13 Most Romantic Restaurants in San Francisco

January 13, 2022

From the cheery historic cable cars to the awe-inspiring views of the Golden Gate Bridge, there are so many iconic attractions and sights to soak in.

Whether you are searching for jaw-dropping Bay views or a bite of their uniquely famous bread salad, we have you covered with our guide to the most romantic restaurants in San Francisco.

Although locals may have officially retired the moniker 'Paris of the West,' it's not hard to see why the city by the Bay earned this esteemed title.

Much like its famous fog, the architecture, culture, and history seep into every corner of San Francisco. However, many of San Francisco's treasures are not located on its rolling hills but on a plate.

This culinary mecca boasts over 4,000 restaurants (54 of which covet Michelin stars.) Along with unbeatable access to fresh, local ingredients.

There is no better place for food-focused couples to celebrate the bounty of West Coast culinary culture than the Golden Gate City. 

San Francisco Hotels

Stroll down Fisherman's Wharf, a cup of piping hot clam chowder in hand, or line up at Boudin's to devour the freshest sourdough boule you've ever sunk your teeth into. 

Whether you choose to spend your time in the Golden City unearthing the dark history of Alcatraz or just eating your way through the Mission, a few days in San Francisco is never enough.

Extend your time with the one you love in the city you love by booking any number of our San Francisco Hotels.

Relish sleek, modern amenities by Union Square, or stay at a historic boutique hotel and lap up that quaint coastal charm. 

Wherever you choose to kick back with your honey and savor your alone time stress-free, know you are always guaranteed our lowest rates.

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Romantic San Francisco Restaurants

View of the outdoor lounge area with black and white stripped chairs with fire pits in the middle and plants lining the outer edge at Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Charmaine's via Facebook

Charmaine's Rooftop Bar & Lounge

Rooftop views always rev up the romance, and Charmaine's Rooftop Bar & Lounge is no exception.

Revel in the twinkling lights of the cityscape, and warm your hands over the glowing embers of the firepit, when you and your sophisticated date snag a reservation at this Proper Hotel hotspot.

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Recently bestowed the title as one of the best rooftop bars in the city. In no small part due to its chic ambiance, vibrant cocktail concoctions, and Instagram-worthy decor.

Charmaine's cocktail program is known for its inventive syrups and bitters. So be sure to try one of their signature drinks, such as the 'Kissin' in the California Sun.' It's composed of Absolut, Orgeat, Crème de Pêche, Cranberry, and Lime.

Order a bevy of smaller plates to share and soak up those drinks. Try the pretzel rolls, served with smoked pimento cheese dip. We also love the pork belly skewers dusted with black sesame. Or the grilled Japanese meatballs accompanied by egg yolk jam.

A bar right a white counter top and leather stools plus red caged light fixtures hanging above the bar at Empress by Boon in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Empress by Boon via Facebook

Empress by Boon

All hail the mighty Empress! Prepare to 'wow' your partner when you treat them to an evening of modern Cantonese cuisine at Empress.

Helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Ho Chee Boon, Empress' exquisite moody interior sets it apart from the crowd the moment you enter. 

Formerly the banquet hall of the Empress of China, this reimagined space delivers stunning views of the city skyline, framed by opulent details such as an antique pergola from Taiwan and an authentic tea lounge.

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Once you've absorbed your fill of sexy leather banquets and Asian inspired window dressing, settle in for a sumptuous cocktail such as the woodsy 'A Place Beyond the Pines' featuring Suntory Toki, Douglas Fir Eau de Vie, Sweet Vermouth, and Orange before salivating over Boon's exceptional tasting menu.

Begin with small bites, such as Crispy Truffle Rice Puff garnished with Burgundy fall truffle and shimeji mushrooms, before moving on to tender dumplings, hand-pulled seafood noodles, and a delicate red wine and black pepper braised Beef Tenderloin.

A long bar with blue tile, a black countertop, and wooden stools with different fruits and cups lining the bar and a wall full of alcoholic behind the bar at Aziza in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Aziza via Facebook

Aziza

Are you dreaming of a mystical Moroccan getaway? While we may not be able to jet off to Casablanca for a romantic rendezvous in the near future, we can feast on couscous, shakshuka, and more at Aziza.

Inject some spice and spunk into your typical date night proceedings when you saunter into Aziza's sexy tiled interior. Their 'green room' is outfitted in a mysterious jungle wall print and the creamy leathery banquets evoke all the right date night feels.

Split a full-bodied Tempranillo and order 'tapas style' to spread out the spice and flavor of these ethereal dishes. 

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The eggplant done up with black olive jam, pequillo, almond, and currants is heavenly, and we can never say no to the lamb and beef kefta and braised lamb shank.

A bright yellow pasta dish on a black plate with a white back ground from La Ciccia in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: La Ciccia via Facebook

La Ciccia

An unmatched wine list, oodles of Sardinian specialties, and a cozy, intimate environment make La Ciccia a slam dunk for any Italian-inspired date night. 

Situated on the edge of Noe Valley, this eatery is determined to take your tastebuds to Sardinia. 

Prime your palate for some pungent plates. The chef utilizes native Sardinian ingredients to create bold dishes that blur the line between sweet, savory, and spicy.

Sommeliers will adore that the wine list is 100% Italian and contains over 160 labels from every region.

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Debate whether to order a bottle of red or white before diving into some serious seafood. Devour the smokey baby octopus stew in a spicy tomato sauce and then sample their crave-worthy pasta.

Twirl up tasty forkfuls of Pasta Longa a su Nieddu. A fresh fettuccine seafood dish served with citrus zest. Or try the artisanal Fusilli with Sea Urchin, Tomato, and Grated Tuna Heart.                     

Wide shot of the outdoor dining area with simple wooden tables and chairs and string lights hung above them at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Foreign Cinema via Facebook

Foreign Cinema

A San Francisco classic that oozes sophistication and class, Foreign Cinema puts its unique spin on the traditional dinner and movie date.

Cinema-loving couples will be enthralled by the movie-like magic and romance achieved by this esteemed eaterie's draped fairy lights and the classic films projected on the back wall of their enchanting courtyard.

Keep the San Francisco fog at Bay while cozying up under the restaurant's many heat lamps. 

Lock eyes with your lover under the glow of the candlelit table and cheers with a rousing glass of Bordeaux or Burgundy as you peruse their diverse menu.

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Play to the Bay area's strengths and order a mess of East Coast Oysters and Dungeness Crab to sample before chowing down on inventive mains such as Madras curry sesame fried chicken served with cabbage slaw and feta and cilantro sauce and honey, or a hearty seafood stew made with local halibut in a red coconut curry sauce. 

Looking at the exterior of Waterbar with people sitting in their out door dining area under large umbrellas and a beautiful view of the water and bridge behind it with lights on in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Ryan Beck via Facebook

Waterbar

Dine so close to the Golden Gate waterfront you can hear the lull of the lightly crashing waves. 

Serving up premier panoramic views of the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Treasure Island, and an abundance of sustainable seafood, Waterbar is the place to be for an unforgettable evening.

Have that camera handy, as you'll want to snap plenty of cute couple selfies not just of the stunning city skyline but the restaurant's floor-to-ceiling aquariums.

Whether you reserve a table al fresco or dine inside, you are in for one excellent seafood supper. 

For special occasions, you must splurge on the 'Seafood Indulgence' featuring blue crab, lobster, tiger prawns, clams, oysters, and snow crab. 

As for entrees, go to town on the Pan Roasted Black Cod caught right in Bragg, California, or the Seared Wild Striped Bass from Montauk, New York.

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Still longing for something sweet? Share the sugar (and the love) with your partner by splitting Macadamia Nut Creme Brulee or a perfectly warmed and gooey Nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookie.

A small pile of ravioli pasta with a creamy muted yellow sauce on a matte grey plate from Penny Roma in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Penny Roma via Facebook

Penny Roma

The new kid on the block, Penny Roma, is the brainchild behind the renowned chefs of the Flour + Water Hospitality Group Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow.

The epitome of casual California elegance, these two auteurs sought to bring the laid-back feel of a dinner party to the Mission District. 

Inspired by the classic flavors and simplicity of traditional Italian cooking, Penny Roma is a homage to the transformative power of well-executed seasonal ingredients.

Sit back and relax in their dimly lit courtyard and jam out to their inviting whole album playlist as you dive into their approachable wine list. 

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Pasta is the go-to here, and we recommend savoring a few. The Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese made with veal bolognese is top notch, and the Fregola Sardafennel soffritto, made with a mess of mussels, saffron, and botarga is a thing of beauty.

Close up photo of several different bottles of wine from Californios in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Californios SF via Facebook

Californios

Michelin stars and Mexican food are truly a match made in heaven! So fulfill your wildest foodie fantasies when you break bread at Californios.

Marvel at the perfectly balanced interplay of Mexican and Californian flavors at this two Michelin star awarded eatery in San Francisco's LGBTQ Cultural District. Chef Val M. Cantu deftly delivers an eclectic and creative nightly tasting menu utilizing the most bountiful produce and ingredients of the Bay Area.

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Enjoy playful and professional presentation worthy of its own art opening as you savor mouthfuls of an Oaxacan green masa tart filled with smoked sturgeon mousse or a mini infladita filled with guajillo chileatole and topped with Hokkaido uni. 

Like nothing you have ever tasted before, Californios truly is modern Mexican reinvented. 

A dining room with large windows on the left and a black and white mural on the back wall with wooden tables and chairs plus a large gold floral chandelier at Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Mister Jiu's via Facebook

Mister Jiu's

An elevated upscale atmosphere plus delectable Chinese American fare makes dinner at Mister Jiu's a memorable romantic occasion any night of the week.

Their greenery and light-filled spacious dining room is peppered with golden lotus chandeliers that only add to the Asian allure and scenic views of historic Chinatown.

Hold hands with your honey underneath the mahogany wood tables, and prime your tastebuds for some James Beard-nominated eats.

Kick things off with one of Jiu's homemade cocktails (all named after Chinese virtues) such as the 'harmony.' It's a mix of Bourbon, Jasmine rice milk, and peanut. Or try the 'tranquility' composed of Ahus Akvavit, Citrus, Ginger, and Fennel Honey.

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Impress your date by ordering with aplomb! Begin with the squid ink wontons and an order of the flakiest scallion pancakes. Then, tuck into the incredible whole Peking roast duck. It's served with homemade pancakes and peanut butter hoisin.

View of the entrance to Top of the Mark, a black awning with gold accents on a white brick building in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Top of the Mark via Facebook

Top of the Mark

Nestled into the luxurious neighborhood of Nob Hill lies the timelessly chic Top of the Mark. A San Francisco institution delivering breathtaking Bay views for over 80 years. This dazzling sky lounge is the place to be seen.

Housed on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental, this storied bar and restaurant weave a fascinating legacy. 

In the early days of WWII, US soldiers would come here for one last send-off drink before shipping off. The tradition was that the departing serviceman would buy and leave a bottle in the bartender's care. Then the next soldier leaving from their squadron could enjoy a drink.

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Toast to their honor, and spoil your significant other with the Mark's 360-degree panoramic vistas. Meanwhile, peruse their signature martini menu (featuring over 100 drinks).

Imbibe the hotel's signature cocktail, the InterContinental 75. Made with Botanist Islay dry gin, lavender-infused honey, lemon, Bee Pollen, and topped with Piper-Heidsieck Brut.

Temper your growing hunger with Sonoma County Goat Cheese Fundido. It's topped with pickled Calabrian chiles, prosciutto, and fig flatbread. Or, try some dynamite short rib sliders.

A log red with heat on coals with a piece of sushi on it at Robin in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Robin via Facebook

Robin

Is sushi your love language? If so, swoon over sashimi, nigiri, and more at this casual-cool omakase hotspot.

Robin seeks to put a contemporary spin on traditional omakase. Ideal for the Instagram obsessed, this Japanese eatery is not one to compromise on quality or style. Neon lights adorn the walls, and poppy pink tiles decorate the dining room. Similarly, the bathroom contains a floor entirely made of pennies.

Doing away with much of the pretense that can accompany an omakase experience, the process is thoughtfully personalized at Robin. Prices range from $89 to $189. Let your server know your budget, and they'll customize your number of courses.

Linger over bites of melt in your mouth toro, creamy uni, and nigiri made with potato chips and caviar.

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Other incredible omakase standouts included their springy cold sesame noodles with shaved truffles. As well as the Crab-Meyer roll served with lemon aioli, avocado, and wasabi.

Close up shot of a window with Absinthe Brasserie & Bar printed on it in gold with people on the other side dining in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Absinthe Brasserie & Bar via Facebook

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

Oscar Wilde once said, "what is the difference between a glass of absinthe and a sunset." While there is undoubtedly poetry within this magical elixir. We thoroughly recommend mixing it with food for the most favorable results.

Shake up your typical date night routine with a visit from the green fairy at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar. A go-to destination for the cocktail curious, this brasserie is bursting with Parisian charm. 

Get cozy in the formal dining room furnished with plush chairs and hand-painted murals of the garden of Versailles. Or perch at the bistro-like tables by the bar.

Feel your blood pumping with the aptly named 'corpse reviver' consisting of gin, Curaçao, Lillet Blanc, absinthe, and lemon. Meanwhile, deciding what delicious French and Mediterranean inspired fare to tuck into. 

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Meanwhile, Marvel at their contemporary take on a salad nicoise made with yellowfin tuna carpaccio. Or, keep it classic with the Niman Ranch Beef Tartare. Served with pickled mushrooms, quail egg yolk, chili oil, and gaufrettes.

Keep things French with the soothing and succulent glazed beef short rib bourguignon. Accompanied by carrot puree, shaved celery, and crispy sweetbreads.

Close up photo of a breakfast of gourmet eggs and veggies from Zuni Café in San Francisco, California, USA

photo credit: Zuni Café via Facebook

Zuni Café

Did you even go to San Francisco if you didn't make it to Zunis? Flex your foodie knowledge by snagging you and your sweetie a seat at this esteemed cafe.

For over 40 years, Zunis has delighted tourists and locals alike with its phenomenal Californian-influenced cuisine. With fresh everchanging dishes capitalizing on French and Italian cuisine elements, Zunis is a surefire hit.

Amp up the amor by grabbing a table on the second level overlooking the street. Or for a quick bite, sidle up to their zinc bar for a legendary cocktail or two.

While you can't go wrong with anything on this menu, you must order their Cesar salad and wood-fired roast chicken for two. It's garnished with garlic, mustard greens, dried currants, and pine nuts. 

People watch to your heart's content as you gaze out through the warmly illuminated floor-to-ceiling windows. Meanwhile, nibbling on a Zuni Cookie plate filled with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with walnuts and dried cherries. Or try the cinnamon sugar graham crackers and cocoa wafers, served with dulce de leche. 

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Mist-filled mornings and the appeal of the Golden Gate Bridge factor into making San Francisco a romantic destination beyond reproach.

However, behind the spellbinding architecture and the Bay's natural beauty lies a food scene begging to be uncovered.

Whether you crave dim sum or a seafood tower worthy of Poseidon, the Golden City promises to deliver a decadent dinner for two. 

Which is Your Favorite Romantic Restaurant in San Francisco?

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