The Toughest Reservations In SF Right Now (And How To Get Them) guide image


The Toughest Reservations In SF Right Now (And How To Get Them)

Our thoughts on the busiest restaurants in SF and advice on how to get a table.

At any given time, there are a handful of SF restaurants where trying to get a table is like trying to sprint up the Filbert steps while singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the top of your lungs—you just can’t. Right now, these are those restaurants. The spots on this list aren’t necessarily the best restaurants in the city, but they are the hardest places to book a reservation. We think you should know if they’re actually worth the effort, and if so, the best way to go about getting in. Below, you’ll find our verdicts, along with info that’ll help you snag that table (or bar seat). Check back for regular updates. 


photo credit: Mary Lagier

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Liholiho Yacht Club


871 Sutter St, San Francisco
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Verdict: Liholiho Yacht Club in Lower Nob Hill went dark for two years (and, no, that’s not counting their temporary pandemic-era pop-up in the Mission). And now that they’re back, securing a prime-time table at this “heritage-driven” spot is like going after Warriors playoff tickets. Keep at it. This is a flat-out exciting place to eat dinner, based on the dishes alone. Melt-in-your-mouth shaved pig’s head is brightened up with a zippy frisee salad. And the torched baked Hawaii is filled with coconut POG sorbet you’ll want to devour on every birthday. 

How To Get In: Reservations are released 14 days in advance at 10pm on Resy. They also accept walk-ins, even for bar seating.

Verdict: San Ho Won is one of the best new restaurants to open in SF recently. Their double-cut galbi is now the stuff of legend, and we have recurring dreams about their bubbling, spicy chicken tteokbokki. The upscale Korean restaurant is straight-up phenomenal, so expect to think about this meal for months after. 

How To Get In: Reservations are released 29 days in advance at 10am on Tock. They also accept a couple of walk-ins at 5pm when they open (we’ve seen people line up as early as 4:30pm). There’s no waitlist, so if you don’t get the one or two available tables, come back around 9pm when they'll start to free up. 

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Verdict: This six-seat restaurant in Lower Haight is the best place for omakase in the city. Dinner at this tiny spot feels like an intimate dinner party consisting of 14 courses ($225) of incredible nigiri, sashimi, and small plates like silky chawanmushi and poached ikura in rock sugar and ume broth. Every moment of the meal makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room, so you’ll want to get here for the next special night out.

How To Get In: Reservations are released 21 days in advance at 11pm on Resy. Since there are only six seats inside and two seatings per night, this spot books up pretty fast. Another option is to keep an eye on their Instagram stories for last-minute (and usually day-of) openings. 

Verdict: State Bird Provisions is our highest-rated restaurant, so no surprise here—it’s absolutely worth the effort to get a table. The Fillmore spot is small plates royalty, and watching servers push around cumin lamb dumplings and herby pork belly salad on dim sum-style carts and trays (and eating everything in sight) is our idea of a perfect night.    

How To Get In: Reservations are released 30 days in advance at midnight on OpenTable. The bar is reserved for walk-ins. According to SBP, a line starts forming outside about half an hour in advance, so plan accordingly. 

Verdict: Handroll Project is the rare SF restaurant dedicated solely to serving omakase-style hand rolls, which is one reason why the hype around this spot has rivaled that of a Lightning McQueen Croc drop. The other is that the rice and fish pockets, which are filled with well-balanced combinations of ikura and uni or miso scallops and avocado, are flawless. 

How To Get In: The Mission spot recently started accepting reservations, which means you no longer have to battle the other raw fish enthusiasts for one of just 14 seats. Reservations are released 30 days in advance at 8pm on Resy. They’ll still save a few seats for walk-ins every night, so you can always try showing up early. If you have to wait, grab a drink nearby at ABV or Etcetera Wine Bar

Verdict: Dinner at Good Good Culture Club in the Mission is like eating in a tropical oasis, whether you’re sitting inside their lively, bright dining room or on the rooftop deck filled with plants and spacious booths. We love coming here to dig into their eclectic, mostly Asian-inspired dishes—the stuffed chicken wings with adobo glaze, refreshing crying tiger shrimp, and Lao sausage should all be on your table, full stop.

How To Get In: Reservations are released 14 days in advance at 10pm on Resy. They do set a few tables aside for walk-ins every night, so our recommendation is to show up before or around 5pm when you’ll probably be seated quickly (especially if you come on a Wednesday or Thursday). Also check out their entire page dedicated to walk-in tips.

Verdict: This Italian restaurant in the Financial District has been around for years, and is still holding it down in the housemade pasta department. Their face-sized raviolo filled with ricotta and egg yolk is the best version you can find in the city. And seasonally changing dishes, like corn triangoli or tomato and Romano bean bruschetta, are perfectly executed every time. If you’ve never been or are overdue for a revisit, consider this your sign to get here.

How To Get In: Reservations are released 30 days in advance on SevenRooms. Or you can walk up and try to go for a seat at the bar. If you want to avoid the dinner rush, come during lunch when it’s less busy—they serve mostly the same menu. 

Verdict: Like a 2000s pop playlist, Rich Table never gets old. This Hayes Valley spot has only gotten better over the years, and we have full faith it’ll still be packed nightly even after 3D-printed cars become a thing. The frequently changing dishes excite us every time we come back, including bread with actual Douglas fir infused into it, and pork schnitzel topped with silky mapo tofu. 

How To Get In: Reservations are released 30 days in advance at midnight on Resy. Walk-ins are welcome at the bar.

Verdict: This Mission spot is an iconic Cal-Ital restaurant you should try at least once. Their rotating housemade pastas combine ingredients you’d never think would go together, like corn and cheese-stuffed cappelletti that's topped with mint, and cocoa and rutabaga casoncelli. 

How To Get In: Reservations are released 28 days in advance at midnight on Resy. They also save space for walk-ins (grab a glass of wine and a snack down the street at Flour + Water Pasta Shop if you have to wait). You can also see if their more casual but just as fantastic sister spot, Penny Roma (also in the Mission), has any open tables. 

Verdict: Scoring a reservation at “normal” dining hours (read: not 9:30pm) at Ernest feels like getting an invite to an exclusive supper club. The Mission restaurant buzzes with excitement, and excels at zhuzhing up seasonal seafood dishes found at most restaurants in town with creative twists. Beef tartare is served over sushi rice, topped with ikura and wrapped in nori, and slices of fresh salmon get a sweet kick from dollops of corn pudding. And for dessert, someone will pour magic shell chocolate over soft serve tableside.

How To Get In: Reservations are released 30 days in advance at midnight on Resy. Walk-ins are available at the bar only.

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