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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.
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Acquerello

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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.

Beach Chalet Soccer Fields

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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.

Californios

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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.

Chez Maman East

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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.

Chez Panisse

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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.

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.

Frances

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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

Greens Restaurant

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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.

Ijji sushi

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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.

Kokkari Estiatorio

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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

La Ciccia

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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

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.

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.

Petit Crenn

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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.

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.

Waterbar

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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.

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.

Acquerello

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.

Beach Chalet Soccer Fields

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.

Californios

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.

Chez Maman East

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.

Chez Panisse

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.

Commis

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.

Frances

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.

Frances

Greens Restaurant

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.

Ijji sushi

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.

Kokkari Estiatorio

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.

Eater Archives

La Ciccia

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.

Eater Archives

Mourad

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.

Nico

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.

Petit Crenn

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.

Wako