Fancy an occasion out on the town without totally breaking the bank? In a city like San Francisco, our perception of a deal may be a bit different than that in other cities around the world, but this list of tasting menus saves you a few bucks when compared to their multi Michelin starred compatriots without sacrificing on flavor, experience, or creativity.
Most of these also have a la carte menus if you'd like to save the tasting menu for another time. For more everyday San Francisco restaurants, see my SF Restaurant Guide by Neighborhood.
MR. POLLO - $30/person
No-frills and unique 4-course dining experience in the Mission at an incredible price. The space is small, fitting 10-12 people in 3 seatings per night. Text the number listed to make a reservation.
Highlight: The arepa!
TRESTLE - $35/person + $10 optional pasta supplement
Small but elegant Jackson Square restaurant with white walls and exposed brick and wooden beams. The tasting menu as well as the affordable wine list are one of the best deals in the city. Be sure to get at least one pasta supplement which can be shared among your group.
Highlight: The pasta course
PRUBECHU - $40/person
Prubechu, meaning you're welcome in the native language of Guam, is a relatively new restaurant in the Mission serving up food with a mixture of Filipino, Spanish, and Asian flavors typical of Guam. If you're up for a totally new and unexpected experience, be sure to stop by.
THE RICHMOND - $50/person
Intimate dining experience run by a husband and wife team that truly make you feel welcome. The tasting is five courses, but is usually supplemented by a few more small items on the house.
Highlight: Coffee Semifreddo & Heirloom Tomato Salad (when in season)
LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB Ohana Table - $55/person (min of 8 people, max of 12)
Lofty ceilings with plenty of natural light, a fun blue hexagon tile floor, and a vintage black and white image of the chef's mother as the focal point of the space make up this restaurant that masterfully blends Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, Indian, and Northern Californian flavors. Come hungry as the portions are generous!
Highlight: The Poke and when available the salmon tail
COTOGNA Sunday Supper - $55/person
The more casual restaurant by the same team behind Quince, one of the best restaurants in the city located right next door. Every Sunday night, Cotogna puts together an ever changing Sunday Supper using local and seasonal ingredients. The dinner is four courses and always features a pasta course with bright flavors.
Highlight: The pasta course, always.
BAR TARTINE - $58/person OR $37/person for weekend lunch
A neighborhood restaurant featuring a filling 3-course family style tasting for dinner. Local sourcing, house-made products, and seasonality are championed here, making the menu ever changing and surprising for each visit. The lunch menu is a steal and a great place to spend a weekend afternoon.
Highlight: Croquettes & cocktails
SARU SUSHI - Variety of Omakase Menus ranging from $18 - $60/person
A tiny neighborhood restaurant straight out of Japan. This is by far my favorite affordable sushi place in the city. They have a variety of omakase menus featuring sashimi, nigiri, and other options. Expect to wait as they don't take reservations, but the restaurant will text you when a table is ready so stroll the neighborhood or grab a drink across the street.
Highlight: Hamachi Truffle
AL'S PLACE Family Style - $60/person
Al's Place made quite a splash when it opened last year, and rightly so. The flavors are bright and bold and all the dishes have personality and color. The family style menu is vegetable/seafood based, but you won't miss the meat at all. If you do want to try some of the meat dishes you can order them as supplements to the family style menu. Make a reservation or walk-in when the restaurant opens.
Highlight: Burrata Salad
FLOUR & WATER Pasta Tasting - $75/person
This 7 course tasting is not for the weak, but rather for true pasta aficionados who will enjoy multiple courses of pasta. Each pasta is perfect and entirely unique, complemented with local and seasonal ingredients.
Highlight: Hard to choose...
LORD STANLEY - $83/person
Fresh and flavorful food served in a bright two-level space. Lord Stanley was recently praised at the #3 new restaurant in the US by Bon Appetit. Each dish that comes out of the kitchen is artfully presented and delicious.
Highlight: Onion Petals & Morels w/ sweet corn
PETIT CRENN - $87/person
The casual neighborhood spot in Hayes Valley by 2-michelin starred chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn. The restaurant offers two seatings a night featuring traditional French cooking with a California twist.
Highlight: Parisienne Gnocchi
KUSAKABE - $95/person omakase
A high-end, michelin starred sushi house offering several omakase levels. Each piece of sushi is made with care and precision. Make a reservation and be sure to be seated at the bar.
1601 BAR & KITCHEN - $95/person
For a wholly different flavor profile visit 1601 Bar & Kitchen, where the dishes are a mix of Sri Lankan and Asian cuisine. With a friendly and attentive staff, I imagine this place won't remain undiscovered for long.
Highlight: Bavette Steak with Tamarind Chutney
RICH TABLE - $93/person
This cozy and casual Hayes Valley restaurant features a 12-course tasting served family style. Innovative uses of ingredients results in dishes like the lauded Dried Porcini Doughnuts and Sardine Chips, which must be tried by all.
Highlights: Porcini Doughnuts & all the pastas