January 10, 2018

On the list for 2018! More tea in my life!

January 10, 2018

On the list for 2018! More tea in my life!

San Francisco is awash in places to enjoy one of the most decadent of dining experiences: afternoon tea service. There are fancy hotels and standalone tea rooms alike offering the refined experience around the area, making it easy to access no matter where you are or what your price point is, since the experience does not come with a crazy price tag.

No matter your objective — afternoon tea is perfect for when a parent is in town, an afternoon with friends, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, or just a splurge afternoon — there’s a place for you on this list. Whether you want to put on your best outfit and nosh on dainty little finger sandwiches in an oh-so-proper tea room, or enjoy authentic Japanese or Russian tea service, San Francisco has you covered. From cozy nooks to grand hotels, here are 14 great places for afternoon tea in San Francisco.

Allie Pape contributed to this story.

1 Charles Chocolates

You might not guess it from the name, but this chocolatier does a fun, all-American take on afternoon tea every Sunday at noon, with pastries like chocolate chip scones, quirky sandwiches on Tartine bread, and of course, plenty of chocolate (you can even sub out your tea for hot cocoa). Tickets, which include all of the above, go for $36.50 here.

2 Crown & Crumpet Tea Stop Café

This tearoom’s larger Fisherman’s Wharf location is no more, but you can still enjoy afternoon tea at the smaller Japantown outpost, located inside the New People mall. It doesn’t have the privacy or intimacy of some of the other tea rooms on this list, but the $28 tea service does boast a more unusual menu, with lots of gluten-free options (including scones and sweets), macarons, and even toast with Marmite.

3 DarTEAling Lounge

Nestled away amid the busy tech corridor of eastern SOMA, this petite retreat feels like a quirky-cute living room, and you can choose from a refined afternoon tea ($29 with tea sandwiches, cakes, and scones) or a filling high tea ($32 with sausage rolls and Welsh rarebit).

4 Japanese Tea Garden

A historic fixture of Golden Gate Park, this exquisite garden also offers a small tea cafe, with classic tea or matcha accompanied by traditional Japanese snacks like dorayaki (red bean pancake), edamame, and arare (savory rice crackers). Every order comes with a fortune cookie, which was introduced to the U.S. right here (way back in the 1890s).

5 Katia’s Russian Tea Room

Despite its name, this Russian restaurant only does tea service for large groups, so you’ll need to reserve in advance. But the spread is quite generous for the $25 per person price, featuring piroshki, blini, eggplant caviar, pavlovas, and napoleons, as well as tea served from a traditional samovar. Have a smaller group? They can still serve you tea, as well as point you to some of the same bites on their standard menu.

6 Laurel Court

Befitting its location in what might be SF’s highest-end hotel, the Fairmont’s Laurel Court does a pricey ($45) but fully loaded afternoon tea, with tons of tea sandwiches, funky scones like cinnamon-raisin and cheddar-chive, tarts, chocolates, macarons, and petit fours.

7 Lovejoy’s Tearoom

This quirky little tearoom feels like the best version of a grandmother’s attic, with mismatched china, hodgepodge furniture, and even hats you can borrow for the full effect. Bottomless tea can be accompanied by a simple scone, jam, and clotted cream ($16.95) all the way up to an all-out Queen’s Tea with sandwiches, crumpets, salad, fruit, and petit fours ($28.95).

8 Pardee Home Museum

This historic mansion, built in 1868, offers tours and tea service for groups of six to 12 ($20 per person for sweets, $30 per person for high tea) with a minimum two-week advance reservation. The wait list is long, so be sure to book well in advance — many fans take spots several months out.

9 Samovar Tea Lounge

This sleek tea lounge eschews Victorian frills for a modern-Zen vibe, and compared to the other spots listed here, the options are more global: you can get a Japanese tea service with matcha and a brown rice bowl, a Russian service with borscht and tea-smoked chicken salad sandwiches, or a Moorish service with veggie kebabs and mint tea. The lovely views over Yerba Buena Gardens are a nice bonus. (And if you want a quicker cup, check out the Valencia to-go tea shop, which is styled like a third-wave coffee spot.)

10 Secret Garden Tea House

Frilly, flowery, and pink to the core, this teahouse will delight children of all ages with its pastries, scones, and tea sandwiches ($24.95). They also offer gluten-free options (if ordered in advance), and some heartier fare like samosas and vegetable platters, as well as an entirely different menu for kids with options like pigs in a blanket, lemonade, and hot cocoa.

11 Tal-Y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe

This 36-year-old Outer Richmond spot specializes in both equestrian equipment and tea service, which should make you feel appropriately royal. The tea sandwiches are served on “Motorloaf,” a sweet, dark bread that comes from a family recipe, and there are salads, scones, and sweets aplenty in the cozy room.

12 The Garden Court

This stunning, historic space serves one of the most expensive tea services on this list (a whopping $68 per person, which can rise as high as $325 for two if you decide to add Champagne and caviar to the mix), but it’s hard to beat the opulent, chandelier-decked space, which feels like a trip back in time. Note that this tea is only offered Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

13 The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

Welcome to the most expensive afternoon tea on our list, but also the most decadent. The Ritz always knows how to do it right, and this tea occurs every first and third Saturday of the month from 2 to 3 p.m. with a live harpist and lots of tea options, tea sandwiches, eggs on toast, lobster mousse and caviar eclairs, and many sweets. There are also vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free options as well.

14 The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

Join those who lunch for a post-shopping afternoon tea at this swank department-store restaurant, with stunning views of Union Square and the shoppers below. The $45 tea service (Sunday through Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.) comes with mini sandwiches, pastries, petit fours, and the famed popovers with strawberry butter; you can also add a glass of champagne to the mix for an extra $9-15, depending on the producer.

15 The St. Regis San Francisco

The St. Regis San Francisco’s tea service is brand spanking new, featuring a modern interpretation of traditional tea. For $54 per person (and up, if including alcohol), the “Art of Tea” experience includes local fare from executive chef Franck Desplechin, with both sweet and savory options such as a huckleberry & blueberry pie shooter and an heirloom tomato waffle cone with scallops, basil pesto, and Italian speck. It all comes with teas sourced from the around the world. Tea is available daily in the lobby lounge from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call 415-284-4188 for reservations.