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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.
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Cafe Jacqueline

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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.

Frascati

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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

Cotogna

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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

Matterhorn Restaurant and Bakery

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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.

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

Empress by Boon

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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

Boulevard

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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

EPIC Steak

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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.

Ula Mediterranean Dining & Cocktails

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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

Sociale

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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

L'Ardoise Bistro

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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

Penny Roma

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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

Foreign Cinema

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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

Cafe Jacqueline

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.

Frascati

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.

Frascati

Cotogna

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.

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

Matterhorn Restaurant and Bakery

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.

Bix

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.

Bix

Empress by Boon

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.

Patricia Chang

Boulevard

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.

Recently renovated dining room at Boulevard Patricia Chang

EPIC Steak

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.

Ula Mediterranean Dining & Cocktails

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).

Ula Mediterranean

Sociale

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.

Sociale

L'Ardoise Bistro

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.

L’Ardoise

Penny Roma

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.

Patricia Chang

Foreign Cinema

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. 

Foreign Cinema

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