Looking for the best replacement for Gary Danko in San Francisco

My go to SF restaurant has been Restaurant Gary Danko for decades now. in anticipation of going to the Bay Area for a couple of nights later in the month, I went to their website only to discover they are still closed re pandemic shutdowns {although they are offering pickup dinners}.
What’s the #1 option in SF to RGD as to a classy dining experience, more formal ambience, strong wine list and service? Thanks in advance.
BTW, a local friend has recommended Piperade, French Basque cuisine, which looks good for one night.

Piperade is good, not formal. Not at all like Danko, but very tasty.

I love Quince but it’s been years and haven’t been to all the chi-chi others (except Saison).

However, I wasn’t a huge fan of Danko’s, seemed very “correct” but not exciting the two times I’ve been (both over 15 years ago I think).

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Acquerello is open, fits the high end, more formal criteria.


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Thanks Barry. I looked into Quince and they have yet to re-open.

We’ve been to RGD probably 10 times and all have been stellar experiences, but it’s been 7-8 years since the last time.

Good friend, Mel Knox, recommended Piperade and the menu looks super tasty and appealing and as you say, not formal. It could work for one of my 2 nights and its not far from Nob Hill where I’ll be staying.

I appreciate the reminder as I had forgotten about this jewel and will put that on the top 3 of the list. Thanks Al.

No personal experience, but one restaurant on our list to try next time in the city is Atelier Crenn. And the only real driver for this is the chef - Dominique Crenn. She’s doing some pretty amazing things (my better half is a cordon blue trained cook). Information | Atelier Crenn

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Atelier Crenn is fabulous. Our favorite in SF. Acquerello is also a fine choice.

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Atelier Crenn is a phenomenal meal, and a reasonably good wine list, if I recall correctly. It’s a beautiful room, too, but modern beautiful more than traditional white tablecloth formal.


Michael, John and Sarah, after reviewing all info available, this is my first choice; however, their website implies some rigid COVID restrictions that if enforced, is a deal breaker. To be sure of their policy, I’ll call and get some details. I may have to rain check this for another time.

Please post what you find out. I may be in the city this fall for a few days…

I would suggest Spruce [cheers.gif]

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Great rec- many thanks. Love the wine list and that they are open 7 days as opposed to the usual closed on Sunday/ Monday.

I am huge fan of Chef Crenn and Atelier Crenn, that would be my first choice for high end dining.

Having said that I am surprised no one suggested Benu based on what you have wrote.

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I love Benu - food-wise it is my favorite restaurant in all of the Bay Area - but it is definitely avant garde compared to Gary Danko, which leans conservative. The wine list is also a trifle spendy for my taste

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Atelier Crenn is also pretty avant garde, along a different axis than Benu (very much a chef-driven menu as someone mentioned).


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Benu looks great and I will do it. They are only open Wednesday -Saturday and I’m there Sunday -Tuesday. So, another time.

Another vote for Atelier Crenn. If you’re looking for something more traditional like Gary Danko though, perhaps Michael Mina, Quince, Coi, Lazy Bear, Boulevard (reopening soon),

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Here’s the current COVID related requirements for Atelier Crenn:

At the door
Temperature check
Digital health questionnaire and guest records

Dining Room Seating
Hand sanitizer at the table
Employees wearing masks
Tables distanced by 6 feet or with glass partitions
Contactless payment options

Behind the Scenes
Dining room staff required masks and social distancing
Kitchen staff required masks and gloves during food preparation
Routine Covid tests for all employees

What we ask of you
Please wear a face mask or covering at all times
Respect 6 feet of distance from other guests

I’d also recommend Benu- one of the finest and most memorable meals we’ve had. Atelier Crenn was also fantastic, though it’s been about 5 years since my wife and I were there.

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No doubt, Benu is what I’m looking for. I’ll have to put it on the top of the bucket list as they are open Wednesday-Saturday and I’m there Sunday- Wednesday.

Thanks to all for this rec.