Best Restaurants in the Castro

April 3, 2018
·
by Zagat Staff

10 places where you should be spending your time in the neighborhood.

Frances
American · The Castro · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.6

"A neighborhood gem in the Castro" , Melissa Perello’s "exceptional" Californian reliably "rocks" thanks to "luscious" dishes that "change with what's fresh and available locally" , served with "pay-per-ounce" house wines ( "best idea ever" ); the "incredible" staff makes you feel "well taken care of" in the "small" , "homey" space, but being a "popular" draw with "limited seating" , it remains "a hard reservation to score" (though walk-in spots are available at the bar).
L'Ardoise
French · The Castro · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

Channeling a "French bistro in Paris" , this "charming" place in the Castro offers "excellently prepared, beautifully plated" fare complemented by a "thoughtfully chosen, varied wine selection" ; despite the "closet" -size dimensions, the "amiable" service makes it "ideal for dates."
Anchor Oyster Bar
Seafood · The Castro · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.2

This "cute" long-running oyster bar with a "nautical motif" is a "pearl" in the Castro for Boston clam chowder and "simple" seafood "so fresh you'll swear it was made by the Little Mermaid" ; many dishes (such as the "best cioppino" ) are "not cheap but a good value" , and while "seating is tight" in the "tiny" space, the "helpful" staff and "limited" but "nice" list of local white wines ensure the "hungry hordes" leave "happy as clams."
Eiji
Japanese · The Castro · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

The "flavorful" sushi "melts in your mouth" at this Castro Japanese, though some say it's the "non-sushi dishes that shine" , notably the "fresh strawberry mochi" and "sublime" tofu "made right at your table" ; you can "expect to wait" for seats in the "diminutive" space – but a "gracious" experience is the payoff.
The Viking Room at Cafe du Nord
The Castro · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

Tucked within the long-standing music venue Cafe du Nord, this subterranean dining room offers a concise lineup of American fare including sharing plates, oysters and an "incredible burger" ; "warm" vibes, "excellent" specialty cocktails and "ambient music" from the performance space only add to the "mellow" scene.
Canela Bistro & Wine Bar
Spanish · The Castro · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

"Strong flavors" mark an "excellent" Spanish tapas menu prepared with "contemporary touches" at this "cute" Castro place also known for pouring "well-chosen" "old-world" wines; "comfortable" quarters manned by a "warm, professional" staff only add to its status as a "worthy" neighborhood destination.
Starbelly
Californian · The Castro · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

"Creative drinks and rustic comfort food" are on order at this Castro Californian, where the menu includes "delicious pizzas" and "unique beers on tap" , and the "back patio" is perfect for lunch "on a warm day" ; while "friendly" , "service can be forgetful" , but at least it's "well priced for the area."
Finn Town
American · The Castro · $$

On Market Street in the Castro, this bistro spotlights upscale New American comfort fare and cocktails, with midpriced dinner and weekend brunch menus (plus late-night eats) and Bay Area–inspired drinks offered at two bars. Casual yet stylish, the interior accommodates guests at colorful barstools, plush booths and tables, all surrounded by vintage accents.
Nomica
Japanese · The Castro · $$$

Bordering the Noe Valley, Mission and Castro neighborhoods, this upscale Japanese bistro by the team from Sausalito's Sushi Ran skews modern with an elevated menu of meat and seafood mains plus cocktails mixed with awamori, a traditional Okinawan spirit. A clean-lined interior with natural wood and marble accents offers banquette, bar and table seating.
Lark
New American · The Castro · $$

The New American menu has a Mediterranean accent at this buzzy little Castro wine bar and eatery, serving an eclectic mix of starters, salads and mains – think seafood, Angus sliders and hummus with lamb – plus beer and vino (with flights offered). Dark woods, exposed brick, a copper bar and industrial lighting add up to a masculine space, with an uptempo soundtrack.