If you’re in the Financial District, you’re probably here to stare at a computer screen for nine hours before rushing home around 5pm. And while most of your meals in this corporate zone probably involve fast-casual soup and salads, there are some incredible restaurants here, too. That’s why we have this guide. From laid-back wine bars and casual ramen shops to an impressive 15-course omakase, these are the best places to eat in the Financial District.
There are some great underground lounges and fancy cocktail bars in the Financial District, but none are as cool, lively, or laid back as Verjus. This natural wine shop and restaurant plays old records, and the wine is organized on book shelves that reach the top of the shiny red ceilings. You will browse them for a new favorite bottle before sitting in the big cozy booth next to the bar to drink orange Chenin Blanc or split French and Spanish small plates with friends. Everything at Verjus is good, but we like the pate en croute, and if you’re in the mood for something sweet, get the french toast - it’s one of the best desserts in the city.
If you work in FiDi, you may need to meet up with important clients or coworkers for breakfast, and when that’s the case you should head to Boulette’s Larder. It’s technically not in FiDi (it’s close by in the Ferry Building), and looks like a French billionaire’s breakfast nook. They also make some of the best breakfast in the city, like omelets and scrambled eggs that are so light, Nike should consider putting them in their running shoes.
You may not have time to sneak out for a two-hour power lunch at a fancy FiDi restaurant with white tablecloths, but you can go to Homage LTD and eat like you did. This small, fast-casual spot is the offshoot of the original Homage in Union Square, and serves a constantly-changing California menu that has everything from chicken tartine to radicchio salad. And if you get here and find that your afternoon meeting just got pushed, they also have beer and wine.
Whether you live near the Financial District or in the Sunset, The Shota is one of the few FiDi restaurants worth making a special trip for. They serve a 15-course mix of incredible kaiseki and omakase dishes, but the kaiseki dishes take this place over the top. Bites of uni pate are delivered in gold orbs and tender tuna are brought out in glass domes full of smoke. The sushi is simple (most pieces get nothing more than a little freshly grated wasabi and a brush of soy sauce), but is some of the best in the city.
This offshoot of Saison can get expensive (around $100 per person), but they serve some of the most creative and delicious seafood in the city. (Seriously, when was the last time you had salt-and-pepper blowfish tails or tuna tartare with tomato jelly?) Angler’s pretty heavy on the we-need-to-impress-some-clients crowd (it is on Embarcadero, after all), and this bright, lively place - with service that rivals the kind bestowed to King Louis XIV - is great for celebratory group dinners or dates with cocktails and small plates.
It’s easy to glaze over the Embarcadero Center if you’re in search of great food. For starters, most of the restaurants are forgettable fast-casual chains, and no one really wants to get lost inside this 1970s concrete maze. But if you blatantly ignore everything here, you’ll miss the ramen at Kirimachi, which is on the corner of 3 Embarcadero Center. They make their noodles in house and it pays off because they’re chewy and delicious. We like the chuuka men ramen with yuzu - it’s light and refreshing, and won’t make you overly full for the rest of the day.
Like hitting on 12 in blackjack or cuing up Neil Diamond at a karaoke bar, reserving a table at Trestle is generally a great idea, especially if you’re on a date. The three-course prix fixe menu at this small corner spot on Columbus Ave. changes every day, but the food is always fantastic. At $39 per person, it’s one of the most affordable date options around, but if you have an extra $10 you shouldn’t overlook the pasta courses you can add-on. Whether they have puttanesca or cacio e pepe, they’ll be just as delicious as the incredible soup or fish, and more than that, the extra course gives you more time to get to know each other.
There aren’t a lot of Greek restaurants in San Francisco, but even if there were places on every corner (Souvla is trying), Kokkari would still be one of the best. Everything at this place from kolokithokeftethes (crispy zucchini cakes) to their braised lamb shank that falls off the bone is delicious, and the roaring fireplace is a great backdrop for any birthday or special occasion. This place only takes reservations over the phone, and even if you hate dialing more than paying your actual phone bill, it’s worth it.
The perfect day in San Francisco involves a stop at Tadich Grill. The current iteration has been here since the ’60s, and so little has changed that you could believe Kennedy was still President. And while you can drop in to the oldest restaurant in the state for scallops, prawns, or sole a la newburg, the best way to do Tadich is to sit at the long bar and order a martini or a cup of classic clam chowder.
Wayfare Tavern is one of the coziest places in the Financial District. It has taxidermied animals, William Morris wallpaper, and a big fireplace that will make you want to kick back and read a leather-bound Dickens novel. The food is a mix of classic tavern dishes from oysters to bone marrow, and comfort food - there’s mac and cheese and an incredible burger with melted brie - exactly the things you should eat to forget you just spent the better part of your day in an office.
Leo’s looks like a ’50s Hollywood bar that decided to do tropical theme night with checkerboard tiles, wicker stools, and wild plant wallpaper. We love coming here for dates, birthdays, and pretty much any other time we want to feel more famous than we are in real life. Making your way through the cocktails and oysters is a good way to start a night here, but if you’re more hungry we like the mushroom linguini (it’s big enough to split between three people) and the $30 lobster roll.
The mushroom risotto at Perbacco is the best in the city, but if fancy rice dishes aren’t enough to sell you on dinner, everything at this Italian restaurant in the center of the Financial District is incredible. The dishes here aren’t meant to be shared, but that shouldn’t stop you from ordering tender short ribs or tajarin pasta with pork sugo for the table and trading bites - you won’t want to miss anything. This place is one of the last great white tablecloth fine-dining restaurants in town, and should be at the top of your list.