Best Restaurants for Private Dining in San Francisco

From a pasta-maker's charming kitchen to SF's most popular wedding space
August 13, 2017
·
by Zagat Staff

When making reservations for a party at a local restaurant, you sometimes need to go that extra mile — for your 25th-anniversary party or start-up acquisition celebration — and book a private dining room. Luckily, many of the city's premier restaurants have equally stellar private dining areas, some with elaborate tasting menus (COI, Quince), Bay Bridge views (Waterbar) or homey settings (TawlaFlour + Water). Whether you're celebrating a wedding, a Ph.D. or Series B funding, here are 15 excellent restaurants with private rooms.

Pro tip: Liz Subauste, one of our Superheroes of the SF Dining Scene, created a tool for finding more private and semi-private spaces called SF Dining Collective

Onsen Restaurant
Japanese · Tenderloin · $$

Tucked away in a Tenderloin bathhouse, this midpriced restaurant and tea room dishes up seasonal, health-minded Japanese fare, plus elevated tea and sake menus for spa patrons and walk-in guests. Clean lines and industrial-chic accents distinguish the serene, airy bistro, which features exposed brick, high ceilings, big windows and custom wood furnishings.
La Folie
French · Russian Hill · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.8

Each "work-of-art" course "feels like an event" at this "first-class" French "cornerstone" in Russian Hill, an "epicurean delight" where ever-present chef Roland Passot’s "magnifique" prix fixe dinners are "crafted to perfection" and accompanied by "fine wines" and "stellar" service in a setting of "intimate" "elegance" ; it's "pricey indeed but worth it" , and the adjoining lounge offers a "comfy" alternative for a less formal bite.
Comal
Mexican · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.1

They "absolutely nail" "modern Mexican" cooking’s "strong flavors" at this "buzzing" "hot spot" in Berkeley’s Arts District, where the "inventive" , Oaxaca-inspired menu pairs with "outstanding" "tequila-focused cocktails" ; the "big" , "dramatic" space boasts an "open-air" feel and a "huge" back patio, but since it’s "insanely popular (and deservedly so)" , there’s "often a wait."
Quince
French · Downtown · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.7

"Hard to top" for "fancy dining" "at its best" , this "refined" Downtown Californian from "passionate" husband-and-wife team Michael and Lindsay Tusk "sparkles" thanks to his "superbly executed" cuisine showcasing Italian accents and a "fresh, local food ethos" , complemented by a "fabulous wine list" in "dreamy" surroundings run by a "stellar" staff; you’ll "shell out some big bucks" , but for a "special occasion" that’s "absolutely over the moon" , it’s "well worth it."
Foreign Cinema
Californian · The Mission · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.3

This "semi-hidden" "hipster" Mission stalwart may be known for its "fun drive-in movie accents" , but the "inventive" , locally sourced Cal-Med dinners (and "amazing" brunches) get a "standing ovation" too; whether dining alfresco on the "awesome patio" beneath the "twinkly lights" – while the likes of "My Dinner With Andre" screens "on the wall behind you" – or nestled inside by the fire, the "festive" vibe, "delicious" cocktails and "accommodating" service all help make it the ultimate "first-date" or "special-occasion" go-to.
Flour + Water
Italian · The Mission · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

"Heavenly" handmade pastas are the main attraction at this high-profile Mission Italian, where chef Thomas McNaughton’s seasonally inspired creations also include "terrific" wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and "unique" tasting menus, all delivered by an "energized staff" ; tables in the "casual" space are still "a tough ticket" , so reserve far in advance or prepare to brave a "crazy wait."
Waterbar
Seafood · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.3

"Seafood magnificence" and "spectacular" water views lure diners to this upscale Embarcadero bar and restaurant situated "practically under the Bay Bridge" , known for its "fresh" , "well-prepared" sea fare (the oyster happy hour is "hard to beat" ) and "smart" aquarium decor; sure, it can get "a bit noisy" at times, but "knowledgeable" servers keep things moving and there's also patio seating.
Tawla
Mediterranean · The Mission · $$

Eastern Mediterranean fare gets the Northern California treatment at this modern Mission neighborhood bistro serving homey small plates and large-format mains, plus an ambitious bread selection and upscale wine and cocktails by the Bon Vivants team (Trick Dog, Aatxe) and a veteran sommelier. Moorish and Spanish design inspirations, turquoise walls, intricate latticework and polished concrete keep the interior airy and cheery – and there’s a small outdoor patio.
Tosca Cafe
Cafe · North Beach · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

A "wonderful transformation" of a city "landmark" , this longtime North Beach bar is now owned by Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield (NYC's Spotted Pig) who have "kept the best parts" – the red leather booths, checkered floor and vintage murals – and added a "delicious" Italian menu; "knowledgeable" servers keeps the "vibrant scene" humming till late, and even when it gets "pricey" , fans say it still "feels authentic" and are "so glad it survived."
Piperade
Spanish · North Beach · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

"Consistently terrific" Basque cuisine "continues to shine" at chef-owner Gerald Hirigoyen's "sophisticated" North Beach eatery lauded for its "top-notch" , "creative" dishes that are "expertly prepared and full of flavor" ; the "intimate" dining room features a glass-paneled wall of "incredible wines" amid "rustic-yet-elegant" decor, and an "attentive but unobtrusive" staff further helps make it a "go-to place for special occasions."
MKT Restaurant and Bar
New American · SoMa · $$$

Hidden away on the fifth floor of the Four Seasons with panoramic views of Market Street and SoMa, this bar-centric Californian (replacing Seasons) is a "surprisingly casual" perch for an "enjoyable repast" of "excellent" steaks and farm-to-table small plates, paired with local wines and craft cocktails; whether you dine at low-slung tables in the lobby lounge or in the main dining room, the service is "outstanding."
Dirty Habit
New American · SoMa · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.3 · Service 3.9

Fans "love the atmosphere" of this "casual but sophisticated" film noir–inspired fifth-floor spot in SoMa's Hotel Zelos featuring futuristic lighting, a deck lounge with a modern fire pit and uniforms designed by a 'Project Runway' finalist; the "tasty" , "eclectic" New American bar bites and "fun" communal punch bowls have lots of group appeal, but many find "the patio is the best part."
Shinmai
Japanese Izakaya · $$

Izakaya and ramen come together at this chic Uptown Oakland eatery that puts a California spin on Asian recipes (think fried chicken with tartar and tontaksu ramen with negi and wood ear mushrooms) served in modern, minimalist quarters.
Perbacco
Italian · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

A "high-end" Italian bistro that "keeps on delivering" , this "memorable" next-door sibling to Barbacco in FiDi/Downtown will "titillate your taste buds" with seasonal Piedmontese dishes that "marry tradition with innovation" , plus a "vast wine list" , all "served with style and civility" ; the "classy" space is "always packed" with "suits" and accordingly "loud" , though "seating upstairs is quieter."
COI
American · North Beach · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

"Food is an art form" at this North Beach leader in Californian-French "culinary mastery" , where patrons savor "cutting-edge" , seafood-centric tasting menus ( "each plate is like a little masterpiece" ) while "being pampered" by "impeccable" servers in a "quiet, refined" setting; the "very high price point" is no surprise, but it’s "worth emptying your wallet" for such a "truly bucket-list type of place."