15 Standout Bay Area Wine Restaurants

You’ll leave your heart at these San Francisco restaurants
15 Standout Bay Area Wine Restaurants
Prospect's 800-selection wine program includes 30 by-the-glass options. (Nader Khouri Photography)
Jan 26, 2016

Updated: Oct. 24, 2019

With one of the country's strongest dining scenes, culinary options abound in San Francisco, from Californian fare to French 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 15 restaurants from around the Bay whose wine lists enrich any visit to San Francisco and its environs. To check out more wine-and-food destinations, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 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, Calif.
Telephone (415) 567-5432
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Grand Award

Acquerello dining room
Maty Kelly
Immerse yourself in Italian elegance at Acquerello.

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 2,350-selection list is captained by wine director Gianpaolo Paterlini. Choose between chef Suzette Gresham’s various prix-fixe tasting menus, which start at $105 for three courses, and the seasonal tasting menu, which costs $240 per person with wine pairings for an additional $125. Still hungry? The restaurant's cheese cart offers specialties from regions around Italy.


Madera

Rosewood Sand Hill, 2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, Calif.
Telephone (650) 561-1500
Website www.rosewoodhotels.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

Madera wine director Paul Mekis and chef Reylon Agustin
Alanna Hale
Wine director Paul Mekis and chef Reylon Agustin are the duo behind Grand Award winner Madera.

Set in a luxurious Silicon Valley resort, Madera specializes in Bay Area cuisine and local wines. The exceptional California selections on wine director Paul Mekis’ list are rounded out by additional strengths in Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône and Italy. The nearly 2,500 picks, supported by a cellar of more than 17,000 bottles, feature benchmark names and cult favorites from around the world. They’re available in a range of formats, from dozens of wines by the glass and half-bottles to three pages of large-format options. Chef Reylon Agustin works with the local farming community to source ingredients for his seasonal menu, including weekly visits to the farmers market.


Murray Circle Restaurant

Cavallo Point Lodge, 601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito, Calif.
Telephone (415) 339-4750
Website www.cavallopoint.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

Murray Circle Restaurant dining room
Alanna Hale
Murray Circle Restaurant is the more upscale dining option at Cavallo Point Lodge.

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. Managed by wine director Ken Barasch and strong in California, Burgundy, the Rhône, Bordeaux and Italy, the list offers easy matches with chef Michael Garcia’s locally sourced menu. Current offerings include maple-braised pork belly, tea-smoked duck breast and a vegan fall risotto with cranberry gastrique.


The Plumed Horse

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

The Plumed Horse Champagne cart
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.

The Plumed Horse established itself as a wine destination when it earned its first Grand Award in 1987. But it wasn't all smooth sailing—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 returned to Grand Award status in 2015. Today chef Peter Armellino cooks high-end Californian cuisine, with à la carte options and special tasting menus with premium wine pairings available. Wine director Jeffrey Perisho's 3,630-selection wine list 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, Calif.
Telephone (415) 749-2060
Website www.garydanko.com
Open Dinner, daily
Grand Award

Restaurant Gary Danko dining room
Restaurant Gary Danko
The cellar at Restaurant Gary Danko, a Grand Award winner since 2001, contains 15,000 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 2,800-selection list features particular strengths in Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, Italy, Champagne, Germany and Austria, 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, Calif.
Telephone (415) 828-7990
Website www.saisonsf.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Grand Award

A dish at Saison
Bonjwing Lee
Saison delivers a tasting-menu experience in an intimate environment.

Grand Award winner Saison serves only 18 diners at a time in its spacious open-kitchen dining space. The full culinary experience, starting at $298 per person, involves extensive courses of California-inspired bites, engineered by acclaimed chef Laurent Gras, plus optional pairings selected by wine director Mark Bright. Thanks to the restaurant's cellar of more than 11,500 bottles and 1,800 selections, wine lovers will find plenty to choose from in the way of Burgundy grands crus, gems from Bordeaux and the Rhône, and California collectibles in mature, classic vintages.


Spruce

3640 Sacramento St., San Francisco, Calif.
Telephone (415) 931-5100
Website www.sprucesf.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

Spruce dining room
Alanna Hale
Though trophy bottles abound at Spruce, there are also solid options for wine drinkers on a budget.

In San Francisco's Presidio Heights, Bacchus Management Group’s 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, plus additional strengths in Germany and Austria. Bacchus Management Group partner and wine director Andrew Green makes sure the list maintains a healthy number of labels under $100.


The Village Pub

2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, Calif.
Telephone (650) 851-9888
Website www.thevillagepub.net
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

A dish at the Village Pub
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 has grown from a modest 250 selections at its inception to its 2,500 offerings today. Like Spruce, the restaurant is part of Bacchus Management Group, so wine and spirits director Andrew Green runs the program here too. The list offers strengths in Burgundy, the Rhône, Bordeaux, Italy, Germany and Austria, with a selection of hard-to-find wines from California and other New World regions. And though the cellar is stocked with gems for big spenders, value seekers will find numerous bottles priced under $80.


A16

2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, Calif.
Telephone (415) 771-2216
Website www.a16sf.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

A16 wine director Shelley Lindgren
Kelly Puleio
Wine director Shelley Lindgren highlights indigenous Italian grapes on A16’s wine list.

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. The second location of A16 in Oakland, Calif., holds an Award of Excellence for its more abbreviated list.


Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

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

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar exterior
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
Absinthe serves a Restaurant Award–winning wine list and, as its name suggests, an array of classic and creative cocktails.

In San Francisco's trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar serves French-inspired cuisine with California flair. On the menu, expect dishes such as steak tartare with green apple, duck sausage with duck confit and potato-crusted salmon. Wine director Phillip Acquafresca stocks 2,300 selections on the list, which excels in France (especially Burgundy and the Rhône), California 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

A dish at Atelier Crenn
Atelier Crenn
Beautifully presented plates are a hallmark of the tasting menu at Atelier Crenn.

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 is presented as a multicourse tasting featuring creatively plated seasonal offerings, priced at $335 with wine pairings starting at an additional $220. Wine director Jordan Abraham’s 740-label wine list shines in France, especially Burgundy, and California. Another highlight of the program is the selection of wines by the glass, which includes coveted producers like Krug, Kistler and Château d'Yquem.


Boulevard

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

Boulevard’s wine director John Lancaster and chef and co-owner Nancy Oakes
Boulevard
Wine director John Lancaster and chef and co-owner Nancy Oakes have worked together at Boulevard for more than two decades.

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 co-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, France (especially Burgundy, the Rhône and Bordeaux), Italy and Germany. Lancaster and Oakes have a special synergy, thanks to more than two decades working side by side.


Coi

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

Coi chef-owner Daniel Patterson
Gabriela Hasbun
Coi’s chef-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-owner Daniel Patterson crafts the nightly changing tasting menu, which starts at $250 and emphasizes seafood while drawing international inspiration. A recent sample menu lists dishes such as fluke cured in kombu (a kind of kelp) and smoked black cod in scallop mousse. Wine director Eric Fox manages the list of 700 bottlings showcasing the best of California and France, with particular standouts in Burgundy.


Foreign Cinema

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

Foreign Cinema outdoor patio
Foreign Cinema
Foreign Cinema is a funky California wine destination.

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 1,350-selection list, overseen by wine director Shannon Tucker, is strong in France (especially Burgundy, the Rhône, Champagne and the Loire), as well as California. There's a different featured wine pairing every night, usually available in multiple formats.


Prospect

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

A dish at Prospect
Nader Khouri Photography
Seasonality and local offerings drive the menu at Prospect.

Just off the Bay Bridge in the SoMa neighborhood, Prospect offers seasonally driven and locally sourced contemporary American fare from chef John Cahill. Wine director Jonathan Shulkin’s 800-selection wine list is particularly strong in France (especially Burgundy), California and Italy. Can't choose just one? Nearly 30 wines are offered by the glass, including a seasonal sommelier selection and several pours via Coravin. Nancy Oakes, co-owner and chef of another Restaurant Award winner in this guide, Boulevard, is also a co-owner of Prospect.

Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.

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