Best Californian in San Francisco

July 25, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Restaurants that combine market-fresh ingredients with inspiration from all parts of the world.

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).
French · Downtown · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.7

"Hard to top" for "fancy dining" "at its best" , this "refined" Downtown Californian from "passionate" husband-and-wife team Michael and Lindsay Tusk "sparkles" thanks to his "superbly executed" cuisine showcasing Italian accents and a "fresh, local food ethos" , complemented by a "fabulous wine list" in "dreamy" surroundings run by a "stellar" staff; you’ll "shell out some big bucks" , but for a "special occasion" that’s "absolutely over the moon" , it’s "well worth it."
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."
Rich Table
New American · Hayes Valley · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

"Inventive" yet "approachable" , this Hayes Valley "destination" by Evan and Sarah Rich "wows" with its "unique" , "delectable" Californian dishes matched by a "killer wine list" and "warm" service in a minimalist (and "loud" ) space adorned with salvaged barn wood; it's "hard to get into" (though walk-ins can sit at the bar or the communal table) and the "pricey" , "locally sourced" menu "changes" often, but "if the stars align, you will leave sockless."
Liholiho Yacht Club
Eclectic · Nob Hill · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

An Nob Hill "standout" with pop-up origins, this "sleek" Hawaiian "hits it out of the park" with an "innovative menu" that features Chinese and Indian twists, leaving fans free to surf the "flavor waves" with each bite; "excellent service" and a "fun" , "hip" setting sporting wood booths, an open kitchen and island "warmth" help make it "one of the hottest" reservations around.
The Progress
Californian · Fillmore District/Western Addition · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

Spun off from its "groundbreaking" Fillmore District neighbor State Bird Provisions, this "magical" New American "consistently wows" with cooking that’s "creative without being fussy" , presented in a "shareable family-style" format; the "outstanding" service and "convivial" bi-level surroundings (with a mezzanine overlooking the kitchen) are "wonderful for a gathering" that’s "non-stuffy" but "still feels very grown-up."
Campton Place
Californian · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

Diners come "dressed up and ready to part with big bucks" at this "first-class" Cal-Indian with "top" service in the Taj Campton Place off Union Square, where chef Srijith Gopinathan's "beautifully presented" "haute" tasting menus (plus "spot-on" wine pairings) create a "blissful" experience; if the "elegant" dining room seems a bit too "formal" , there's also a bistro menu at the adjacent bar.
The Richmond
Californian · Inner Richmond · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.2

"Fine dining for a terrific price" is on offer at this Inner Richmond "find" whose "friendly chef" turns out an ever-changing menu of Californian dishes "prepared lovingly" and with "flair" ; the "gracious" staff's "attention to detail" is further reflected in a prix fixe option "you can't beat" , a "very good" and "affordable" wine list and the "laid-back" atmosphere of the "unassuming yet sexy little dining room" , making you "glad that you came."