Sharing Top Chef Cuisine with Others at SF Communal Tables

You know the disappointed feeling. Can’t get reservations at a foodie-buzz restaurant. What do you do? Well…see if they have a communal table. Communal tables are dining tables sitting a larger group of people (strangers to each other) and are almost always dedicated to seating walk-ins coming to the restaurant. The experience is delightfully engaging: making new friends among locals and enjoying those dishes and drinks your palate is craving and gushing about it with your tablemates.

And to help you out here is a list (as of August 23, 2016) of several popular restaurants offering communal tables in SF, as curated by sftravel.com.

The full article of 12 recommended communal tables is here.

1601 Bar & Kitchen (1601 Howard St.)

1601 Bar & Kitchen, a unique Sri Lankan-inspired restaurant, is truly a Ceylonese treasure. Tuck into flavors bursting from elegantly executed dishes (don’t miss the egg hopper and mulligatawny soup) while enjoying the room’s contemporary look. There’s a communal table in the front (and a bar), where people come by after work for a bite to eat and beers or wine. You can also reserve it for large groups.

1760 (1760 Polk St.)

This Russian Hill restaurant’s communal table has a view of busy Polk Street, and always draws a lively meet-and-greet scene, whether it’s for Friday night cocktails or Sunday brunch. The menu is market-driven, with eclectic dishes ranging from lobster ceviche to beef tartare. There’s a bit of Filipino influence in some of the flavorful cuisine as well. Excellent wine list (especially grower Champagnes) and cocktails.

Coqueta (Pier 5)

Coqueta’s narrow communal tables are always filled with people, often for pintxos and gin and tonics, or a range of dishes off chef Michael Chiarello’s wonderful Spanish menu. There are also some outdoor tables where people gather when the weather is nice. It’s located on the Embarcadero right on the water, so the people watching is very good. Visit the website.

Lolinda (2518 Mission St.)

A popular Argentine steakhouse in the Mission, Lolinda has a very large communal table that can sit 20, and is dedicated to walk-ins since reservations can be hard to come by. Be sure to order a cocktail, and then enjoy dishes like their hearts of palm salad, empanadas, and a great selection of meats. This place draws quite a crowd, so expect a scene, especially on the weekend. Visit the website.

Nopa (560 Divisadero St.)

NorCal restaurant is much beloved and is among the first in the city to really be known for its communal table. And lucky for us it’s a big one. Walk-ins hover around it, clutching a glass of wine or a cocktail while waiting to land a seat. You’ll definitely end up chatting with your tablemates here. The seasonal menu is known for its butter beans, pork chop, chicken and burger, and it’s all delicious, rustic and open late (until 1am nightly).