So, your parents are in town and you need to get some dinners planned. Reservations are required, because no moms or dads we know enjoy wandering around the Mission in search of a cocktail when they find out that Flour + Water has a 28-hour wait. You need a place with great food and appropriate volume levels. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, and the spots on our list check all the boxes.
Tartine Manufactory is great in the daytime, but it’s inevitably extremely busy. At dinner, they take reservations, serve the same incredible bread, and do some fantastic shared plates that can all be interpreted as kind-of-healthy, not to mention delicious. Time it right and you’ll have a very successful visit.
Gardenias in Lower Pac Heights is low-key and relaxed but still serves some high-quality food. The duck and the ricotta toasts are very much worth your time, and overall, this place is a solid bet.
The Ferry Building may be a place you avoid for fear of being attacked by a seagull or steamrolled by a rogue food tour. But at night, the place calms down, and it’s absolutely worth bringing your parents to enjoy the Vietnamese dishes at Slanted Door - especially the spring rolls and claypot chicken. Bonus points for Bay Bridge views and dessert from Humphry Slocombe right next door.
Al’s Place is a Mission restaurant that doesn’t feel precious. They have a vegetable and seafood-heavy menu, and there’s a relaxed, friendly, flip flops-on attitude that pretty much anyone (including your parents) should be able to appreciate. The trout, grits, and steak tartare are very good.
Cotogna makes insanely good pasta, pizza, and dessert in a comfortable space in FiDi. The restaurant isn’t too loud, and it’s upscale without being eye-gougingly expensive. No matter the occasion, you can’t go wrong here.
If your parents enjoy spectacular Moroccan food, they will like Mourad a lot. The interior is fancy in a way that feels slightly corporate, but once you get your hands on the excellent chicken and flatbreads, you’ll only have eyes for your plates.
A little on the fancier side, with white tablecloths and serious “formal dining room” chairs, this place always manages to impress. Kokkari is also where we go to eat delicious Greek food. Definitely start with some zucchini cakes, and definitely also make a reservation (even though the space is huge).
The Neopolitan pizza at A16 is some of the best in the city - the crust is the soft but crispy, oven-blackened stuff of dreams. But they also make quality pastas, and the starters and small plates are equally solid.
If your parents are into raw fish, Akiko’s Restaurant is the place to go. The omakase is unreal, and not as wildly expensive as some other omakase options in SF. It’s near Union Square, so if they happen to be staying there, even better. The monkfish liver will change your world. Just make sure you go to Akiko’s Restaurant, not the similarly named Akiko’s Sushi Bar nearby.
Maybe your parents requested steak. Or seafood. Or a 6pm dinner. Maybe they want some steak and crab at 6:30. That’s where Boboquivari’s (a.k.a. Bobo’s) comes in. It’s very old school and it’s very, very good. Extra points for the comfortable leather booths and chairs.
The California-meets-Mediterranean food at Foreign Cinema is stellar, the space is beautiful, and if you can get outdoor seats, the old movies playing on the wall are a memorable touch. Also a good brunch option if you’re looking for daytime parental meals.
Strong pasta and small plates in a cute space in Russian Hill. If you have siblings or aunts and uncles in tow, or just a very hungry gene pool, the family-style menu is a good way to get a little bit of everything. And maybe even have some leftovers to take home.
Popovers, popovers, popovers. Try not to stuff your face with these despite their insane addictiveness. Wayfare Tavern is perfect for anyone craving traditional American food - there’s an awesome burger, a solid steak, and quality sides. Their mac and cheese will make you nostalgic for childhood (if your mom made mac and cheese like Tyler Florence, who owns this place).