The Marina is a breeding ground for athleisure influencers and fancy strollers—it’s also home to a bunch of great restaurants. So the next time you’re in the area and hungry, use this guide. It includes all the best places to eat in the waterfront neighborhood, from a diner with great pancakes to a new Japanese curry spot.
There’s an abundance of Cal-Ital in the Marina, on Chestnut Street alone. But Norcina stands out. The restaurant turns out handmade pastas and pillowy Neapolitan pies that are perfectly charred. And the salads, snacks, and large plates aren’t afterthoughts, which is why this spot rises to another level. The toasted little gem with poached egg, boccarrones, and bread crispies is warm and creamy. Impressive-looking pork shanks, chicken milanese, and sausage-stuffed pork snouts come over well-seasoned grains. For dessert, roast your own marshmallows at the table for s’mores. The experience might seem hokey, but it perfectly matches Norcina’s “just hanging out on the beach” aesthetic we’ve fallen for.
Greens is a Marina institution that’s been serving up entirely-vegetarian dishes since 1979. The waterfront dining room in Fort Mason has tons of natural light, huge windows, and colossal wood sculptures, all of which create a beautiful setting for long, leisurely meals consisting of vegan spring rolls, pizza on cornmeal crusts, and fancy imported teas. The food at the groundbreaking restaurant won’t blow your mind, but it doesn’t need to—a meal at Greens will always be an experience to try at least once.
The lively Peruvian restaurant has neon signs, a large yunza tree dressed up with rainbow-colored streamers—and some of the best rotisserie chicken in town. Sure, Jaranita has solid cebiches, charcoal-grilled steaks, and empanadas, but any dish involving the rotisserie chicken is the reason to head here. Well-spiced and tender, the slow-roasted meat should definitely be on your table, along with the fries, salad, or yellow pepper wok-fried rice with aji amarillo sauce you can choose to go with it. Use Jaranita for fun group dinners and date nights, or a weekday Happy Hour with $8 cocktails.
Debuting last winter as Hinoya Curry, the spot for Japanese curry in the Marina has officially rebranded as Nippon Curry. But don’t expect big changes at the casual counter-service spot. They’re still using the same roux from the popular Japanese chain Hinoya Curry, and serving it alongside pork and chicken katsu, vegetables, and battered oysters. The curry dishes come with tangy pickled Japanese onions, which add a nice crunch to this quick (and filling) lunch or dinner. And the best part, Nippon Curry serves beer and sake.
The number one reason to go to Delarosa is for the prime people watching—the casual Italian spot is right in the heart of Chestnut Street, and is always swamped with folks on dates and friends having some kind of big night out. Generally, it has a lot going on and is kind of a scene, but the food is great, like the pasta, small plates, and pizzas (we like the one with prosciutto and arugula). Whatever you get, the burrata bruschetta should be on the table.
Looking for a place to fuel up before a night of bar hopping? Go to Nabe. The Japanese hot pot place is perfect for dropping in with a bunch of friends and splitting giant bowls of bubbling soup. The more people you come here with, the more hot pots you can try—but if you only get one, make it the shabu shabu with spicy miso broth. Whatever you order, though, start the meal with the karaage and at least one bottle of sake.
Casual yet kind of trendy, Ace Wasabi is where we go for birthday dinners or any occasion that calls for a loud, energetic scene. They have a big back room ideal for large groups, a daily Happy Hour that includes $7 wine and half-off sashimi, and, of course, plenty of sushi rolls to eat. Our go-to is the Rocket Man with snow crab, tempura shrimp, and seared hamachi—and for the appetizers, the brussels sprouts are always foolproof.
If one of the city’s many data companies illustrated Marina brunch spots as a pie chart, the larger slices would be “bottomless mimosas” and “social media-friendly wallpaper” and the smaller slivers would be lowkey breakfast spots like Home Plate. The diner looks like a living room straight out of an East Coast beach house, and you’ll want to get here for the buttermilk pancakes loaded with fruit and whipped cream, omelets, and benedicts, all of which you can dig into while admiring the baseball photos on the wall and the pillows with motivational quotes stitched on them.
For a casual, non-stuffy Italian spot to have dinner, beeline to Roma Antica. The friendly staff are always whizzing around singing songs in Italian or serenading tables with the birthday song. And you’ll probably end up swapping menu suggestions with the group sitting next to you. Wherever you land in the food department, though, the meal is bound to be great, from the carbonara with smoked guanciale to the Roman-style pinsas.
Cafe Boho is one of the better options for a quieter meal on Chestnut Street, when you don’t feel like making small talk with your friend’s roommate’s roommate. The French spot is bright, clean, and has more exposed brick than the loft in New Girl. If you’ve got a few people with you, split the mussels to start and get the pork chop as a main.
Mamo is a small Colombian/Venezuelan spot by Marina Green that’s open for lunch and dinner. The menu covers everything from loaded patacones to pabellón criollo—but our go-to is the pulled pork arepas that come in a large enough portion to be a full dinner. They also have beer and wine by the glass.
Great tacos are all over the city, but turn to Toma if you’re in the Marina. The grab-and-go spot is easy to miss, since you enter through a nondescript door on Steiner Street, which has just a few chairs outside when it’s nice out. Roll up and order tacos at the counter—we’re partial to the carne asada. But on the occasional hungover weekend afternoon when getting here is half the battle, we order a breakfast burrito, which is the best you’ll find on this side of town.
You probably already know what to expect at the other end of the long lines that always pour out of Souvla: great lamb wraps, chicken salads, and Greek yogurt soft serve that has a greater cult following than air fryers. If you need something else to round out your meal at Souvla, get the fries, but they’re nowhere near as good as the potatoes that are roasted in the rotisserie meat drippings.
Casual drinking spots to grab beers are easy to come by in the Marina. But what about beer halls located in historic waterfront warehouses? Radhaus at Fort Mason is one of the area’s more unique bars/restaurants—and that’s aside from the beautiful setting. It’s a Bavarian-style spot with lots of German beers, a menu of things ranging from pretzels to meat and cheese plates to heartier jägerschnitzel, along with cocktails and wine for non-beer drinkers. It’s also ideal for big groups, and works for quick hangs, date nights, and relaxing evenings after a day of doing waterfront things. Radhaus is the most versatile beer hall we know.
We’d go out of our way any day to get to Viva Goa. That’s because this casual spot is serving some of the best Indian food in town, let alone the neighborhood. They have perfectly cooked tandoori fish, rich curries, and a slightly sweet Navrattan korma, a mix of vegetables and curry. Get them all, and lots of naan to go with it. Viva Goa works well for takeout, but is also built for spontaneous weeknight dinners when your fridge is sad and empty—there’s rarely a wait, and you’ll probably make it out with leftovers.
Need somewhere to eat with friends, but only have an hour left to decide before you meet up with them? Head to Tacolicious. Though the name reminds us of a certain cringy late aughts pop song that starts with “Fergie,” it’s a solid place for reliable tacos with a California bent—think toppings like brussels sprout slaw, sauteed potatoes, and gridded pepper jack with carne asada. The kale salad is excellent, the chips and guacamole are great, and this spot is an overall good time. If you end up having to wait for a table, just grab a drink across the street at Campus while waiting.
From the outside, Lucca’s looks like a tiny Italian deli that got lost on its way over to Columbus Avenue. But it doesn’t matter where this place is located—it’s a sandwich temple. The deli is usually pretty packed in the middle of the day, with people ordering lunch, trays of meatballs, or groceries like olive oil or crackers, but the chaos is worth it to get their impeccable sandwiches (order ahead online if you don’t want to wait). The Italian combo and caprese sandwiches with sliced meats (always add prosciutto) are the way to go.
You could come to this American bistro to split a few dishes and casually drink wine with a date, but our favorite time to come to Causwells is actually brunch. Even if there’s a line, it’s worth waiting it out because the brunch burger with bacon and a fried egg is phenomenal. If you’ve already tried this glorious creation, they have a mix of other fantastic things to turn to, like biscuits and gravy and chilaquiles.
Izzy’s is an old-school steakhouse (they’ve been around since 1987) serving huge portions of red meat, creamed spinach, and more of the usual steakhouse standbys. If it isn’t already, Izzy’s will become your family favorite, provided your family includes hardcore carnivores. The friendly service will make you feel like a regular no matter how long you’ve lived in the area.
Between all the yoga sculpt and darties at Fort Mason, the people of the Marina still need to eat. That’s where Blue Barn comes in. The counter-service spot is ideal for a quick, healthy-ish meal—they have salads, grain bowls, and sandwiches you can take to go or dig into on their back patio. The salads are delicious and large enough to feed two people—and the sandwiches, especially the Kickin’ Chicken with caramelized onion, bacon, and smoked gouda, are awesome.
Dragon Well is a Chinese restaurant on Chestnut Street that we probably get takeout from more than anywhere else in the Marina. You can (and should) dine in at this casual place too, but on those days when you just want to feast on excellent garlic eggplant, lemongrass chicken, and moo shu pork in front of a TV, Dragon Well should be on your radar.