It’s a fact: lousy music can spoil a dining experience. We’ve all been to the too-loud restaurant where talking over the cheap sound system quickly becomes a losing battle. And nobody goes back to the place that put the Lionel Ritchie Millennium Collection on loop, or the hole-in-the-wall with the wonderfully authentic foreign food and the borderline torturous background music. Avoid aural indigestion by trying one of the many restaurants that have gone to great lengths to ensure the ambiance is as pleasing to your ears as the food is to your taste buds. The best time to hear dinner’s new soundtrack is typically during the weekend; however, a few eateries serve DJs with midweek meals.
Big-name residents such as Tom Thump lay down the tracks at Frisson (244 Jackson, SF. 415-956-3004, www.frissonsf.com), the quintessential meals and wheels of steel restaurant. With the main dining room’s circular layout and warm colors, the new American cuisine’s premium quality, and the neosoul, jazz-infused electronic audio, Frisson has the right chemistry.
Many DJs spin into the wee hours of the morning, but Levende Lounge (1710 Mission, SF. 415-864-5585, www.levendesf.com) DJs don’t hit the decks until breakfast. Live electronic music, a self-service Bloody Mary bar, and a build-your-own Benedict menu option reinvent Sunday brunch. Levende strives to bring up-and-coming local talent as well as internationally recognized names to the table.
Residents Sabrina and Benji set the mood for the stunning, floor-to-ceiling bay view and noteworthy fusion of California and pan-Asian cuisine at Butterfly (Pier 33, Embarcadero, SF. 415-864-8999, www.butterflysf.com).
Eastside West (3154 Fillmore, SF. 415-885-4000, www.eastsidewest.com) creates a live music feel by putting resident DJ Morgan on a small stage. Its American regional menu features home-style favorites such as macaroni and cheese and buttermilk fried chicken. The mix usually includes Top 40 hits, so you may find yourself humming along between bites.
Head to North Beach’s Impala (501 Broadway, SF. 415-982-5299, www.impalasf.com), where you’ll instantly be transported south of the border. Here the tequila goes down as smooth as the tunes, which residents D-Tek and Zhaldee often infuse with a Latin flair.
If it weren’t for the flatware and delicious rolls in front of you, you’d swear Mas Sake (2030 Lombard, SF. 415-440-1505, www.massake.com) were a nightclub. Resident DJs Kimani, Solarz, Booker, and Chris Fox keep the mashups pumping all dinner long.
Lose yourself in the hypnotizing tunes, jungle decor, and flavorful Thai food at Lingba Lounge (1469 18th St., SF. 415-647-6469, www.lingba.com).
Hit up Poleng Lounge (1751 Fulton, SF. 415-441-1710, www.polenglounge.com) on a Friday or Saturday night if a little hip-hop, a dash of soul, and some Asian fusion cuisine sounds like a recipe for a good time.
DJ Adrian keeps things mellow at Mecca (2029 Market, SF. 415-621-7000, www.sfmecca.com) on Thursdays and Fridays with old-school electronica from the ’70s and ’80s.
As you might expect, Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack (18 Virginia, SF. 415-206-2086) serves pasta dishes galore, but there’s a little something extra on the menu on Fridays and Saturdays: rotating DJs who spin everything from oldies to new wave and punk but never house music.
At Nihon (1779 Folsom, SF. 415-552-4400, www.nighonsf.com), DJ Gray spins house and lounge while diners enjoy sushi and other Japanese fare.
Sushi Groove South (1516 Folsom, SF. 415-503-1950) is another chic sushi spot where resident DJs spin nightly.
DJs Michael Anthony, B-Smiley, Didge Kelli, and Drunken Monkey make the dinner-in-bed experience at Supperclub (657 Harrison, SF. 415-348-0900, www.supperclub.com) all the more cozy by channeling chill ambient and other funky forms of electronica through the sound system.
DJs only spin in the lounge at Sutra Restaurant and Lounge (100 Brannan, SF. 415-593-5900, www.sutrasf.com), where Asian fusion and downtempo are on the platters. *