SPQR

4.5
3280 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Italian
SPQR is a Northern California restaurant inspired by Italian cuisine and wine. An acronym for Senatus Populesque Romanus, SPQR translates to “The People and Senate of Rome” and was the emblem of the Roman Empire. We strive for a balance in offering the highest quality of food, wine and service we can for each guest’s experience in a relaxed, fun, and inviting atmosphere. If you would like to dine at our Chef counter please mark your reservation. Please inform us of any allergies or dietary restrictions as we will try our best to accommodate.

What Insiders Are Saying

The Infatuation
8.5

An ambitious restaurant, and a good one at that. SPQR is making a run at the San Francisco pasta crown, mostly with ingredients we can't pronounce.

Ratings 8.0-8.5:The best way to think about restaurants in the low to mid 8′s is that these are the places you would absolutely go back to, anytime. These restaurants are ones that you want to bring a friend to, just so they can also experience the duck carnitas, or burger, or whatever dish the place is known for.
What 3280 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.5
service
4.3
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
77% of people would recommend it to a friend
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p
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined a day ago
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

SPQR is still on our favorite list, although we continue to complain about the excessive saltiness of much of the dishes.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 1

It took 40 mins before we could even order. Very uneven pace of serving (got first dish very fast after having ordered and waited more than 30 mins for the second dish). Hardly any check in or service throughout. Were seated at the counter and there was constant freezing cold air blowing, so we all had to put on our outerwear and wearing that throughout the entire dinner. When mentioning the cold air the waiter just replied “yeah, you got the breezy seating”.... The food was a mix of really good and disappointing (unfortunately mostly the latter) - eg the ricotta salad was really boring and bland and the buckwheat pasta dish was very salty and underwhelming. The best part (and it’s really good and highly recommend) was the pecan cake with salted caramel and meringue. We also really liked the ricotta/salami appetizer.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved our evening-had an amazing waiter,
Pasta special was perfection, music awesome!

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JG
San Francisco
35 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

SPQR is, to my mind, the best place for pasta in San Francisco. In my most recent visit, a few days ago, all of the 8 pastas on the menu had ingredients that were new to me, and the two that I tasted were extraordinarily delicious. My friend and I shared an appetizer of duck liver mousse with jam which was plenty for the two of us and the best such dish I have had anywhere in town (I order duck liver mousse or pate whenever I see it on a menu). It came with 2 pieces of toast made from levain (country) bread, which were a perfect match for the mousse but insufficient to contain more than half of the mousse we had been served. My only complaint about SPQR is that when we asked for more toast for the remainder of the mousse, we were charged $7 for 2 pieces of toast. That seems exorbitant and unworthy of an otherwise-admirable restaurant.

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EC
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on April 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Some of the most inventive cooking in its use of local foods. But it’s not one of those restaurants that create dishes with quirky ingredients to just show off the chef’s imagination. The focus is always on the wonderful tastes, textures and look of the food. Great staff. Very professional and welcoming.

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O
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on April 13, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

This used to be my favorite restaurant but the food this last time left much to be desired and the value was sorely out of wack.

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DF
1 review
Dined on April 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Knowledgable staff, great food. Must try the pasta with blue cheese sauce.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

I love SPQR. Great wines, love the fresh pasta. But this last time the flavors were overpowering - one dish had too much blue cheese, and the other too much mustard - that my friend & I didn’t even finish our meals. Also, the waiter seemed like he was trying to upsell us. I will go back, it’s a neighborhood favorite, but I’m disappointed that it’s not as amazing as it used to be.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on April 7, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

Food is always delicious and creative. Wonderful presentation.
This time I was disappointed with the entree I had, lasagna. Not what I was expecting and just didn’t hit the spot.
Otherwise, amazing!!!

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Genial todo!!

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m
Los Angeles
14 reviews
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

The most mediocre * Michelin starred restaurant I have ever been.
The sea bass was undercooked and although the menu seemed to promise a collection of flavors, it was really just beans and brussel sprouts that were not altogether cooked homogeneously.
The endive salad our 12 year old could make.
The pasta was okay, but nothing special.
Not one "WoW" moment. Not worth it for the price.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 2

Our waitress was indifferent, bordering on rude. Food was fine but not memorable.

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W
Portland
2 reviews
Dined on April 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food prepared

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OT
Birmingham
1 review
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

server was so kind, explained well enough for the menu. food was great sorta salty for some people
wanna try more next time

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on April 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The squid ink pasta was amazing! Our server was very knowledgeable and helpful!

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Very small restaurant and birthday reservation (for I assumed a table) ended up being at very crowded bar seats. Not very comfortable dining being so close to neighbors but the service was amazing.

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OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Always a great to come here, delicious pasta and biscuits.

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RR
San Francisco
30 reviews
Dined on March 29, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Food was very good but the service was spotty at best. Waitress was not very attentive.

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N
Minneapolis
2 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastico

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AK
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

Food was excellent (BUT, read on). We had the octopus, fried kale, and garbanzo beans appetizer. The kale was crisp and delicious, and the octopus was tender (not chewy) and the best octopus I have had. Both the pastas we ordered were excellent--the papardelle with kale and rabbit was tender and tasty, if slightly oversalted; the bludknudlen (sic?) I had--pasta with blood sausage and pig's feet--was way better than it sounds, crunch, umami, delicious. And the black sesame panna cotta with a little citrus rounded things off nicely. The food was great, but a little overpriced, BUT the wine was deliriously overpriced--$26 for my 5oz of red wine--clearly the boozy cash cow. It was good, but not $120 odd a bottle good. Service was OK and the ambiance left something to be desired. The space is kind of cramped and I spent a good chunk of the evening with a Romeo waiting for his table behind me in my peripheral vision, romancing his Juliet, and threatening my head with his elbow. Overall, there is just as good or better food in SF in a better atmosphere and for a better price. Glad I went once, but unlikely to repeat.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Have you ever heard of a $34 pasta?

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N
Los Angeles
10 reviews
Dined on March 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing. David at the bar knows how to pair everything perfectly. He also recommended our entire dining experience and paired wines with each. It was extraordinary.

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JK
Melbourne / VIC
2 reviews
Dined on March 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I think this may have been the best dinner I have ever eaten.
Every course was equally good and the cheese plate was outstanding

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RA
Los Angeles
11 reviews
Dined on March 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Return visit - just as good as first time! The advice of other raters to try the chicken liver mousse was right on point - so different and delicious. And the fettuccini with truffles was all of our favorite. We loved everything we tried. If you want to see the kitchen at work, the Chef’s Counter is very fun. A must do for any San Fran trip!

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OT
Philadelphia
3 reviews
Dined on March 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Such a cool place

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DS
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on March 16, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

I dined at SPQR on a Saturday night. The restaurant was packed so I recommend making a resy ahead of time. Having read previous yelp reviews on the spacing of the tables, I was praying that I would not have to sit in one of the tables in the front where tables are spaced inches apart. Upon entering, I spotted a 2 seat table in the back. Luckily, I was able to request they were able to seat me in the back.

One of the things I wanted most was the foie gras. With the new ban on foie in SF, I was pleasantly surprised to see this on the menu. The waitress mentioned that they had a loophole where they could still serve it because of how it is prepared. The foie gras "terrina", black sesame "bruschetta," pineapple and fresh hibiscus was my favorite dish of the night. The foie was nice and buttery and paired well with the black sesame. I wish I could have ordered another one. Our other appitizer we ordered was the wagyu beef "pastrami", smoked and crispy potato, black radish. The beef indeed has a pastrami texture and I thought it went well with the creamy sauce and potato.

I had high hopes for the pasta dishes after such amazing appetizers. The first dish was the yukon gold potato gnocchi with sunchoke creme and mizuna. The dish came out luke warm. The flavors were subtle and it was nothing special. Our next pasta dish was the squid ink mezzalune served with sea scallop and black ink sauce. The pasta was undercooked and there was no flavor to the sauce. The scallops were also over charred and burnt! After the waitress asked us how our dishes were, we told her and she took the dish away.

For our main, we ordered the berkshire pork "costoletta" served with parsnip, kale, kumquat and pancetta sauce. After the horrible pasta, I was scared for this dish. There were only two options for the secondi course, the pork and the scallop. The pork came out and the presentation was surprisingly unappetizing (look at my pic). The pork was cooked perfectly though. This was one of the

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D
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on March 14, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 3

Really disappointed: the service was bad. It’d have been bad if it weren’t a bit overpriced. Look I’m willing to pay good money for good food. But when one pays $18 for a piece of toast, I’m expecting better than average service. The tables were SO close together... perhaps if you take out a table on each side, the service won’t be so poor, there will be more space to breathe, and I won’t pay $125 each to feel like I’ve been had. #blackball

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M
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on March 14, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

SPQR is a nice restaurant with a great menu and yummy food. It is way overpriced . My pasta and salad a glass of wine and shared dessert was over a hundred dollars, just my half. You’re paying for the Michelin star, evidently. :-(

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DF
1 review
Dined on March 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 5

Great ambiance, great food, service was a tad off.

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WB
Charlotte
4 reviews
Dined on March 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of the most special restaurants I visit in the U.S.! Tremendous food designed by Chef Matthew and his incredible team coupled with Shelley Lindgren's masterful wine pairings make for a special culinary experience. Grab a seat at the Chef's Counter if available and marvel at the care and art of the dishes. Not to mention, it's just a cool, fun, spot to see and be seen. Enjoy!

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B
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on March 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

our favorite restaurant in the city and one we always go to for special occasions. the chef's counter is the only place to sit! we just love it!

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t
San Francisco
58 reviews
Dined on March 11, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

The wine the waitress recommended was excellent and really made the evening memorable. The scallops and mezzaluna were a very good combination, but too salty and the gnocchetti was salty as well. I think they would have been really good dishes with less salt. The endive salad seemed like it needed more work to fit together as a salad. It was a good combination, but required a fair amount of cutting (full endive leaves, round slices of orange) and rearranging to eat it as a salad. We enjoyed the dinner, but felt the pastas were better (definitely less salty) on prior visits.

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g
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on March 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

So far the best dining experience in San Francisco. The risotto with truffles and the ink pasta were incredible, the wine also very good.The atmosphere is vibrant and pleasant. Not too noisy as not to enjoy the dinner. Recommend it strongly, also over Chez Panisse.

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AR
Seattle
1 review
Dined on March 11, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 1

Crammed, loud, uncomfortable proximity to other diners, unimaginative offerings and presentation. Pasta dish was lukewarm. Menu descriptions did not match what was delivered to the table. Definitely not a good value for the money. Service came across condescending and generally slow.

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OT
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 4ambience 4

The prices at tSPQR are outrageous for what is served.

We dine out 3-4 times a week at a wide variety of restaurants. In a major metropolitan area, we are not surprised by $30-40$-plus entrees.

But small dishes of pasta for $30 and up? On a lunch menu? Come on! The sticker shock was amplified when the dish was served. A portion fit for a toddler. Again, we are not looking for a giant portion but a least something that doesn’t leave you hungry. Note that the service and ambiance are great. The food is very good. But there’s a reason that restaurant was empty for lunch on a Saturday. Unless there is a menu overall, we will not be back.

I used to come here a lot but now, the prices are a joke.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on March 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic!

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RP
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

Fantastic, yet overly complicated, food in extremely tight surroundings (literally having dinner w the tables next to you). Also, a M1 restaurant needs someone on staff whom can speak knowledgeably about the excellent wine list. Don’t need a master Som but Italian is arguably the most complicated wine region in the World - with over 3000 varietals - so any great Italian restaurant very much needs someone expert to explain, beyond the wait staff trying to wing it. Still love this place, but could improve a bit.

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TL
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Outstanding start to finish. Homey, simple, flavorful, soulful food.

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OT
Adelaide / SA
4 reviews
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Best Italian restaurant in San Francisco.
Great ambiance, food, wine and service.

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l
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on March 3, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

My second visit to here was disappointing. The pastas were not al dante. Only good fortune was the scallop main was great.

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