Best Symphony Dining in San Francisco

September 3, 2013
by Zagat Staff

These symphony dining spots will be music to your ears.

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.
Zuni Café
French · Hayes Valley · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

"Emblematic" of San Francisco, this "always-true" Hayes Valley Mediterranean is "still at the top of its game" with an "incredibly well-executed" menu of "delectable" , locally, sustainably sourced seasonal dishes, "fab oysters" and "must-haves" like the "succulent" brick-oven chicken for two; with "expertly mixed cocktails" and "pro" service enhancing a "lively" late-night scene in "stylish" yet "comfortable" duplex digs, it's a "culinary legend" that's perennially "hip and unique."
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."
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
French · Hayes Valley · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

Experience "Paris in San Francisco" at this Hayes Valley French-Med brasserie where the "charming" dining room serves as a "romantic" backdrop for "varied, flavorful" fare "prepared to perfection" ; "standout" cocktails, an "impressive" wine list and "expert" service draw a crowd ranging from "young hipsters" to "Civic Center" attendees.
Hayes Street Grill
Seafood · Hayes Valley · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

A "go-to" near the Civic Center, this seafood "institution" earns praise for "perfectly prepared, responsibly caught" fish served by "attentive" staffers who make sure you’ll "always be on time for the curtain" ; it’s somewhat "expensive" and the "decor could be improved" , but the overall feel is "reminiscent of gentler, classier" times.