Restaurant Week San Francisco: What You Need to Know
Crooners leave their hearts in San Francisco; Michelin Guide inspectors leave stars. Whole galaxies’ worth, in fact: When the 2019 awardees were announced recently, the city decisively retained its title as the three-star restaurant capital of the nation.
You want a taste of that? Of course you do. And now’s one of the best times to get it—not just at the Michelin-starred restaurants, but across the epic food scene. San Francisco Restaurant Week runs Jan. 23-31, when almost 130 restaurants will offer value-packed prix-fixe menus. Two-course lunches will go for $15 and $25, three-or-more-course dinners for $40 and $65. Here are a few of the spots we’ve got eyes on.
Michelin-starred Luce is a great place to start. Those notoriously hard-to-please inspectors were almost as taken with the backdrop—all “soaring ceilings, dark and dramatic spherical lights…and cushioned banquettes”—as with Chef Daniel Corey’s globally influenced, locally sourced creations. Yes, the date-night vibes here are strong, and the $65 Restaurant Week dinner menu will back you up with a luscious roasted Kabocha squash glazed in brown sugar and dressed with winter citrus and pistachio; lemon verbena-steamed Gulf snapper with roasted sweet gems, cauliflower and hazelnuts; and lavender-infused panna cotta with grapefruit, candied pine nuts and honey.
Also Michelin-starred, also monosyllabic, also ending in “-uce” is Chef Mark Sullivan’s Spruce, a hyper-seasonal, mohair-walled love letter to California dining. The $25 Restaurant Week lunch menu features a baby kale Caesar salad with shaved parmesan and an anchovy tuile; duck confit with cauliflower, turnips and Bordelaise Sauce; and a toffee verrine with salted-butterscotch custard and a chocolate chip cookie.
Bellota’s a must for the paella alone, and the $25 Restaurant Week lunch serves up one of chef Ryan McIlwraith’s most intriguing versions in the form of an arroz negro: creamy black rice with gulf shrimp, scallops, green beans, roasted red pepper and squid ink. You’ll also find beloved bravas—crisped Kennebec potatoes with chipotle salsa and a smoky aioli.
Local foodie power couple Craig and Annie Stoll have two participating restaurants: the casual-Italian Delfina, where the $40 Restaurant Week dinner menu is your chance to try the likes of their Parmigiano sformato with chestnuts, brown butter and aged balsamico, or a goat cheese francobolli with steelhead roe and cucumber. Up the street, Locanda offers deep idiosyncratic cuts on Roman cuisine for that same $40; try the chicken alla Romana with tomato, little potatoes, fermented cayenne, capers and white wine; and cap it off with a slice of clementine pudding cake.
While we’re dropping big names, throwback American spot Wayfare Tavern from Tyler Florence and Scott Quinn serves up a legendary organic fried chicken. Thank your food gods that this one—brined in buttermilk, cooked sous vide and then fried to order—is part of the $40 Restaurant Week dinner menu, and comes with a butter lettuce salad and house-made doughnuts with streusel glaze and whipped crème fraiche.
And now for something completely different: the Cheese School of San Francisco—one of the nation’s best—recently (and conveniently) relocated to a light and airy space at Ghirardelli Square. Because who doesn’t want chocolate after their cheese? Beyond classes—they’ll teach you everything from how to sniff Brie to what cheeses to pair with wine and beer— the school has a café that’s offering a $25 lunch menu during Restaurant Week. Get the grilled cheese with Hook’s 5-year cheddar, Point Reyes Toma (clearly, a popular local choice), and Nicasio Valley San Geronimo—the combo makes for the ultimate Bay Area comfort food.