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12 quintessential date-night restaurants in San Francisco

A photo of Red logo
by Valerie Demicheva and Becky Duffett
Updated February 03, 2024

With its stunning bridges and green escapes, San Francisco is a romance magnet—which means its restaurants are poised for unforgettable dates. An old-school steakhouse with rolling carts and extra-large martinis wows couples celebrating just about anything. A seafood icon is a proposal favorite for sweeping Bay Bridge views. And a laidback Nepalese place makes an ideal first date spot thanks to colorful cocktails and a moody blue dining room.

This guide pairs San Francisco restaurants with romantic occasions from first dates all the way to milestone anniversaries. These are San Francisco’s 12 best date-night restaurants.

A photo of Cultivar restaurant
4.6
4.6 (204)
$31 to $50
Californian
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

Cultivar’s unassuming modern facade doesn’t exactly scream romance. But in-the-know locals head to the Californian spot for a table on the back patio—a surprisingly lush and private escape. Here, the oversized fireplace is the low-key star, creating a charming mood to go with Cultivar’s small-batch wines and seasonal dishes. Standouts include lobster mac and cheese, mushroom risotto, and decadent cheese and charcuterie boards made for sharing.


Top review
BettyT
Dined on Jan 24, 2024
Excellent in all regards. Love this place - the outside is wonderful as well with a great contemporary fireplace!
A photo of Dancing Yak restaurant
4.7
4.7 (372)
$30 and under
Southeast Asian
Mission District

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

For a first date that’s off the beaten track, head to Dancing Yak, a restaurant inspired by the mountains of Nepal. Get comfortable in the yellow velvet chairs and sip on colorful cocktails like the bourbon-forward Don’t Talk Yak or the mezcal-fueled Spicy Yeti while snacking on juicy momos (dumplings) in spicy tomato sauce. You can graduate to curries and biryanis if things are going exceptionally well.


Top review
jenniferlvip
Dined 2 days ago
We really enjoyed our meal. Service was excellent and the food was delicious! Fun but casual atmosphere. Would definitely recommend
A photo of l'ardoise restaurant
0 (0)
CAN$31 to CAN$50
European
Sainte-Thérèse

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

This neighborhood gem is the quintessential French bistro. “L’Ardoise” means “chalkboard,” evoking scribbled menus in Parisian restaurants. The petite dining room is filled with cozy corners for snuggling, and it’s the rare SF restaurant where you can actually hear your date. But you’ll find yourself leaning in anyway, drawn to steak frites or duck confit in the glow of candlelight.


A photo of The Empress by Boon restaurant
4.4
4.4 (1237)
$50 and over
Chinese
Chinatown

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

With its regal blue interiors, Empress by Boon has the kind of grandeur that’s rare across northern California’s more casual dining scene. The elegant date spot is worthy of extra-special romantic occasions, fueled by a knockout Cantonese tasting menu from award-winning chef Ho Chee Boon, featuring celebration-worthy dishes like crispy pumpkin puff filled with roasted duck and lobster in sweet chile glaze.


Top review
TomYum
Dined 7 days ago
Utterly amazing. And what a phenomenal deal. The decor inside is unparalleled.
A photo of House of Prime Rib restaurant
4.8
4.8 (14890)
$50 and over
Steak
Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

House of Prime Rib is the king of steakhouses in San Francisco. Whether you’re celebrating one month or 20 years, it’s the spot to shake things up with an extra-large martini. Locals love the luxurious prime-rib dinner as much as the outrageously fun time: Diners get rowdy when the carts roll through the dining room, with chefs spinning salads and slicing cuts to order. Book early to score a coveted red leather booth for an unforgettable night together.


Top review
hermancvip
Dined today
This place is amazing. We have been dining here since the early ‘70s and celebrate our birthdays and anniversaries here when we can get in. The prime rib is superb as is their creamed spinach and signature salad. The wine list reads like a novel and the adult beverages are sure to please everyone. Our server, Angel was just that. He was very friendly and attentive. Putting a candle on our dessert was so thoughtful because we were celebrating our 53rd anniversary. Everyone there, from the valet staff, reception desk, cocktail server, bartender, food server, and the employees who we came into contact with demonstrated they were appreciative of their customers and happy to be working there. Thank you Joe Betz and staff for another great celebration dinner.
A photo of Kokkari Estiatorio restaurant
4.8
4.8 (8708)
$31 to $50
Mediterranean
Financial District / Embarcadero

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

Kokkari may be a power-lunch hub by day, but at night, it becomes one of SF’s coziest date spots. The family-run taverna is decked with wooden beams and ceramic accents for days, plus a natural stone hearth that’s responsible for menu highlights like grilled octopus and smoky lamb chops with lemon-oregano vinaigrette. The staff here is all about philoxenia, or the concept of turning a stranger into a friend, making Kokkari equally great for both early-in-the-game dates and special occasions.


Top review
KyleL
Dined today
Always one of the best experiences in San Francisco! Wonderful food, service, atmosphere. Looking geared to going back.
A photo of Sushi Hon restaurant
4.8
4.8 (421)
$50 and over
Sushi
Mission District

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

Sushi Hon is for couples who worship at the altar of omakase and where you go for an impressive, uncluttered tasting menu. The zuke masunosuke (soy-cured Ora King salmon) might be the best way to a sushi lover’s heart. Add a sleek, charcoal-colored backdrop and lighting that focuses on the fish, and you’ve got the kind of world-class Japanese spot you’ll want to keep coming back to.


Top review
CalexDom
Dined 3 days ago
This was my fiancé’s and my first time having an omakase experience, and it was everything we expected it to be and more. The staff were so friendly and accommodating and made us feel welcomed. Every dish was amazing, and it consistently got better every time an item was served. This was a special date night for us and we will be coming back and recommending this establishment to our friends and family. Thank you Sushi Hon staff!
A photo of Berber restaurant
4.1
4.1 (501)
$30 and under
Moroccan
Russian Hill

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

Smoky cocktails and dimly lit lanterns from North Africa dial up the glamor at this Russian Hill jewel, ideal for partying it up with a few friends. The restaurant and bar are decked with aboriginal Berber artifacts and a century-old Moroccan door—and could be the set for a modern-day Casablanca. Come on the weekend to enjoy an impressive dinner show featuring sultry cabaret aerialists, contortionists, and belly dancers, plus a very shareable Moroccan-spiced feast.


Top review
Annavip
Dined on Jan 28, 2024
Overall it had good vibe. Pre-fix menu should have options to select
A photo of BIX restaurant
4.7
4.7 (4740)
$31 to $50
American
Financial District / Embarcadero

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

A trip to BIX shuttles you to a bygone San Francisco era. The city icon was founded in 1988 and owes its popularity to a nightly jazz band performance. Expect impeccable service from bartenders dressed in signature white jackets—but the staff’s buttoned-up outfits don’t mean they’re snooty. Instead, they make diners feel super welcome in a restaurant that owner Doug Biederbeck describes as “a party every night.”


Top review
Mothernlawvip
Dined 1 day ago
I remember now dining here before. We got the same waiter. He is not my style. Very fast talker.... The piano and bass duo was very nice. The table upstairs was absolutely the best table in the house. The pork chop was fatty. Not to my liking but my husband ate the whole thing. We brought our own wine which even at $40 corkage is a deal. We will go back but it isn't our favorite in the area.
A photo of AsiaSF - Spectacular Shows & Dining restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1780)
$50 and over
Asian
SOMA

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

For dinner and a show, book this fun and sexy experience. You and your date can throw it back like it’s 1998 with fruity pink cosmos, then devour three courses of Asian fusion dishes from blackened ahi tuna to “Baby Got Back” glazed ribs—all while trans performers work the runway in the center of the dining room. If the date’s still going strong, drop down to the club in the basement for one last drink.


Top review
babybluvip
Dined 3 days ago
Wish this place could get legacy business status or something to help it survive. An SF institution.
A photo of The Matterhorn Restaurant and Bakery restaurant
4.6
4.6 (479)
$30 and under
Swiss
Marina / Cow Hollow / Presidio

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

Who can resist the charms of fondue? Take a ride to the Swiss Alps at the Matterhorn, which is kitted out like a chalet with pine-wood paneling, electric trains, and even a full-on gondola that exclusively seats one lucky couple. The team bakes the sourdough in house and melts the best gruyere, so dunk away and see where the night takes you.


Top review
CityJules
Dined 5 days ago
Another wonderful dinner experience at Matterhorn. Unique, cozy and delicious, the perfect group or date night spot!
A photo of Waterbar restaurant
4.7
4.7 (10459)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Financial District / Embarcadero

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

About the restaurant

Every diner seems to be celebrating something at this splashy, Pat Kuleto-designed place, all nautical dark wood finishes and floor-to-ceiling aquariums. With its flawless seafood menu and prime seats for watching boats float under the Bay Bridge, Waterbar is a sought-after proposal spot. Don’t miss the chandelier with glowing orbs—a subtle nod to the restaurant’s extensive caviar program.


Top review
Lauren
Dined on Feb 13, 2024
Great spot for a business lunch. Always reliable.
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