Best Women-Owned Restaurants in San Francisco

March 7, 2017
·
by Zagat Staff

From Netflix-featured French dishes to American dim sum–style small plates, innovative dining brings these women-owned restaurants to the next level. 

Petit Crenn
French · Hayes Valley · $$$$

Chef Dominique Crenn has "a real gem" with this Hayes Valley bistro, a "refreshing" , more affordable offshoot of Atelier Crenn furnishing "wonderful" French cooking (inspired by the food of her home in Brittany) via à la carte menus and two nightly seatings for prix fixe meals that feature family-inspired preparations of seafood and vegetables; the open-kitchen space sports a modern look and a vibe that’s "not too pretentious."
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.
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."
Arguello
Mexican · The Presidio · $$
Food 3.9 · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.8

Traci Des Jardins presents this "buzzy" Presidio neighbor to The Commissary, featuring "flavorful" , California-influenced Mexican fare that’s "casual" at lunchtime, full-service for dinner and always complimented by tequila, wine and cocktails; set in the "historic Officers’ Club" , the bright space boasts plenty of indoor seating plus a heated patio.
Kin Khao
Thai · Tenderloin · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.1

It’s a bit "hard to find" in the Tenderloin's Parc 55 hotel, but the "modern, fresh take on Thai food" "rocks" with "distinctive flavors" and "local ingredients" at this "fantastic" spot from culinary blogger Pim Techamuanvivit; the cooking outshines the setting, but with "delicious" , "inventive" cocktails also in the mix, it beckons for a "return trip."
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."
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).
b. patisserie
Bakery · Lower Pacific Heights · $
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

"Even when compared with Paris standards" , this "charming" Lower Pacific patisserie/cafe is an "awe-inspiring" showcase for baker Belinda Leong’s "world-class" "array" of "decadent pastries" (the "buttery" "kouign amann reigns supreme" ); the space sports an "appealing" "European feel" , and while "the line can be daunting" , "dessert addicts" "pretty much can't go wrong."
Libby Jane Cafe
Cafe · Tenderloin · $$

"Great-tasting caffeine" plus "quality biscuits" , scones, soups, salads and other breakfast and lunch items come "without the wait" at this spin-off of Brenda’s French Soul Food; perfectly positioned for the Civic Center set, the diminutive Tenderloin cafe has but a few seats, so be prepared to "eat and run" (or run and eat, for that matter).
Cala
Mexican · Hayes Valley · $

After founding popular Mexico City spots, Gabriela Camara makes her US debut with this upscale Mexican on the Mid-Market/Hayes Valley border, serving a "seafood-centric" menu that offers "interesting takes on traditional" dishes; the skylights, high ceiling and whitewashed walls give the space an airy feel to accommodate the buzzy crowd.