During the holiday season, there is nothing better than a morning spent shopping, followed by a leisurely, relaxing, and delicious lunch. It’s the perfect way to spend a day and if you have plans to shop and lunch in the near future, but don’t know where to go, you came to the right spot. Highlighted below are five favorite lunch locations in five different shopping districts in San Francisco. Book your reservation now and toast to the season with a glass of celebratory bubbles!
1 Scala’s Bistro in Union Square
With Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus holding court on opposite corners, Union Square is the shopping mecca of San Francisco. All of the big name designers—Prada, Hermes, Chanel, Armani—have boutiques in the surrounding streets. There are plenty of lovely restaurants open for lunch, but many are geared toward the professional working set. For a holiday lunch in a festive atmosphere and classic environment, go to Scala’s Bistro, next door to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. For the past 20 years, Scala’s has been serving French-Italian cuisine to hungry San Franciscans. Grab a black leather booth and indulge in an Aperol spritz. The extensive lunch menu offers something for everyone from the daring (octopus with heirloom beans, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, and herb aioli) to the demure (Italian sausage pizza with buffalo mozzarella). The food, crafted by chef Larry Finn, is perfectly executed and the service is welcoming and doting.
432 Powell Street San Francisco, CA 94102
2 Belga in Cow Hollow
If Union Square is too crowded with tourists for your shopping tastes, the Marina and Cow Hollow are excellent areas to shop for a variety of gifts, from home goods to athletic wear. Union Street is home to BCBG, Lululemon, Sephora, and Sur La Table while Chestnut Street has Pottery Barn, Paper Source, and Books Inc. Seven months ago Belga, a Belgium brasserie, opened on the corner of Union and Buchanan. The large bustling eatery has a roaring fireplace, cozy banquets, and open inviting bar. Belga has a wide range of beers curated by certified Cicerone, Ryan Murphy, as well as interesting cocktail and wine lists. For lunch, start with a tartine of thick toasted bread slathered with buratta and dotted with roasted winter squash. Truffle honey adds sweetness and richness. Move on to shellfish — raw oysters or steamed mussels — and a traditional Lyonnaise salad with poached egg, frissee, and ham hock. Don’t skip the housemade sausages. The fat and juicy boudin blanc is flavorful, porky, and one of the best sausages we’ve ever tasted.
2000 Union Street San Francisco, CA 94123
3 Spruce in Presidio Heights
Sacramento Street in the Presidio is a wonderful place for shopping. After browsing the shelves at March, Glassybaby, and Betty Lin, head to Spruce for an intimate lunch in a refined and slightly masculine setting. Spruce is a restaurant that delights the senses. Your eyes are drawn to the stunning Baccarat crystal chandelier, your hands long to touch the ostrich chairs, and your nose is filled with tantalizing aromas from chef Mark Sullivan’s kitchen. On the lunch menu? Inspired dishes like a classic French omelet with harvest greens and brie cheese, pan-roasted branzino with chorizo bouillon and clams, and housemade orecchiette with guanciale, broccolini, and grana padano. Order a cocktail, the barrel aged negroni is potent and well-balanced, or a glass of wine from the comprehensive list that features lesser known Spanish whites, sought-after French Burgundies, and over 15 different types of Madeira.
3640 Sacramento Street San Francisco, CA 94118
4 Elite Cafe on Fillmore Street
Work up an appetite shopping the boutiques — Alice and Olivia, Rag & Bone, Heidi Says, and Elizabeth Charles — on Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights? Grab a table out in front of Elite Cafe for a late lunch, which opens daily at 3 pm or on weekends earlier at 10 am. Elite has old school charm: the art deco building opened as the Lincoln Grill in 1928 and the space hasn’t changed much in the 34 years that it has been Elite Cafe. The bartenders are friendly and remember regulars, the private booths are quiet and cozy, and the bistro tables underneath heaters in front of the restaurant are ideal for people watching. The cuisine is inspired by New Orleans and it is hearty and scrumptious. The deviled eggs are one of the best in the city and the low-country style barbecue shrimp are finger-licking good. Order a martini, which are icy cold and shaken to perfection.
2049 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA 94115
5 Cotogna in Jackson Square
With Eden and Eden, William Stout Architectural Books, La Boutique, and Daniel Stein Antiques, Jackson Square offers an off-the-beaten track shopping experience. For lunch, you can’t beat Cotogna, Michael Tusk’s casual wood-fire hearth restaurant on the corner of Pacific and Montgomery Street. The vibe is casual, but sophisticated and the large oven fills the entire space with warmth. For lunch order an assortment of dishes — all of the food is so tasty that you don’t want to miss out on any of the Italian food groups, pizza, pasta, meatballs, and more. Or indulge in the three course prix-fix which recently featured a green salad with melt-in-your mouth tart orange slivers, to-die-for cacio e pepe on toothsome housemade pasta, and rich dark chocolate pudding with walnut liqueur.
490 Pacific Avenue San Francisco, CA 94133