The 38 Essential Restaurants in San Francisco
A guide to the best restaurants in San Francisco for any dining occasion

The Eater 38 is our attempt to answer any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” It’s a curated list that covers the entire city, spanning numerous cuisines, neighborhoods, and price points. It’s a list that tells the story of San Francisco through food, documenting the blend of taquerias, dumpling shops, and tasting menu destinations that make this city one of the most interesting places to eat in America. These are the places you don’t want to miss on your first trip to the Bay Area, and the ones worth returning to even if you’ve lived here for decades.

And because we want to make sure this list reflects the ever-changing nature of San Francisco’s vibrant dining scene, we update the Eater 38 on a quarterly basis, adding restaurants that were previously overlooked, are newly eligible (Eater 38 restaurants must have been open for six months), or have stepped up their game. Sometimes a still great restaurant makes way for another one, in order to keep things new and fresh — and, importantly, to make sure that the Eater 38 is an inclusive and representative list.

China Live
George Chen’s massive Chinese food emporium is certainly an elevated way to experience all that San Francisco’s Chinatown has to offer. But if you want to try a wide variety of dishes — from fried scallion pancakes to soup dumplings to Peking duck to charred Chinese broccoli — this is probably your best bet for a one-stop shop. Plus, the open kitchen means you can watch the culinary team at work, wrapping dumplings and wok-frying rice. On your way out don’t forget to stop at the marketplace to stock up on housemade condiments, and if you’re looking to extend the night, try the upstairs bar Cold Drinks Bar, where the menu centers around smokey scotch-based cocktails. – Eater San Francisco (01.09.23)