When you talk about restaurants in San Francisco the conversations are as passionate as they are extolling the Giants. We’re a sports town and a food town.
San Francisco offers so many dining options that it’s hard to limit the recommendations. However, because San Francisco is also a walking city, it makes sense to narrow the dining selections to a mile or so from the stadium; in our sphere that’s an easy walk.
Believe me, even within the shadow of AT&T Park there’s a place for just about every taste.
However if you want to cast a wider net, you can check out my Top 100 Bay Area restaurants available at: www.sfgate.com/food/top100/2014/
MARLOWE: This restaurant moved into larger space less than a month ago but it’s as busy than it was at the original location a block away. The food is excellent but it’s also the place where you’ll find Giants players and coaches after practice or games. It serves the best hamburger in San Francisco — beef patties with a little lamb ground in for extra flavor, horseradish aioli, cheese, bacon, shredded lettuce, grilled onions and an Acme bun. Plus you won’t be able to pass up the batter-fried green beans.
SLANTED DOOR: This Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry Plaza, home of some of the best food purveyors in the city, was a pioneer in Asian food. Must-order items include crab noodles and shaking beef. Charles Phan also offers an excellent wine and cocktail list.
RN74: Being a baseball fan and a wine connoisseur isn’t mutually exclusive. For those who fit into both categories this restaurant is nirvana. RN74 has one of the best Burgundy lists in the nation, and exceptional California-inspired food.
SAISON: This is only a block from the stadium and it is the place to toast the Royals, should they win. Josh Skenes is one of the country’s top chefs and he crafts an exciting and refined menu where at least one element of the creative menu is touched by fire. Only a fixed price menu is offered; you’ll pay $248 for about 18 courses and $398 for an even more elaborate menu. So dinner with wine will set you back about $500 a person. But hey, the Royals are worth it, right?
BENU: Corey Lee, who was the chef at the French Laundry for seven years, also offers a refined fixed price menu where he combines French techniques with Asian ingredients. No place can compete with the food or Yoon Ha’s wine pairing. This will cost slightly less than Saison.
BOULEVARD: There’s a reason Nancy Oake’s restaurant won the James Beard national award for Outstanding Restaurant two years ago. She crafts excellent but creative American food where the side dishes are as impressive as the main event. The Belle Epoque-inspired interior is as impressive as the food.
RED’S JAVA HOUSE: If you’re looking for a quick hamburger and beer before the game, Red’s is the place to stop. You can sit in back with views of the Bay or on a bench in front overlooking the Embarcadero. Red’s has been in business since the 1930s. It may not be Winstead’s but the hamburger style is similar and it’s a San Francisco classic.
COQUETA: Michael Chiarello, who also owns Bottega in Yountville, started this Spanish restaurant last year and it can compete with anything you find in Spain. It has a sexy warehouse interior, a view of the bay and excellent creative cocktails matched with pintxos — small bites on red-tipped toothpicks.
YANK SING: You can’t come to San Francisco without having dim sum at this Chinese restaurant in Rincon Center. On weekends the tables spill out into the atrium and the restaurant seats 500, yet the quality is always superb. Don’t miss the soup dumplings.
LITTLE SKILLET: Tucked away on a side street that’s easy to miss, this business started as a take-out window for fried chicken. Earlier this year they also opened in the bar next door so you can order at the counter and have a seat. It’s great fried chicken, but can anything compete with Stroud’s?
Michael Bauer is the executive food and wine editor and restaurant critic for The San Francisco Chronicle. He is from Chanute, Kan., and worked at The Star for seven years. He’s lived in San Francisco for 28 years but still gets back to Kansas City regularly.