Number 53 - November 2016
Welcome to "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel's quarterly newsletter of fun and interesting things to do in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Northern California. Whether you are visiting San Francisco or hosting visitors, Blue Heron can provide an unforgettable experience. Visit our website,, to learn more about our private, custom tours.

Best Restaurants in San Francisco

San Francisco is a great eating city, perhaps only second in the country to New York. Supposedly, we have more restaurants per capita than any city in the United States. With so many choices, visitors and locals have many options for lunch, dinner, breakfast, and brunch. But where to dine? Below are lists of the best restaurants in San Francisco as compiled by the professional reviewers at the Michelin Guide and San Francisco Chronicle and the public at Zagat, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. Of course, there are many more dining options. You can get more recommendations at any of the websites below.

If you have your heart set on dining at a certain restaurant, I highly recommend making a reservation well in advance. Locals love to eat out and with so many visitors in the city, the most popular can restaurants fill up a couple of months in advance. If you don't make a reservation, you'll always find someplace to eat, but you may not get to eat at one of San Francisco's more popular spots.

Michelin Guide

The Michelin Guide 2017 was released in October. Michelin awards one, two, or three stars to the top restaurants in the region. Just to get a star is an honor. This year, Michelin awarded three stars to Benu, Quince, and Saison in San Francisco. Acquerello, Atelier Crenn, Campton Place, Coi, and Lazy Bear each received two stars. Twenty-five restaurants in San Francisco received one star.

San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle, our local newspaper, reviews restaurants regularly. Ratings range between one and four stars. In addition, an annual list of the "Top 100 Restaurants" is released. In San Francisco, the following restaurants were awarded four stars by the paper: Benu, Coi, La Folie, Quince, and Saison. Acquerello, Atelier Crenn, Aziza, Coqueta, Cotogna, Farallon, Gary Danko, Kusakabe, Lazy Bear, Michael Mina, Nico, One Market, Prospect, Range, Rich Table, Sons and Daughters, Spruce, State Bird Provisions, and Zuni Cafe have 3.5 stars.


Until purchased by Google a few years ago, Zagat published an annual book listing the best restaurants as rated by its readers. While the book is no longer published, this year, Zagat released a list of "The 50 Best Restaurants in San Francisco". Restaurants are rated on a 1 to 5 scale for food, decor, and service. The top ten restaurants with scores for each category follow: Acquerello (4.9/4.7/4.8), Gary Danko (4.8/4.7/4.9), Kokkari Estiatorio (4.8/4.7/4.7), La Ciccia (4.8/4.0/4.6), Kusakabe (4.8/4.6/4.7), B. Patisserie (4.8/4.2/4.1), Boulevard (4.8/4.6/4.6), Benu (4.8/4.6/4.8), Tony's Pizza Napoletana (4.7/3.8/4.0), and The House (4.7/3.6/4.2). Twelve more restaurants received 4.7 ratings for their food.

Trip Advisor

As of this writing, 4,271 restaurants are listed on Trip Advisor for San Francisco. TripAdvisor's rating system is very different from Michelin, the Chronicle, and Zagat. Ratings can be between one and five stars. Rankings are based on the number of reviews, how recently and frequently the restaurant has been reviewed, and the number of stars. Rankings change frequently. At the time I wrote this newsletter, TripAdvisor's list was very different from the above three lists. The top ten restaurants in San Francisco were The Bimini Twist, Kokkari Estiatorio, Molinari Delicatessen, The Italian Homemade Company, Anchor Oyster Bar and Seafood Company, Eight A.M., Seven Hills, Sweet Maple, Gary Danko, and Hollywood Cafe. Three of the above restaurants (Eight A.M., Sweet Maple, and Hollywood Cafe) are breakfast places. Molinari and Italian Homemade are not full-service restaurants. When you check TripAdvisor, you may find different restaurants included in the top ten.


The top ten restaurants according to Yelp are Cuisine of Nepal, Ichido, B. Patisserie, Gary Danko, Marcella's Lasagneria, Lou's Cafe, Old Skool Cafe, Casa Flores, Cafe de Casa, Liholiho Yacht Club. To me, this is a pretty strange list with simple cafes being ranked against a high-end restaurant like Gary Danko. With breakfast joints, delis, and fine dining establishments included in the restaurant category, you'll probably need to set additional filters to get a list that best meets your needs.

So there you have it - the best restaurants in San Francisco. Of course, there are many more delicious restaurants for you to check out. Regardless of how you go about selecting the restaurants you eat at during your visit to San Francisco, try to sample some of our local and neighborhood establishments. You are sure to find some great food.

Blue Heron is on TripAdvisor

Blue Heron is now on TripAdvisor. Check out Blue Heron's listing or, if you've used Blue Heron's services within the past year, post a review by clicking here.

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Rick's Blogs

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See you on the road,

Rick Spear
Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel
275 Staples Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112
(866) 326-4237 (toll free)
(415) 337-1874 (local)
(415) 587-7433 (fax)
TCP 16309-S

"Go Where You Want To Go!"

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