Greens interior

Restaurant of the Week: Greens San Francisco

Greens San Francisco, a restaurant known for “celebrating vegetables,” spares no flavor and leaves no stomach empty with its fully vegetarian menu that’s ever changing through the seasons, depending on California’s rich harvests.

It’s a Thursday, almost 7 p.m. Tables are full and chatter fills a large vaulted-ceiling warehouse at Fort Mason, a space overlooking the fog casting over the Golden Gate Bridge that can be seen through floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The sun is setting through the clouded skies on one of San Francisco’s most iconic restaurants serving the Bay Area since 1979.

What started as a female-led kitchen still holds that legacy true today. Greens San Francisco is still and has always been female-operated. Founding chef, Deborah Madison, opened Greens with a promise to introduce every person who came through its doors to the love of whole foods and vowed that no patron would miss meat – something each of its chefs have championed through their menus ever since.

Executive Chef Katie Reicher took over the kitchen in 2020 after working alongside former Executive Chef Denise St. Onge, the leader who led the restaurant through its 40th anniversary. Chef Reicher is only the restaurant’s fourth executive chef to grace the kitchen since inception.

The menu, filled with decadent options, consists of small plates, soups, dishes for both first and second courses, desserts, refreshing cocktails and uniquely crafted drinks. Chef Reicher, taking the freshest West Coast-inspired ingredients from Northern California, transforms them into rich bountiful creations for plenty to enjoy.

For example, the mesquite-grilled peaches starter takes a seasonal stone fruit and turns it into a decadent, filling plate that’s decorated with hot honey, yogurt, Thai basil, frisee and almonds. It’s refreshingly balanced, served with rich yogurt as a cream base, hot honey adding a contrast to the sweet peach and the crunch of almonds. This is surely a way to activate the senses from the get-go.

Other items on the starter menu showcase how the restaurant doesn’t limit itself to any cultural genre. The potato curry puff, for example, is filled with cucumber raita and stone fruit chutney, tasting as rich and warm as a handmade pot pie with a flaking crust.

As for the first-course dishes, the summer squash griddle cakes are a light yet rich option, something Greens San Francisco’s staff said they have many different takes on through the seasons. During the summer months, they’re made with spinach, feta, scallion, garlic, tzatziki, cucumber and tomato salad, and lemon vinaigrette.

The heirloom pepper panzanella comes in a large bowl with house focaccia, heirloom tomatoes, basil, Castelvetrano olives, burrata and aged balsamic. This dish, overflowing with fresh vegetables, is the way to enjoy bounties of the Golden State, with every bite tasting as though it was freshly harvested moments ago.

As for main courses, there is no dish that should go unmentioned: lemon-grilled cauliflower, summer yellow curry, and corn and zucchini enchiladas.

However, there is one dish that deserves the most notable of mentions: the basil pappardelle. This dish will have you already making a return reservation before you even finish your bowl. The handspun ribbon pasta is adorned with toasted Juliet tomatoes, black garlic, chanterelles, roasted mirepoix misco, burrata, balsamic, fried capers and chili flakes – a combination making a rich and robust sauce.

greens san francisco

Now, no restaurant with such flavor goes without an equally as decadent bar. Some summer favorites include the California citrus aperitif, the pinot noir and hibiscus spritz and the gin and Meyer lemon with biodynamic curacao, Sirene Bianco and pastis. All light and refreshing with citrus and floral-forward ingredients. The bar offers unique and refreshing non-alcoholic drinks, as well, like celery soda, ginger soda, pinot noir grape juice from Navarro Vineyards in Mendocino and the entire Rare Tea Company selection.

As guests within the restaurant enjoy their shared plates, it’s evident that Greens offers a sense of comfort for many. As if, for a moment in the day, time stands still and every person who enters the doors can drop their bags, sit and truly feel at home. Whether it’s the comforting meals, the vast views coming from the windows or a combination of the two, it seems as though the restaurant has earned a reputation to be a place to enjoy, savor, indulge and laugh. Every person in the room is simply enjoying their food. It’s a sight not often seen in the hustle and bustle of one of the nation’s largest cities.

Greens San Francisco is open Tuesday through Thursday, 5:30 to 9 p.m.; Friday, 5 to 9 p.m..; and Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (brunch) and 5 to 9 p.m. Greens is closed on Monday.

For more information on Greens,

Building A, 2 Marina Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94123

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