While the modern-day San Francisco power lunch probably doesn’t involve three martinis, there are several requirements for a restaurant to be an excellent location for a mid-deal meal that involves business. First, the eatery should be downtown in the Financial District or its surrounding neighborhoods—that’s where most of the big time wheeling and dealing occurs in the city. Second, the food should be delicious. It’s San Francisco and if the lunch is on the company dime, there is no excuse not to go to a restaurant that makes excellent cuisine with seasonal local ingredients. Third, a full bar is optimal. Although not necessary, the option to order a cocktail should be available. Lastly, the environment and service should be discreet. Diners should feel comfortable enough to discus private business information at the restaurant. Our favorite restaurants that check all of these boxes? Below we list the best places for a power lunch in SF.
Italian restaurant Perbacco was an instant hit when it opened on California Street 11 years ago. Today, the power lunch spot, which is also a destination for celebratory dinners, is still going strong. Perbacco has an assortment of seating options: there is a 40 seat bar, two private dining rooms (that seat 40 and 18 respectively), and 130 seats in the rest of the large and elegant two-story space. Owner Umberto Gibin, a charming Italian gentleman, is often at the restaurant greeting diners and ensuring that the ship sails smoothly. The lunch menu has everything from hamachi crudo with shaved hearts of palm to short rib ragu with homemade pappardelle. Entrees include duck confit with roasted pears and Ligurian fisherman’s stew. In the mood for a cocktail? You can’t go wrong with the house negroni made with Barr Hill oak-aged gin, Campari, and Carpano Antica.
230 California Street San Francisco, CA 94111
Like Perbacco, Kokkari is a long-time standby—a grand old restaurant that you can count on for superb service and scrumptious Greek cuisine. With room for 185 guests, it’s also huge, so it’s a nice spot for a group business lunch that may involve celebrating a team's job well done. The staff warmly greet regulars—some of which have been dining at Kokkari for the past 15 years. The menu is extensive with lots of options, so you can get appetizers to share (the baked feta, gigantes beans, wood-oven roasted prawns, and fried smelts are all incredible) or a larger plate to enjoy on its own like the whole grilled fish with braised greens or the moussaka of spiced lamb and eggplant.
200 Jackson Street San Francisco, CA 94111
3 Michael Mina
Chef Michael Mina’s flagship and namesake restaurant is an excellent place for a power lunch. Although the dining room is spacious, the tables are intimate and the crowd on the quieter side. Michael Mina offers a luxurious lunch dining experience. If you’re in the mood for caviar or a five-course tasting menu, you can find both at Mina’s lunch. There are other dining options: his signature pot pie with Maine lobster and cognac cream, insanely good Dungeness crab risotto with creme fraiche and parmesan, or the soup and sandwich, which features a seasonal vegetable pureed soup along side a grilled cheese sandwich with black truffle. Michael Mina is the type of place perfect for a decadent Friday business lunch after you’ve closed an important deal.
252 California Street San Francisco, CA 94111
Boulevard has held court on the corner of Embarcadero and Mission for the past 24 years—since pioneering female chef Nancy Oakes opened it in 1993. It has hosted thousands of power lunches and remains to this day a wonderful place to do business over a mid-day meal. The restaurant is big with a variety of seating options, from the bar that over looks the open kitchen to the back two tops that have views of the glittering Bay. The atmosphere is classic, refined, and welcoming, and isn’t at all stuffy. The menu features upscale American fare. Think ahi tuna tartare with toasted sesame aioli, golden beet and apple salad with shaved aged gouda, grilled salmon with braised leeks, and a burger with Wagon Wheel cheese on a housemade bun.
1 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94105
5 Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
The preferred power lunch spot of the powerful lady who lunches? The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus. Located on the fourth floor of the department store in downtown San Francisco, the Rotunda is a sophisticated space with opulent details. It is a doughnut shaped restaurant with a beautiful old-fashioned glass ceiling and open middle space that looks down onto the other floors of the store. The food is fancy—there is lobster bisque, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and caviar. There is also an assortment of composed salads such as a traditional crab louie, olive oil poached salmon salad, and beet red quinoa salad. The Rotunda is also a lovely spot for afternoon tea.
150 Stockton Street San Francisco, CA 94108