With the holidays fast approaching, many will flock to San Francisco's shopping mecca, Union Square. Escape the masses and eat as the locals do. Here are 12 favorite Union Square restaurants, curated by a neighborhood insider, sure to please weary shoppers and their taste buds.
Hops and Hominy: Tucked away in an alley off Grant Street, this Southern-inspired restaurant features comfort food favorites such as shrimp and grits and skillet cornbread. But don’t let the casual-sounding fare fool you. This experience is equal parts cozy and luxe.
Bouche: This intimate French restaurant packs a big punch when it comes to flavor. Enter at street level into the wine bar, which focuses on esoteric French wines from small appellations. Upstairs, intimate seating sets the mood for a romantic dinner featuring a rotating list of seasonal dishes.
Café de la Presse: This French bistro is the perfect spot to pop into for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just drinks. Take advantage of nice weather, and sip a Kir Royale on the patio while people watching across from the Dragon’s Gate entrance to Chinatown.
Kin Khao: You probably wouldn't guess this casual, unassuming spot holds a Michelin star, but the authentic and flavorful Thai food backs up that high honor. It’s also vegan and gluten-free friendly.
Liholiho Yacht Club: Experience a taste of Hawaii in the middle of San Francisco. This vibrant and casual spot features an open kitchen, where you can watch the creation of beloved dishes such as beef tongue steam buns, tuna poke, and classic baked Hawaii.
Mikkeller Bar: Come for the beer selection, stay for the house-made sausage. With 42 beers on tap (served at specific ideal temperatures) and a specialized bottle list, there’s something for everyone at Mikkeller. If you’re a fan of sour beers, the cellar tasting room (open Thursday to Saturday only) pours exclusively lambics and sours, and offers a respite from the louder upstairs bar.
Farmerbrown: If you’re in search of some authentic soul food, head across the street from Mikkeller to Farmerbrown. Get started with an order of angel biscuits, and don’t miss the bottomless mimosas and buffet of Southern favorites on weekends.
The Rotunda: When shopping is your goal, what could be more convenient than a restaurant in a store? The light-filled fourth-floor Rotunda, inside of Neiman Marcus, overlooks Union Square with floor-to-ceiling windows and provides the perfect ladies-who-lunch setting for enjoying a proper afternoon tea or indulging in one of the signature popovers.
Uncle Vito’s: The famous Brown Twins of Nob Hill dined at Uncle Vito’s regularly, and with good reason. This is the best pizza in the area, as far as I’m concerned, and the restaurant offers a full menu of Italian pastas, salads, and sandwiches as well.
Hopwater Distribution: Just a block away from Uncle Vito's, a giant arrow marquee points the way to Hopwater Distribution. The bar boasts a rotating list of 31 all-California draught beers complemented by upscale bar bites, sandwiches, and salads.
Hakkasan: If it’s a dark and sultry club-like atmosphere you’re seeking, look no further than Hakkasan. With an extensive cocktail list and an equally expansive menu of modern Cantonese dishes, it’s easy to make a whole night of this dining experience.
Colibrí Mexican Bistro: With dishes such as prawns in tamarind-mole sauce and seared duck breast, this is not your typical Mexican restaurant. And that’s a good thing. Conveniently located across the street from the Curran and A.C.T. theaters, it’s also the perfect spot to dine before or after a show.