Most Popular in San Francisco

July 25, 2016
·
by Zagat Staff

When you're aiming to please a crowd, head to one of these restaurants, our most popular in San Francisco.

In-N-Out Burger
Burger · Fisherman's Wharf · $
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.1

"Not your typical burger joint" , this "iconic" California-born chain is "loved" for its "high-quality" "customizable" hamburgers (insiders ask for them "animal style" ) paired with "tasty" fresh-cut fries and shakes; despite a "lightning-fast" counter, there are usually "long waits" , but "cheap" tabs and "friendly, Disney-esque" service keep regulars returning.
Boulevard Restaurant
Gastropub · Embarcadero · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

This "top-end" Embarcadero "landmark" showcasing the "culinary vision" of Nancy Oakes "continues to excel" thanks to the "robust flavors" of its "mindblowing" , "market-driven" American cuisine, paired with a "terrific wine list" and served with "the ultimate in professionalism" ; set amid "vibrant" belle epoque "elegance" with "spectacular" Bay Bridge views and a "delightfully fun" counter "to watch the chefs in action" , it’s "always busy" with admirers who find it "well worth the hefty price tag."
Kokkari Estiatorio
Greek · Downtown · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.7

A Downtown "star for many years" , this "sublime" Greek "continues to shine" with "lamb shanks from the gods" , "flawlessly" spit-roasted meats and other "fabulous" specialties served by an "exceptional" crew in an "inviting" , "rustic-chic" space favored by "fashionable" crowds; the "memorable experience" requires a "difficult rezzie" and deep pockets to meet the "high-class" cost, but it’s widely hailed as a "must-go" "for a good reason."
House of Prime Rib
English · Polk Gulch · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.5

"When you want a hunk o’ beef" , this Polk Gulch "institution" remains a go-to for a "classic" American meal of prime rib "cooked to perfection" and "carved at your table" , plus "all the fixin’s" ; with its "showy" service (behold the "spinning salad" ), "cold martinis" and "big, old-fashioned booths" , it’s a true "throwback" that rewards the "expense" – you can even "ask for seconds" – and while "nothing ever changes" here, fans say that's "part of the charm."
The Slanted Door
Vietnamese · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

"All that it’s cracked up to be" , Charles Phan’s "vibrant" Embarcadero "icon" still draws "throngs" with its "outstanding" array of "contemporary" Vietnamese dishes fashioned from local, sustainable ingredients and an "interesting wine list" focused on German and Austrian whites; be sure to "make reservations" (or snag a seat at the bar), and don’t mind the "pricey" tabs and "deafening" din since it’s "hard to beat" the "stunning" Ferry Building berth overlooking the bay.
Zuni Café
French · Hayes Valley · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

"Emblematic" of San Francisco, this "always-true" Hayes Valley Mediterranean is "still at the top of its game" with an "incredibly well-executed" menu of "delectable" , locally, sustainably sourced seasonal dishes, "fab oysters" and "must-haves" like the "succulent" brick-oven chicken for two; with "expertly mixed cocktails" and "pro" service enhancing a "lively" late-night scene in "stylish" yet "comfortable" duplex digs, it's a "culinary legend" that's perennially "hip and unique."
Acquerello
Italian · Polk Gulch · $$$$
Food 4.9 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.8

"The total package" for "a special night out" , this "world-class" Polk Gulch Italian combines chef Suzette Gresham’s "divinely inspired" , "decadent" prix fixe menus with a "top-notch wine list" , all presented by an "impeccable" staff displaying "unmatched professionalism" ; despite the "substantial checks" , it's an "excellent value" , with a "beautifully serene" , "intimate" setting "in what was once a chapel" adding to the "sophisticated treat."
Gary Danko
French · Fisherman's Wharf · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.9

An "oasis of excellence" that "never loses its luster" , Gary Danko’s "stellar" Fisherman’s Wharf namesake manages to "mystically balance" "world-class" New American cuisine on a "brilliantly executed" prix fixe menu ( "don't skip the cheese cart" ) with a "superior wine list" and "synchronized service" , leading to a "warm, customer-centric" experience that manages to be "indulgent without a trace of pretension" ; it comes "at a price" , but for "a celebratory experience" in a "gorgeous" setting, you "get what you pay for."
Alexander's Steakhouse
Japanese Steakhouse · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

"How do you say 'wow' in Japanese?" wonder "discriminating" diners smitten by these "luxe" steakhouses with "creative Asian" "overtones" , where beef that "melts in your mouth" "like butter" and the signature hamachi shots ( "a must" ) are presented alongside "fantastic" wines and "rare" spirits; if you're not a "software mogul" , you're looking at a "splurge" , but "everything is top-drawer" , right down to "spectacular service" that waits on you "hand and foot" and brings complimentary "cotton candy upon departure."
Alexander's Steakhouse
Steakhouse · China Basin · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

"How do you say 'wow' in Japanese?" wonder "discriminating" diners smitten by these "luxe" steakhouses with "creative Asian" touches, where beef that "melts in your mouth" and the signature hamachi shots ( "a must" ) are presented alongside "fantastic" wines and "rare" spirits; if you're not a "software mogul" , you're looking at a "splurge" , but "everything is top-drawer" , right down to the "spectacular service" and complimentary "cotton candy upon departure."
Fish Market Restaurant
Seafood · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

It’s all about “bang for your buck” at this “affordable” seafood mini-chain, offering “consistent” catch, “cooked to perfection” in “standard” , “cookie-cutter” settings; though there are “no surprises” here, bargain happy hours and water views at some outlets keep the “crowds” content.
Burma Superstar
Burmese · Inner Richmond · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

The "exotic flavors of Burma" are showcased at this "destination" chainlet where the seemingly "flown-in-from-Rangoon" offerings are both "flavorful" and "inexpensive" (the "sublime" tea-leaf salad is a "must-order" item); given its "ridiculously popular" status, expect "ever-present" lines, but those who "believe the hype" are willing to "endure the wait."
Burma Superstar
Burmese · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

The "exotic flavors of Burma" are showcased at this "destination" chainlet where the seemingly "flown-in-from-Rangoon" offerings are both "flavorful" and "inexpensive" (the "sublime" tea-leaf salad is a "must-order" item); given its "ridiculously popular" status, expect "ever-present" lines, but those who "believe the hype" are willing to "endure the wait."
Burma Superstar
Burmese · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

The "exotic flavors of Burma" are showcased at this "destination" chainlet where the seemingly "flown-in-from-Rangoon" offerings are both "flavorful" and "inexpensive" (the "sublime" tea-leaf salad is a "must-order" item); given its "ridiculously popular" status, expect "ever-present" lines, but those who "believe the hype" are willing to "endure the wait."
Amber
Indian · SoMa · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

"Refined" Northern Indian cooking with "wonderful spices" turns up at this "popular" mini-chain that’s touted for its "best-bet lunch buffet" and "out-of-this-world butter chicken" ; some report it’s "a little pricey" , but compensations include generally "solid service" , "modern" decor and "easy" atmospherics.
Zachary's Chicago Pizza
Pizza · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.0

These "busy" Windy City–inspired pizzerias hawking "amazing" deep-dish and thin-crust pies topped with "perfect sauce" are often "loud and chaotic" , but fans insist the "delicious" signature stuffed pizzas are worth it; if "long waits" are a turnoff, insiders advise "calling ahead" and getting a "half-baked" to go.
Tadich Grill
Seafood · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

"Steeped in SF history" , this circa-1849 Downtown seafooder represents "old-school dining at its finest" , with a "damned good" menu highlighted by a "famous" cioppino and "fresh-out-of-the-oven" sourdough bread; granted, it's "constantly packed" and "loud" (plus there are no reservations), but a "vibrant" air, "fun people-watching" and "banter" with the "longtime" staff compensate.
Scoma's Restaurant
Seafood · Fisherman's Wharf · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

Locals and tourists alike laud these "old-school" "family favorites" that "keep the quality up" via "top-notch" Italian-style seafood, from "wonderful crab" to "must" -try cioppino; a few say it's "not what it used to be" , but the "seasoned" staff and "beautiful" waterfront views still make for "a true San Fran tradition" by most standards.
State Bird Provisions
American · Fillmore District/Western Addition · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.6

Ever "a game-changer" , this "totally hip" Fillmore District American from husband-and-wife team Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski will "blow you away" with the "bold flavors" of its "spectacular" seasonal small plates served by "engaged" staffers from "roving carts" (think "dim sum for the foodiest" ); given a "cutting-edge" "vibe as exciting as the food" , reservations remain "ridiculously tough" , though walk-ins can "stand in line" before opening time "and hope."
A16
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.
Patxi's Pizza Hayes Valley
Pizza · Hayes Valley · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.8 · Service 3.9

Although these family-friendly Bay Area pizzerias are known for their "true Chicago-style" deep-dish pies, regulars say the thin cornmeal-crust pizzas are "da bomb" too; "friendly" staffers, a "full bar" and "big flat-screens" for "watching the ballgame" are reasons why it can be "crowded" , so insiders anticipating "long waits" "call ahead" and order a half-baked to go.