Sweet Spot: Good Restaurant, Great Parking

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

Parking, lots

Pizza Nostra

300 De Haro St, San Francisco, CA 94107

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.

Urban Tavern

333 O' Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

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.


568 Sacramento, San Francisco, CA 94111

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.


306 Broderick St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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.


1320 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

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.

Red's Java House

Pier 30, San Francisco, CA 94105

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.

Presidio Social Club

563 Ruger St Bldg 563, San Francisco, CA 94129

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.


330 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

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).

More restaurants with easy parking

Slow Club

2501 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Easy street parking.

Chez Spencer

82 14th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Easy street parking.


2100 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Free lot.

Wasabi & Ginger

2299 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

Free valet

Heaven's Dog

1148 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Easy street parking.