Ah, the Marina. The subject of much scorn from anyone who doesn't live there, and the subject of much love for anyone who does. The neighborhood’s many restaurants are bustling, but these days, the streets are also often filled with outdoor diners enjoying brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks while clad in their freshest Patagonia vests and trendiest athleisure wear. This list contains 18 Marina District restaurants you should not miss, but it’s only a start. There are many gems to be found on Chestnut Street and beyond.
1. Greens Restaurant: San Francisco’s landmark vegetarian restaurant has been showcasing seasonal vegetables grown on nearby farms and dazzling diners with views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge since it opened in 1979. Dine indoors or enjoy the newer outdoor pavilion for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
2. Lucca's Delicatessen: For a little piece of North Beach, head to Lucca's, the 80-year-old Italian shop where salami hangs from the ceiling and the obvious order is the #1 Italian combo (salame, ham, mortadella, provolone, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, mild Italian pepper). There are a ton of other sandwiches, plus heaping salads, antipasti, meats, and cheeses to satisfy your Italian-American cravings. Plus, it's family-owned, which is always feel-good.
3. Dragon Well: For more than 20 years, Dragon Well has been serving quality Chinese meals from a variety of regions — the menu boasts jook, Sichuan favorites, and California standards like Chinese chicken salad — making it an affordable neighborhood standby for lunch and dinner.
4. Popi's Oysterette: If you’re looking for a seafood option in the Marina, the newer Popi’s Oysterette is a good place to relax with a platter of seafood or a “Fisherman’s Wharf-style” shrimp cocktail. The restaurant is led by chef Melissa Perfit of Bar Crudo and Oakland’s Sister, and features a strong mix of seafood-laden dishes, including a Dungeness crab roll, a Louie salad, and cured sockeye salmon dip. Pair it with some bubbles, and you have the makings of a fine afternoon in the Marina.
5. Hinoya Curry SF: The Marina is home to the first U.S. outlet of Hinoya Curry, one of Tokyo’s most popular curry chains — and if you didn’t know, curry chains are big business in Japan. Hinoya serves a classic version of the somewhat sweeter, milder Japanese style of curry, made with a beef broth cooked anywhere from 48 to 100 hours, depending on the size of the batch. A succinct menu includes pork katsu curry, chicken katsu curry, crab croquette curry, and vegetable croquette curry to go with a selection of Japanese beer and sake.
6. Souvla: The choices are pretty simple: salad or sandwich with pork, chicken, lamb, or vegetables. But don’t let the concise menu fool you; there’s good reason so many San Francisco residents return to this fast-casual Greek spot time and again. It’s fast, relatively affordable, and always consistent. Order ahead for pick up or snag a seat in the small dining room out on the parklet out front. Don’t forget to save room for the dessert: fans love the frozen Greek yogurt.
7. Izzy's Steakhouse: Count on legendary San Francisco steakhouse Izzy’s, open since 1987, for aged American beef at reasonably affordable prices, fantastic creamed spinach, solid cocktails, and more recently, brunch.
8. Zushi Puzzle: Chef Roger Chong and his wife are the force behind this funky sushi spot, which has a devoted following of regulars. Chong procures some more exotic fish offerings that sway farther from the basic yellowtail, salmon and white fish fray, which he's known for arranging in large-scale sashimi platters.
9. Jaranita SF Peruvian Rotisserie: The celebratory Jaranita offers a casual setting for wide-ranging Peruvian cuisine, from the raw bar (cebiches and tiraditos) and the wood-fired rotisserie and charcoal grill (churassco, lomo soltado). Drawing in Marina-dwellers with happy hours, themed brunches, and other special events, Jaranita means “street party,” and that’s the vibe here.
10. The Tipsy Pig: Once known as the place to party in the Marina, the outdoor patio at Tipsy Pig is now a central gathering point, decked out with TVs, string lights, and plant-covered lattice walls. It’s a popular Marina setting for good beers, strong drinks, and standard gastropub-style brunch and dinner fare.
11. Bonita Taqueria Part taqueria and part rotisserie, Bonita offers a menu of tacos, burritos, bowls, and quesadillas, all of which make for perfect weeknight fare. The Marina location is open for kid-friendly dining, or order online for pickup or delivery.
12. Alegrias: After 24 years, Alegrias founders Cesar and Nora have sailed off into retirement, but its new owners (including chef Jose Ortez, who worked with Cesar for 17 years) are keeping the paella and sangria party going. Head in for classic hot and cold tapas and paella preparations aplenty in a homey dining room with white tablecloths.
13. Causwells: Causwells is known for its bomb.com burger, but you'd be remiss to overlook the rest of the Southern-leaning seasonal menu of salads, hush puppies, cornbread, and more. There's something for everyone, making it a great pick when dining with a disparate group, and the always-changing cocktail menu is worth a look.
14. Montesacro Marina: San Francisco’s dedicated pinseria expanded with a second location in the Marina, and that means you can now make a reservation at the second outpost for brunch, lunch, and dinner six days a week. The move is to order a couple of antipasti (perhaps the roasted cauliflower and grilled octopus) and a couple of pinsa to share. The mushroom-topped Grottaferrata heats up thanks to a touch of Calabrian chile, but you can’t go wrong with the Maranella, covered with layers of mozzarella, broccolini, and spicy pork sausage.
15. A16: Easily the classiest restaurant in the neighborhood, A16's pizzas and award-winning wine selections are the stars here. Order your meal around the pies, and then fill it out with stellar appetizers, salads, and pastas.
16. ILCHA: Find this top-notch neighborhood Korean spot off Lombard, in a warm and casual space that formerly housed Nabe hot pot. Now owners Kummi Kim and Hilwin Wong have flipped the restaurant into a Korean dining and drinking den with a menu that spans both hot dog-filled hot pots and super-crunchy Korean fried chicken and don’t-miss soy-cured shrimp with egg yolk rice. The drink selection runs deep with a list of Korean soju and beers to explore.
17. Viva Goa Indian Cuisine: The south Indian state of Goa, once colonized by the Portuguese, holds onto Portuguese influence in its cuisine with curries like vindaloo — from the Portuguese vinha d’alhos, meaning wine and garlic. Don’t miss the wonderful, nicely spicy version at Viva Goa.
18. For The Record: In our modern world, sometimes what one needs is a blast from the past — and For the Record has that in spades. The retro- and 70s-themed bar features fun (and funky) decor alongside a menu of solid cocktails that is updated often with new drinks. If you’re in more of a sampling mood, there are Cheekies, the bar’s name for mini cocktail-esque shots that’ll taste much better than those shots you did in college.