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Best Restaurants in San Francisco

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A great destination for foodies, San Francisco features amazingly dense concentration of high-end restaurants with diverse culinary traditions, including those of Europe and Asia. Incorporating high-quality regional ingredients in a truly local cuisine, in which fresh produce and seafood figure prominently, and healthful preparations are standard, San Francisco restaurants are impressively diverse and cater to even the most sophisticated gourmand.

Restaurant Gary Danko

Average price: $89
Recommended For: Romantic, Business
Address: Address: 800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109-1228

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Offering impeccable cuisine and perfect service in an unstuffy environment, Gary Danko Restaurant is the choice number one for fine dining. The menu, which changes seasonally and includes three- to five-courses, is freestyle. It may include pancetta-wrapped frog legs, Moroccan squab with orange-cumin carrots, and quail stuffed with wild mushrooms and foie gras. Try the signature buttery-smooth glazed oysters with lettuce cream, salsify and Osetra caviar; or horseradish-crusted salmon medallions with dilled cucumbers - delicious and glorious. A diet-destroying chocolate soufflé with two sauces, which is usually among the desserts, or divine flambéed desert of the day will also remind you that Gary Danko is one sweet and memorable meal. The wine list is the size of a small-town phone book. The banquette-lined room, with beautiful wood floors and shutters, well-spaced tables and stunning (but restrained) floral arrangements, not to mention spa-style bathrooms, are as memorable as the food.

Michael Mina

Average price: $98
Recommended For: Romantic, Business
Address: 335 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 37.787699-122.408309 Phone: (415)397-9222

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Chef Michael Mina, a celebrity chef while running Aqua and a Bon Appétit Chef of the Year for 2005-2006, takes the small-plate dining concept to extremes at this chic restaurant. Enjoying outstanding service in the elegant dining room with deep leather lounge chairs, customers can sample cuisine in the form of 3-component dishes. Each course of its prix-fixe is really three of the same theme plus three sides to match, served three different ways on custom Mina-designed modular china. That’s six different preparations per dish or a total of 18 different flavors over the course of an evening. If you like sampling lots of styles and flavors, this culinary wonder is going to appeal to you. Take diver scallops for example. One preparation is accented with lemon Osetra caviar while the other two pair them with yellow corn and summer truffles and smoked tomato and Maine lobster, not to mention three different "chilled salads" in small glasses. You might also find crispy pork loin done with risotto, as pulled pork with apple ravioli, and as barbecue with a corn fritter. Some dishes hit, some miss, but in all cases this is a delicious affair accompanied by an incredible wine list by Rajat Parr.

The French Laundry

Average price: $240
Recommended For: Romantic, Outdoor seating
Address: 6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599 Phone: (707) 944-2380

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The most acclaimed restaurant in Napa Valley and one of the most highly regarded in the country, the French Laundry Restaurant is within a rustic two-story stone house, surrounded by a country garden full of vintage roses, perennials and seasonal herbs. In this little garden you can have a drink before entering the main dining room, intimate and simple, with bare walls and no distracting music.

Dining at the French Laundry is one of those "once in a lifetime" experiences and an excellent choice for a very special celebration. The restaurant offers world-class food and world-class service topped with an outstanding wine selection. The food is dilisious and presented as a work of art. Two prix-fixe menus ($210), one of which is vegetarian, vary but the "oysters and pearls", a silky sabayon of pearl tapioca with oysters and sevruga caviar, is a signature starter. Some courses rely on luxe ingredients like foie gras, while others take humble foods like fava beans and elevate them to art. Try an amuse-bouche of cornet of salmon mousse with crème fraiche which is just superb or tuna tartare on a bed of radish and cucumber drizzled with aged Tamari soy sauce. Reservations at French Laundry are hard won and are taken two months in advance to the calendar date. The dining time is 3-4 hours. Jackets are required.

Terra

Average price: $50
Recommended For: Romantic
Address: 1345 Railroad Ave. St. Helena, CA 94574 Phone: (707)963-8931

Dine amidst century-old stone walls in quiet St. Helena oasis of fine dining. This elegant, romantic restaurant is a world-class dining destination in Napa Valley where Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani have been creating their culinary masterpieces for over 20 years. Today the intimate restaurant still showcases Chef Sone's seasonal menus that blend local ingredients and the flavors of Southern France and Northern Italy. Innovative and eclectic, the cuisine served here is primarily a cross between French and Californian with an exotic Asian touch. An amazing cross-cultural variety of eats can be found here and the chef was the recipient of a recent Mondavi Award of Culinary Excellence. In 2008 Terra received a James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Service.

Here you can enjoy such delights as the Sake-marinated Chilean Sea Bass or the Grilled Squab. The wine list is extraordinary, in fact, the third highest rated in the San Francisco area, offering a huge variety of local wines. It is a great place for a splendid romantic dinner with impeccable service.

Aqua

Average price: $80
Recommended For: Business
Address: 252 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111 Phone: (415) 956-9662

Quietly elegant and heavily mirrored, this spot is among the most lauded seafood restaurants and, naturally, and among the most expensive in the city. Here seafood is elevated to new heights amid soothing muted crème colors and spectacular floral arrangements. Warm tones and majestic flower displays in the spacious dining room, exquisite woods and theatre-style lighting create a tranquil, elegant atmosphere of ageless beauty. Located in the heart of San Francisco's bustling Financial District, it is, no doubt, one of the most beautiful restaurants in the Bay Area.

Upscale and unpretentious, Aqua is a good place for a sophisticated fine-dining experience that blends innovative, world-class cooking with the highest standards in quality and service. This restaurant is known for using exquisite ingredients, diverse flavors and unique Californian produce. In the menu you can find dishes like tuna tartare with Moroccan spices, Hawaiian walu with steamed potatoes, Atlantic cod with polenta. Lunch is à la carte, but dinner is a $68 three-course prix-fixe affair with plenty of choice in each category. Lottery winners can opt for the seven-course tasting menu for about $30 more. Service is as smooth as silk, anticipating your every need, desserts are delicious and intricate, and the wine list is as high-class as the clientele. Before and after dinner guests can linger on linen-covered barstools and enjoy a drink at the expansive maple-top bar.

Frascati

Average price: $31
Recommended For: Romantic
Address: 1901 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109 Phone: (415) 928-1406

A Mediterranean-style bistro, Frascati, with warm colors and high ceilings, featuring inventive menu and energetic atmosphere is the place that fosters great memories. With a dedicated and friendly staff, this quaint restaurant offers cuisine inspired from the Mediterranean coast, which is as much French or Spanish as Californian and Italian. Menus shift frequently to reflect the best ingredients of the current season. In the bustling kitchen which you can see from the mezzanine tables, new chef Jim Campbell adds modern touches to the former traditional menu. Campbell uses the popular Prince Edward Island mussels with fennel, peppers and white wine broth, and has added a new entry to the ceviche craze with bay scallops tossed in avocado, peppers, cucumber and plaintain chips. Mixed greens with candid walnuts, Danish blue and vinaigrette is turning into a regular, easy-option salad, but there is also grilled bread Tuscan salad with olives and feta. Frascati has become known for its eclectic wine list, which nicely complements the food. Their list consists of over 90 reputable varietals and a few special alternating selects each month.

Boulevard

Average price: $41
Recommended For: Romantic, Business
Address: 1 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105 Phone: (415) 543-6084

Its Art Nouveau interior is as mesmerizing as its fine fare, featuring dramatically artistic Belle Epoque interior, with vaulted brick ceilings, elaborate floral banquettes, a mosaic floor and tulip-shaped lamps. Warm and welcoming, the dining room is breathtakingly beautiful with magnificent views of the bridge. This upscale and elegant décor creates a perfect setting for equally impressive sculptural and mouthwatering dishes by chef Nancy Oakes. Her hearty, flavorful and beautiful cuisine features American regional flavors combined with French influenced style. Starters include sea scallops with sautéed fresh hearts of palm, pomelo, basil, toasted shallots, and macadamia nuts, or the pan-seared foie gras with rhubarb on whole grain toast. The main courses are equally creative and may include grilled Pacific sea bass with fresh gulf prawns, grilled artichoke, spring asparagus and green garlic puree; or fire-roasted Angus filet with crispy Yukon gold potatoes, bearnaise sauce, sautéed spinach and crimini mushrooms, and red wine jus. For dessert try warm chocolate cake with a chocolate caramel center, caramel corn and butterscotch ice-cream, which is probably the best thing you have ever put in your mouth. The wine list is tremendous, the staff is just impeccable with service and the food is flawless.