San Francisco's Best for Group Dining

November 20, 2017
by Zagat Staff

Here are our dozen favorites for dining well with a group around SF.

Spanish · Mission Bay · $$$

From the Absinthe team comes this elevated, airy Spanish destination in SoMa serving highbrow seafood, paella, tapas, charcuterie and wood-fired dishes, along with an all-Spanish wine list, cocktails and sherry on tap. Expect a well-heeled crowd in the chic, spacious interior that's outfitted in rustic wood, sleek white subway tile and blue leather banquettes, plus plenty of bar, table and high-backed booth seating.
4505 Burgers & BBQ
American · NoPa · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.0

Offering "a taste of true-blue BBQ" , this NoPa pit stop from the "hip" 4505 restaurant group doles out "sublime" wood-smoked meats, "ridiculously delicious" burgers and "awesome" sides, all matched with "local brews" and served over the counter "with a smile" ; the "sparse" interior and "convivial" patio are "wildly popular" with those "craving" "a killer meal" , but "the steady line is worth it."
Mikkeller Bar
Bar · Tenderloin · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.0

“If you’re into craft suds” , check out this Tenderloin “beer mecca” boasting an "exhaustive" selection of the "rarest, weirdest" brews (42 on tap and “even more in bottles” ), all "perfectly poured" by “knowledgeable” barkeeps; “tasty" pub grub (try the sausage sampler), a “big open setting” and a “hip" “after-work” crowd come with the territory.
Alba Ray's
Cajun · The Mission · $$

From the Popson’s and Causwells crew comes this chic Mission Cajun spot offering New Orleans classics (think crispy boudin balls, Creole barbecue shrimp and jambalaya) plus late-night bar snacks and a playful drink list. The design takes a cue from the city as well, with fleur-de-lis art, ornate metalwork and bold tiles.
Dosa on Fillmore
Indian · Japantown · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

"Innovative" dishes that "explode with flavor" are the calling cards of these "upscale" Indian "favorites" , though you may want "lots of water" "if you're not trained in spicy food" – or better yet a "snappy cocktail" ; "sultry" , "colorful" environs further attract a "cult following" who say the prices are "worth it" "for the atmosphere" as well as for service that remains "cordial despite being slammed."
Pläj Restaurant
Scandinavian · Hayes Valley · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

"Savory" "modern" Scandinavian fare and "unusual, delicious" cocktails provide a "real taste treat" at this "quiet" , "cozy" and somewhat "hidden" Hayes Valley "gem" at the Inn at the Opera; "artistic preparations" and a "knowledgeable" staff round out an "upscale" experience that "brings it all home."
Alfred's SF
Steakhouse · Downtown · $$$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

Now a member of Daniel Patterson’s restaurant empire, this classic Downtown steakhouse continues to supply hefty cuts of grass-fed beef via a mesquite grill, accompanied by signature house martinis. The spruced-up setting retains its crimson walls, red-leather booths and chandeliers for a fitting dose of retro style, though the prices are very much up to date.
Trou Normand
New American · SoMa · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

This SoMa follow-up to Bar Agricole boasts a "gorgeous" interior in the "old Pacific Telephone Building" , where "high ceilings, luxurious booths and a marble bar" (not to mention a covered patio) set the scene for "incredible" housemade charcuterie and other "excellent" New American bites to pair with the "knock-your-socks-off" cocktails and namesake brandies; "cool" and "well-suited to large groups" , it's a "smooth operation" where the "hip crowd and high cost" come as no surprise.
Californian · Lower Haight · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

"Creative" New American small plates are paired with "excellent" , "original" cocktails at this swanky Lower Haight spot designed with a cozy loft space, "cool" living wall and "large" communal redwood tables; the set-up is perfect for groups, and an "accommodating" staff helps "keep it classy."
54 Mint SF
Italian · SoMa · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

"About as Italian as you can get" , this "authentic" SoMa spot turns out "traditional Roman" fare prepared with "simple, delicious" ingredients and follows through with "terrific" old-country wines; the servers are "happy to see you" , and the "charming" upstairs is "somewhat quieter" than the downstairs dining room.
Italian · Tenderloin · $$

Tucked between Union Square and the Tendernob, this rustic Italian dishes up midpriced shared plates for breakfast, dinner and weekend brunch, plus boozy sodas, bottled cocktails and plenty of Italian and Californian wines. The bustling destination in The Marker hotel features large-scale murals inspired by San Francisco scenes, along with upscale touches like leather seating, patterned tiles, high ceilings and arched windows.
Foreign Cinema
Californian · The Mission · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.3

This "semi-hidden" "hipster" Mission stalwart may be known for its "fun drive-in movie accents" , but the "inventive" , locally sourced Cal-Med dinners (and "amazing" brunches) get a "standing ovation" too; whether dining alfresco on the "awesome patio" beneath the "twinkly lights" – while the likes of "My Dinner With Andre" screens "on the wall behind you" – or nestled inside by the fire, the "festive" vibe, "delicious" cocktails and "accommodating" service all help make it the ultimate "first-date" or "special-occasion" go-to.