29 Best Restaurants in The Haight, the Castro, Hayes Valley and Noe Valley, San Francisco

Alta CA

$$$ | Civic Center Fodor's choice

The creation of lauded chef Daniel Patterson, this pretty restaurant has creativity to rival that of Patterson's Michelin-starred Coi, but a much less formal vibe. A 25-seat circular bar dominates the dining room, while small plates dominate the menu. The fried brussels sprouts are pure crunchy bliss, while the delicate homemade pierogi is a mainstay but with seasonal accents, like pumpkin. Located across from the Twitter and Uber HQs, it attracts the hoodies, but also the pretheater crowd. This is one of the city's few great food experiences after midnight on weekends.

La Ciccia

$$ | Noe Valley Fodor's choice

This charming neighborhood trattoria is the only restaurant in the city exclusively serving Sardinian food. The island's classics are all represented—octopus stew in a spicy tomato sauce; spaghetti with bottariga (cured roe); and macaroni with sea urchin and cured tuna heart. Many choices on the extensive wine list are Sardinian. The staff is both friendly and efficient. This is not only a locals' favorite, but a restaurant industry one as well, so book seats in this unassuming spot in advance. Ask for a table on the lovely, light-speckled patio to set the mood for a romantic date night.

291 30th St., San Francisco, CA, 94131, USA
415-550–8114
Known For
  • Romantic patio dining
  • Restaurant industry favorite
  • Extensive wine list including Sardinian wines
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch

Nightbird

$$$$ | Hayes Valley Fodor's choice

Chef-owner Kim Alter's solo debut is this small, charming, seasonally focused tasting-menu destination that is an oasis of calm away from the frantic traffic of Gough Street. The five-course-plus-five-bite menus are beautifully orchestrated, served by a staff that seems to always anticipate the next question or request, making this one of the more relaxed splurges of San Francisco's gastronomic elite restaurants.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Rich Table

$$$ | Hayes Valley Fodor's choice

Sardine chips and porcini doughnuts are popular bites at co-chef Evan and Sarah Rich's lively, creative restaurant; mains are also clever stunners, including pastas like the sea urchin cacio e pepe. The room's weathered-wood wallboards, repurposed from a Northern California sawmill, give it a homey vibe. There's a nice selection of wines by the glass and artisanal cocktails. Reservations are not an easy acquisition, but twelve bar seats are available for walk-ins. Try their fast-casual option a block away, RT Rotisserie, if you need a quick pre-theater sandwich or roast chicken plate.

Zuni Café

$$$ | Hayes Valley Fodor's choice

After one bite of Zuni's succulent brick-oven-roasted whole chicken with warm bread salad, you'll understand why the two-floor café is a perennial star. Its long copper bar is a hub for a disparate mix of patrons who commune over oysters on the half shell and cocktails and wine. Nearly as famous as the chicken are the Caesar salad with house-cured anchovies and the chocolatey flourless gâteau Victoire. The most cheerful spot to sit is at the tip of the pyramid window near the bar, easier to score if you plan a late lunch.

Arlequin

$$ | Hayes Valley

For lunch on the go, don't submit to fast food when you've got Arlequin, the café offshoot of trendy Absinthe. Whatever you choose—breakfast, a hot or cold sandwich, lamb burger, roasted chicken—take it back to the lovely outdoor patio, a surprising oasis that makes Arlequin a standout.

Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers

$ | Noe Valley
The Noe Valley location of this family-friendly California burger chain offers a cozy indoor-outdoor dining area, the latter really a patio encased in glass windows for watching foot traffic along 24th Street. The ample menu is loaded with fancier versions of diner classics—think the Gastropub burger, with a fried egg and a pretzel bun, or the Maui Waui, with a teriyaki glaze and grilled pineapple. There are a variety of vegetarian burgers, tossed salads, and, of course, every kind of fry.

Blue Bottle Coffee

$ | Hayes Valley

Hidden away on a side street by Patricia's Green is this modest kiosk where the organic beans are ground for each cup and the espresso is automatically ristretto—a short shot. While Blue Bottle is now a global juggernaut (the blue, boutique equivalent of the green mermaid chain, as locals like to say), Linden Street was the first brick-and-mortar shop, and it's still a San Francisco coffee lover's favorite.

315 Linden St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Known For
  • Where it all started
  • Intense dedication to quality coffee
  • Must-stop on a Hayes Valley tour

Castro Coffee Company

$ | Castro

The knowledgeable staff at this small storefront pours a perfect latte, Turkish coffee, or French roast. It's the best place in the neighborhood to grab a pound of beans or a cup of quality coffee to go.

427 Castro St., San Francisco, CA, 94114, USA
415-552–6676
Known For
  • Solid variety of excellent coffee drinks
  • Reasonable prices
  • Friendly service

Cha Cha Cha

$$ | Haight

This boisterous institution serves island cuisine—a mix of Cajun, Southwestern, and Caribbean influences—tapas style, in a setting with Technicolor tropical plastic decor. The food is hot and spicy: try the fried calamari or chili-spiked Cajun shrimp, and wash everything down with a pitcher of Cha Cha Cha's signature sangria. Reservations are not accepted, so expect a wait for dinner.

1801 Haight St., San Francisco, CA, 94117, USA
415-386–7670
Known For
  • Worthy ceviche and paella mixta
  • Ropa vieja (stewed shredded beef and vegetables)
  • Long but quick-moving lines

Chow

$ | Castro

This consistently popular and consciously unpretentious, funky-yet-savvy diner serves standards like hamburgers, pizzas, and spaghetti with meatballs, all treated with culinary respect. More budget-friendly than some of the area's other options, it has built its reputation on honest and approachable fare. Diners will discover Mexican- and Asian-style dishes mixed in with the primarily American/Italian menu (the silky wontons are popular), all-day brunch, and a nice list of salads. Don't even think about leaving without trying the ginger cake with caramel sauce. The wine list has some well-chosen picks.

Dinosaurs

$ | Castro

This small Castro storefront serves up exceptionally fresh banh mi and rockin' spring rolls. Service is quick, and a couple of tables take in the scene on Market Street.

Flywheel Coffee Roasters

$ | Haight

Family-owned, this light-filled café with a view of Golden Gate Park roasts its beans in-house for a great cuppa. The cold brew is very good, and the food includes vegan options.

672 Stanyan St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Known For
  • Cold brew and siphon coffee
  • Airy, artsy-rustic space
  • Location overlooking the park

Frances

$$$$ | Castro

One of the hottest tickets in town, chef Melissa Perello's simple, sublime restaurant is a consummate date-night destination. Perello's seasonal California-French cooking is its own enduring love affair, with standouts including the savory bavette steak, grilled Sakura pork chop, and panisse frites. For dessert, the lumberjack cake is a perennial favorite. The space has a limited number of tables, the tasting menu changes weekly, and service is professional and warm.

3870 17th St., San Francisco, CA, 94114, USA
415-621–3870
Known For
  • Lumberjack cake
  • Neighborhood gem
  • Reasonably priced tasting menu
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch, Reservations essential

Hayes Street Grill

$$$ | Hayes Valley

You'll snag a table if you arrive at this longtime (since 1979) standby just as music lovers are folding their napkins and heading off for a show at the nearby Opera House or SFJAZZ Center. Fresh, sustainable, often local seafood lures the faithful here, as well as peak seasonal produce from the nearby region. Much of the fish—yellowtail, salmon, swordfish—is grilled and served with a choice of sauces, from beurre blanc to lemon-and-caper butter. Brass coat hooks, white tablecloths, a long bar, and a mix of banquettes and tables define the traditional San Francisco look.

320 Hayes St., San Francisco, CA, 94102, USA
415-863–5545
Known For
  • Simple yet excellent fish preparations
  • Choice of sauces
  • White-tablecloth dining in timeless atmosphere
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed most Mon.–Wed. except opera and symphony performance days

Jardinière

$$$$ | Hayes Valley

Famed chef Traci Des Jardins’ restaurant is so sophisticated you may as well be eating at the nearby Opera House. An eye-catching curving staircase leads to an oval atrium, where locals and out-of-towners alike indulge in French-Californian dishes, such as foie gras terrine or sorrel soup. Downstairs is the bar, with artisanal cocktails and smaller plates.

Loquat

$ | Hayes Valley

This charming bakery, done in pinks and pressed tin, features treats by Tartine Bakery alum Kristina Costa that reflect the Jewish diaspora. With tempting cakes lining the marble counter and display cases full of tarts, cookies, babka, and other pastries, you'll be hard-pressed to get away without trying more than one. The Four Barrel coffee is excellent, and the line moves quickly, so don't be discouraged if it stretches out the door.

198 Gough St., San Francisco, CA, 94102, USA
415-994–6594
Known For
  • To-die-for cinnamon date sugar babka
  • Savory bourekas, great for picnics
  • Long lines
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Wed. No dinner

Lovejoy's Tea Room

$$ | Noe Valley

The tearoom is a homey jumble, with its lace-covered tables, couches, and mismatched chairs set among the antiques for sale. High tea and cream tea are served, along with traditional English-tearoom "fayre," such as crustless sandwiches, scones, crumpets, and shepherd's pie. It's all quite cozy. The antiques shop across the street is a fun browse for teas and vintage teacups.

Nojo Ramen Tavern

$$ | Hayes Valley

For a little bonhomie before the symphony, it's hard to go wrong with this buzzy (and typically crowded) ramen spot. Noodles are the star of the menu, and deservedly so, but you'll also find izakaya-style small plates, including pot stickers and chicken fritters. Seating is at a premium in the mod Japanese/San Franciscan dining room with windows overlooking Franklin Street.

231 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA, 94102, USA
415-896–4587
Known For
  • Ramen with chicken-based (paitan) broth
  • Comfort food like chicken teriyaki
  • Long lines
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No lunch weekdays

Parada 22

$ | Haight

A small, colorful space, Parada 22 serves up heaping plates of home-style Puerto Rican cuisine—think plantains, seafood, and slow-roasted pork. There's also plenty of vegetarian fare on offer. The brick-walled interior is accented by old framed photographs, potted plants, and strings of Christmas lights.

Poesia Café

$ | Castro

An offshoot of the restaurant Poesia next door, the name means "poetry" in Italian, and the pastries, desserts, and savory sandwiches at this cafe live up to the name. You can't go wrong with anything on the house-made cornetti or focaccia, or for that matter any of the wide variety of Italian pastries. The artful interior makes good use of tile and color, and the service is warm and personal.

Robin

$$$$ | Hayes Valley

The classic Japanese omakase experience (the chefs select the sushi and other small bites) gets a seasonal Californian influence at Adam Tortosa's hip, modern restaurant. The raw fish preparations are magnificent, and it's a relative deal where diners can name the price between $109 and $209, depending on their desire to splurge.

620 Gough St., San Francisco, CA, 94102, USA
415-448–7372-text only
Known For
  • Exquisite nigiri with creative garnishes
  • Caviar–potato chip bite
  • Strong sake and wine lists
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch

Souvla

$ | Hayes Valley

Join the lines, get ready to Instagram, and enjoy the superb Cali-Greek pita sandwiches and salads at the flagship of this fast-casual (or self-described "fast-fine") concept. The menu keeps it simple with four proteins (roasted white sweet potato or a trio of spit-roasted meats), but the secret to the magic is how each protein is pre-partnered with captivating sauces and fresh garnishes, turning a simple-sounding white sweet potato sandwich into a stellar meal. If you want to try all four proteins at all five locations, then plan a trip around town to the counterpart Souvla locations in the Marina, NoPa (North of the Panhandle), the Mission, and Dogpatch.

517 Hayes St., San Francisco, CA, 94102, USA
415-400–5458
Known For
  • Lamb leg with harissa-spiked yogurt
  • Greek frozen yogurt with baklava crumbles
  • Prime location for picking up a picnic for Patricia's Green or Alamo Square Park

Suppenküche

$$ | Hayes Valley

Nobody goes hungry—and no beer drinker goes thirsty—at this lively, hip outpost of simple German cooking. The hearty food—bratwurst and sauerkraut, potato pancakes with house-made applesauce, meat loaf, braised beef, pork loin, schnitzel, spaetzle—is tasty and kind to your wallet, and the imported brews are first-rate. When the room gets crowded, which it regularly does, strangers sit together at unfinished pine tables. Servers are quick and efficient and keep the pace moving along. The same management runs Biergarten (424 Octavia Street), a charming outdoor spot just a block away that serves bratwurst, pretzels, and German beers.

525 Laguna St., San Francisco, CA, 94102, USA
415-252–9289
Known For
  • Seating at common tables
  • Variety of sausages
  • Quick service
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No lunch weekdays

Thep Phanom

$$ | Haight

This cozy Thai restaurant has been a neighborhood stalwart for over three decades. Lemongrass chicken, seafood, and rich curries are among the specialties. The lengthy regular menu is supplemented by a list of daily specials, which only makes it harder to make a decision. You'll be pondering your choices in comfortable surroundings: the dining room is lined with Thai art and artifacts that owner Pat Parikanont has collected over the years.

Thorough Bread and Pastry

$ | Castro
Parisian pastry chef Michel Suas, founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute, offers perfectly executed French pastries–-such as his near-legendary almond croissant–-at this sweet Castro storefront. Exposed-brick walls and cement floors give the interior an arty-industrial feel, but don't overlook the leafy back patio.

Uva Enoteca

$$ | Haight

This casual Italian wine bar hits all the right notes: the mood is convivial, the food is solid, and there's plenty of wine—more than 10 by the glass and a long list of bottles. The menu is straightforward, with assortments of Italian cured meats and cheeses, a selection of salads and vegetable dishes, and a roster of pastas and pizzas. Try the gelato: it will take you straight to Italy. A young, savvy staff fits right into the upbeat surroundings, with a marble counter, a handful of banquettes, and tables for two and four.

568 Haight St., San Francisco, CA, 94117, USA
415-829–2024
Known For
  • Simple but delicious food
  • Good gelato
  • Friendly staff
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No lunch

Woodhouse Fish Co.

$$ | Castro

New Englanders or anyone else hungry for a lobster roll fix need look no further than this super-friendly spot, where the rolls are utterly authentic and accompanied with slaw and fries. Seafood fans will find plenty else to love on the menu, which is stocked with everything from cioppino to crab melts. The V-shape storefront, which stands on a busy Market Street corner, is comfortably funky. It seems like everyone in the neighborhood turns out for $1.25 West Coast oysters on Tuesday. A second branch is in Lower Pacific Heights.

2073 Market St., San Francisco, CA, 94114, USA
415-437–2722
Known For
  • Beer-battered fish-and-chips
  • $1.25 oysters on Tuesday
  • Nautical decor
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations not accepted