Distinct Dining Spots — Only-in-the-Bay Places to Eat and Mingle

There’s no shortage of exquisite food in the Bay Area, but for that truly unique dining experience — seek out these culinary gems.



With its traditional Spanish cuisine and libations delivered in a modern space filled with natural light, Bellota is perhaps the Absinthe Group’s
most ambitious effort in its quest to define San Francisco cuisine. Chef Ryan McIlwraith’s specialty is paella, including one nicknamed “San Francisco treat” a cheeky homage to the old Rice-A-Roni commercials (but nothing like Rice-A-Roni at all). The tapas selection is sensational, the sangria to die for, and the roasted, fermented brussels sprouts truly divine.
MORE INFORMATION: bellotasf.com


A beloved San Francisco dining experience since 1999, Foreign Cinema could coast on its reputation as a hip back-patio movie theater and restaurant in the heart of the Mission. But this iconic spot never skimps on culinary quality. For years it has kept traction with constant recognition from local media (on the Chronicle’s Bay Area-wide “Top 100 Restaurant” list for 16 straight years) and industry organizations (the owner/chefs are frequently nominated for James Beard Foundation awards). Watch a classic film as you enjoy exquisite menu items for dinner or weekend brunch.
MORE INFORMATION: foreigncinema.com

The East Bay


For thirty years, Esin has been quietly serving elegant fare to Danville patrons of the culinary arts. American food with “Mediterranean flare,” the lunch and dinner menus are stockpiled with tantalizing options, and the low-key but swank dining room is the perfect place to impress a guest. Even when owners Esin and Curtis deCarion opened a sister restaurant, Revel Kitchen & Bar, across town, Esin’s offerings didn’t suffer. The makers’ dedication to serving fresh food from sustainable, seasonal ingredients shines through.
MORE INFORMATION: esinrestaurant.com


Walnut Creek has grown into a vibrant community with its own unique culture and choice dining spots. Rooftop Restaurant & Bar is a jewel of the city, revered by locals for its vibe as well as its menu. The cosmopolitan ambience is paired with
a spectacular view of town. Patrons can choose to sit in the sheltered Tower Room, on one of three patios, or gather around the bar itself. Menu items are heavy on the imaginative starters and shared plates, including a raw bar and other delicious seafood options.
MORE INFORMATION: rooftopwc.com

The North Bay


Perhaps no restaurant says “Sausalito” more than Fish, the appropriately named sustainable seafood spot on Harbor Drive, with its view of a marina and aroma of salty sea air from the Bay — so close you can touch it. The ambience is casual. You wait in line to order, then hurry to snap up a picnic table on the patio. But the self-serve mentality belies the absolutely delicious seafood. Fish’s commitment to protecting wild fish populations and supporting the local fishing industry has won it many accolades over its many years as an unassuming culinary anchor of Southern Marin.


There’s a rarified air to the culture of Marin County an upscale place, yet without a hint of stuffiness. The ambience at Murray Circle Restaurant in Cavallo Point at Fort Baker exemplifies this paradox of down-to-earth luxury. And the menu, full of ingredients from Bay Area farms, ranches, and fisheries, is always tantalizing. Pair local ling cod or Skywalker Ranch wagyu beef carpaccio with a bottle from the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning collection of over 2,000 bottles (and an impressive 30 wines by the glass). Sit in the elegant dining room, adjacent to Farley Bar, or on the historic porch, with its unfettered views of the Golden Gate Bridge.