by Patrick Heig - 324 Reviews - 95 List
As we mature, we gain an appreciation for fine food, while shedding the trifling concerns of our youth to focus on what really matters: will there be parking? In San Francisco, the answer is usually an infuriating, block-circling, DPT ticket-incurring no, especially near anyplace with decent food. But at these restaurants, which range from good to excellent, you'll find ample street parking, a free lot, or valet service included with your meal, leaving you free to worry about more pressing issues, like how much wine to drink with dinner, now that you can drive. (Photo: Easy-peezy parking in Pizza Nostra's lot.)
Updated: March 02, 2010
Even if the small lot out front is full, there are usually plenty of spots available across the street on DeHaro at this Neopolitan pizza/small plates spot (from the restaurateur behind Chez Papa) at the quiet and sunny northern foot of Potrero Hill, and prices are very reasonable for the quality of food to boot.
This restaurant in the Hilton near Union Square offers five hours of free validated parking (!) whether you order a drink at the bar for $8 or the three-course dinner for $34.95. This is a ridiculous deal considering that you'd spend $15 at the cheapest nearby garage, so next time you come down to shop or see a show, park here and eat or drink for free. Do not go over the five hours though--after that it's $4 every 15 minutes.
So here's what you do: Make a reservation for 7pm (do it well in advance, as this brilliant "new American barbecue" restaurant got a deserved three-star review from Michael Bauer), which is the magical moment when the meters stop charging and the yellow "loading only" zones turn into free, plentiful street parking (trick also works well for Tadich Grill, Perbacco and other FiDi restos.
Another Bauer three-star recipient, this Mexican spot, with its slow-roasted pork shoulder carnitas and NOPA kitchen-cred, has a free (if somewhat crowded) parking lot/garage right outside. Also, little known fact: Nopalito does takeout now, so you can park, grab that dinner and ride away clean.
Parking is hell in most of Noe Valley, but anywhere along 24th St near this Spanish tapas spot there are plenty of spots open between 7-9pm. Similarly, most restaurants in Noe Valley are only worth going to if you live within a few blocks, but Contigo is worth a trip across town.
Though this beloved Bay-side burger dive was featured on "No Reservations"--and thus likely to be swarmed for by Anthony Bourdain groupies for the next few months--the huge adjacent lot and, failing that, on Pier 30 itself, can take all comers, and with juicy, dirt cheap burgers on sourdough and $3 beers, there've always been plenty.
This restaurant, a converted army barracks just inside the Lombard Gate in the Presidio, has the feel of a private club, is both classy and kid-friendly, and serves upscale comfort food, plus it has a nice big lot for customers to park in.
The food here, from chef Jennifer Puccio, is incredible, which makes it all the more impressive that the parking is so convenient. On most nights, there are plenty of spaces out front on Townsend; on game days (the ballpark is just around the corner) parking's only $5 at the Bank of America lot on 4th St and Brannan (call Marlowe for the house code).