, but all are delicious choices for wooing or keeping that spark alive.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Cafe Jacqueline

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1454 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 981-5565

This is slow food at its best, with each savory-and-sweet, sky-high, handmade soufflé made only by chef Jacqueline Margulis. Service in this tiny North Beach restaurant is decidedly old school, and reservations are taken only by phone. The French food takes time here and is meant to be shared, so make sure you go with someone you’re happy to spend a few hours with.

2. Frascati

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1901 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 928-1406
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White tablecloths, antique light fixtures, high ceilings, and a charming mezzanine grace this Russian Hill favorite, and the cable cars clanging by right outside make it feel like you’re in the middle of an SF rom-com. Enjoy a good steak, grilled pork chop, or seared salmon here in the intimate dining room, perfect for less adventurous eaters.

Frascati

3. Cotogna

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490 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 775-8508
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Dine amongst olive trees in Jackson Square in one of the prettiest parklets in town. Once the sun sets, fairy lights twinkle away, and there are plenty of blankets and heat lamps to keep you nice and toasty. There’s a family meal for two if you like sharing, or pick your own starters, handmade pizzas, and pastas made with exceptional seasonal ingredients instead.

The parklet at Cotogna, one of the best in San Francisco Patricia Chang

4. Matterhorn Restaurant and Bakery

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2323 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 829-7540
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Located at the edge of Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, it’s easy to pretend you’re dining on a snow-covered Alpine mountain at this fondue favorite, especially if you’re lucky enough to snag the gondola table for two. Lock eyes over a bubbling pot of cheese or beef fondue, and don’t forget the tradition that dropping the bread or dipper into the pot means that you have to give your dining companion a kiss.

56 Gold St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 433-6300
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Tucked away on a narrow street in Jackson Square, this swanky supper club offers plush booths and balcony seating in a classic Art Deco setting, complete with nightly live piano and jazz. Dine on fancy deviled eggs or the restaurant’s famous chicken hash, and don’t pass up a seat at the lively bar to watch classic martinis being shaken or stirred by bartenders sporting bow ties and white jackets.

Bix

6. Empress by Boon

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838 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 757-0728
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Go to Chinatown and take an elevator up to the top floor where the iconic Empress of China restaurant used to be. In its place is Empress by Boon, serving modern Cantonese food in a sleek atmosphere with impressive views. Only a prix fixe menu is offered, but you can order a la carte at the bar. Be prepared to doll up to dine here, as there’s a dress code of no t-shirts or shorts.

Patricia Chang

7. Boulevard

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1 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 543-6084
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Chef Nancy Oakes’ quintessential San Francisco restaurant sits in a historic building right near the foot of the Bay Bridge, perfect for pairing dinner with a romantic walk along the waterfront. The menu is unabashedly Californian and dialed into what’s local and seasonal, and you get to savor your three courses in a redesigned dining room that still retains artisanal mosaics and blown glass.

Recently renovated dining room at Boulevard Patricia Chang

8. EPIC Steak

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369 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 369-9955
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For those who associate romance with dinner at a steakhouse, why not choose one that has Bay Bridge and water views? Located right on the Embarcadero with huge windows and a large heated patio to soak in the vista, EPIC offers a menu that has all the classics, from shrimp cocktail to béarnaise sauce to pour over grilled steaks. Wash it all down with a big, bold glass of red wine or sip on a classic cocktail instead.

9. Ula Mediterranean Dining & Cocktails

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450 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 999-4950
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Art Deco meets gorgeous under-the-sea fixtures in this seafood-centric Union Square newcomer. The large space mixes booths, tables, and a balcony if you want to get a birds-eye view of the action below. Want live music? Have your oysters on the half shell or lobster agnolotti in the Jellyfish Room as you listen to jazz, funk, or soul (reservation and fee applies).

Ula Mediterranean

10. Sociale

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3665 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 921-3200
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Walk down a narrow alley past a floral shop and emerge onto a heated patio with a secret garden feel in Presidio Heights. Nibble on fried olives while you peruse the Italian-influenced menu where pastas are the star, and don’t forget to leave room for dessert, especially the chocolate oblivion cake that has olive oil, sea salt, and amaretti cookie crumbles.

Sociale

11. L'Ardoise Bistro

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151 Noe St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 437-2600
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French-speaking waiters and chalkboard menus complete the cozy bistro atmosphere in the Castro where you can dine indoors or outdoors among the trees. All the French mainstays are served here, from escargots to duck confit and coq au vin – and the mostly old world wine list offers plenty of choices to partner with the classic fare.

L’Ardoise

12. Penny Roma

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3000 20th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-7004
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The latest from the folks at Flour + Water, Penny Roma specializes in Roman pastas served in a heated courtyard in the Mission outfitted with a retractable roof and lush plants. Dishes from other regions in Italy complete the menu, from crudos to a 32-ounce bone-in ribeye with bone marrow salsa verde. The easy-to-understand wine list features Californian and Italian bottles broken down into natural and classic categories.

Patricia Chang

13. Foreign Cinema

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2534 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-7600
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String lights illuminate this magical courtyard in the Mission where diners are treated to both dinner and a movie after dusk. The California-Mediterranean menu includes oysters, snacky starters, lots of vegetarian options, and a cocktail list peppered with cinematic references. Use the drive-in speakers next to each table to turn the volume up or down depending on how interested you are in the evening’s flick being projected on the wall. 

Foreign Cinema

1. Cafe Jacqueline

1454 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

This is slow food at its best, with each savory-and-sweet, sky-high, handmade soufflé made only by chef Jacqueline Margulis. Service in this tiny North Beach restaurant is decidedly old school, and reservations are taken only by phone. The French food takes time here and is meant to be shared, so make sure you go with someone you’re happy to spend a few hours with.

1454 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Frascati

1901 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Frascati

White tablecloths, antique light fixtures, high ceilings, and a charming mezzanine grace this Russian Hill favorite, and the cable cars clanging by right outside make it feel like you’re in the middle of an SF rom-com. Enjoy a good steak, grilled pork chop, or seared salmon here in the intimate dining room, perfect for less adventurous eaters.

1901 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109

3. Cotogna

490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
The parklet at Cotogna, one of the best in San Francisco Patricia Chang

Dine amongst olive trees in Jackson Square in one of the prettiest parklets in town. Once the sun sets, fairy lights twinkle away, and there are plenty of blankets and heat lamps to keep you nice and toasty. There’s a family meal for two if you like sharing, or pick your own starters, handmade pizzas, and pastas made with exceptional seasonal ingredients instead.

490 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

4. Matterhorn Restaurant and Bakery

2323 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

Located at the edge of Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, it’s easy to pretend you’re dining on a snow-covered Alpine mountain at this fondue favorite, especially if you’re lucky enough to snag the gondola table for two. Lock eyes over a bubbling pot of cheese or beef fondue, and don’t forget the tradition that dropping the bread or dipper into the pot means that you have to give your dining companion a kiss.

2323 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

5. Bix

56 Gold St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Bix

Tucked away on a narrow street in Jackson Square, this swanky supper club offers plush booths and balcony seating in a classic Art Deco setting, complete with nightly live piano and jazz. Dine on fancy deviled eggs or the restaurant’s famous chicken hash, and don’t pass up a seat at the lively bar to watch classic martinis being shaken or stirred by bartenders sporting bow ties and white jackets.

56 Gold St
San Francisco, CA 94133

6. Empress by Boon

838 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
Patricia Chang

Go to Chinatown and take an elevator up to the top floor where the iconic Empress of China restaurant used to be. In its place is Empress by Boon, serving modern Cantonese food in a sleek atmosphere with impressive views. Only a prix fixe menu is offered, but you can order a la carte at the bar. Be prepared to doll up to dine here, as there’s a dress code of no t-shirts or shorts.

838 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108

7. Boulevard

1 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Recently renovated dining room at Boulevard Patricia Chang

Chef Nancy Oakes’ quintessential San Francisco restaurant sits in a historic building right near the foot of the Bay Bridge, perfect for pairing dinner with a romantic walk along the waterfront. The menu is unabashedly Californian and dialed into what’s local and seasonal, and you get to savor your three courses in a redesigned dining room that still retains artisanal mosaics and blown glass.

1 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105

8. EPIC Steak

369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

For those who associate romance with dinner at a steakhouse, why not choose one that has Bay Bridge and water views? Located right on the Embarcadero with huge windows and a large heated patio to soak in the vista, EPIC offers a menu that has all the classics, from shrimp cocktail to béarnaise sauce to pour over grilled steaks. Wash it all down with a big, bold glass of red wine or sip on a classic cocktail instead.

369 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

9. Ula Mediterranean Dining & Cocktails

450 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Ula Mediterranean

Art Deco meets gorgeous under-the-sea fixtures in this seafood-centric Union Square newcomer. The large space mixes booths, tables, and a balcony if you want to get a birds-eye view of the action below. Want live music? Have your oysters on the half shell or lobster agnolotti in the Jellyfish Room as you listen to jazz, funk, or soul (reservation and fee applies).

450 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94102

10. Sociale

3665 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118
Sociale

Walk down a narrow alley past a floral shop and emerge onto a heated patio with a secret garden feel in Presidio Heights. Nibble on fried olives while you peruse the Italian-influenced menu where pastas are the star, and don’t forget to leave room for dessert, especially the chocolate oblivion cake that has olive oil, sea salt, and amaretti cookie crumbles.

3665 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94118

11. L'Ardoise Bistro

151 Noe St, San Francisco, CA 94114
L’Ardoise

French-speaking waiters and chalkboard menus complete the cozy bistro atmosphere in the Castro where you can dine indoors or outdoors among the trees. All the French mainstays are served here, from escargots to duck confit and coq au vin – and the mostly old world wine list offers plenty of choices to partner with the classic fare.

151 Noe St
San Francisco, CA 94114

12. Penny Roma

3000 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Patricia Chang

The latest from the folks at Flour + Water, Penny Roma specializes in Roman pastas served in a heated courtyard in the Mission outfitted with a retractable roof and lush plants. Dishes from other regions in Italy complete the menu, from crudos to a 32-ounce bone-in ribeye with bone marrow salsa verde. The easy-to-understand wine list features Californian and Italian bottles broken down into natural and classic categories.

3000 20th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

13. Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Foreign Cinema

String lights illuminate this magical courtyard in the Mission where diners are treated to both dinner and a movie after dusk. The California-Mediterranean menu includes oysters, snacky starters, lots of vegetarian options, and a cocktail list peppered with cinematic references. Use the drive-in speakers next to each table to turn the volume up or down depending on how interested you are in the evening’s flick being projected on the wall. 

2534 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

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