Best Restaurants Near Union Square, SF

October 29, 2017
by Zagat Staff

You can try to avoid it, but we all end up in Union Square at some point. Here’s where to have a good meal next time you do.

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.
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."
Mystic Room + Tavern
American · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

"It's all about the cocktails" at Charlie Palmer's "stylish" speakeasy "hidden" in the Mystic Hotel Downtown, where "amazing mixologists" prepare "smart" , "sophisticated" drinks; live jazz enhances the "welcoming, warm" vibe Monday–Saturday, though some suggest going "during off hours" so it's easier to score one of the "pricey" potions; P.S. the attached tavern serves "relatively standard" but "solid" American fare.
Scala's Bistro
Italian · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

Whether as a "respite from shopping" , for "dinner before the theater" or "anytime dining" , this Union Square–area Italian in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel supplies a "wonderful" , French-accented menu to a surprisingly "not-touristy" clientele; sure, it’s a bit "pricey" , but payoffs include a "convenient location" with a "charming" dining room.
French · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

This "romantic" Downtown Cal-French is "what every cafe aspires to be" , offering "imaginative" fare in an "intimate" , bi-level setting that’s ideal for "good conversation" ; an "attentive" staff adds to the "delightful" experience, while late hours (till 1 AM Tuesday–Saturday) keep this "neighborhood gem" popular with night owls.
Dirty Habit
New American · SoMa · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.3 · Service 3.9

Fans "love the atmosphere" of this "casual but sophisticated" film noir–inspired fifth-floor spot in SoMa's Hotel Zelos featuring futuristic lighting, a deck lounge with a modern fire pit and uniforms designed by a 'Project Runway' finalist; the "tasty" , "eclectic" New American bar bites and "fun" communal punch bowls have lots of group appeal, but many find "the patio is the best part."
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."
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."
John's Grill
Steakhouse · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

"Get a taste of old San Francisco" at this circa-1908 Downtown "time machine" , a "classic steakhouse" where "real professionals" set down "hearty" "traditional fare" and "well-poured drinks" for a "crowd of established business" types; even if some suggest the dining room "could use some updating" , it still has "historical" appeal ( "it's where Spade ate in 'The Maltese Falcon'!" ).
Bluestem Brasserie
American · SoMa · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

This SoMa brasserie sets an "urban" scene for "solid" New American fare (including "great grass-fed" beef), "generous" cocktails and "seamless" service; tabs run "a bit pricey" , but between the "floor-to-ceiling windows" , "handsome bar area" and "second-floor patio" , it's a suitable spot to "shake on a deal" over a "long lunch."
American · Tenderloin · $$

Chef Robin Song (Hog & Rocks) crafts the live-fire selections at this Tenderloin dinner destination tucked in the Hotel Bijou, where seasonal ingredients star in several shareable dishes and on a New American tasting menu. Cocktail options include classics and shrubs, and the art deco interior features arched windows, teal banquettes, mirrored columns and soaring ceilings with whimsical murals.
Sears Fine Food
Swedish · Nob Hill · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

"Wonderful" little Swedish pancakes served with warm maple syrup "melt in your mouth" at this Downtown "legend" where there's typically a "long line in the morning" ; the interior is "nostalgic" , though "a bit noisy" , but service is "decent" and there's also a menu of "American diner food" that goes beyond breakfast, including happy-hour deals.
Burger Bar
Burger · Downtown · $$
Food 3.9 · Decor 3.8 · Service 3.8

"Build your own" "gourmet-all-the-way" burger with "a zillion toppings" to pair with a "huge and yummy" milkshake "(alcoholic or otherwise)" at this "fun" , "comfortable" outpost of celebrity chef Hubert Keller's Las Vegas–based chain inside the Downtown Macy's; even critics who "do not understand the hype" or the "overpriced" tabs admit "you can't beat the view of Union Square" from a window seat.