With its breathtaking views, winding streets steeped in European charm and long, narrow restaurants that showcase the city's rustic aesthetic, San Francisco has romance and nostalgia in spades. Sleek sexiness, on the other hand, is a little harder to come by in this picture-perfect city. Not so at these seven stylish eateries and bars that eschew quaintness for luxe details, soaring spaces and graphic-design elements that offer eye candy along with a decadent meal.
A spin-off of acclaimed Bar Agricole, Thad Vogler’s latest concept sits in Downtown’s historic Pacific Telephone Building and treats diners to the tall ceilings of the art deco building. White marble tables and bar and crisp white walls lend the soaring space a light and airy feel while chestnut-colored booths and exposed brick impart just the right amount of warmth. Meanwhile a larger-than-life painting of a woman’s shape acts as the main focal point of the bar.
140 New Montgomery St.; 415-975-0876
A little slice of LA glamour in the heart of San Francisco's Tenderloin, this hidden Andy Warhol–inspired Tenderloin oasis caters to the city’s revelers as well as rockers such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers and Pearl Jam, who've all crashed in the adjoining Phoenix Hotel. Suggestive art, bookshelves stuffed with records and a pool surrounded by wicker cabanas and modern fire pits lend this sprawling restaurant a Hollywood rocker-chic vibe.
601 Eddy St.; 415-496-5178
Gaspar Brasserie and Cognac Room
FiDi’s French bistro (and its new semisecret, super-sexy lofted bar and lounge) offers quintessential midcentury Parisian romance with rich leather seating, textured walls, hand-painted ceilings and polished brass details. The vibe combines the glamour of Parisian brasseries with Mad Men–era cool.
185 Sutter St.; 415-576-8800
While the food is all modern, showcasing Mexican flavors in precise, precious ways, the design (the brainchild of the chef-owner Val M. Cantu's wife, Carolyn Cantu), takes a page out of classic luxury's book with white tablecloths, crystal chandeliers and tufted banquets. Grayed-out windows and dark paneled walls lend the small Mission dining room (just 22 seats!) a hidden oasislike vibe.
3115 22nd St.; 415-757-0994
The massive 6,252-sq.-ft. space feels masculine and luxurious thanks to the six spacious lounge areas equipped with overstuffed leather seating and heavy Gothic lighting. Amber-colored glass, which surrounds the imposing square bar at the entrance, bathes the entire restaurant in a warm, flattering light while floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate diners and loungers who come to this Twitter building newcomer to see and be seen.
1355 Market St.; 888-393-0530
The ultimate date spot, this cozy, new wine bar in Lower Nob Hill offers a multitude of rare and hard-to-find wines, artisanal beer, cheese and charcuterie, best enjoyed in the intimate lounge seating. Sippers feel transported to an elegant French tasting room, one that's outfitted in crisp blue, white and slate, with racks of wine covering the walls.
678 Geary St.; 415-825-0741
It's not just the fact the kitchen is open until 1 AM that makes this grand Divisadero space feel like a slice of New York City, but rather the always-buzzing vibe that brings a bit of energy to a city that generally takes things a bit slower. The 4,000-sq.-ft. space manages to be a lot of things to many types of diners, offering a fine-dining setting with soaring ceilings and lofted seating for sit-down diners, a lively low-sitting bar for those sipping cocktails and large communal area that fronts the floor-to-ceiling windows for those who want a slice of the action without a reservation. The result is the makings of a neoclassic SF institution that acts as a true gathering place.
560 Divisadero St.; 415-864-8643