Best Restaurants in Cow Hollow/Marina

April 17, 2018
by Zagat Staff

The neighborhood is home to tasting menus, weeknight dinner spots, and pretty much every other type of restaurant you need.

Atelier Crenn
French · Cow Hollow · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.8

Dominique Crenn "stretches the boundaries" of French cooking at this Cow Hollow "treat" , where the "spectacular" tasting menu and "elegantly orchestrated" service are like "a piece of performance art" that makes foodies "swear they’ve died and gone to culinary heaven" ; with only a "low-key, natural" setting and a chef-penned poem to introduce the "enchanted evening" , it’s a "memorable" way "to be surprised at every course" – even at "once-in-a-lifetime" prices.
Mediterranean · Cow Hollow · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

Regulars "order a lot of small plates to share" at this Cow Hollow Mediterranean where chef Mark Gordon "keeps whipping up delectable new dishes" with "organic and seasonal" leanings; prices can be "fairly high" , but a "romantic interior" and "incredible servers" are part of the package.
Hollow Cow
Bar · Cow Hollow · $$

New American bar food skews upscale at this lively Cow Hollow tavern open for nightly dinner service plus brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. There’s a full bar menu, too, all offered in a stylish location with exposed brick and wood beams throughout the interior along with a spacious back patio.
Mexican · Cow Hollow · $$

From Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House Restaurant Group (Uno Dos Tacos, Beretta, Delarosa, El Techo and others) comes this traditional Mexican dinner spot in the Marina, serving midpriced snacks and mains paired with modern cocktails. The bright, expansive interior employs light wood, vibrant tiles and artsy accents, while bar and communal table seating ups the buzzy atmosphere.
Rose's Cafe
Italian · Cow Hollow · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

"Union Street swells" frequent this all-day Cow Hollow cafe whose "delicious" Italian eats and "welcoming feel" make it a "neighborhood favorite" ; also a "brunch staple" (the signature "breakfast pizza a must" ), it gets "crowded on weekends" and the outdoor seating fills up fast "when it's sunny."
Italian · Cow Hollow · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

"Generous portions" of "innovative" Italian eats are "made with love" at this "cozy" Cow Hollow trattoria, where "hospitable" waiters are "happy to explain every dish" ; the tables might be "too close together" , but it's still "homey enough to be your neighborhood hangout" , and the three-course early-bird prix fixe is a "great" deal.
Italian · Cow Hollow · $$$

For rustic California-Italian fare and wine to match, visit this cozy Cow Hollow spot serving elevated wood-fired pizzas, seafood and classic pastas. There’s a spacious outdoor garden patio with communal tables; inside, it’s reclaimed redwood, custom fixtures and lots of natural light brightening the bar and table seating areas.
Balboa Cafe
Bar · Cow Hollow · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

From "socialites and politicos" to "frat boys and sorority gals" , everyone comes to these "reliable" , "comfortable" American hangouts to "meet friends for a drink and a burger or a steak" ; because there's "almost always a full house" of "colorful" "regulars" , table service "varies" , but you can count on "friendly barkeeps."
Belgian · Cow Hollow · $$$
Food 3.9 · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.7

An "attractive" brasserie setting complements the sausage boards, "fresh mussels" and other "very good" Belgian fare matched with a "huge list of beers" at this Cow Hollow "local joint" ; regulars who tout the "moderate prices" and "fun atmosphere" keep it "crowded" and "loud as can be."
Pizza · Marina District · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

"Always buzzing" , these "happening" Italians earn "brownie points" for their "affordable" menu of "scrumptious" small plates plus "super-thin" Roman pizzas; the "communal-table" setup earns mixed responses (either "fun or awkward, depending on the company" ), but the "creative" cocktails and "late-night" hours are fine as is.
Italian · Marina District · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

For a "Bay area version of the cuisine of Southern Italy" , check out these "refined" "hot spots" in the Marina and Rockridge, praised for their "stellar" , "eclectic" wine lists and "fab" wood-fired pizzas, among other "thoughtfully conceived and prepared" plates; "informed" (if sometimes "perfunctory" ) service, "sleek" surroundings and "fun people-watching" are all part of the "sophisticated" package, but be aware that "pricey" tabs and "off-putting noise" also come with the territory.
American · Marina District · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.1

"Bringing refinement" to "casual" American fare, this "friendly" "Marina surprise" is popular with "the young and pretty set" for its "off-the-hook" burger, "sharing" plates and "awesome" brunch; it’s a "busy" "hangout" blending "industrial and classic-bar" vibes, with sidewalk tables for "quality people-watching."
Japanese · Marina District · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

"Beautifully presented and scrumptious" small plates – including "excellent" sushi, skewers and novel combos like bacon mochi ( "worth the visit alone" ) – are matched with real "izakaya atmosphere" at this Marina Japanese; "great sakes" and "wonderful service" are further incentives, though the cost can depend on how long you linger.
Steakhouse · Marina District · $$$

Family-owned and famous for choice cuts and hearty sides, this mini-chain of highbrow Bay Area steakhouses offers a classic old-school vibe (think dark wood, big booths and vintage accents) with wine and cocktails, big portions of corn-fed beef, fresh seafood and thick-cut pork chops, plus housemade desserts.
The Dorian
Gastropub · Marina District · $$$

From the Palm House team comes this Victorian-themed Marina tavern dishing up starters, oysters and high-end American mains, plus beer, wine and cocktails (with happy-hour specials and an emphasis on whiskeys). Expect sparkling chandeliers and banquette and table seating in the stylish dining room, while the lounge offers booths, bar seating and sleek tile.
Zushi Puzzle
Japanese · Marina District · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.2

Some of the "most unique and uniquely prepared seafood in the city" – including "killer" sushi, sashimi and hand rolls – "beckons" fans to this "funky little" Japanese joint in the Marina; granted, it lacks "the decor of some of the hipper" spots, but if your budget can withstand it, "sit at the bar" overseen by the "fantastic" Roger Chong and "ask for the chef recommendations" "you won’t be disappointed."
Greens Restaurant
Vegetarian · Marina District · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.3

"You can taste the Zen" marvel fans of this Marina "vegetarian institution" that transforms "fresh-from-the-garden" organic produce (some from its own Green Gulch Farm) into "outrageously good" , elegantly plated meals that even "satisfy the pickiest meat eaters" ; an "innovative" wine list and "friendly" service in a "serene" setting with "polished wood" and "magnificent" "views overlooking the Golden Gate" seal its status a "consistent winner."
Roma Antica
Italian · Marina District · $$

A friendly neighborhood bistro brings wine, old-world flatbreads, pastas and other Italian classics to the Marina, offering lunch and dinner fare in petite quarters with exposed brick, bold banquettes, a marble counter and modern lighting (plus a few sidewalk seats outside).