Much of San Francisco’s appeal lies in its renowned culinary landscape. The city’s diverse food scene is woven into the region’s history and traditions, making the Bay Area one of the top dining destinations in the U.S.
What makes San Francisco a foodie destination is that the Bay Area has access to fresh ingredients year-round, from both artisanal suppliers and local farms.
With nearly 4,000 places to eat, San Francisco has more dining options per capita than any other major US city. The cuisine has a strong Asian influence as San Francisco is home to the largest Chinese community outside of China.
For families, thousands of restaurants in San Francisco offer a variety of dining options and price ranges. The big advantage is the focus on multi-generational cuisine. This means that there is something on the menu for children, teenagers, parents and grandparents. This allows families to share a meal, exploring different flavors and cuisines, no matter how diverse the palates are – even the pickiest eaters will find a range of options available.
Below are just a few of the famous, family-friendly, multi-generational San Francisco-inspired restaurants.
Located in the Embarcadero, the Waterbar is one of the city’s most famous seafood restaurants and offers views of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. The restaurant features a cascading oyster bar and floor-to-ceiling aquariums. Freshly caught, sustainably farmed fish are on the menu daily, as well as one of the richest species of oysters on the West Coast. Popular dishes include oven-roasted sable (line caught locally at Fort Bragg) and whole roasted sole (caught in nearby Half Moon Bay). There is also pork knuckle and beef tenderloin for those who don’t like big fish. There is a large selection of wines by the glass and cocktails, beers and spirits.
EPIC Steak is located in the Embarcadero, this waterfront steakhouse – with panoramic views of the city – offers many steak options including New York Strip, Ribeye, Wagyu, Tomahawk Ribeye and Porterhouse. Non-steak options include salmon, lobster, lamb shank, pourlts and ravioli. Starters include calamari coated with cornmeal, garlic prawns, beef tartare and a variety of soups and salads. They have an extensive wine list – both by the glass and bottles – and an assortment of beers and cocktails.
China Live in Chinatown is not your typical Chinese restaurant. This is a 30,000-square-foot culinary destination that includes the Market Restaurant and Bar, Oolong Café, Retail Store, Cold Beverage Bar, and Eight Tables by George Chen. The restaurant on the first floor offers a daily changing seasonal menu that includes both Chinese and Western flavors. Dumplings – a staple of Chinese food – are the focal point of the restaurant, with massive cast iron pans for pot stickers, as well as a variety of steamed and pan-fried dumplings. In addition to dumplings, popular signature items include Peking Roast Duck and Taipei Braised Beef Noodle Soup.
Z&Y Restaurant, also located in Chinatown, is known for its authentic Sichuan cuisine. The menu is extensive, so every member of a multi-generational family will find something for themselves. There is a section with vegetables, poultry, fish, pork, beef, lamb, rice and noodles, soups, hot and spicy, appetizers and flaming clay pots. Signature dishes include tea-smoked duck, whole fish with chili beans, baked mussels in garlic and wine sauce and braised beef tail. The owner and chef, Lijun Han, is a former chef at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco. Professionally trained, Han attended the best culinary school in Beijing, where he majored in Sichuan food and culture.
House of Nanking, also located in Chinatown, has been open for more than three decades. It is a popular place with both locals and tourists. What makes this restaurant so special is that the best way to dine here is to order through the restaurant. Ditch the menu and ask them to choose the best dishes – tell them what you like and what you don’t like – and they serve you a meal based on your preferences. If you prefer to order from the menu, some of the most popular dishes are fried pork chops, Nanking sesame chicken, light calamari, garlic fish, house noodles and their famous crispy honey beef and bok cho.
La Société, located in the SoMa district, is one of the newest restaurants to open in San Francisco. It focuses on exquisite French cuisine, but uses local ingredients from California. It is open for both breakfast and dinner. Popular dishes include mussels and fries; the only tonsil; Grilled pork chops; l’orange roast duck and steak fries. Kids will enjoy the dessert menu, which includes waffle ice cream and the popular Humphry Slocombe ice cream, which includes five different ice creams. Adults will enjoy the maple nut tart and a selection of local dairy cheeses.