We’re not completely sure what the difference between dinner with friends who happen to be female and a full-on Girls’ Night Out is, but we suspect it has something to do with the presence of sauvignon blanc and the absence of buffalo wings.
Whether or not this is correct, planning a night out with your lady crew is now a little bit easier. These places are generally fun, mostly not impossible to get into, and have menus that should keep your whole group happy. How many bottles of wine you order is up to you.
Just on the edge of the Mission, Tawla is centrally located for when you use a decorative conch shell to summon your crew and all your friends must run across the city Anchorman-style to assemble. Once you’re there, the menu is meant for sharing and the Mediterranean food is phenomenal. It’s not hard to get a reservation, and the menu covers vegetarians, pescetarians, or carnivores. No matter who you’re trying to accommodate, the cauliflower is necessary.
If you’ve ever been to WCW+C, it’s basically a second-grade-level girls rule, boys drool situation. The clientele is almost exclusively female at any and all hours of the day. Maybe it’s the Union St. location, maybe it’s the small plate menu, maybe it’s because we ladies have a good eye for pinot and bruschetta. Whatever the reason, West Coast is a perfect spot for a last-minute girls night with a lot of wine, classy snacks, and a damn good grilled cheese.
We love Bar Crudo for girls’ night. It’s easy to get a reservation if you plan a week or so ahead, the seafood is fantastic, and the space is nice without feeling too formal. They have an excellent happy hour deal (which includes $1 oysters and $6 wine) if you want to do an early meal, and on the regular menu the uni avocado toast and lobster, beet, and burrata salad are the moves. Lobster and burrata in one dish is like putting Channing Tatum and Charlie Hunnam in one movie together - should be illegal, will pay a lot of money to experience it.
Time to relive your semester abroad in Madrid, but this time you have money to spend and don’t have to subsist on cheese and bread and olives from the corner market. Bellota is one of our favorite spots in the city, and the space is ideal for getting a group together for dinner, wine, and discussing the pros and cons of Classpass. Definitely get a paella or two plus a few vegetable sides, and go from there.
While this sounds like a biker bar frequented by mulleted men with a penchant for leather, it’s very much the opposite. This Mission restaurant/bar specializes in all things pork and oysters (despite the fact that no one ever has called an oyster a “rock”), and it’s a reliably great time, always full of people who seem to be celebrating things like getting a killer deal on a studio apartment. The dollar-oyster happy hour goes until 6:30pm and also involves $7 cocktails. If that doesn’t sound like the makings of a great night out to you, we give up.
There’s a time and a place for Tacolicious, and Loló is the Mexican place to go when it is not that time. And that time isn’t only when you need to go to a place that actually takes reservations. Besides that delightful perk, the food is interesting and the vibe makes you feel like you could be on a beach vacation in a place where there isn’t fog cover 85% of the day. Take note: the fried brussels sprouts are stellar, and the tacos are awesome too.
Fantastic cocktails, Italian small plates, and a constantly busy vibe on a prime Mission corner keep Beretta at the top of our list. We would sell at least one-third of a kidney in exchange for a lifetime supply of the burrata with truffle honey. It’s another place where you can share everything (i.e. Katie won’t get annoying with her food envy) and even though they don’t take reservations, putting your name in and drinking some Kentucky Mules while you wait is not a bad idea.
Cala looks like a Mexico City mansion’s patio and feels a little glamorous without being pretentious. With a seafood-heavy menu that’s interesting without being challenging, the place is one of our favorites for a night of sharing lots of things and drinking many (too many) cocktails. The margaritas are the way to go and the trout tostadas are one of our favorite dishes in the city. Don’t skip the charred sweet potato - turns out it makes a very good taco filler.
Mezcalito is a place where bartenders often ignore you, and the drinks are Disney On Ice-level over-the-top. But that’s ok, because those drinks will be delicious and the surprisingly good guacamole, salmon caesar salad, and burger will keep you busy. The menu at this Russian Hill spot is nominally Mexican, but also a bit all over the place, so treat it like the first round of a choose your own adventure girls’ night. Maybe you’ll wake up in Santa Cruz tomorrow, or maybe you’ll have decided it’s finally time to dump Brian. Or maybe you’ll just be hungover.
For celebrations of all kinds - engagements, Chloe breaking up with her terrible boyfriend, a personal victory over the lady who wouldn’t move her mat at Body Temp but then turned out to suck at yoga - Leo’s is the move. The space is swanky and cool, without trying too hard to be those things, and the food and cocktails are terrific. It is, however, one of the more expensive spots in Financial District, so be prepared to pay up. The hamachi crudo is phenomenal, the toasts are all worth your time (especially the shrimp), and the raw bar is top quality too.
The food won’t blow your mind, but the sangria pitchers will set you right. Whether you’re looking for a night of playing video games at Soda Popinskis or bopping out to some Mariah Carey at Delirium, a dinner at Fresca is an ideal way to get your night going. The ceviches and skewers are solid, and the paella for the table to share is a wise maneuver.
Like that friend from high school you call and instantly talk to like you’re both still pining for Seven jeans and a North Face backpack, Delarosa is our old reliable, especially when it comes to girls’ night. The wine list isn’t too pricy and the small plates and pastas will keep all members of the gang happy. On a nice night (and once you’ve strong-armed management into turning on the heaters), the outdoor tables are prime for Chestnut Street human watching/judging while drinking a lot of wine.
Anne needs to vent about her boss, Zoe may or may not be attempting to seduce her chiropractor, and you just need to just talk through the fact that your sister is not into you visiting her on her compound in rural Ohio. Get the gang together, order some cocktails, and post up at Maven. The Haight spot is basically an institution at this point, and that’s because the drinks are great, the burger is one of the best around, and every other dish - from the duck sliders to the gnocchi - is well-done too.
The Alembic is a cocktail bar that also happens to serve absurdly good food. There are a bunch of cozy booths, so keep this in mind for girls’ nights when you can only pin four people down because everyone else is in the East Bay visiting their parents, “not drinking on weekdays,” or getting up early for bootcamp. The people you get to come to this dinner are the keepers, and they will be rewarded with delicious bone marrow, a great playlist, and excellent cocktails.
Yelling “wine on tap” is the equivalent of shouting “free puppies” in a crowded area. Out The Door has this marketing ploy going for them, as well as a lot of pretty spectacular Vietnamese noodles and stirfries. The spring rolls and crab noodles are our favorites, and the claypot chicken is also always on our table. When you add in the fact that they take reservations, this is a good spot to hit up in a pinch when all of you need a night away from your significant others and can’t handle another night of Postmating Pacific Catch and watching the Giants.