115 Best Restaurants in The Bay Area, California


$$$ Fodor's choice

If there’s such a genre as refined camping fare, then that is what chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel offers guests at his warm, bustling restaurant. Local fish, meats, and produce are highlighted, with dishes that beautifully blend pastoral with contemporary. Pastas are a particular strength, as are cocktails from the fun bar. It’s a big city–feeling restaurant where it’s possible to have an ambitious meal of charcoal-stained spaghetti with Dungeness crab, but it’s also a relaxed spot for a casual date night or to come solo for a quick cheeseburger (with an incredible “secret sauce”). 

898 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, California, 94025, USA
Known For
  • cast-iron buttermilk cornbread
  • smoked half chicken from Petaluma
  • excellent wine list
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. No lunch

Chez Panisse Café & Restaurant

$$$$ Fodor's choice

Alice Waters's legendary eatery, the birthplace of California cuisine, first opened its doors in 1971. It's still known for a passionate dedication to locally sourced heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, heritage breeds, and ethically farmed or foraged ingredients. The restaurant offers formal prix-fixe menus and personal service, while its upstairs café serves simpler fare in a more casual setting. Both menus change daily, and legions of loyal fans insist that Chez Panisse lives up to its reputation. Reservations are practically essential. 

1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, California, 94709, USA
Known For
  • sustainably sourced meats
  • attention to detail
  • pizzas and fruit galettes upstairs
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch in restaurant. No lunch Tues.–Thurs. in café, Reservations essential


$$$$ | Piedmont Fodor's choice

A slender, unassuming storefront houses the first East Bay restaurant with a Michelin star (two of them, in fact). The room is minimalist and polished: nothing distracts from the artistry of chef James Syhabout, who creates a multicourse prix-fixe experience based on the season and his distinctive vision of modern and classic creations. The signature slow-poached egg yolk with smoked dates and steel-cut oats is now a Bay Area icon.

3859 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, California, 94611, USA
Known For
  • inventive tasting menu
  • fantastic wine collection
  • excellent bar next door with its own menu
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch, Reservations essential

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Dad's Luncheonette

$ Fodor's choice

Talk about a career pivot—after years of cooking at San Francisco fine-dining standouts Saison and Benu, chef-owner Scott Clark traded in formal kitchens for a revamped caboose along the Half Moon Bay coast. Here, he opens for limited hours and serves a concise menu of outstanding hamburgers and mushroom sandwiches that are a perfect example of wholesome comfort food done with the careful technique and ingredient sourcing of a chef from a gastronomic background. There is no seating inside the caboose, so diners either sit at one of the few outdoor tables or hustle their burgers to the beach for a particularly special picnic.

225 Cabrillo Hwy. S, Half Moon Bay, California, 94019, USA
Known For
  • hamburger sandwich with fresh oak lettuce and melted cheese
  • homemade potato chips
  • photogenic setting
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Wed. No dinner

Duarte's Tavern

$$ Fodor's choice

Along with a stunning state beach, the tiny, adorable, largely agricultural community of Pescadero is known for this coastal dining legend. Dating back to the late 1800s, no other coastal restaurant comes close to the celebrity status of Duarte’s. If it’s lunchtime, a significant number of tables in its series of intimate wood-paneled rooms will surely be enjoying the Dungeness crab melt and perhaps a Bloody Mary. Later in the day, the “tavern” portion of the restaurant kicks into gear as locals come to the bar area for stiff cocktails or a few beers. At any time of day, guests enjoy the signature green chile and artichoke soups, with the latter being a classic preparation for one of the most unheralded local produce specialties. 

202 Stage Rd., Pescadero, California, 94060, USA
Known For
  • green chile and artichoke soup served together as half and half
  • olallieberry pie
  • a definitive cioppino
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues. No dinner Mon., Wed., and Thurs. Dinner ends at 6 pm Fri.–Sun.

Fentons Creamery

$ Fodor's choice

Beloved by the Bay since 1922 and featured in the Pixar film Up, this is the leading name locally for ice cream sundaes and good old-fashioned soda fountain fare. Kids of all ages adore the signature black-and-tan sundae with toasted almond and vanilla ice creams layered with caramel and chocolate sauces. Of course, there’s a cherry on top.


$$ Fodor's choice

Unsurprisingly, fish—specifically, fresh, sustainably caught fish—is the focus at this gleaming dockside fish house a mile north of downtown. Order at the counter and then grab a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows or at a picnic table on the pier, overlooking the yachts and fishing boats. Outside, kids can doodle with sidewalk chalk on the pier.

Hog Island Oyster Co. Marshall Oyster Farm and the Boat Oyster Bar

$$ Fodor's choice

Take a short trek north on Highway 1 to the gritty mecca of Bay Area oysters—the Hog Island Marshall Oyster Farm. Here, the Boat Oyster Bar is an informal outdoor café that serves raw and grilled oysters, local snacks, and tasty beverages. Every afternoon it's open, the dining patio area feels like a carefree party with some of Northern California's greatest wines, oysters, and cheeses. Ninety-minute oyster farm tours ($40) are also available.

20215 Shoreline Hwy., Marshall, California, 94940, USA
Known For
  • fresh, raw, and grilled oysters
  • local fish crudo
  • Hog Shack shellfish to go
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Oyster Bar closed Tues. No dinner, Reservations only Fri.--Mon.

Luka's Taproom & Lounge

$$ | Uptown Fodor's choice

Hip and urban, with an unpretentious vibe, Luka's is a real taste of Uptown with its Belgian-inspired California comfort food and plentiful selection of Trappist ales, local drafts, and international bottles of beer. The late-night menu is a favorite of bar-hoppers, and DJs in the adjacent lounge keep the scene going well past last call.

Luna Blu

$$$ Fodor's choice

Friendly, informative staff serve Sicilian-inspired seafood in this lively Italian restaurant just a stone's throw from the ferry. Enjoy views on the expansive heated patio overlooking the bay, or cozy up with friends on one of the high-sided booths near the bar. Weekend brunch and lunch menus feature paninis, burgers, and organic omelets. The impressive wine list is almost exactly half Italian and half Californian, and there's an interesting selection of a half dozen sparkling cocktails.


$$$$ Fodor's choice

Los Gatos is home to one of the country's finest restaurants, David Kinch's three-Michelin-starred Manresa, which serves an exceptional nightly tasting menu of Northern California dishes that features the freshest local ingredients ($225; $198 wine pairing).

Manresa Bread

$ Fodor's choice

In a region with several outstanding destinations for fresh baguettes and levain breads, the freshly baked loaves here deserve some of the highest praise. Everything in the display case and on the cooling racks is absolutely dialed in, from the kouign-amann (like a decadent glazed dessert version of a croissant) and cookies to slices of custardy quiche and simple avocado toast.

Parkside Cafe

$$ Fodor's choice

Though this place is popular for its 1950s beachfront snack bar, the adjoining café, coffee bar, marketplace, and bakery shouldn't be missed either. The full menu serves up fresh ingredients, local seafood, and wood-fired pizzas. Creeping vines on the sunny patio shelter diners from the wind, and heat lamps offer extra warmth on colder days; for a cozier ambience, eat by the fire in the dining room.


$$$$ Fodor's choice

A pair of French Laundry alums—protégés of some of the culinary world’s greatest chefs—are the driving forces of this fine-dining standout near the train station on California Avenue. The restaurant is split into two parts: the main formal restaurant with an elaborate tasting menu at a high price point; and the sleek lounge area where the menu is à la carte. Co-owner/master sommelier Dennis Kelly is one of the country’s brilliant wine minds, and his restaurant undoubtedly has one of the Bay Area’s truly magnificent wine programs. Co-owner/chef Anthony Secviar spearheads the excellent haute French-seasonal Californian cooking.

Sam's Anchor Cafe

$$ Fodor's choice

Open since 1920, this beloved dockside restaurant is the town's most famous eatery, and after 99 years, a bright remodel includes floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors and an 80-foot heated bench for deck views on cool days. Remnants of Sam's history are evident in some vintage decor, the hamburger and Champagne specials, and the free popcorn. Most people flock to the deck for beers, views, sunsets, and exceptionally tasty seafood. Ask about the old trapdoor used to haul in whiskey during Prohibition. No deck reservations means you can expect a wait for outside tables.

Sam's Chowder House

$$$ Fodor's choice

This East Coast–style waterfront seafood joint may not be textbook Cape Cod, but that's okay—dine here, and you'll get the best of both coasts: fresh West Coast seafood prepared with traditional East Coast recipes. Indoor seats are in several long dining rooms; cozy outdoor seats are warmed by gas fire pits and heaters on chilly days; and every seat in the house looks out to the water.


$$ | Grand Lake Fodor's choice

Two Top Chef vets opened this stylish restaurant, which serves creative and memorable Mediterranean small plates in a lively setting with an open kitchen, wood-fired oven, communal tables, and snug seating. As the name implies, well-crafted cocktails are shaken (or stirred) and poured with panache.

Side Street Kitchen

$ Fodor's choice

Rotisserie meats and veggies sourced from local farms steal the show at this former mid-20th-century truck stop and diner. It's a go-to for tri-tip and pork belly sandwiches or house-seasoned roasted chicken, best eaten with a host of sides, sips, and sweets, like crispy Parmesan Brussels sprouts, New Orleans–style cold brew coffee, and butterscotch pudding. Colorful Iris Hockenos mural art adorns the remodeled café, which has countertop dining indoors and a welcoming patio and picnic table seating outdoors.

Snail Bar

$$ Fodor's choice

The Temescal neighborhood's dining anchor is a quirky wine bar with a powerful food program. At least half of the seating is outside, lending a Parisian indoor-outdoor café vibe to the air of this appropriately named spot with a signature escargots and cashew miso dish. The small chalkboard menu always has tempting, deeply flavored offerings that don't really adhere to particular cuisines but are always riveting. The rustic interior has a striking chess board–evoking floor and has a welcoming, slightly worn feel like a bistro that has been around for decades (except it only opened in 2021).

Standard Fare

$ Fodor's choice

Just look for the hungry crowds and the smell of freshly baked muffins; breakfast-lunch-brunch paradise is here in a far-flung corner of Berkeley. Kelsie Kerr's daytime-only restaurant/bakery started in 2014 and has been a sensation ever since. For the indecisive, this place is a nightmare. Everything looks outstanding and truly is. Buttermilk biscuit egg sandwiches tend to be the morning staple, while lunch sees a little more creativity and quintessential Berkeley farm-to-table elements, like in a long-roasted pork shoulder and beet greens sandwich.

Station House Café

$ Fodor's choice

The Station House Café has been a stalwart venue for local music and a staunch supporter of local farms and food artisans. The community-centric eatery serves a blend of modern and classic California dishes comprised of organic seasonal ingredients, sustainable hormone-free meats, and wild-caught seafood. Creative and classic cocktails are a bonus here—a great way to wind down the day after lots of hiking or kayaking.

Sushi Ran

$$$ Fodor's choice

Sushi aficionados swear that this tiny, stylish restaurant is the Bay Area's finest option for raw fish, but don't overlook the excellent Pacific Rim fusions, a melding of Japanese ingredients and French techniques. Book in advance or expect a wait, which you can soften by sipping one of the bar's 30 by-the-glass sakes.

107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, California, 94965, USA
Known For
  • glorious pristine raw fish preparations
  • local miso-glazed black cod
  • outstanding sake and wine list
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch Mon.–Thurs., Reservations essential

Tacos Oscar

$ Fodor's choice

Arguably the most talked-about tacos in the entire Bay Area are at this colorful, cheery spot in an alley in between Uptown, Temescal, and Piedmont Ave. The fresh corn tortillas are so tender—almost a revelation. Fillings are always packed with flavor, complemented by dialed-in salsas like a peanut-arbol chile one with carefully charred broccoli. There are always multiple tempting vegan tacos offered, which is extremely rare to find.

420 40th St., Oakland, California, 94609, USA
Known For
  • pork chile verde taco
  • fun courtyard seating
  • truly exciting bean and cheese taco
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Wed. No lunch

The Cheese Board Collective

$ Fodor's choice

A jazz combo often entertains the line that snakes down the block outside Cheese Board Pizza; it's that good. The cooperatively owned vegetarian and vegan takeout spot and restaurant draws devoted customers with the smell of just-baked garlic on the pie of the day. For just a nibble, the Cheese Board Bakery & Cheese shop next door sells cookies, bialys, and some of the best sourdough baguettes in town.

The Marshall Store

$ Fodor's choice

It's oyster bliss at this very friendly daytime restaurant along Tomales Bay. There are a few indoor seats, but the in-demand spots are on the outside deck, where heaters keep guests somewhat warm even on the chilliest days. It's the restaurant wing of the Tomales Bay Oyster Company, so every table has one or more kind of oyster preparation (grilled, smoked, or raw). House-smoked fish and meats as plates or sandwiches round out the menu since it's probably best not to only eat oysters for lunch.

19225 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station, California, 94940, USA
Known For
  • pristine Pacific Preston Point oysters
  • local bread, cheeses, and dairy soft-serve
  • chorizo fish stew and clam chowder
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues.–Thurs. No dinner

The Village Pub

$$$$ Fodor's choice

This Woodside institution actually is a Michelin-starred fine dining destination; the only similarity with an actual pub is that the bar has its own casual menu (the main dining room is prix-fixe with multiple choices per each course) and is frequently a gathering place for well-heeled regulars. The suave dining room with red velvet chairs and booths is a beautiful backdrop for intricate dishes that often feature produce from the nearby organic SMIP Ranch. It's the flagship restaurant for a local group that includes the acclaimed Spruce in San Francisco,

1951 Coffee Company


Taking its name from the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, this nonprofit coffee shop is inspired and powered by refugees. In addition to serving high-caliber coffee drinks, local pastries, and savory bites, the colorful café also serves as an advocacy space and barista training center for refugees.

À Côté

$$ | Rockridge

This hot spot is all about seasonal and globe-spanning small plates, family-style eating, and excellent drinks. Intimate dining nooks, natural light, and a heated patio make this an ideal destination for couples, families, and the after-work crowd.

5478 College Ave., Oakland, California, 94618, USA
Known For
  • Pernod mussels cooked in the wood oven
  • flatbreads
  • global and regional wine list
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch



San Jose’s only Michelin-starred restaurant and the most ambitious destination for Portuguese-influenced cuisine in the Bay Area is this fantastic tasting menu-only spot. Seven-course dinners weave together meat and seafood plates, where the Portuguese fish staple of bacalhau (codfish) might be incorporated into a cannelloni, before leading to a delicately seared A5 Wagyu dish. Each plate is meticulously composed and presented. The sharp design carries over to the pleasantly quiet bistro-like space with fine glassware, tablecloth-free tables, a glass-enclosed wine cellar, and a striking blue-and-white tile mosaic covering one wall.

1614 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose, California, 95116, USA
Known For
  • San Jose's most ambitious restaurant
  • enormous selection of Portuguese wines
  • fantastic pastries and desserts
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch

Alice's Restaurant


At the prominent intersection of Skyline Boulevard and Highway 84, this indoor-outdoor restaurant is a landmark for weekend breakfast and lunch. Alice's is surrounded by redwood trees, so sitting outside at the picnic benches is beautiful but almost always on the chilly side. The inside is like a cozy alpine diner situated in a wooden cabin.