1 The French Laundry
No best-of-list would ever be complete without The French Laundry. It is Thomas Keller's original and marquee place where perfectly executed dishes like oysters and pearls come out every night. The reservations are booked months in advance and there is never an open-walk-in availability. (We strongly suggest using AmEx Centurion's concierge since they have a few tables reserved for its members) This place will change the way you view food. This isn't just a restaurant nor it is just dinner, this is a 4 hour culinary journey where jackets are required. It is the creme de la creme of haute French cuisine on the West Coast. Don't forget to order the "coffee and doughnuts" off-the-menu dessert at the very end!
2 La Folie
With its rich jewel-toned walls, cozy tucked away spaces and impeccably dressed diners, it just screams classic French dining experience. As expected there's the tasting menu with 5 generously sized courses that you can select (salad, fish, meat, dessert...) and each bite is carefully crafted for perfect balance. It's menu changes seasonally but a stand out item to have is anything with caviar.
Located on the top of Union Square, Masa's is an elegant experience where it's all about balance. With the tremendous breadth and variety of fresh, incomparable ingredients available to him, Chef Short sees it as his personal duty to keep Masa’s Restaurant focused on taste, aesthetics and the combination and concentration of flavors. As a chef, he takes great pride in creating new dishes every day, and rarely repeats himself. As it's 30th year approaches, here's a secret tip, it's 25% off the menu and wine list every Thursday!
4 Keiko à Nob Hill
Keiko Takahashi is the chef and her husband, Seigo Takei is the sommelier. This Japanese-husband-wife duo already have a Michelin star to their name but moved from Marin and opened up a unique take on classic French cuisine, appropriately named, Keiko à Nob Hill. She infuses her cultural upbringing with her cuisine and it shows through like by using a hint of Japanese curry in a fresh root salad or through her precise knife work. And while their famous espresso foie dish is now illegal, it's been replaced with an equally unctuous sweetbread verison.
5 Bistro Jeanty
To round out the list, Bistro Jeanty is an informal affair. While the menu offerings is rustic with dishes like steak frites or mussels, this blue-collar fare is executed just like you would find in the 11th arrondissement. Furthermore it has become world renown for is it's tomato soup. Sounds simple but when that dome of puff pastry comes out and you have a bite of the creamy, tangy, savory soup with bits of flaky crust, you'll never be able to just have tomato soup again anywhere else.