As the birthplace of the locavore movement in the U.S., San Francisco has more than its share of outstanding restaurants where fresh, regionally-grown ingredients take center stage. If you’re looking to taste the finest fare of the season, check out our Experts’ Choice winners for farm-to-table restaurants in the City by the Bay.
Founded in 1979, long before the farm-to-table movement was in vogue, Zuni Cafe is a buzzy Market Street bistro where the focus has always been on sourcing the finest local ingredients. On the (short but sweet) menu: classic Mediterranean-California dishes including their famous roast chicken served over warm bread salad. Start off with oysters, move on to the umami-packed shellfish and house-made chorizo stew, and be sure to save room for dessert.
A split-level, industrial-chic spot in Western Addition where the long bar, communal tables, creative cocktails, thoughtful wine list, and wood-fired, seasonally-driven dishes draw a hip, food-and-drink savvy crowd. Try the juicy grass-fed organic burger, smoky calamari with cabbage, olives and aioli, or, if you’re here in springtime, the Italian sausage flatbread with fava beans.
Behind its attractive, urban-rustic storefront, State Bird Provisions is a 14-table hotspot featuring an ever-changing menu of New American small plates served dim-sum style. Chef-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski founded the place “as a recipe for serving quail, [but] it has slowly evolved into a restaurant without any programmed elements.” As the 2013 James Beard Award winner for best new restaurant, it’s earned a loyal following among food-lovers. Be sure to try their signature fried quail.
Set in a former 1930s auto warehouse, Spruce is a swanky bar-restaurant with a stylish library lounge, a 1,000-plus label wine list, and a rich New American menu featuring dishes like foie gras with grape gelée, veal sweetbreads, sliced potatoes cooked in duck fat, and buttered Maine lobster. If you’re after a casual meal, grab a seat at the bar and admire the Baccarat crystal chandeliers while you tuck into their unimpeachable burger and fries.
An iconic, upscale Mission Street restaurant where famed chef Nancy Oakes blends seasonal regional ingredients and classic French technique. The waterfront Belle-Epoque setting is an apt backdrop for a changing menu that includes dishes like Maine lobster ravioli, tuna tartare and carpaccio with ginger, jalapeno and spicy mustard, and pork chops you can cut with a butter knife.
Coming in at number 27 on the San Pellegrino list of the world’s 50 best restaurants, this former pop-up on Folsom Street is known for serving one of the most lavish tasting menus in the U.S. Chef Joshua Skenes spares no expense on his nightly 18-course extravaganzas, which always feature the best produce of the day and could include revelatory dishes like his signature Liquid Toast, a glazed sea urchin served on crusty bread and sprinkled with a powder of river vegetables, or celeriac slow-cooked in the fireplace for 72 hours. A relaxing, Scandinavian-influenced space with an open kitchen in the center and a rock-and-roll soundtrack in the background.
An art-house restaurant set in an elegant (heated) courtyard where nightly screenings of foreign and and independent films create a romantic backdrop for a simple, seasonal, Mediterranean-influenced menu by former Zuni cafe chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark. Choose from appetizers like house-cured sardines and beef carpaccio with anchovy mayonnaise and vinegar and sea salt waffle chips, mains like bavette steak frites with chimichurri, and desserts like rose geranium crème brûlée with orange blossom macaron -- or dig into their small plates menu at the bar.
A sophisticated but unassuming 60-seat restaurant in Hayes Valley where husband-and-wife co-executive chefs Sarah and Evan Rich meticulously source their ingredients without trumpeting the origins of every item on the menu. Expect a changing roster of dishes that blend creativity and comfort, from chilled apricot soup with pancetta to rabbit cannelloni to the house-special sardine chips with horseradish cream.
A ritzy, quintessentially San Francisco bar-restaurant where the produce is impeccable and the cocktails cutting-edge, Range features a concise, ever-changing menu by chef Phil West and his wife Cameron. Dishes like coffee-rubbed pork shoulder, chicken liver mousse with frisee, and egg pasta with roasted tomatoes and goat's milk ricotta take comfort food to a luxurious level. Stop by at their early apéritif hour for small plates, glasses of sherry and $7 low-proof cocktails.
At this smart Mission-district wine bar-restaurant, chef Thomas McNaughton serves up a rotating menu of modern Italo-Californian nose-to-tail creations along with unique house-made pastas, new interpretations of pizza, and masterful riffs on vegetables like the squash salad with lardo, Brussels sprouts, and pistachios. The space is narrow, the crowd fashionable, and the acoustics loud.