Feature

The 10 Coziest Bay Area Restaurants

By Virginia Miller  |  November 10, 2014
Credit: Virginia Miller

Fall is here — and even though we are still savoring our typical sunny fall days, some nights call for intimate tables, fireplaces, candlelight and snug spaces. Here are 10 favorite cozy restaurants around the Bay.

Two Sisters Bar & Books

It doesn't get cozier than Two Sisters, the Hayes Valley favorite opened by (who else?) two sisters, modeled after their favorite European cafes and bars. The sliver of a space is lined with books and vintage wallpaper while the menu offers elegant cocktails, vermouth on the rocks, dreamy grilled cheese sandwiches dipped in tomato soup and a space inviting conversation, set to a backdrop of jazz.

L'Ardoise

Over authentic French bistro dishes, from escargots to coq au vin, intimate L'Ardoise oozes Euro comfort on a quiet, tree-lined Castro street.

Firefly

For over 20 years, Firefly has been Noe Valley's cozy, upscale comfort-food gem, churning out still-excellent food to an always convivial crowd. Their beloved "fried chicken of your dreams" is served only on Tuesday nights.

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Two Sisters Bar & Books in Hayes Valley [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]

Fat Angel

Under a pressed tin ceiling and at compact, candelit tables, Fat Angel manages to be both a wine and beer lovers' ideal bar — with rare and interesting rotating selections in both categories — alongside chicken pot pie, flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie.

Maven

At this Lower Haight hot spot, a favorite for small plates paired with refined cocktails, head up to the mezzanine for comfy seats by the fireplace. Think Chinatown duck sliders paired with a 5 Spot cocktail mixing aged rhum, ginger, lime, Thai basil, maple and Chinese five spice.

Sons & Daughters

With inspired, ever-changing tasting menus ($98), Sons & Daughters is influenced by the seasons, utilizing foods from their Los Gatos garden, best enjoyed in the glowing Nob Hill space warmed by a fireplace under shimmering chandeliers (pictured top).

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Oakland's Grand Tavern [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]

Poesia

Head straight to Italy's Calabria region in this two-floor Castro restaurant projecting classic Italian films on the wall as a backdrop to pappardelle pasta with smoked ricotta or pollo arrosto, half roasted chicken accented by lemon and thyme.

Isa

Under white lights, Isa's magical, covered back terrace is a Marina classic ideal for date night over shared, Cal-French small plates.

Grand Tavern, Oakland

Enter this charming Oakland house through thick wood doors and choose one of the small rooms centered around a fireplace or the patio for gastropub fare — think harissa-rubbed chicken and paprika and garlic-laced mac 'n' cheese — paired with craft beers, wine and cocktails.

Angele

Though the sunny, covered patio on the Napa River draws the crowds, Angele's low-ceiling dining room in an old boathouse recalls a French countryside kitchen with rustic white walls and splashes of blue. French apéritifs in the snug, cheery space accompany upscale French comfort food.

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Head through the covered patio along the river to the cozy, French country-inspired dining room [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]