San Francisco evokes images of awe inspiring bridges, glistening bays, skateboards, skyscrapers and tech billionaires but it is also home to a fast evolving and fascinating foodie culture. It has long been famous for its cutting edge food trends and award winning restaurants, with 40% of tourists listing food as one of the main reasons for visiting. San Francisco has over 3,500 places to eat, which is more restaurants per capita than any other major city in the United States. The city punches well above its weight, with over 300 of its restaurants either in receipt of Michelin stars or included within the coveted guide. In 2018 San Francisco and the wine country region received a staggering 55 Michelin stars. With seven establishments being awarded three Michelin stars, the city has edged past New York as the USA’s fine dining champion.
Some might wonder why this is, and how the US’s 14th biggest city became one of the most impressive culinary hotspots in the world? Much of it comes down to the area’s access to fresh and plentiful local ingredients. California’s beautiful range of produce is a source of inspiration for locals and visiting chefs, with the concept of ‘farm to table’ being reality for most good restaurants in the area. Additionally, close proximity to the Pacific Ocean means fresh fish, lobster, crab and prawns are in abundance, whilst the hot West Coast climate provides bountiful fruits and vegetables for exquisite salads. The numerous farmers markets that the city boats of provide a range of locally reared, organic meats such as beef, chicken and the infamous state bird, California quail.
Golden Gate City restaurants are also fortunate not only to have access to great food, but also to great wine. San Francisco’s top restaurants pair imaginative culinary creations that use local ingredients with the very best from the surrounding Napa and Sonoma wineries. Below we have rounded up the top six.
Chef George Chen’s latest restaurant project sits in the heart of San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown. Eight Tables is a truly luxurious setting, designed by the acclaimed AvroKo. Guests step out of an ornate lift into a decadent interior with eight semi private dining tables. The restaurant is a peaceful and intimate retreat within the vibrant busy city. Eight Tables takes inspiration from, Shifan Tsai, a form of private chateau dining culture which has been popularized by Chinese elites.
The concept and menu is ambitious, with guests indulging in luxurious versions of Chinese dishes such as foie gras dumplings, and har gow with caviar. The starter course on the tasting menu consist of 9 different small dishes. Diners are advised to eat these carefully curated, unique flavors and textures from left to right. Alongside elegant plates of red braised pork belly and velvet chicken with burgundy truffles visitors can also indulge in the hand crafted cocktails of the very talented Bar Director, Anthony Keels.