Grub Guide

Secrets to Snagging a Seat at San Francisco’s Most Hard-to-Get-Into Spots
State Bird Provisions’ chef’s counter.

Let’s say you have a hot date. It’s Thursday, things came together sort of last-second, and you want to impress this hot date by getting a table at Cotogna on Friday night on short notice. How do you go about this? We’ll begin by saying that there are no guarantees in this life, and there certainly aren’t any when you’re talking about reservations at one of the ten restaurants we consider the hardest to get into in S.F. — and several of them don’t even take reservations. And also bear in mind you may have to sit at a bar, which we think is perfect for a first or second date, since staring too intently across a table at someone you barely know can get a little weird. But you can, in fact, get into Frances, or Boulevard, or the newly white-hot State Bird Provisions, you just have to play your cards right and perhaps have a Plan B.

Our first word of advice if you’re trying to impress a true gourmande: Some of the absolute best restaurants in San Francisco are not actually the hardest to get into. Tables at Benu, Saison, Coi (all of which have two Michelin stars), and Bar Tartine can often be reserved week-of, even at prime hours like 8 or 8:30. (Rich Table is also reaping a lot of well deserved buzz, and the reviews haven’t even come out yet, so bear that one in mind.) We’d suggest giving these a shot, via phone, especially if you have the means. No need to pick the hard-to-get-into spots just because they’re hard to get into…

Also, in the cases of restaurants that don’t take reservations, we have some tips for avoiding lengthy waits, but these may not be the best choices when it comes to impressing that hot date. Because you will have to wait a bit no matter what.

Related: Secret Suppers: 21 Amazing Off-Menu Dishes in San Francisco
What Are the Toughest Places in Town to Get a Reservation? Daily Meal Gets It Kind of Wrong.
Department of Deportment: How to Get VIP Treatment at Pretty Much Any Restaurant

Secrets to Snagging a Seat at San Francisco’s Most Hard-to-Get-Into Spots