Best Decor in San Francisco

July 21, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Stunning restaurants abound in San Francisco. Here's our list of the very top spots for decor in the city.

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."
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."
Seafood · Nob Hill · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.5

"Fantastical" "undersea decor" sets a "one-of-a-kind" scene for seafood that’s "masterfully prepared" at this "high-end" Downtown "mainstay" that remains "in a class of its own" "after all these years" ; the "top-notch" staff ensures "you’ll feel pampered" , but be sure to "bring a fat wallet" and "expect to splurge."
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."
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."
The Garden Court
Californian · SoMa · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.1

Fans "love relaxing in the gorgeous room" under a "magnificent domed stained-glass ceiling" at this "San Francisco tradition" in the Palace Hotel, a "favorite for high tea" on Saturdays, "lovely" for lunch and "particularly fine" when it comes to breakfast and Sunday brunch; the whole package (including "old-school" service) reflects a "rich history" , but bear in mind that you'll "pay for the atmosphere."
Seafood · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.3

"Seafood magnificence" and "spectacular" water views lure diners to this upscale Embarcadero bar and restaurant situated "practically under the Bay Bridge" , known for its "fresh" , "well-prepared" sea fare (the oyster happy hour is "hard to beat" ) and "smart" aquarium decor; sure, it can get "a bit noisy" at times, but "knowledgeable" servers keep things moving and there's also patio seating.
Bistro · Sea Cliff · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.4

Floor-to-ceiling windows supply "unforgettable" views of the Pacific and the Sutro Bath ruins at this Sea Cliff Californian that’s nestled inside Cliff House; "well-prepared, very tasty" food and "professional" service distract from the "touristy" crowd and decidedly "upscale" price tags.
Asian · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.3

"Haute Chinese" dining lands Downtown at this "chic" outpost of the swank international chain purveying a "modern" , "well-executed" menu ferried by a "professional" crew; critics cite "super-expensive" pricing, though "trendy" types dig the "hopping bar" , "loud music" and "see-and-be-seen" scene.
American · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.4

For dining "in the speakeasy style" , drop by this "swanky" supper club set in an "out-of-the-way" FiDi alley where a "terrific" American menu (and even more "fantastic" cocktails) arrive in a "deco-to-the-max" duplex setting complete with white-jacketed servers; sure, the acoustics can be "loud" and the pricing "extravagant" , but the mix of nightly live jazz and and "witty conversation" alone make it a "perfect special-occasion" destination.
French · Hayes Valley · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

Pre-theater dinners are "so much a ritual" that chef Traci Des Jardins’ "fantastic" , California-inspired French fare "ought to be included in the Civic Center ticket prices" say followers of this Hayes Valley "triumph" , a "classy" , "long-running hit" boasting "wonderful wine" and servers who "treat you like royals" ; the "supper-club vibe" signals "pricey" tabs, but it’s "always hopping" , and seating upstairs provides an elevated "people-watching" perch.
Moroccan · SoMa · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

"A beautiful place for a splurge" , this "hot" Moroccan from chef Mourad Lahlou (Aziza) "delights" with "nuanced" contemporary cuisine, "elegant" presentations and "polished" service in a "dreamy" SoMa setting with a "high-style" bar mixing "awesome cocktails" ; the soaring "downstairs is where the liveliness is" , especially if you go for the "mind-blowing" "family-style" experience.
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."
New American · Presidio Heights · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

"Outstanding" , "beautifully prepared" New American cuisine served by "exceptional" staffers who treat everyone "like VIPs" makes this "elegantly appointed" Presidio Heights haunt perfect for "celebrations and milestone events" ; prices are definitely skewed toward "the five percent" , but the "flexible" setup ( "casual at the bar, formal in the dining room" ) keeps it attractive to all comers.
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.