, , , , , , , ,

I’m often asked for restaurant lists from friends and family, and I love sharing my favorites since I LOVE to eat.  Meals, in my opinion, have high potential.  At risk is your time, mood, money and calories, worst of all.  It’s a true shame to waste a meal on something just edible when you could have had a fabulous meal (at all price points) just by doing a little homework.

These lists I speak of?? I’ve written them hundreds of times, each time they are requested.  My email archives seem to devour them when I need to pull them out again.  So, I thought it a brilliant idea to post here for safe keeping!

One size does not fit all when it comes to restaurant lists.  There’s a list for “only one night in town”, “under $10 meals”, “neighborhood locales”, and “date night,” just to name a few.  So, I start with The Splurge list.  I know the opportunity doesn’t present itself often, but when it does, knowing where to go for a special dinner is important!  Plus, read on and you’ll see how you can check out these places when your budget doesn’t allow for “special.”  Most of these spots have great bars that are suitable for a “special” cocktail before moving on to a more affordable dinner if that’s what your wallet grants you.

San Francisco has lots of places worth a splurge and this list isn’t the end all, be all.  However, these are tried and true and some of my favorites!  Bon appetit!

Gary Danko (Fisherman’s Wharf, Californian) – perfect specimen of service and outstanding food make dinner here a truly enjoyable experience, worth every penny.  If you can squeeze in at the bar, you’ll get all that’s good without all of the commitment.  The choice of 3, 4 or 5 courses let’s you be in charge of your appetite and wallet.

Spruce (Presidio Heights, American) – sit at the bar for a cocktail and the talked-about burger or the dining room for a special occasion, either of which will be a memorable meal.  The cute neighborhood is perfect for an after dinner stroll.


Harris’ (Russian Hill, Steak) – it’s tough to find a great steak and Harris’ delivers!  Come early for a cocktail in the bar with a live jazz band and stay late eating perfectly prepared steak in a sophisticated, classic setting.  You won’t be disappointed!


Jardinière (Hayes Valley, French-Californian) –You’ll feel like you have been transported out of San Francisco in its unique setting.   The cozy, yet elegant interior sets the mood for outstanding food and wine.  A 3 course, $45 menu, including wine pairings, on Monday nights is a great time to come if you are on a budget.

Chez Spencer (Mission, French) – both romantic and charming, a live pianist adds mood music to each evening.  The sparkly lights and al fresco dining option lends the perfect backdrop for some truly delicious food.  Check out their food truck or Sunday brunch for a less expensive adventure.

Prospect (SOMA, Contemporary American) – the lofty space is heavy on swank and zeal making it feel like a see and be seen spot.  The menu is inventive while still being approachable.  The food is excellent and dessert is a must-have!  If you can’t stay for dinner, certainly stop by for their reasonable happy hour.

Alexander’s Steakhouse (SOMA, Steak) – a little bit of Asia, a lot a bit of steak.  It’s a modern twist on the traditional steakhouse both in the menu and the décor.  The service is outstanding and a few treats throughout the meal with a cotton candy ending makes it a great special occasion spot.