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Where to Celebrate Special Occasions on a Date in San Francisco

Lock it down at one of these special occasion spots

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When you're ready to signal to someone that you're serious about the relationship, it's time to head to a special occasion spot that shows your intentions through delicious food and top-notch hospitality. Note: these are not — we repeat not — places to put a ring on it. Lock it down at one of these 17 restaurants ideal for standout evenings, scattered throughout the city and the East Bay for location ease.

Evening go well with your new partner? Here's where to go when the two of you need a date night, grouped separately for moderate prices and slightly fancier spots.

— Noelle Chun, Andrew Dalton, Ellen Fort, Anna Roth, and Stefanie Tuder contributed to this map.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Acquerello

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1722 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94109

This white-tableclothed, Italian fine dining temple may not be the hippest thing around, but you're going to get treated real right and eat some delicious pasta with incredible wine. And this is a special occasion, right? So put your khakis and your dresses on and act like it.

2. Beach Chalet Soccer Fields

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1500 John F. Kennedy Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94121

Beach Chalet, on the second floor of the Golden Gate Park Visitor’s Center on the Great Highway, is member of a very small club of SF restaurants where you can eat dinner while watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Make reservations accordingly. You can splurge on classics like raw oysters, Maine lobster, or New York steak, or stick to basics like burgers and fish and chips. Wash it all down with one of the restaurant’s house brews or a selection from the full bar.

3. Californios

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3115 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 757-0994
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Californios is the most underrated tasting menu destination in San Francisco; taking someone here will make you seem very in the know. The Mexican food is surprising (when's the last time you had aerated beans?), the decor is stylish, the service is spot-on. Make sure you get the inventive wine and beer pairings, too.

4. Chez Maman East

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1401 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 655-9542
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It's not the most expensive restaurant in the neighborhood, but it's romantic and homey in that French bistro way. Share escargot and beef tartare, and wash it all down with Champagne as you plan a trip to Paris together.

5. Chez Panisse

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1517 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 548-5525
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Not only is Chez Panisse a Berkeley classic, it's also the birthplace of California cuisine. Alice Waters' prix-fixe restaurant in the Gourmet Ghetto is still serving up pristine Bay Area produce, amazing wines, and impeccable ambiance. Make sure to take a peek into the gorgeous kitchen before the night is over.

6. Commis

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3859 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 653-3902
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The only two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the East Bay is an obvious choice, and one of the grander gestures available. It's a relaxed vibe with super precise, flavorful food — make a reservation at the chef's counter for a memorable experience and a first-hand look at the action.

7. Frances

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3870 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-3870
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Chef Melissa Perello has created one of the city's most beloved Californian restaurants. The cozy space makes your table feel intimate, and the dreamy food will give you a break from swooning over each other.

Frances

8. Greens Restaurant

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Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 771-6222
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In a neighborhood without a ton of special occasion spots, the vegetarian Greens is your best bet. And it's a good one, with solid food and a seriously killer view of the Bay. Make sure you get a window seat to alternate views of the Golden Gate and your brand-new SO's eyes.

9. Ijji sushi

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252 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 658-7388

Ijji has quietly become one of the best spots for sushi in the city, with friendly chefs and a lighthearted, approachable atmosphere, despite a serious focus on the fish. The attention to detail and mouthwatering bites — and $200 to $300 per couple price tag for omakase, depending how baller you go — make this a definite special occasion restaurant, so make it count for when you're ready for this next-level celebration.

10. Kokkari Estiatorio

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200 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 981-0983
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Kokkari is a special occasion classic for a reason: It consistently nails the restaurant holy trinity — food, service, and atmosphere — with its wood-fired Greek food and attentive staff.

Eater Archives

11. La Ciccia

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291 30th St
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 550-8114
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No restaurant in the city has more charm than La Ciccia, where a husband-and-wife team have put their love into the space for the last ten years. Let wife Lorella Degan settle you into your table and a great bottle of wine, after which husband Massimiliano Conti will delight your taste buds with the traditional Sardinian fare. It all leads up to a special evening free of some of the pretense that can infuse SF dining.

Eater Archives

12. Mourad

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140 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 660-2500
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Amid a town that flaunts its casual fashion, Mourad offers a luxe and elegant setting for its Michelin-starred contemporary Moroccan fare. Large slabs of gleaming white marble, reclaimed branches, huge mid-century modern chandeliers, sweeping ceilings, and its flawlessly executed tasting menu provide the swoon-worthy atmosphere to cinch the deal. If tasting menus aren't your thing, you can go a la carte or — better yet — create a shared memory by ordering the la'acha, a family-style dish to share with a choice between a whole chicken, a whole fish, a whole lamb shoulder, or 72-hour short ribs with four decadent sides.

13. Nico

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3228 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 359-1000
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A hidden gem in Laurel Heights, Nico's inventive, five-course prix fixe menu changes nightly but always feels like a special occasion. Intimate and familiar, yet always fresh — the perfect spot to show you're serious about somebody, without adding the unnecessary gravitas of a big destination dinner.

14. Petit Crenn

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609 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 864-1744
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Queen bee/SF chef Dominique Crenn's second, more casual venture is a dinner party of a restaurant, where the kitchen takes you on a journey to Crenn's French hometown Brittany. Go along for the multi-course, wood-fired meal ride, being sure to pair it with a few bottles of wine from the all-natural list. Crenn knows how to do it right, so though the restaurant has a more low-key vibe than her original fine dining temple Atelier Crenn, you'll still walk away feeling wowed.

15. Wako

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211 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 682-4875
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Omakase is on the menu at this tiny Clement Street restaurant, but Wako offers more than your average sushi restaurant. Chefs Atsushi-san and Tomo-san send out a parade of Japanese small plates, like housemade sesame tofu and mountain yam with spicy cod roe, followed by sashimi, tempura, and dessert; the whole thing is an elegant study in textures and temperatures. The sushi bar is small, so reservations are recommended.

16. Waterbar

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399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 284-9922
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The view from luxe seafood spot Waterbar is all you need to signify serious. Located at the base of the Bay Bridge, the best time to go is at sunset, sitting on the heated patio while watching the sun go down and the bridge lights start to dance in front of you.

17. Zazie

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941 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 564-5332
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Celebrate the fact that you and your new beau actually enjoy each other's company with a romantic patio brunch for two at this relaxed longtime neighborhood favorite. Besides, if you're going to wait that long for gingerbread pancakes and challah french toast, you might as well make it official.

1. Acquerello

1722 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This white-tableclothed, Italian fine dining temple may not be the hippest thing around, but you're going to get treated real right and eat some delicious pasta with incredible wine. And this is a special occasion, right? So put your khakis and your dresses on and act like it.

1722 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94109

2. Beach Chalet Soccer Fields

1500 John F. Kennedy Dr., San Francisco, CA 94121

Beach Chalet, on the second floor of the Golden Gate Park Visitor’s Center on the Great Highway, is member of a very small club of SF restaurants where you can eat dinner while watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Make reservations accordingly. You can splurge on classics like raw oysters, Maine lobster, or New York steak, or stick to basics like burgers and fish and chips. Wash it all down with one of the restaurant’s house brews or a selection from the full bar.

1500 John F. Kennedy Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94121

3. Californios

3115 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Californios is the most underrated tasting menu destination in San Francisco; taking someone here will make you seem very in the know. The Mexican food is surprising (when's the last time you had aerated beans?), the decor is stylish, the service is spot-on. Make sure you get the inventive wine and beer pairings, too.

3115 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94110

4. Chez Maman East

1401 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

It's not the most expensive restaurant in the neighborhood, but it's romantic and homey in that French bistro way. Share escargot and beef tartare, and wash it all down with Champagne as you plan a trip to Paris together.

1401 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94107

5. Chez Panisse

1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

Not only is Chez Panisse a Berkeley classic, it's also the birthplace of California cuisine. Alice Waters' prix-fixe restaurant in the Gourmet Ghetto is still serving up pristine Bay Area produce, amazing wines, and impeccable ambiance. Make sure to take a peek into the gorgeous kitchen before the night is over.

1517 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709

6. Commis

3859 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

The only two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the East Bay is an obvious choice, and one of the grander gestures available. It's a relaxed vibe with super precise, flavorful food — make a reservation at the chef's counter for a memorable experience and a first-hand look at the action.

3859 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

7. Frances

3870 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Frances

Chef Melissa Perello has created one of the city's most beloved Californian restaurants. The cozy space makes your table feel intimate, and the dreamy food will give you a break from swooning over each other.

3870 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

8. Greens Restaurant

Building A, San Francisco, CA 94123

In a neighborhood without a ton of special occasion spots, the vegetarian Greens is your best bet. And it's a good one, with solid food and a seriously killer view of the Bay. Make sure you get a window seat to alternate views of the Golden Gate and your brand-new SO's eyes.

Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123

9. Ijji sushi

252 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Ijji has quietly become one of the best spots for sushi in the city, with friendly chefs and a lighthearted, approachable atmosphere, despite a serious focus on the fish. The attention to detail and mouthwatering bites — and $200 to $300 per couple price tag for omakase, depending how baller you go — make this a definite special occasion restaurant, so make it count for when you're ready for this next-level celebration.

252 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

10. Kokkari Estiatorio

200 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Eater Archives

Kokkari is a special occasion classic for a reason: It consistently nails the restaurant holy trinity — food, service, and atmosphere — with its wood-fired Greek food and attentive staff.

200 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94111

11. La Ciccia

291 30th St, San Francisco, CA 94131
Eater Archives

No restaurant in the city has more charm than La Ciccia, where a husband-and-wife team have put their love into the space for the last ten years. Let wife Lorella Degan settle you into your table and a great bottle of wine, after which husband Massimiliano Conti will delight your taste buds with the traditional Sardinian fare. It all leads up to a special evening free of some of the pretense that can infuse SF dining.

291 30th St
San Francisco, CA 94131

12. Mourad

140 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Amid a town that flaunts its casual fashion, Mourad offers a luxe and elegant setting for its Michelin-starred contemporary Moroccan fare. Large slabs of gleaming white marble, reclaimed branches, huge mid-century modern chandeliers, sweeping ceilings, and its flawlessly executed tasting menu provide the swoon-worthy atmosphere to cinch the deal. If tasting menus aren't your thing, you can go a la carte or — better yet — create a shared memory by ordering the la'acha, a family-style dish to share with a choice between a whole chicken, a whole fish, a whole lamb shoulder, or 72-hour short ribs with four decadent sides.

140 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105

13. Nico

3228 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94115

A hidden gem in Laurel Heights, Nico's inventive, five-course prix fixe menu changes nightly but always feels like a special occasion. Intimate and familiar, yet always fresh — the perfect spot to show you're serious about somebody, without adding the unnecessary gravitas of a big destination dinner.

3228 Sacramento St
San Francisco, CA 94115

14. Petit Crenn

609 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Queen bee/SF chef Dominique Crenn's second, more casual venture is a dinner party of a restaurant, where the kitchen takes you on a journey to Crenn's French hometown Brittany. Go along for the multi-course, wood-fired meal ride, being sure to pair it with a few bottles of wine from the all-natural list. Crenn knows how to do it right, so though the restaurant has a more low-key vibe than her original fine dining temple Atelier Crenn, you'll still walk away feeling wowed.

609 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102

15. Wako

211 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

Omakase is on the menu at this tiny Clement Street restaurant, but Wako offers more than your average sushi restaurant. Chefs Atsushi-san and Tomo-san send out a parade of Japanese small plates, like housemade sesame tofu and mountain yam with spicy cod roe, followed by sashimi, tempura, and dessert; the whole thing is an elegant study in textures and temperatures. The sushi bar is small, so reservations are recommended.

211 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118

Related Maps

16. Waterbar

399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

The view from luxe seafood spot Waterbar is all you need to signify serious. Located at the base of the Bay Bridge, the best time to go is at sunset, sitting on the heated patio while watching the sun go down and the bridge lights start to dance in front of you.

399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

17. Zazie

941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Celebrate the fact that you and your new beau actually enjoy each other's company with a romantic patio brunch for two at this relaxed longtime neighborhood favorite. Besides, if you're going to wait that long for gingerbread pancakes and challah french toast, you might as well make it official.

941 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117

Related Maps