21 Top Restaurants for Every Special Occasion in San Francisco and the Bay Area

Lobster roll | Credit: RH

This summer is bound to be filled with celebrations as Californians cheers to the state reopening this week. With the wealth of great restaurants, this list has you covered with these select 21 restaurants in the Bay Area for any special occasion gathering. 

From new openings like Empress by Boon in Chinatown, standouts like State Bird Provisions in Western Addition, rooftop digs like RH in Corte Madera, to experiences like Schermeister Winery in Glen Ellen — there is something for everyone on this list. 

San Francisco 

A16 (Cow Hollow)

The pioneers of Neapolitan-style pizza in San Francisco, A16 has been churning out wood-fired pies since 2004 with the signature pillowy crust characteristic of pizza from the Campania region of Italy. The James Beard Award-winning selection, curated by wine director Shelley Lindgren, features Italian wines from Campania, Sicily, and Puglia, and you’ll also spot a few Californian names. A16’s vibe is smart casual, where diners can enjoy a special night out without going the whole nine yards. For food, a popular pick is the famous meatballs, braised in a white wine tomato sauce and topped with basil and cheese, and of course, the Margherita pizza is a classic. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, go for the fan-favorite maccaronara, a chewy pasta from the town of Nusco, with ragu, basil, and ricotta salata. 

Dining at the restaurant: Choose between indoors, a covered back patio, or the outdoor shed.

Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout and delivery. You can even get fresh pizza dough and pasta, or a Margherita pizza kit for DIY pizza and pasta night at home. 

Akiko’s Restaurant (Chinatown)

Not to be confused with Akiko’s Sushi, Akiko’s Restaurant is an intimate omakase bar in Chinatown serving up raw fish sourced from Japan’s infamous Tsukiji Fish Market as well as local purveyors. Pull up a seat at the chef’s counter and savor the hon maguro akami (lean bluefin tuna) from Kyoto, the freshness of the Hokkaido scallops, and the richness of the Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin) while you marvel at the chefs’ skillfully choreographed moves. For the restaurant reopening, a $250 seasonal omakase menu is available — including six to seven small courses and ten pieces of nigiri, plus dessert. This is definitely a meal reserved for the most special of occasions.

Dining at the restaurant: The restaurant is small but offers both standard table seating and counter seating at the chef’s counter. 

Takeout: Akiko’s Restaurant does not offer delivery or takeout. 

Empress by Boon (Chinatown)

Interior of Empress by Boon

Empress by Boon interior | Credit: Jean Bai

A hot new restaurant opening on June 18, Empress by Boon is a modern Cantonese destination from chef Ho Chee Boon, formerly the executive chef of Hakkasan with more than 25 years of experience under his belt. In taking over the 7,500-square-foot space that once held Empress of China — a fine-dining Chinese banquet hall that served the community for nearly half a century — Boon hopes to continue the venue’s legacy. He enlisted a UK-based design firm to revive the space with royal blue sofas and geometric screens, with seats facing a skyline view. For a limited time from June 18 to July 19, Empress by Boon will have a five-course prix fixe menu at $68; book your spot now as reservations are filling up fast.

Dining at the restaurant: The restaurant offers indoor seating with a knockout view. 

Takeout: Takeout and delivery is not offered at the moment. 

Trestle (FiDi)

Restaurateurs Ryan Cole, Jason Kirmse, Tai Ricci, and Jason Halverson have revived the beloved affordable special occasion spot back to life as a pop-up at The Vault. The weekly-changing, three-course prix fixe menu is still in place, where for $39 diners receive dishes such as porcini risotto with truffle and foraged mushrooms, flat iron steak with creamed spinach and fried leeks, and blueberry clafoutis to finish. It’s effortlessly chic with a California ethos in a new space. The tables are amply spaced out, and the sides are lined with plush sofas. It’s a fantastic option for regular date nights and occasions that don’t break the bank.

Dining at the restaurant: The restaurant offers standard indoor seating or countertop seating at the bar. 

Takeout: Neither takeout nor delivery is offered. 

State Bird Provisions (Western Addition)

Fried quail dish

CA state bird with provisions | Credit: Freda Banks

Envision new American dishes with Asian influences, and you’ll get State Bird Provisions. The casual, yet refined Californian restaurant with a MICHELIN star serves inventive small plates with an ever-changing menu for you to try something new each time you visit. The latest menu features the likes of duck liver mousse with almond financiers, shrimp toast with curry aioli, and carrot mochi with pistachio dukkah. No matter what you round a meal out with, the restaurant’s eponymous fried Californian quail, and housemade peanut muscovado milk are both must-tries. State Bird’s open kitchen setup will have you mesmerized by the chefs whipping up dishes one after another.

Dining at the restaurant: Both indoor and outdoor dining is available.

Takeout: The restaurant does not offer takeout or delivery.

Izakaya Hon (SoMA)

Head to Izakaya Hon for a trip to Japan via small plates, sushi, skewers, beers on tap, Japanese-inspired cocktails, and a considerable collection of sake and Japanese whisky. Izakaya Hon hails from the same team of restaurateurs behind Sushi Shio, Sushi Hon, and five other Japanese restaurants across the city. The dining area is comprised of larger tables suited for group celebrations or a low-key date night with shareable bites and plenty of drinks. Dishes are designed to pair well with sake, such as the Hokkaido scallop umami bites with the Manzairaku Honjozo sake, which share the same earthy notes, or the uni-toro don piled high with sea urchin and fatty tuna paired with Kamotsuru tokubetsu junmai to enhance flavors while balancing the creamy richness of the seafood.

Dining at the restaurant: Standard indoor seating is available. 

Takeout: Both takeout and delivery are offered.

House of Prime Rib (Nob Hill)

A crowd-pleaser since 1949, this prime rib establishment has become a local institution for its 21-day aged beef rib that is blanketed in rock salt for roasting, sealing its juices and flavors in, before the chef carves fresh slices to order in the main dining room right before your eyes. Accompaniments include a cult-favorite salad tossed delightfully in a spinning bowl tableside, as well as the baked potatoes served with butter, sour cream, and chives. Ask your server for wine recommendations from the extensive wine list. This is highly worth a stop for locals and visitors alike — if you’re looking for a hearty meal and attentive, personalized service, you won’t be disappointed. 

Dining at the restaurant: Start off the night at the cocktail lounge for a drink before heading into the dining room, where the interior takes on that of a classic British brasserie, with plush sofas and white table cloths. 

Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout but not delivery. 

Bellota (SoMA)

Interior seating and open kitchen of Bellota

Bellota interior | Credit: Kelly Puleio

From The Absinthe Group comes Bellota, a Spanish tapas, pintxos, and paella restaurant with an ample open kitchen where all the action happens. Diners are seated at tables around the open kitchen or at the counter where a leg of jamón ibérico de bellota (cured leg of pork) is sliced to order — a special occasion must. The jamón ibérico de bellota is highly prized because the pigs are naturally raised foraging on acorns that give the meat a stunning marbling quality. There are four types of paella to choose from, but if you can’t decide between two, Bellota offers a dividida (literally meaning divided), where two paellas are served in one pan half-half. The energy in the dining room is always lively, amplified by live music. 

Dining at the restaurant: Both indoor and outdoor dining are available. 

Takeout: Bellota offers takeout and delivery.

Greens (Marina District)

The trailblazing female-led, vegetable-forward Greens has made a name for itself as a vegetarian restaurant that will not have you missing meat in your meal. The seasonal menu uses locally farmed and organic ingredients in creations such as grilled peaches with balsamic, goat cheese, and almonds; sweet cornmeal flatbread with marinated cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, and creme fraiche; and chipotle-roasted corn pizza with a kick of spice. Dining indoors feels like you’re at an art gallery with wooden sculptural pieces and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that have a prime view of the breathtaking sunset overlooking the harbor, making the dining experience extra special. 

Dining at the restaurant: Both indoor and outdoor dining is offered. Reserve early to grab seats indoors by the window for a front-row view of the sunset. 

Takeout: Greens offers takeout and delivery. 

Lolinda (Mission)

An Argentinean steakhouse serving up Latin American flavors with Californian vibes, this restaurant is a favorite among group diners, business dinners, birthdays, and date nights. Medieval-esque wagon wheel chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling illuminate the spacious dining room where diners are seated at individual tables or at the large communal table feasting on the finest cuts of beef. The wood-fired grill gives the meats an irreplaceable smokiness and a slight char. Fire up your choice of sausages, beef short rib, pork chop, rib-eye steak, or get the full experience in the asado mixto (barbecue mix) that includes chorizo, morcilla, flap loin, short ribs, potatoes, and peppers. To end the night, head upstairs to the open-air rooftop El Techo for a drink while enjoying sweeping views of the city. 

Dining at the restaurant: Lolinda offers indoor dining at limited capacity.

Takeout: Both takeout and delivery are available.

Marin

RH Rooftop Restaurant Marin (Corte Madera)

Dining room of RH Rooftop Restaurant with fountain and sofas

RH Rooftop Restaurant Marin dining room | Credit: RH

Primarily known as a home furnishing company, RH needs no introduction in the world of luxurious interiors, which translates to this glitzy restaurant. The rooftop restaurant on the third level of the 60,000-square-foot space is decked out with glistening crystal chandeliers amid greenery that will have you feeling like you’re dining in an enchanted forest. An indoor fountain centers the glass-encased dining room looking out to Mount Tamalpais and the Bay. Treat yourself to a lobster roll drizzled with butter, and pair it with a side of truffle fries. A separate brunch and lunch menu is similar, with the addition of the usual suspects of avocado toast, smoked salmon, eggs, and bacon. RH recently unveiled a new wine program featuring 40 wines-by-the-glass, plus the signature RH bellini and mimosa cocktails up for grabs. 

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining is available. 

Takeout: RH does not do takeout or delivery. 

Farmshop (Larkspur) 

A farm-to-table Californian restaurant and artisan market, Farmshop is a minimalistic culinary experience known for its open-hearth, wood-burning pizzas, fresh fish and meats, and buckets of the best-selling buttermilk fried jidori chicken that is only available on Sundays. For everyday meals or special occasions, Farmshop can accommodate both with its elegant private dining room and lounge (availability depending on current pandemic restrictions) that seats 40 or 60 standing. Everything from a personalized menu to service staff will be arranged by the restaurant. Located in the outdoor Marin Country Mart complex, you are also surrounded by a plethora of shops, restaurants, and fitness gyms. The in-store artisanal market offers fresh produce and pantry products for everyday cooking. 

Dining at the restaurant: Farmshop offers outdoor and limited indoor dining.

Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout directly on its website and in-store shopping at Farmshop Market.

Napa 

Oenotri (Napa)

In the heart of Napa Valley, Oenotri is a southern Italian restaurant that takes the meaning of farm-to-table seriously with a four-acre garden and farm supplying your meal. Dishes include handmade pasta, wood-fired oven pizza topped with seasonal ingredients, and almost 30 varieties of housemade salumi with recipes from Italian artisans. The wine list is nothing less than what you’d expect of a wine country restaurant. Since opening in 2010, Oenotri has maintained its high quality of food and service that makes it a go-to. While the cozy dining room makes you feel at home, the food hits it out of the park at this special occasion locale.

Dining at the restaurant: Oenotri has seating both indoors and outdoors.

Takeout: The restaurant offers both takeout and delivery.

San Mateo

The Village Pub (Woodside)

Don’t be fooled by the casual name — The Village Pub is an ultra fine-dining destination in Woodside, just 30 minutes outside of San Francisco, from the owners of Spruce. This unassuming one MICHELIN-starred restaurant is frequented by tech moguls and the upper echelon of society, with a setting to match of classy white tablecloths and red velvet chairs. At a glance, the menu is contemporary American rooted in French techniques; think Maine lobster consommé, dry-aged duck breast, and white chocolate entremet. Ingredients are hand-selected from the local farm and needless to say, the wine selection is equally impressive with over 3,500 labels and a Wine Spectator grand award to top it off.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining are both available.

Takeout: Both delivery and takeout are offered on a separate menu

Santa Clara

Ettan (Palo Alto) 

Skylight with hanging plants and chandelier

Ettan interior | Credit: Patricia Chang

Stemming from the desire to increase the presence of Indian cuisine in the local dining scene, first-time restaurateur Ayesha Thapar partnered with chef Srijith Gopinathan from two MICHELIN-starred Campton Place to craft the contemporary Cal-Indian menu that is Ettan. The space is designed by interior designer to the stars Thomas Schoos, with restaurant interiors of TAO, Morimoto, and Koi under his belt. Accents of blues are scattered across the double height dining room with plants and chandeliers hanging from the dome skylight where natural sunlight floods the interior. When it comes to food, Gopinathan’s creativity is on display through the cast iron “monkey bread” with eggplant chutney, edamame veda black lentil “dumplings,” and Kerala fried chicken with roasted coconut milk and green apple. If you’re feeling luxurious, indulge in the Ettan reserve caviar with crème fraîche, kulcha, and chives.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor seating are both offered.

Takeout: Ettan does both takeout and delivery with a trimmed down menu.

Alameda

Calavera (Oakland)

Situated in the bustling community hub that is Oakland Hive, Calavera is an Oaxacan restaurant inspired by the cuisines of southern Mexico. The restaurant is lofty, stylish and it’s worth snapping pictures of your group situated in front of the geometric shelf of liquor or the sculptural pendant lights. This all-day dining location covers all the bases with brunch, lunch, dinner, and cocktail specials. Try the plato de carnitas, a hearty dish of braised pork shank, Spanish rice, beans, cheese, and cream, served with Nixtamal tortillas. Combine that with the lengua tacos made with slow-braised beef tongue and green papaya kohlrabi slaw. Complete the meal with a side of refried black beans, and don’t sleep on the churrodonas with chocolate and passion fruit foam for dessert. The venue becomes livelier at night when the atmosphere is buzzy and drinks are flowing.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor or patio dining is available. 

Takeout: Calavera offers takeout and delivery directly from its website, including at-home cocktail mix kits. 

Zaytoon (Albany)

Enjoy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes at this comfortably chic find that serves traditional meals in a modern Californian setting with gold light fixtures, a stone-stacked wall, and turquoise sofas. Zaytoon is a great spot for sipping on wine and sharing plates such as the locally raised lamb with mint jalapeño sauce or Moroccan couscous with root vegetables, stewed tomatoes, and chicken or lamb. Get a taste of Greece with the spanakopita, a phyllo pastry spinach pie with mushroom and feta cheese. Zaytoon proves that special occasions don’t have to mean tasting menus, and some of the best meals come from bonding over sharing a meal and a love of food. 

Dining at the restaurant: Reservations are recommended for indoor seating. Outdoor seating is currently first come, first serve. 

Takeout: Zaytoon offers both takeout and delivery.

Contra Costa

The Slanted Door (San Ramon) 

Dining room of The Slanted Door San Ramon with open kitchen

The Slanted Door San Ramon interior | Credit: The Slanted Door

Bringing the beloved San Francisco Vietnamese restaurant to the East Bay, The Slanted Door San Ramon is the second location of the modern eatery by James Beard Award-winning chef Charles Phan. The menu channels the same eclectic vibe with the addition of exclusive dishes only available at the San Ramon location, including mesquite-grilled wild black cod with sweet corn, tomato confit, and fresh herb sauce. Sharing plates is the way to go to ensure you get a taste of everything, with the signature shaking beef as an essential order. The sleek U-shaped open kitchen is the center of attention with countertop seating all around and standard seating nearby. 

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor patio dining are both offered.

Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout but not delivery.

RÊVE Bistro (Lafayette)

A taste of Paris without leaving the East Bay, chef Paul Magu brings classic French cooking to Lafayette from his time growing up in Paris and training under renowned chef Alain Ducasse. The cozy, non-pretentious bistro will have you feel like you’re sipping wine in Saint Germain. Freshly shucked oysters are served with Champagne, alongside French classics like moules frites and escargot. To up the ante for special occasions, treat yourself to a serving of Regiis Ova caviar or get the sampler with three varieties. Don’t skip dessert — the chocolate cake follows a favorite family recipe, and the macarons are made in-house. 

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor patio dining is available. 

Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout with a 10 percent discount on appetizers and entrees (excluding caviar). Wines to go are half off. 

Sonoma

Schermeister Winery (Glen Ellen)

The definition of a hidden gem, Schermeister Winery is Sonoma Valley’s smallest native fermentation winery by winemaking power couple Robert and Laura Schermeister. Today, they own and run their creekside winery offering a 75-minute tasting experience of five of their natural wines with the option of small bites. On your way out, grab a bottle of their limited production vintage wines before the winery closes from September to February 2022. Schermeister Winery is worth a stop for any special occasion and an idyllic weekend escape. 

Dining at the restaurant: Wine tastings are available outdoors only by reservation for parties up to eight on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Saturday’s maximum is parties of four. 

Takeout: Bottles of wine can be ordered for shipping on its website

The Girl and The Fig (Sonoma)

A neighborhood classic that has been around since 1997, the girl & the fig describes its style as “country food with a French passion.” Fusing together the freshest of seasonal ingredients with an award-winning wine list, the Provencal-inspired menu comes alive. Expect a lot of fig on the menu in the grilled fig tartine, fig and arugula salad, and even in the sparkling with housemade fig liqueur. For special occasions, the three-course meal with an optional wine pairing is the way to go.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining are both offered. 

Takeout: The restaurant offers takeout but not delivery. You can also shop its products online to be shipped to you.