Best Restaurant Bars in San Francisco

March 23, 2017
by Zagat Staff

Arriving early has its benefits at these restaurants that serve up a bar scene on the side where diners can grab a seat at the separate bar areas while waiting for their table (or head over for a night cap after the meal is over!).

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."
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.
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."
New American · Alamo Square · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

"The overall buzz has not subsided" at this Alamo Square Californian that’ll "rock your socks" with "earthy" locavore dishes to "dream about" (including "acclaimed" wood-fired burgers) delivered alongside "outstanding cocktails" in an "energizing" duplex space manned by an "efficient" crew; prices are "decent" , brunches are "fantastic" and it's a "favorite late-night spot" , so the "only disappointing thing is the wait."
Michael Mina
New American · Downtown · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

"Everything at this place is first-class" say fans of Michael Mina's "vibrant" Downtown New American, known for its "sumptuous" cuisine (notably the "memorable" prix fixe dinners), "outstanding" service and "unbelievably elegant yet comfortable" surroundings; given the "pricey" tariffs, many save it for "celebrating" , but it's also "fun to eat at the bar" for a less "formal" meal.
Bluestem Brasserie
American · SoMa · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

This SoMa brasserie sets an "urban" scene for "solid" New American fare (including "great grass-fed" beef), "generous" cocktails and "seamless" service; tabs run "a bit pricey" , but between the "floor-to-ceiling windows" , "handsome bar area" and "second-floor patio" , it's a suitable spot to "shake on a deal" over a "long lunch."
Twenty Five Lusk
New American · China Basin · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.1

"Tucked away in a quiet SoMa alley" , this ultra- "modern" American duplex provides a "tasty" seasonal menu along with "spot-on" cocktails and a "happening" bar scene; ok, it's "pricey" , but "smooth" service, "stunning" looks and a "rock-star" ambiance make this "trendy" package one of the most "fashionable" destinations in town.
Gitane Restaurant & Bar
Spanish · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

"Low lights" and a "sexy ambiance" make for a "romantic evening" at this French-Spanish "hideaway" Downtown, where many "first dates" begin with "creative" cocktails at the "energetic" ground-floor bar before progressing to the upstairs dining area for "delicious" Andalusian-inspired plates; it's not cheap, but service is "warm" , and many agree it "adds much-needed spice" to the city.