The best restaurants from one year in San Francisco

Dining out is one of my favorite activities.

I’ve said many it times before on this blog: Never have Dave and I gone out to dinner as much as we do now.  Every weekend includes one nice dinner out, sometimes two.

We’ve been in San Francisco just about a year, and in that time, we’ve dined at 99 different restaurants in and around the Bay Area.  That includes everything from a cafe, to a casual lunch spot, to a white tablecloth, fine dining establishment.  And yes, I keep a running list of where we go.  I can remember most of the meals we have, although they seem to blend together in Dave’s memory.

We’re not alone in our newly found love for dining out.  In fact, it’s clear to me that people in San Francisco go out to eat lot and spend a good portion of their disposable income on food and drinks, without ever feeling bad about it.  More power to them … and to us.

I am often asked about my favorite restaurants in San Francisco.  Well, that’s a loaded question.  Being new to the area and new to the frequent-dining-out-way-of-life, Dave and I have intentionally tried new places as much as possible, without repeating.  It’s fair to say that we could have visited some spots on an off night, or made the wrong orders when there.  Our list of where we want to go is long too, and we haven’t hit all of the top spots in the City that people rave about.

We recently decided, from here on out, we will continue to try new places, but will also allow ourselves to develop some regular spots, particularly when we move into our new neighborhood next weekend (more to come on that soon).

So, what are some of the best places to eat in San Francisco according to this Lady?  There are so many.  But, here are a few of my favorite dining experiences:

  • Cafe Claude.  One of our first City dining adventures nearly a year ago.  Live jazz music.  Dark, intimate setting.  They make the steak tartare table-side, and it’s so packed inside you nearly sit on top of your neighbor.  Love it.
  • Wayfare Tavern.  Great atmosphere.  Nice place, but at the same time very informal.  Flavorful food.  They have one of those “bread guys” whose only job it is to deliver bread.  And I just love that.
  • Ristorante Umbria.  Italian.  Good Italian.  We went there last night for our second visit and had some incredible pizza, caprese, wine and dessert.  It’s casual, very down-home and very authentic Italian.
  • AQ.  So good.  And just SO very San Francisco.  We sat at the bar and were given free tastings by the chef right in front of us.  The menu is totally seasonal, so we are due for another visit soon.  Oh and we had a celebrity sighting there too: Giovanni Ribisi, better known as Phoebe Buffay’s brother from Friends.

Here are some other accolades in relation to eating and drinking, which we’ve repeated a lot:

  • Best casual, go-to lunch:  Smoked Trout salad from La Boulange Bakery.
  • Best casual, quick dessert:  Carrot Cake from The Grove.
  • Best lounge area for drinks: Urban Tavern in the Hilton in Union Square.

There’s a lot more dining out in our future.  There are new restaurants popping up all the time, and so many neighborhoods we have yet to explore.

It’s a good thing my group fitness instructing schedule keeps me pretty active, because you could safely say I’m eating my way through San Francisco!

District SF
Enjoying a cheese plate at District SF, a great spot for drinks and apps in SoMa.
Are we the only ones who always start with a cheese plate?  Here’s another one from Campanula in North Beach worthy of a pic.
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