Your boss makes a lot of money. Or, as evidenced by their Tesla and once-a-week omakase habits, at least a lot more money than you do. So watching them leave for a crazy restaurant every night before you pick up some Taqueria Cancun on the way home is just the way life is right now. But on the bright side - you can still hit Mauna Loa on a Thursday night, drink too much, and play nine rounds of Buckhunter and not have to worry about catching Caltrain back to the suburbs. It’s the little wins.
Remember that when your boss emails you to set up another fancy dinner. And use this guide to help you nail that perfect restaurant - a place that’s pricey, but not over-the-top, mature without giving away how old you think/know they are, and perhaps most importantly, somewhere you can actually get a reservation.
Perfect for: The Classy Boss Who You Aspire To Be
Your boss rules. He maintains work-life balance, has hobbies that don’t involve organizing his closet of fleece vests, and keeps himself in shape via a pescatarian diet and surfing. If he needs a fancy dinner with the wife or a major client or the CFO, get him a 6pm reservation at Ju-Ni (early bedtime, he needs to be up to make his kids pancakes). From the service to the sushi and sake, dinner at this very minimalist omakase spot in Nopa is an incredible experience.
Perfect for: The Boomer Boss With Gout Who Can’t Quit His Steak And Hollandaise
Back when he was young, healthy meant not double dipping your fondue and making sure you scraped the charred bits off your mom’s meatloaf. To him, butter is a food group, he’s unsure how to pronounce “za’atar,” and he definitely has a Barcalounger. Take him back to the glory days of decadence at Gary Danko when he needs a nice dinner reservation. The place is a classic and the food is rich, heavy, and extremely good. We might even advise going with the tasting menu - because you just need to be responsible and limit his intake and choices.
Perfect for: The Carnivore Boss That You, And The Entire Office, Fear
Kokkari is a phenomenal Greek restaurant that’s made for power-tie and/or power pumps-type managers who want to eat well and be feared. What says “I own your soul/career advancement” better than downing live uni while waiting to carve into a delicious grilled lamb with a massive knife? Recommend that they start with the zucchini cakes and then run back to your desk to cower in fear.
Perfect for: The Classy Carnivore Boss You Aspire To Be
We frequently think about the beef tongue buns at Liholiho Yacht Club, and wonder why they aren’t available in vending machines scattered around the city. This Tendernob spot is one of our favorite restaurants and they make many delicious meaty things to eat, including spam fried rice and great ribs. If you can get a reservation here, it basically means you stayed up past midnight or were traveling internationally and remembered to hop on a reservation app to book a table. Your classy boss will be impressed, eat his/her meats, and think about you at the next promotion cycle.
Perfect for: The Boss With Zero Self-Awareness
Has he noticed that the entire restaurant is teaming with older men eating with women in their 20s? Or that the people next to him have a dog under the table? Or that the waiter hasn’t been seen in 30 minutes? No, he’s too busy telling a super inappropriate story about how he spent too much of the company’s money to bring his wife to a conference in Phoenix so she could visit her Aunt Paula. Keep him on the trend of spending a lot of company money with a very delicious and maybe slightly weird dinner at Mourad. The Moroccan food is incredible and pricey, but there’s something about the space and crowd that’s a little off. Luckily, he probably won’t notice or care anyway.
Perfect for: The Boss With Mysterious Unlimited Income
You work at a do-good non-profit. Bonuses come in the form of the joy and moral superiority you get from your ‘saving the world’ job. Yet your boss seems to have a lot of spare cash. Vacations in Mallorca. Casually refers to a weekend house and some sort of ‘help’. Get some of the extra funds out of their life with a fancy dinner that isn’t too insanely priced so she can keep her ‘I work in charity’ cover going. Nightbird in Hayes is that place. The 10-course tasting menu is unreal at $125, and only improved by the the fact that they have multiple bread courses. From the quail egg starter to the seasonal sorbet, the meal never really dips and is one of the best in SF.
Perfect For: The Pescatarian Boss With Cash To Burn
Leo’s feels like a swanky yacht or small-luxury cruise ship inside. The seafood-heavy menu is both excellent and expensive, and will impress your boss’ spouse/potential investor/whomever they are having an affair with. As long as they’re cool to spend $35 on a lobster roll, they will love it.
Perfect for: The Boss Who Isn’t As Young As She Thinks She Is
Flores is a place to take a self-proclaimed “cool mom” boss. Or a boss who really wishes he hadn’t gotten married to his high school girlfriend. The boss chasing their younger years and not quite catching them. It’s loud and the food is solid, not great (we do reserve some true love for the crab tostadas), and the drinks are strong and quite good. The Cow Hollow Mexican spot always has a generally good-looking Happy Hour crowd that spills into dinner, and your boss will think they just went to the promised land. Sweet youth.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Overuses Acronyms
“TL;DR, ICYMI, FTE KPIs for Q3 are looking like a miss. Need updates by EOD.” This is the type of email you regularly receive from your boss, which leads to you immediately fire up LinkedIn and desperately scroll. Try not to respond with IDGAF. Take a deep breath and get on an SPQR reservation. The pasta is excellent and the atmosphere is much more upscale than your boss’ communication style.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Refers To Herself As A “Foodie”
Run by the people behind State Bird, The Progress is a better option for boss-pleasing because dinner there only requires a reservation and not a multi-hour wait on the sidewalk. The interior is very pretty and the food will check all of the boss’s “must look good for my 78 followers” boxes, while avoiding any rehydrated nasturtium blossoms. The whole place is cool without trying too hard, and the lamb tartare is phenomenal.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Is Into Food, But Would Never Say “Foodie”
Mister Jiu’s is not the easiest place to get a reservation, but if you’re willing to aggressively stalk the necessary sites, you can do it. Persistence pays off, and while you might not get actual acknowledgment that you achieved the impossible from your boss, at least you can pat yourself on the back. This Chinatown restaurant does excellent, upscale takes on Chinese food that you can order a la carte or from a tasting menu, and either way your boss will be pleased. Besides the excellent things to eat, the interior is well-designed without feeling overdone, and has some nice skyline views out the windows.
Perfect For: The Reasonable And Patient Boss Who You Actually Respect
A reservation at Zuni is doable, provided you’re planning far enough in advance - a few weeks out and you’re golden. Zuni is one of our all-time favorites, because it’s extremely classy, and the relatively short menu is executed to perfection. The chicken takes an hour but is absolutely worth it, and for someone who is planning out their Q1 goals already, it’s totally fine to take some time to get it right. Advise your boss to get the fritto appetizer, and then plan for Christmas bonus.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Isn’t Afraid To Try Things, Including Steamrolling Corporate Card Policies
Maybe your boss needs a foie gras dumpling every now and then or he gets cranky. Benu is an incredible meal that takes up a good part of the evening and certainly costs a lot, but is pretty mind-blowing. The tasting menu is extensive and creative, provided you have a finance department that takes its job pretty lightly.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Wishes She Still Lived In New York
You’ve heard many times how much your boss misses New York. So the next time she starts talking about how the West Village is magical, and how the aroma of summer trash has a certain charm to it, be proactive and make her a reservation at Park Tavern. The North Beach spot has very good food (especially the burger) and enough of a New York feel that she’ll feel like he’s home.
Perfect For: The Extremely Neurotic Boss
Some people get to boss level by being exceedingly good at Powerpoint and having a calendar organization system out of A Beautiful Mind. Your boss definitely likes things the way he likes them. Exactly the way he likes them. Hillstone, on the Embarcadero, is the place for such a person. The spinach and artichoke dip is heated to a precise temperature every time, the salmon is identical in San Francisco and Phoenix, and the drinks are always expensive and good. Yes, it’s basically an upscale Applebee’s, but you know what you’re getting every time.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Likes To Stick Close To Financial District
Akiko’s is one of the more classic sushi options in the city, and the simple, attractive restaurant solely focuses on fish. If your boss actually likes the people she’s eating with, omakase is the move, but there’s also an a la carte menu for when she needs to get out quickly.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Doesn’t Know Anything About Restaurants, But Watches The Food Network
“Have you heard of Tyler Florence? The guy on the Food Network? He has an AMAZING restaurant here.” All of these things are true. The restaurant is Wayfare Tavern and it is a very good place to eat, regardless of who the figurehead chef is. The fried chicken is fantastic.
Perfect For: The Boss You Actually Like Who Lives In The North Bay
Sushi Ran is in an extremely random location, on a side street off the main drag of Sausalito, and you wouldn’t find it unless you were on a hunt for incredible sushi and had a nose like a bloodhound. It has some of the best sushi in the Bay Area, and the small plates and non-sushi options are also amazing. On a nice night, sitting outside is ideal. Your boss will also be very impressed that you know things about the suburbs.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Won’t Stop Talking About Meditation
Your boss has recently become so chill, he’s willing to drive (more likely get driven) all the way to the Outer Sunset. While Outerlands is more of a brunch destination, the food is just as good at dinner and the atmosphere is a bit more romantic and upscale than during the daytime frenzy when everyone is too busy taking photos to actually eat their food. The menu is simple but not boring, and will earn you a reputation as a tasteful human.
Perfect for: The Boss Who Wants To Go To The Mission, But Is Also Terrified Of The Mission
This is the neighborhood restaurant we wish was in our neighborhood, but instead it’s hidden behind the KQED building and a Muni graveyard/repair depot. The Morris serves exceptional food and wine, is still a bit of a secret, and is easy to hit on the way home to the ’burbs. The smoked duck is always a good call, and slightly adventurous but also safe enough for the boss who is easing into city life.
Perfect For: The Boss Who Is A Card Carrying Battery Member
Glass windows and a prime Hayes Valley corner location mean there’s a good chance an underling will trudge by and see the boss drinking a bottle of 25-year-old Bordeaux and eating foie gras and frog legs. But Monsieur Benjamin isn’t just about being spotted - it’s upscale without being snooty, and generally full of people who know which fork is for salad and maybe even own their own escargot utensil set. Your boss is going to love it.