When it comes to finding a unique place to eat, San Francisco has no shortage of restaurants that provide diners with a memorable experience. The main challenge is narrowing down a list of possibilities based on factors other than a restaurant’s ratings average or the number of awards it has received and looking more at the character of the establishment.
Below are several suggestions for restaurants in San Francisco that provide opportunities for diners to receive more than a meal but an experience as well.
It’s not every restaurant where diners can enjoy a full-feature film while eating their dinner. In addition to running such classics as Cocktail, The Help, and Good Morning, Vietnam!, restaurant patrons can select oysters, shellfish, caviar, other seafood and non-seafood favorites, or a simple sandwich if preferred. Some especially unique menu items include avocado, Hamachi sashimi, serrano chilies, watermelon radish, togarashi, warm rice cakes, and yuzu ponzu.
This restaurant has such a reputation for melt-in-the-mouth breads and other breakfast items that it’s not uncommon for people to stand in line for more than an hour to taste it for themselves. Tartine Bakery has numerous pastry choices as well as traditional breakfast options. Examples include double pain au chocolat, buttermilk scones, quiche, and tea cakes for the first category and Jambon Royale & Gruye, Idiazabal & Membrillo, and Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese for the second.
Liholiho Yacht Club
The popularity of Liholiho Yacht Club as a pop-up restaurant in San Francisco gave the owners the confidence they needed to pursue a permanent spot. This turned out to be a profitable move since the restaurant is immensely popular. It serves upscale Hawaiian comfort food in a personalized setting that makes diners feel they are at the home of a good friend. Some of the most popular menu items here include abalone mushrooms, fried rice with bay shrimp, house-made spam, and steamed beef tongue buns.
Kennedy’s Irish Pub & Indian Curry House Restaurant
The combination of Guinness beer with Indian dishes such as chicken tikka masala or lamb vindaloo is certainly unusual. Even so, locals consider this the best place to go for authentic Indian food as well as beer and spirits.
Enjoying a relaxing meal here with friends in a farmhouse-chic vibe makes for a relaxing afternoon or evening. All food is locally sourced from Hayes Valley and throughout California, which ensures its freshness. The appetizers are so delicious that it can be difficult to believe the dining experience gets even better. Some of the most popular options for appetizers include warm raclette dip and porcini doughnuts.
Z & Y Restaurant
A premier Chinatown restaurant, Z & Y offers traditional Sichuan foods in addition to unique experiences of Bian Lian and Kung Fu Tea. Both traditions date to ancient China. Bian Lian, which also means the art of face changing, relies on a set of silk masks to reflect the current mood of the character. With Kung Fu Tea, a performer holds a traditional teapot with a very long spout to pour tea for guests from several feet away.
Hopefully, diners will find this list of a half-dozen memorable San Francisco eating establishments a good place to start.