5 Places in San Francisco to Have a Business Dinner
San Francisco is a town of movers and shakers—albeit a somewhat relaxed and informal one—who take their food seriously. While the CEO of a tech company may wear a hoodie to work, he’s definitely dining at the city’s top eateries, especially when the meal happens to involve business. Whether it’s a merger, acquisition, sale or celebratory meal involving a long-awaited IPO, the ideal restaurant for a business dinner has impeccable service and sensational food. Wondering where to plan your next team meeting? Here're a few of our favorite San Francisco restaurants for a business dinner suited for that important company negotiation or client meeting.
Boulevard (1 Mission St.)
Iconic, landmark and institution are just a few of the words that can be used to describe the 2012 James Beard Award Winner for Outstanding Restaurant, Boulevard. Chef-partner Nancy Oakes and partner Pat Kuleto opened the eatery in 1993 and at the time, the market-driven high-end American cuisine was revolutionary. Today, Boulevard is a quality old guard restaurant that serves up delicious and reliable classics in an unpretentious, but refined setting. The large restaurant, which is located on the Embarcadero and has gorgeous views of the bay, seats 150, plus 26 at the bar. It also has extensive private dining options, with room for up to 64 people, so if you’re planning a banquet of some sorts, you should definitely consider Boulevard. Specialties include the ahi tuna tartare with seven spice powder and nori crisp; Dungeness crab and endive salad with ruby grapefruit, avocado and green goddess dressing, and the roast lamb T-bone with morels stuffed with St. Andreas cheese, nettle and parsley potatoes.
Kokkari Estiatorio (200 Jackson St.)
Kokkari Estiatorio is similar to Boulevard in that it’s been serving San Francisco’s community of businessmen and women on the corner of Jackson and Front streets for many years. It’s also a massive restaurant with 185 seats, several dining rooms, and various types of seating that can accommodate an intimate group of four and a rowdy crowd of 20. Kokkari is one of those warm, welcoming, bustling restaurants where regulars encourage newcomers to try the traditional whole grilled fish with lemon, waiters pour heavy glasses of Assyrtiko, a minerally white Greek wine varietal, and everyone—from the staff to the diners have a grand old time. Unlike some newer restaurants that have a highly edited menu, Kokkari’s offerings are extensive and mouthwatering. Some personal favorites include the gigantic baked beans with tomato sauce, olive oil and feta; the grilled calamari stuffed with feta, fennel, orange and black olives, and the authentic moussaka, a traditional Greek casserole with spiced lamb, eggplant, potato and yogurt béchamel.
Perbacco (230 California St.)
If you’re a lover of Italian food and want your successful transaction with a side of housemade tagliatelle and five-hour pork sugo, you can’t beat Perbacco. The bi-level restaurant is in the heart of the Financial District along the cable car route that runs up and down California Street. Everything about Perbacco is precise, curated, and detail-oriented, from the chive garnish placed just-so on the broccoli puree to the comprehensive wine list dotted with exceptional French, American and Italian bottles. There is an excellent charcuterie program with a selection of house cured salumi, all of the pastas are handmade in house, and the dessert options are plentiful, in both sweet and savory preparations. www.perbaccosf.com
A.Q. (1085 Mission St.)
Need to impress a young tech dynamo? Book a table at A.Q. This SOMA restaurant on Mission Street is elegant, but sparse—there’s no stuffy white tablecloths here. Instead, wood tables are topped with seasonal decor. In fact, everything about A.Q. is a celebration of the current season: the decor, the cocktails, the food and even the website are inspired by spring, summer, autumn or winter. It makes A.Q. a fun restaurant to visit throughout the year, as each time you go, the menu, look and feel is completely different. There are two options to enjoying the upscale California cuisine: a four-course prix fixe menu or a chef’s tasting menu. Either are scrumptious choices and do splurge on the innovative beverage pairing—it's definitely worth it!
Pabu (101 California St.)
No list of San Francisco business dinner restaurants would be complete without a high-end sushi eatery. When you’re looking for the freshest seafood and the most interesting bottles of Japanese whisky, there’s only one place to find it, Pabu. Michael Mina and chef Ken Tominaga’s buzzy, sleek and happening restaurant is a stunning modern izakaya on California Street near the cable car turnaround. There are several private rooms and booths, as well as a chef’s counter where diners can watch the sushi chefs filet fresh toro and season it every so slightly with smoke or salt to make the most delectable bites of sashimi around. There is also finger-licking good robata skewers of chicken tail or pork belly, soothing miso soup with silken tofu, and American wagyu beef shabu shabu. On weekend nights the crowds can be a little loud, so if you’re hosting an event on the company dime on Friday or Saturday, it might be worth booking a private room. www.pabuizakaya.com
Avital Tours offers four-course progressive dining experiences in North Beach, Union Square and the Mission District. You'll meet chefs and industry experts, and have the opportunity to see, smell and taste what shapes each unique neighborhood— from the food (and drinks) to the art, history and culture. Tickets available at www.avitaltours.com