Even if you’re the person who makes jokes about the Marina being a breeding ground for backward hats and strollers, you’re going to end up there from time to time if you live in San Francisco. And aside from having the only not-touristy Apple store, the Marina has a bunch of good restaurants. That’s why we have this guide. It includes all the best places to eat in the area, from a diner with amazing scones to a Chinese brunch spot that could probably host its own MTV Spring Break show.
The number one reason to go to Delarosa is for prime Marina people watching - both because it’s right in the heart of Chestnut Street and because this place is always swamped with people on dates and friends having some kind of big night out. Once you get hungry from writing fictional backstories for all the people around you, the pizzas here are solid and the burrata bruschetta should be on your table.
The Marina is full of spots to eat at before a night of bar hopping, and Nabe is one of the best. It’s a Japanese hot pot place toward the end of Lombard that’s great to drop into with a bunch of friends and split small plates and giant cauldrons of boiling soup. The more people you come with, the more hot pots you can try, but if you only get one, make it the seafood yosenabe that’s on the lighter side or the shabu shabu with spicy miso broth. No matter what you order, though, get the karaage fried chicken to start and at least one bottle of sake.
Even if the hardest choice you have to make at work today is deciding what color to highlight the top row of an excel sheet, by the time you leave you might not have the energy left to make an actual decision. That’s when you should go to Asian Box. This place is easy to get in and out of with a bunch of pre-designed combinations of rice, vegetables, sauce, and proteins that come in box form. Though if you do still have some focus left, you can make your own - we like anything with the coconut tofu and lemongrass pork.
Castagna is a tiny spot on Chestnut where you’ll feel like a regular, even if you’ve never been here before. That’s mostly because the staff goes out of their way to make everyone feel at home, from suggesting their favorite wine to joking about what you’re ordering like they’re related to you. The food is French, and it’s all good and perfect to split with someone else. Go for the French onion soup, provencale pizza with ratatouille on a thin cracker crust, and duck confit.
Ace Wasabi has a big back room that’s a great place for your friend’s next birthday dinner or to use as a starting point before heading out in the Marina. You can also come for bingo Happy Hour every day until 6:30pm, which includes deals like $6 beers and half-off sashimi. It’s always busy enough that you’ll have to half-shout your order, but your table will probably be the ones causing the noise, so it’s no big deal. For rolls, we like the crispy salmon and Rocket Man, and for appetizers, go for the brussels sprouts.
If one of the fancy FiDi data companies turned the Marina into a pie chart, the largest slices would be labeled things like “dogs and strollers” and “yoga pants,” and the smallest sliver would be made up of places like Home Plate. It’s a diner on Lombard that serves one of the best brunches in the city, with things like omelets, benedicts, and free scones, and portions that make everything easy enough to split.
Roma Antica has what we call a dartboard menu - wherever you land, it’s going to be on something good. Carbonara, eggplant parmesan, sechetti, and pappardelle with oxtail ragu - it doesn’t matter what you order, you’re going to be very happy with whatever ends up in front of you. This is one of our go-to’s for lunch, brunch, or dinner in the neighborhood.
Even though this French spot has been open a while, it’s so bright and clean inside that whenever we walk in, we always get a feeling similar to peeling the plastic off a new TV. Cafe Boho is a little pricey, but it’s one of the better options in the neighborhood when you’re looking for a quieter place to have a meal. If you’ve got a few people with you, split the mussels to start and get the pork chop as a main.
If you actually manage to do that thing where you wake up early on a Saturday and go on a run, Le Marais is where you should go after. This spot makes phenomenal granola and serves Stumptown coffee starting at 7am, along with some of the best French pastries in the city. The breakfast mix-and-match board is also pretty great since it gives you the chance try five or seven different baked goods at once, which is how we recommend you commemorate every run you go on.
Mamo is a small Colombian spot not far from Marina Green that’s open for lunch and dinner. But the best time to come here is during their Happy Hour from 3-6pm Tuesday to Friday - the beers are $2 off, but you’re really here for the discounted food. We like the pork arepas rellenas that are $12 and come in a large enough portion to be a full dinner. If you show up too late for the Happy Hour though, stay and get the crispy-skin chicken thighs with olives and preserved lemon served over polenta.
Toma is our favorite taco spot in the Marina. Their meats, tortillas, and salsas are all excellent, though we’re partial to the carne asada and Tuesday-only special chicken mole. It’s a grab-and-go situation because this place is tiny, but on the occasional hungover Saturday or Sunday afternoon when getting here is half the battle, you can eat a breakfast burrito at a sidewalk table.
If you hang out in other high-rent neighborhoods around the city, you already know what to expect at the other end of the long lines that always pour out of this place: great lamb wraps, chicken salads, and Greek yogurt soft serve that you can take to go. If you need something else to round out your meal at Souvla, you could get the fries, but they’re nowhere near as good as the potatoes that are roasted in the rotisserie meat drippings.
Radhaus is a huge beer hall with ceilings so high and a view of the bay so great that it almost feels like you’re outside. And sometimes, like when the weather suddenly turns on you in Fort Mason and you need somewhere to go, it’s better that you’re actually not. Get some large Belgian beers and a huge meat platter to split with your friends, and pat yourself on the back for suggesting coming here.
For a counter-service spot, Bonita Taqueria makes solid margaritas, and that’s reason enough to come here when you don’t really know what else to do on a Tuesday night. And when you realize you should actually get something to eat too, the carnitas are great and the dressing on the campesina ensalada is something we’d drink out of a shoe with no issues (although it’s better on their salad with rotisserie chicken added). Once you stop thinking about shoe dressing, go grab a table in the side alley if it’s still sunny out and enjoy a margarita with your dinner.
Viva Goa is our favorite spot for Indian food in the neighborhood, whether we’re eating there or taking it to go. The Navratan korma, butter chicken, and tandoori fish are three dishes we regularly alternate between, but no matter what we go with, there’s always lots of naan to go with it.
Tacolicious is a perfect standby for when you need somewhere to go with friends, but have yet to make a decision an hour before you’re supposed to meet up with them. The kale salad is excellent, the chips and guacamole are great, the short rib tacos are phenomenal, and this spot is an overall good time. There’s always a busy but not insane crowd of neighborhood people, and if you end up having to wait for a table, you can just grab a drink across the street at Campus in the meantime.
If you’ve ever been to Lombard and Steiner between 10am and 4pm on a weekend and wondered why there’s a crowd of people who look like they’re waiting to get on a bus to Coachella, it’s probably the line for the all-you-can-drink dim sum brunch at Chubby Noodle. Dinner here is still a party, but slightly less of a full-blown drinking marathon, and the duck lettuce wraps and pork tacos are things you 100% need to order.
From the outside, Lucca’s looks like a tiny Italian market that got lost on its way to Columbus Avenue, but it doesn’t matter where this place is, it’s still a sandwich temple. The porchetta and caprese (with prosciutto) sandwiches are the way to go. Order ahead online so you won’t have to wait.
Causwells is a good spot for splitting a few dishes over wine on a low-key date, but our favorite time to come here is for brunch. Even if there’s a line, it’s worth waiting it out because the brunch burger with bacon and a fried egg is phenomenal. If you’re not in the mood for that though, they have a mix of things like biscuits and gravy and chilaquiles, and it’s all fantastic.
Izzy’s is an old-school spot serving huge portions of red meat, creamed spinach, and more of the usual steakhouse standbys. It’s a family favorite, provided your family includes some hardcore carnivores, and the friendly service will make you feel like a regular no matter how long you’ve lived here.
This place is so popular that they have two locations that are less than a block apart. The one on Chestnut is mainly reserved for takeout, with salads and grain bowls and a few indoor seats and outdoor tables. The larger Steiner location does the same salads and grain bowls plus sandwiches, and has a ton of seating in an airy back space. The salads are delicious and large enough to feed two people and the sandwiches, especially the Kickin’ Chicken and Ragin’ Cajun, are awesome.
Dragon Well is a Chinese restaurant on Chestnut that we probably get takeout from more than anywhere else in the Marina. You can eat here too, and you should, but for the days when you just want to feast on garlic eggplant, lemongrass chicken, and moo shu pork in front of your tv, this is the place to call.