Best New American Restaurants in San Francisco

A new twist on the classics
July 21, 2016
·
by Zagat Staff

Restaurants that refine and reinvent American cuisine.

Gary Danko
American · 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."
Benu
New American · SoMa · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.8

"You’ll be overwhelmed by the creativity and imagination" put into each "breathtaking" dish at this "stylish" SoMa "food temple" , a "Zen-like" venue where chef-owner Corey Lee’s New American tasting menus showcase an "incredible" "melding of Asian and Californian flavors" ; staffed by a "superb" team that ensures you "feel very much pampered" , it’s an "experience that won’t soon be forgotten" – and that includes the "super-expensive" cost.
Lazy Bear
New American · The Mission · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

Fans roar with approval for this "revolutionary" Mission "experience" , a "can’t-miss" "dinner party with strangers" that "stuns" with "divine" American set menus matched with "world-class" drinks in a communal setting that boasts an open kitchen and "lots character" ; a "humorous and engaged staff" "takes the stuffiness out of fine dining" and helps you forget you’ll need "another student loan" to settle the tab; P.S. tickets for the two nightly seatings are sold a month in advance.
Octavia
New American · Lower Pacific Heights · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

"Amazing chef" Melissa Perello’s "distinctive" follow-up to Frances in Pacific Heights supplies "sublime" New American–Californian cuisine highlighting "wonderfully realized" use of local and seasonal ingredients; with "skillful" service from an "informative" staff in a "beautiful, rustic" space, it’s unsurprisingly a "challenging reservation to secure."
Stones Throw
New American · Russian Hill · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

Right on the Hyde Street cable car line, this "neighborhoody" Russian Hill bistro from vets of Michael Mina and Fat Angel offers a "delightful" (if "limited" ) Cal-American menu accompanied by "hard-to-find" beers and wines; the "cozy-chic" setting is in keeping with the "welcoming" service and "pricey but not-over-the-top" tabs, making it "worth many return trips."
Sons & Daughters
Nob Hill · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

"A delightful treat" for discerning diners, this 28-seat Nob Hill New American devises "fantastic" , "well-presented" tasting menus starring local and "very seasonal" ingredients (with sourcing from a house-owned farm) complemented by "daring" wine pairings; the "wonderful" servers "know all the details" , and though the "small" portions are "expensive" , the performance is "amazing."
Saison
New American · China Basin · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

"Prepare to be wowed" by "genius" chef Joshua Skenes’ "extraordinary cooking" at this "consistently impressive" China Basin New American, which "redefines excellence" with "incomparable" tasting menus that "delight" even "unapologetic food snobs" ; "immaculate" servers also curate a "superb wine list" in a "beautiful" , open-kitchen setting, and while it’s "stratospherically expensive" , it’s "worth it" to "save up and go – at least once."
Spruce
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.