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14 Standout Bay Area Wine Restaurants

You’ll leave your heart at these San Francisco restaurants
Photo by: Alanna Hale
At Grand Award winner Spruce, wine director Andrew Green and sommelier Lauren Kemp's 2,500-selection list offers 100 California Chardonnays.

Posted: January 26, 2016

Updated: May 25, 2017

With one of the country's strongest dining scenes, culinary options abound in San Francisco, from Californian fare to French to Indian to Italian and beyond. And when it comes to wine, the area's proximity to world-class wineries is hard to beat—not to mention the wealth of offerings available from more far-flung regions. We've selected 14 restaurants from around the Bay whose wine lists enrich any visit to San Francisco and its environs. These restaurants offer wine lists with excellent breadth and depth across many regions, styles and vintages. To check out more wine-and-food destinations, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 85 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Acquerello

1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 567-5432
Website www.acquerello.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Grand Award

Daniel Morris
Before Acquerello, wine director Gianpaolo Paterlini worked under fellow Grand Award–winning wine director Rajat Parr.

In San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood, Grand Award winner Acquerello pairs contemporary Italian cuisine with a wine list of heavy hitters from Piedmont, Tuscany, California and Champagne; the 1,750-selection list is captained by wine director Gianpaolo Paterlini. Choose between the restaurant's prix-fixe and seasonal tasting menus (with wine pairings), which include dishes such as squid-ink risotto with charred octopus and parmesan budino with truffle perlage. Still hungry? The restaurant's cheese cart offers an array of specialties from regions around Italy.


Murray Circle Restaurant

Cavallo Point Lodge, 601 Murray Circle, Sausalito, Calif.
Telephone (415) 339-4750
Website www.cavallopoint.com
Open Lunch, Monday to Saturday; dinner, daily
Grand Award

Alanna Hale
A longtime resident of the Bay Area, wine director Jamie Harding has extensive ties to the area's wine-and-food scene.

The signature restaurant of the picturesque Cavallo Point Lodge, Murray Circle occupies the former officer’s club of the decommissioned Fort Baker, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. But while the stunning view from the dining room is certainly a crowd-pleaser, it's the 2,200 selection, Grand Award–winning wine list that really wows. “It used to be rare when someone came in because of the wine program,” wine director Jamie Harding told Wine Spectator when the restaurant first won a Grand Award in 2016. “Now it’s a few times a week.” The wine list—strong in California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône and Italy—finds easy matches with executive chef Justin Everett's local ingredients–driven cuisine. Current menu offerings include fresh ocean stew (gulf prawn, shellfish, Monterey squid, fennel sausage and Rancho Gordo heirloom beans), Pacific petrale sole with grilled asparagus, black trumpet mushrooms, sunflower seeds and herb-basted Five Dot Ranch beef loin with sunchoke skins, broccolini, black garlic granola and whipped bone marrow.


The Plumed Horse

14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, Calif.
Telephone (408) 867-4711
Website www.plumedhorse.com
Open Dinner, Monday to Saturday
Grand Award

Alanna Hale
One big draw at the Plumed Horse is the Champagne cart, where a half-dozen Champagnes nestle in ice, ready to be poured by the glass.

Situated on the quiet main street of Saratoga, the Plumed Horse established itself as a wine destination when it first won the Grand Award in 1987. But it wasn't all smooth sailing from there—the wine program lost focus and dropped to a Best of Award of Excellence level until tech entrepreneur Aki Fujimura bought the restaurant and made significant changes; it achieved the Grand Award again in 2015. Today chef and partner Peter Armellino cooks up high-end Californian cuisine, with a la carte options and special tasting menus with premium wine pairings available. The 5,820-selection wine list, helmed by wine director Jeffrey Perisho, is presented on an iPad, a nod to Fujimura's tech background that allows for easy cross-browsing for specific regions, types, styles or prices.

Restaurant Gary Danko

800 N. Point St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 749-2060
Website www.garydanko.com
Open Dinner, daily
Grand Award

Douglas Friedman
The cellar at Restaurant Gary Danko, a Grand Award winner since 2001, contains 13,000 bottles.

Blending French and Californian influences in both its wine list and cuisine, Restaurant Gary Danko has held a Grand Award since 2001. Wine director Jeremiah Morehouse's 2,700-selection list features particular strengths in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône, Italy, Champagne and Germany alongside local California offerings. An extensive half-bottle collection is available, as well as by-the-glass options. If it's depth you're after, the list's vintages span more than a century.


Saison

178 Townsend St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 828-7990
Website www.saisonsf.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Grand Award

Bonjwing Lee
Saison integrates a spacious open kitchen with six tables, extending the idea of a chef's table to the entire restaurant.

Grand Award winner Saison serves only 18 diners at a time in its spacious open-kitchen dining space. The full culinary experience involves extensive courses of California-inspired bites, engineered by chef Joshua Skenes, plus optional wine pairings curated by wine director Mark Bright. Thanks to the restaurant's cellar of over 17,865 bottles and 1,655 selections, wine lovers will find plenty to choose from in the way of Burgundy grands crus and California collectibles in mature, classic vintages.


Spruce

3640 Sacramento St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 931-5100
Website www.sprucesf.com
Open Dinner, daily; lunch, Monday to Friday
Grand Award

In San Francisco's Presidio Heights, Spruce matches local fare with global wines. A large portion of the restaurant's produce comes from a nearby farm, put to use in chef Mark Sullivan's farm-to-table American cuisine. Spruce's wine list now numbers 2,500 selections, with highlights in Burgundy, old-school Napa Cabernet and Italian reds. There's a special emphasis on value, with plenty of picks under $100, according to wine director Andrew Green.


The Village Pub

2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, Calif.
Telephone (650) 851-9888
Website www.thevillagepub.net
Open Dinner, daily; lunch Monday to Friday
Grand Award

Angelo DeCenzo
Chef Mark Sullivan's contemporary American cuisine at the Village Pub features organic produce from a nearby 17-acre farm.

Don't let the name fool you: It's wine, not beer, that makes the Village Pub's game so strong. Tucked away in a historic area of Woodside on the edge of Silicon Valley, the cellar at this Grand Award–winning destination restaurant has grown from a modest 250 selections at its inception to its 2,750 offerings today. The list offers strengths in Burgundy, the Rhône, Bordeaux, Italy, Germany, Champagne, Austria, the Loire and Madeira, and wine director Andrew Green also offers a selection of hard-to-find California and other New World wines. And though the cellar is stocked with gems for big spenders, value seekers will find a number of bottles priced under $80.


A16

2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 771-2216
Website www.a16sf.com
Open Dinner, daily; lunch, Wednesday to Sunday
Best of Award of Excellence

Taking its name from a road in wine country, A16's namesake highway runs from Italy's Naples to Canosa, Puglia. As you'd expect, the rustic Italian menu draws inspiration from the south of the country, featuring Neapolitan pizzas, house-butchered and -cured meats, and fresh pasta from chef Nicolette Manescalchi. Wine director and owner Shelley Lindgren oversees the wine list, which holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its moderately priced 535 selections, almost all of which are Italian.


Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

398 Hayes St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 551-1590
Website www.absinthe.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Rose Gray Photography
As its name suggests, in addition to a Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list, the bar at Absinthe also serves an array of classic and creative cocktails.

In San Francisco's trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar serves French- and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with California flair. On the menu, expect dishes such as green chile–braised pork osso buco, grilled Spanish octopus with lemon-chickpea puree, and potato-crusted salmon. Wine director Ian Becker stocks over 2,100 selections on the list, which excels in Burgundy, California, Spain and Italy. Those celebrating special occasions, take note: Absinthe offers an extensive selection of large-format bottles.


Atelier Crenn

3127 Fillmore St., San Francisco, Calif.
Telephone (415) 440-0460
Website www.ateliercrenn.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Ed Anderson/Crenn Dining Group
Chef Dominique Crenn has found a kindred spirit in her eco-conscious wine director, Matt Montrose.

In San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, Atelier Crenn artfully executes modern French fine dining using locally sourced ingredients from California's bounty. The menu by chef-owner Dominique Crenn, the first woman in the United States to achieve 2 Michelin stars, is presented as a multicourse "Grand Tasting," featuring creatively plated seasonal offerings, with wine pairing options available. Wine director Matthew Montrose’s 700-selection wine list earned a Best of Award of Excellence in 2016, and shows strengths in Burgundy, the Rhône, California, Bordeaux, Italy, Austria and Germany. With an eye on the bigger picture, Crenn and Montrose also work together to promote sustainability in the wine and food world.


Boulevard

1 Mission St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 543-6084
Website www.boulevardrestaurant.com
Open Lunch, Monday to Friday; dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Nestled inside the historic Art Nouveau Audiffred Building, overlooking the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and across the street from the restored tower of the Ferry Building, Boulevard is surrounded by beauty. Inside, executive chef and owner Nancy Oakes creates her own masterpieces. Oakes' haute American cuisine—a seasonally changing menu of specialties from land and sea—is matched with wine director John Lancaster's 825-selection list, which features a robust by-the-glass program and strengths in California, Burgundy, the Rhône, Italy, Bordeaux and Germany.


Coi

373 Broadway, San Francisco
Telephone (415) 393-9000
Website www.coirestaurant.com
Open Dinner, Thursday to Monday
Best of Award of Excellence

Gabriela Hasbun
Owner Daniel Patterson is known in the Bay Area for his unconventional style and culinary vision.

Coi, an archaic French word for "tranquil," lives up to its name with its cozy yet modern dining room. Chef Matthew Kirkley, who took over creative control of the kitchen from owner Daniel Patterson in 2016, prepares a nightly seafood-centric tasting menu with international inspiration—a recent sample list includes options like Dungeness crab with grapefruit and Champagne, bone marrow-stuffed shells, and black bass with spot prawns, finocchiona and cucumber. Wine pairings, planned by wine director Courtney Olson, are available with the tasting menu, as is the full wine list, whose 700 selections showcase the best of California, Burgundy, Germany and Champagne.


Foreign Cinema

2534 Mission St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 648-7600
Website www.foreigncinema.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Foreign Cinema
Mark your calendars: Sept.18 is officially “Foreign Cinema Day” in San Francisco.

At Foreign Cinema, chef-owner duo Gayle Pirie and John Clark aim to create a unique dining experience every night of the week. A daily changing California- and Mediterranean-inspired menu features seasonal ingredients. The regularly updated decor gives the space a new feel with every visit, but there's always a full oyster bar and a movie projector running in the outdoor seating area. The 1,050-selection list, overseen by wine director Shannon Tucker, is strong in Burgundy, Italy, California, Champagne, the Loire and France, and there's a new featured wine pairing every night.


Prospect

300 Spear St., San Francisco
Telephone (415) 247-7770
Website www.prospectsf.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Jeannie O'Connor
"I really believe in not changing the food too much," says Prospect's chef and co-partner Pam Mazzola on her approach to designing a dish.

Just off the Bay Bridge in the SoMa neighborhood, Prospect offers seasonally driven and locally sourced contemporary American fare from chef Pam Mazzola (a specialty: whole-animal butchery). Wine director Tara McDonald’s 680-selection wine list showcases organic, sustainable and biodynamic wines, with particular strengths in Champagne, Burgundy, Italy and Germany. Can't choose just one? Over 20 wines are offered by the glass, including a rotating number of seasonal wines on tap.

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