Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques turns out small plates of sophisticated fare, including cheeses and charcuterie, at her chic nearby wine bar, A.O.C. Fifty wines can be ordered by the glass or carafe or in preselected flights.
This adorable pizza joint focuses on cuisine from the Italian region of Campania. The burrata and bucatini is ever-popular, but visitors return for the chewy, slightly burnt pizza crust. If the Chestnut Street location is too packed, A16 also has outposts in the Ferry Building and just across the Bay Bridge in Oakland.
Conceived by chef Thomas Keller, this restaurant in Yountville is a great way to sample Keller’s cuisine if you cannot get reservations to the French Laundry. The daily-changing menu focuses on American comfort food and is a four-course, fixed-price. It’s delicious and informal. Note: while the restaurant serves dinner only throughout the week, a Sunday brunch is also offered and is fantastic.
Thomas Keller has added an even more casual eatery to the Yountville culinary scene. Addendum, a little wooden house behind Ad Hoc, serves up barbecue fare and unbelievable buttermilk fried chicken, but only at lunchtime Thursday through Saturday. You can order to go or eat it at the nearby picnic table.
The elegant setting, cuisine and 37,000-bottle wine list at the Addison make a meal here a truly special affair. Gusts will be treated to a culinary journey highlighting seasonal, local ingredients mixed with French influences. The menu changes frequently at this outstanding restaurant at Fairmont Del Mar, and ranges from “carte-blanche” to the lavish 10-course chef’s tasting menu —past dishes have included coffee-roasted canard with koshihikari rice, candied peanuts and albufera sauce and langoustine with caviar, parsley and vermouth.
This in-the-know Japanese spot is small and authentic, with only about ten tables—where you occasionally see A list celebrities enjoying a meal. The fish is sourced daily from a Japanese fish market, and the chef frequently comes by to explain the dish.
Recommended by an Indagare community insider
All Day Baby
From the Rouas family, creators of the exceptional Auberge du Soleil, comes this warm and wood-lined take on a refined French brasserie. The space is a refurbished boathouse with high, vaulted wood beams and views overlooking the Napa River. The staff is family-friendly, but as always, well versed on the wines.
This upscale Japanese restaurant has been a beloved Studio City mainstay since 1991. Head Tetsuya Nakao and his brother Shunji had both worked at Matsuhisa before opening their own spot, which has remained popular thanks to its high quality sushi offerings (and high prices to match). Omakase dining is available, and if the extensive a la carte menu feels overwhelming, opt for the daily specials. Some seats in the restaurant, diners can see the sushi chefs working their magic behind the counter. There is valet parking available.
Recommended by an Indagare community insider
Dominique Crenn is the first woman in the U.S. to earn two Michelin stars. Dining at Atelier Crenn, a serenely simple dining room accessed through a discreet door on an otherwise busy stretch of Fillmore Street, you can see why. The menu arrives as a poem that takes you through a season, through the woods (perhaps with the earthy taste of mushrooms) and to the ocean with expertly prepared dishes reflecting the scents of the sea. Each line of poetry reflects the next dish, but offers no specifics, heightening the anticipation. Because the dining room is so unfussy, because Crenn herself may come out to greet diners looking effortlessly chic in Converse tennis shoes, because the excellent food is inventive without being pretentious, the poetry works. By the time dessert arrived during a recent meal, I felt as if I had taken an incredible journey through nature. The dessert, a luscious, deep crimson sorbet looking exactly like a real beet, complete with a chocolate root, on a bed of granola, was unusual, unexpected and lusciously unforgettable.
Bar Agricole impresses from the moment you pass through the sidewalk entrance, leaving the gritty SoMa neighborhood to encounter a front patio full of chic diners. When you reach the front door you’ll spot the bar filled with hipsters and techies sipping creative cocktails and ordering from the restaurant’s lengthy wine list.
Behind the bar lies the rest of the dining room, which fills a sublime space that has earned Bar Agricole architectural kudos. One wall and half the ceiling of this converted warehouse are covered in slats of rich whiskey barrel oak. Ethereal glass sculptures descend from skylights above. A second dining room takes you down a few steps into a room of exposed concrete and wood, with high windows that spy into the main room. The vibe and décor is just right, but still, you come for the food. Dishes like sea urchin deviled eggs or black cod with English peas and smoked tea broth are a marvel.
Stop for a cocktail at Bäco Mercat’s sister restaurant, and order an inventive cocktail like the spicy Zapatista. If you’re in a group, order a margarita pitcher and tuck into some puffy tacos and other Tex-Mex classics.
Located in the hipster NoPa neighborhood, Bar Crudo is a great spot for pescatarians and fish lovers. It’s the raw seafood dishes—from oysters on the half-shell to inventive sushi like arctic char with horseradish crème fresh and wasabi tobiko—that are the real draw here, and that keep the crowds coming.
A great spot to hit on the road back from the Huntington Botanic Gardens, this tiny eatery offers a small-plate menu and great wine list. Sit on the patio with a group and sample an array of dishes.
Housed in a converted red barn that feels more like an art gallery with a garden dining area, this quirky restaurant highlights modern country food. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
Belles Beach House
This was San Francisco's first restaurant to earn three Michelin stars (in 2012), and chef Corey Lee can still be relied upon to push the boundaries of cuisine in a city teeming with innovative restaurants. Lee’s creativity can be sampled in the 18-course tasting menu (a classic is monkfish liver, sour cherries, pistachios and cauliflower on a cherry blossom brioche). The restaurant space designed by award-winner Richard Bloch is inspiring, as is the customized Korean porcelain by artist KwangJuYo.
The toughest reservation to score is at this Italian hot spot, the brainchild of restaurateur Bill Chait (of Sotto and Picca fame) and chef Ori Menashe (of Angelini Osteria). Some say the pasta is the specialty, but others opt for the pizza or the crostini, so try to get a reservation and decide for yourself what they do best.
This ice-cream shop is known to incite nearly fanatical behavior among San Franciscans at the mere mention of its name. Adjascent to Bi-Rite Market, the Creamery uses locally-sourced organic dairy and other environment-friendly ingredients to create their mind-blowingly tasty flavors, such as honey lavender and roasted banana, and concord grape popsicles made from Sonoma-grown grapes. Also, check out Bi-Rite Market itself, with locations next to the Creamery, as well as on Balboa and Divisadero streets. The selection of top quality specialty foods – like imported Stilton or Chai nut butter – astounds.