French Restaurants in Castro

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Bisou: A User’s Guide

California-Inspired French Cuisine | Bistronomy | Weekend Brunch | Selective Wine List

Sample Menu

  • Appetizer: kobe steak tartare with shallots, parsley, cornichons, and quail egg
  • Entree: soufflé with market vegetables, served with french fries on the side
  • Dessert: Gimme S’more—bittersweet-chocolate custard, crumbled graham crackers, stout-and-cocoa-nib marshmallow, and vanilla ice cream
  • Cocktail: the Sparker—Hangar 1 vodka, Green Chartreuse, salted bourbon caramel, and rosemary-infused oil, all topped with espresso beans

When To Go: Sip wines and pace yourself through the sumptuous dinner menu on a Friday evening; the atmosphere then is more relaxed and conversation-friendly compared to the fever pitch of the popular weekend brunch.

Inside Tips

  • If you do plan on checking out the weekend brunch, first be sure to make a reservation, then order the bottomless mimosas or bloody marys—they’re only $15 a pop.
  • Much of Bisou’s produce is sourced from Napa Kitchen Garden, an organic farm in Pope Valley that provides exclusively to Bisou Group restaurants.

Vocab Lesson
Bistronomy: locally grown, organic ingredients served with style amid a casual, convivial environment.
Cornichon: French for "gherkin," these small, tart pickles traditionally accompany pâté and other French dishes.

While You’re in the Neighborhood: Before or after your meal, head around the corner to the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street), a historic movie house built in 1922. It screens classic and recent releases, and the owners host singalongs to the likes of Grease and Frozen and occasionally fire up a Wurlitzer organ before the show.

If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Whip up authentic French bistro dishes at home with guidance from the chef’s cookbook, Nick Ronan: The Kissing Chef.

2367 Market Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

In Focus: H Cafe

  • Opened: 1999
  • Claim to fame: H Cafe was one of the first internet cafes in San Francisco.
  • Food: pastries and freshly made sandwiches
  • Drinks: fair-trade organic coffee
  • Amenities: free WiFi and outdoor seating
  • Regulars rave about these: the affordable prices and friendly owner
  • Best animal-related boast: “internet so fast it would make a hare cry”

3801 17th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Ever since first exposing raw ingredients to heat in 1991, the French have been expanding the possibilities of cuisine through subtle innovation. Today’s Groupon explores the virtuosity of French fusion with $40 worth of specially crafted food and drink at Panam for $20. This new restaurant in the Castro shows off its fanciful new digs with mouth-applauding tastes.

2367 Market St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Located firmly within San Francisco's Castro district, 2362 Market Street is steeped in city history. Here, Catch makes its mark in a storefront registered as an official city landmark that originally housed the burgeoning NAMES Project, which famously organized the creation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The history remains with the building, but Catch aims to create a new legacy while honoring the spirit of creativity and expression rooted in its surroundings.

To foster this spirit, the chefs rotate their menus regularly, accommodating seasonal produce and fresh catches of local, sustainably sourced seafood. Each dish showcases these ingredients while incorporating Mediterranean influences and minimalist Californian sensibilities toward composition and presentation. A hearty bowl of mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops, crab, and fresh fish in a tomato broth evokes the flavors of portuguese stew, and the pizzas emerge with inspired toppings, such as smoked salmon and cr?me fra?che.

The air of refined simplicity also extends to the dining room's decor. Cherry-wood tables line the tiled floors and surround the small, circular fireplace that helps heat the enclosed patio section. Two works of vibrantly colored wall art originals add a taste of whimsy to the space, as does the balcony-like stage that sits suspended 10 feet above the ground, dominating an entire corner of the room. A full piano resides on the stage, beckoning the live jazz bands that perform on Fridays and Saturdays for diners and brave souls who would like to make their seafood meals feel at home by playing sea shanties of yore.

2362 Market St
San Francisco,
CA
US

3512 16th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

In Focus: Blush! Wine Bar

  • Wines by the glass: 50
  • Wines by the bottle: 120
  • Entertainment: There’s live music on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as French improv theater monthly.
  • What to have for dinner: Raviole de Royan—imported French ravioli with comté cheese, chives, and crème fraîche
  • Most decadent dish: dark-chocolate waffle with salted-caramel sauce, a popular brunch special
  • Vegetarian/vegan options: Yes
  • Location: Across the street from the Castro Theatre.

476 Castro St
San Francisco,
CA
US