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The Best SF Restaurants For Dinner With The Parents

PHOTO: Gaby Esensten

So, your parents are in town and you need to get some dinners planned. Reservations are required, because no dads we know enjoy wandering around the Mission in search of a Dewars & water when they find out that Flour and Water has a 28 hour wait.

Besides that, the food needs to be great but not too adventurous and the volume levels need to be at a level that doesn’t require cross-table yelling. And bonus points if it’s on the pricey side since they’re probably treating. There are lot of things to take into consideration. So to help you please the people that created you, we made a list of our favorite places to take the parentals when they come to town.


Old school menu items with modern ingredients like kale and pork belly combined with country club vibes make this a family favorite. Definitely get the ribeye for two to share. Just have Dad pop some Lipitor ahead of time.


Insanely good pasta and pizza and cheese and wine and dessert in a dim, comfortable space in a neighborhood that won’t get your parents convincing you to stock up on pepper spray. Cotogna is pretty much perfect for any occasion, including hosting mom and dad.



1911 Fillmore St.

This might seem like a bold choice, but if your parents are food people who appreciate a fine uni carbonara and don’t have to ask what uni is before ordering it, take them to SPQR. It’s ambitious and f*cking tasty and competes for the best pasta in the city.



140 New Montgomery St. #1

Parents in town can be a great time to treat yo self. Massages, mimosas, fine leather goods, and generally spectacular Moroccan food are all key to such a day, and your parents will enjoy Mourad a lot. The vibe is a little gaudy, but the rest of the crowd is on the older side and once you get your hands on the excellent chicken and flatbreads you’ll only have eyes for your plates.


Kokkari is where we go to worship meats and feel like adults. Naturally, your carnivorous parents will love this since presumably they are adults and they have good taste in food. A little on the fancier side, Kokkari always delivers and always impresses. Definitely start with some zucchini cakes.


If your parents happen to be very liberal/nature-loving and also OK dropping money on small plates that are delicious and tiny, book a table at The Perennial. The space is gorgeous, the cocktails are strong and tasty and you can all pat yourselves on the back for fighting climate change with your cauliflower toast.


A 16

2355 Chestnut St.

Everybody likes pizza. And if you don’t, get out. The pizza at A16 is some of the best in the city, the dark, cozy vibes and long wine list make any Chardonnay-loving mother jump for joy and the small plates and pastas are all excellent too. Just make sure mom and dad bring their reading glasses for the menu.


My mom loves sushi. Maybe yours does too. For the braver parents who are very into raw fish, Akiko’s Restaurant is the place to go. The omakase is unreal, and not as wildly expensive as some of the other options. It’s near Union Square, so if they happen to be staying there, even better. The monkfish liver will change your world.



1001 Guerrero St.

Aster is the move with parents who appreciate beautiful food and aren’t looking for a white tablecloth formal dining room. Big windows, corner location, potted plants, artisan and complex light fixtures, the food is West Coast chill meets fancy pants culinary stylist and your dinner will be very, very good.


Bobo's Lounge

1450 Lombard St

Some parents (hey Phil) are a little more on the traditional side. They might request steak. Or seafood. Or a 6pm dinner. Maybe they want the steak AND the crab. And that’s where Bobo’s comes in. It’s very old school and it’s very, very good. Ignore the Lombard Street location and get over there. Extra points for comfy leather booths and chairs.



Pier 5, Embarcadero Dr.

An ideal place to be reminded that San Francisco is on the water. Coqueta is a place to get your meats (specifically jamon) on in a stunning space on the Embarcadero. Take mom and dad and they might stop their never-ending hints that it might be time for you to move back to Boston. Pan con tomate, albondigas, pinxtos - all the tapas at Coqueta are superb and hopefully your parents love you enough to let you eat the last spicy shrimp.


Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission St.

I went here with my mom and she sat in her rental car with the doors locked until I got there. Fair enough, Sasha. But once you’re inside Foreign Cinema, even the most country mice of parents will be on-board. The California meets Mediterranean food is stellar, the space is beautiful, and if you can get outdoor seats, the old movies playing on the wall are a memorable touch. Sometimes overlooked since it’s been around a while, Foreign Cinema is always a good choice.


Strong pasta and small plates in a cute space in Russian Hill, Seven Hills keeps the parents happy. If you have siblings or aunts and uncles in tow, or just a very hungry gene pool, the family style menu is a good way to get a little bit of everything. And maybe even have some leftovers to take home.


Popovers, popover, popovers. Try not to stuff your face with these despite their insane addictiveness. Wayfare Tavern is a classic spot and a very safe place to bring anyone craving traditional American food. There’s an awesome burger, a solid steak, and great sides like a mac and cheese that will make you nostalgic for childhood. If your mom knew how to cook like Tyler Florence.

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