Eric Wolfinger
BDK Restaurant & Bar
Courtesy of Andrew Ho
Darren Samuelson
Patricia Chang
David Boyer
Wes Rowe
Aubrie Pick
Tofino Wines
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1. Aatxe 2170 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (Upper Market)

Pronounced "aah-CHAY," this Upper Market Spanish spot features a menu that is inspired from the Basque tapas culture, but is very much driven by local Northern California ingredients. The vibe is very intimate and European, the former meaning you’ll want to make a reservation (call if your party is five or more), though walk-ins can grab seats at the bar or the communal table.

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2. Aster 1001 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Many of the ingredients at Aster are being cultivated by Northern California farmers and ranchers specially for the spot, so you can expect very thoughtful, tasty dishes like pigs head croquettes (w/ blood orange kosho, arugula, kumquat), and dry-aged beef striploin with farro verde, morel, little gem, and ramps. There are also almost two dozen wines by the glass, including biodynamic and naturally produced vintages, as well as plenty of European beers by the bottle.

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3. BDK Restaurant & Bar 501 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (The Tenderloin)

Located in the Tenderloin's Hotel Monaco, BDK is an affordable cocktail bar and resto offering delicious drinks (Old Fashioneds on tap!) and tasty American fare courtesy of Top Chef alum Heather Terhune. Pop in for everything from Thai coconut red curry popcorn and dungeness crab beignets to dark chocolate fudge cake.

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4. Buttermilk Southern Kitchen 2848 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Buttermilk Southern Kitchen's food is totally affordable (almost everything is under $18), everything is made in-house (from the sour cream to the butter to the pickles), there are eight beers on draft, AND it has brunch.

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5. The Empire Room 555 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Civic Center)

It’s a bar. It’s a lounge. It’s a cocktail parlor. The former 8,000 square foot Stars space has been taken over by the owners of Oddjob, SRO, and Jones, and is now SF's new hottest nightlife spot that somehow manages to be whatever you want it to be (as long as you aren't looking for a dive bar). Impressive chandeliers give the space an elegant feel as do the multiple ViP areas (bottle service, yo). Or escape to the back for a quieter lounge. There will be rotating DJs and lots of special events like fashion shows and art installations. Our favorite part? They're bringing in food truck chefs to make all of your favorite treats and, of course, the handcrafted cocktails. Sure, bottle service is cool, but we'll never turn down a perfectly concocted cocktail.

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6. Ichi Kakiya 3369 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

ICHI Kakiya is an oyster bar focused on sustainable seafood and Japanese bar dishes. The menu is small (oysters, clams, scallops, and a few salads and steamed seafood dishes), but every single item is thoughtful and, even better: super tasty. Thanks to the drink menu -- there are a half-dozen sakes, three beers on tap, and lots of seafood-friendly sparkling and white wines -- it's basically the perfect place for a second or third date. And not just ‘cause of the oysters. But also, fine, ‘cause of the oysters.

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7. Marlowe 500 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Soma)

Marlowe has been a favorite for locals since 2010, so you’ll undoubtedly want to make a reservation before making your way over, as it would be a shame to miss out on their much-celebrated burger, topped with caramelized onions, horseradish aioli, cheddar, and bacon. The burger, while amazing, is far from the whole show. Reminiscent of a southern country kitchen, Marlowe diners love their warm open faced deviled egg sandwich, rock shrimp roll, and crispy fried chicken sandwich.

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8. Mekong Kitchen 4039 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

Mekong Kitchen describes itself as “Vietnamese soul food,” which, in more scientific terms, translates to... Sriracha wing lollipops! Good for a quick and affordable bite with friends or a casual date, you’ll order at the counter and then grab a seat. Depending on who you’re there with, order the garlic noodles (not unless you're sharing with your date) or one of the slurp-tastic bone broth noodle soups (translation: pho). Too busy binge-watching Netflix to leave the house? No worries: Mekong also delivers.

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9. Montesacro 510 Stevenson St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

Before pizza, there were pinsas. What's a pinsa? It's pizza's lesser-known older brother, a flatbread that was once prepared by peasants outside the imperial walls during the Roman Empire that also happens to be the star of Montesacro, a Roman enoteca in SOMA with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and ample seating. There are 10 pinsas on the menu (combos like burrata, broccolini, spicy pork sausage, and mozzarella or tomato, artichokes, mushroom, olives, egg, and prosciutto), as well as cheeses, salumi, panini, and an extensive wine and beer list.

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10. Octavia 1701 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Much like The Empire Strikes Back only made you appreciate “Star Wars” that much more, Octavia, the sister restaurant to Frances, will make you appreciate Chef Melissa Perello the most. The concept is similar: refined home cooking. In this case, home cooking just means simple, without any fancy tricks, and utterly delicious. The menu changes every day, but look/plead for things like chilled squid ink pasta, Atlantic sea scallops with crispy prosciutto, and chili-doused deviled eggs.

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11. Tofino Wines 2696 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118 (Inner Richmond)

We love a wine bar, but sometimes they feel just a little too intimate. Not the case with Tofino Wines, whose 2,500sqft of space includes 20ft-high ceilings, a 32-seat bar area, and an entire wine shop featuring 500+ carefully chosen wines, including a dynamic selection of Champagne and sherry. Come in, grab a seat, order one of 10 wines by the glass, six wines on tap, or three beers on tap (Almanac, Fort Point, and Deschutes), and snack on burrata, sardine pâté, or a charcuterie plate. Perfect for a date. Or, you know, just drinking really good wine.

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12. Trestle 531 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Jackson Square)

Life is full of really tough decisions, but thanks to the folks at Trestle, now you'll have a few less to make. Every night, they offer a daily changing three-course prix fixe menu, and all you have to do is choose one of the two options for each course. And decide if you want to add the optional pasta supplement. Even better? It's cheap. And, since you're saving so much money on what's truly delicious food, you won't feel bad about splurging on a bottle of wine.