The Prime Buyer's Report

The definitive guide to local shopping; methodically researched, updated daily.

San Francisco Bay Area Edition

Prime Buyers Guide Catering Companies

How to Find Good Caterers in San Francisco CA

Considering the wide range of foods, prices and services available, finding the best caterers in San Francisco for your event can be overwhelming. Catering companies specialize in different aspects of food and party services, so it pays to be sure they are right for your special event whether you want the caterers for a catered dinner for a special occasion, or snacks for a party.

The following research by The Prime Buyer's Report identifies the best caterers in San Francisco and issues related to hiring them.

Updated December 21, 2013

 The TOP 10 Catering Companies in San Francisco CA

Restaurant Lulu Catering
(415) 904-0632
816 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Areas Served: San Francisco CA, Richmond District, Sunset District, North Beach, Russian Hill, Nob ...

Betty Zlatchin Catering
(415) 641-8599
1177 Indiana St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Areas Served: San Francisco CA, Sunset District, Russian Hill, North Beach, Potrero Hill, Mission ...

Union Street Catering
(415) 330-2420
San Francisco, CA

Areas Served: San Francisco CA, The Marina, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, Sea Cliff, North Beach, ...

Iberia Catering Inc
(415) 587-5117
2850 Alemany Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94112

Areas Served: San Francisco CA, Nob Hill, Sea Cliff, Pacific Heights, Sunset District, Mission ...

Centerplate
(415) 334-6700
San Francisco, CA

Areas Served: San Francisco CA, Sea Cliff, South of Market, Richmond District, South Beach, Sunset ...

Upton's Catering Service
(415) 567-1335
2435 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94123

Areas Served: San Francisco CA, The Haight, Downtown San Francisco CA, The Marina, Cow Hollow

Angelina's Catering Co
(415) 221-7835
6000 California St
San Francisco, CA 94121

Areas Served: San Francisco CA, Mission District, Richmond District, Pacific Heights, Sea Cliff, ...

How to Find Good Caterers in San Francisco CA 

 

There is no state license required for catering in San Francisco CA and they are regulated only on the county or city level, so there is no state standard for competency and safety. Likewise, there is no legal requirement that they have worker's comp insurance or liability insurance and both are critical to you. If an employee of theirs were injured on your property and the caterer doesn't have worker's comp, you will be held liable. Similarly if any accidental damage occurs to your property and the company has no liability insurance, you will be on the hook for it.

This makes it all the more significant that all caterers bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have been evaluated by our research staff, and have had to pass all the requirements for Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 status such as survey phone calls to previous clients to verify high satisfaction, clean complaint record, verified worker's comp and liability insurance, only employees legal to work in the U.S., and more. 

 

Good Caterers in San Francisco CA Perform Numerous Services
Caterers in San Francisco offer such a suite of services that they become just as much a part of the event as the celebration itself. These local caterers can tailor their services to enliven your party or event. Some of the caterers in San Francisco provide fine catering for a full spectrum of events, from black tie galas, to luaus, to Western hoedowns. Most caterers also serve the standards, such as pasta feeds, breakfasts, luncheons, family-style gatherings, harvest parties, Texas BBQs, meetings, picnics, parties, or romantic dinners for two. Larger catering companies in San Francisco CA might even host location shoots, weddings, corporate events, banquets, openings, reunions, or fundraisers.

Often prepared by personal chefs, the food served by local caterers in San Francisco can be delivered, boxed and ready-to-heat or cooked on-site. If you'd like more involved catering services than the usual buffet, some local caterers coordinate and host elegant sit down meals, complete with hors d'oeuvres, entrees, dessert, servers, 5 star rated chefs on site, and custom designed menus. Many of these upscale caterers even have liquor licenses, so they can provide full bars and bartenders.

 

Good Caterers of San Francisco CA Can Create a Personalized Menu
The caterers in San Francisco run the gamut in terms of tasty spreads they can prepare. As a buffet or individual platters, some of the different foods served by caterers include chicken, ribs, hand-made sausage, pulled pork, salads, steaks, turkey dinners, baked goods, tri-tip, salmon, and lamb. The catering companies may also provide oysters, vegetables, hot dogs and hamburgers, brisket, ravioli, prime rib, and pork cushions.

Some caterers can accommodate different culinary specialties at your request, such as Italian-Mediterranean cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine, BBQ, deli platters, or even special diets. Food can generally be served in hot or cold buffet style, or as pre-arranged party trays. In addition to the array of foods, full service caterers might furnish tables, chairs, umbrellas, or canopies if needed.

Some Caterers in San Francisco Are Better Than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists these caterers in San Francisco: Restaurant Lulu Catering, Centerplate, Union Street Catering, Betty Zlatchin Catering, Angelina's Catering Co, Iberia Catering Inc, Upton's Catering Service, Christophers Catering. Other caterers, including corporate caterers in San Francisco that might still be in business include: .

 

 

 

How to Hire Caterers in San Francisco CA 

Step 1: Describe The Catering Services Desired To the Potential Caterers
Explain the basic elements you want from the San Francisco caterers. This includes a guest count, choice of food and any other goodies you've already thought of. The caterers can help you brainstorm.

Step 2: Answer Questions of the Caterers & Take Notes
After your brief description of the desired catering serivces, the caterers should give you input on feasibility, suggested enhancements and a rough estimate for the catering services. Pay attention to the manner in which the catering companies do this. If they just hand you a flyer and move on, the presence of the caterers at your event might be just as detached. So try and draw the potential caterers out with some questions about qualifications and experience in providing catering services. It might help to use the list below as a basis for your inquiries to local catering companies in San Francisco.

How long have the caterers been providing catering services in San Francisco?

How many catering jobs like yours have they done?

Do the caterers specialize in the theme or cuisine you have in mind?

Can the caterers provide some client names and phone numbers as references you can check? (All caterers bearing the Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already had client references called  by research staff at The Prime Buyer's Report so you don't have to.)

Do the caterers have a liquor license?

Are any city or county permits required for your event? If so, who is responsible for getting them, you or the catering company? If the catering company, is that cost included in their quoted price?

Do the caterers provide any furniture or themed props?

Do the caterers have liability insurance as protection for you? (All caterers in San Francisco bearing the Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already shown proof of insurance to research staff at The Prime Buyer's Report.)

Do the caterers set up and/or clean-up?

What is the cancellation policy of the catering companies?

What is the required deposit for the catering services?

Will the caterers provide a detailed written estimate? This is important because cheap caterers in San Francisco may not actually be less expensive but rather using cheaper food or less staff than another one. A detailed estimate will allow you to make exact comparisons.

Will the caterers provide a written contract?

How do the caterers determine costs?

Once the catering company has a detailed explanation of your event, ask the caterer what potential issues might arise that could change the cost they've quoted, and if any, by how much?

How well do the caterers know the staff that will be working your event? Are they well-known employees or do they hire temporary laborers?

Can the caterer prove that all the workers sent to your property are legally allowed to work in the U.S.? (All caterers in San Francisco bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already signed an agreement to hire only documented workers.)

If the caterers are enthusiastic about their field and the contribution they can make to your catered event, you can probably expect thorough and attentive catering services. At this point, if the caterers still seems worth your time, keep reading.

Step 3: Make a Preliminary Decision of The Caterers
By now, you may have serious prospects of potential catering companies. Consider all of the caterers you interviewed. The flashiest presentation isn't necessarily the best bet. Small catering companies might be able to provide comparable services at a lower price than large catering companies.

Step 4: Final Research on Caterers in San Francisco CA
If you've chosen caterers, you know the benefits but you don't know the business. To be on the safe side, verify applicable credentials, such as business and food handling license, catering liquor licensure, and insurance.

Step 5: Make the Final Decision on the Caterers
Now that you're completely familiar with your caterers business practices and qualifications, you can comfortably set a date and sign a contract for the catering services in San Francisco. Solidify your preferences and ask the caterers to provide a written and signed pricing, quality, and warranty agreement for all desired catering services. Reputable catering companies in San Francisco should be happy to do this.  But don't let price be the only consideration. Cheap caterers in San Francisco usually aren't the best ones. And if the estimate from one catering company is so much less than others, there may be reason for concern.

 

 

Tips About Caterers in San Francisco CA 


Write a Description of the Catering Services for the Caterers.
Get your requirements in order so that you can consistently relay them to the caterer. To avoid any miscalculations, all caterers should hear the same thing. Then you can better judge which caterers respond most favorably to your event criteria and the catering services you desire.

Let Your Caterers Guide You.
Don't be too set in your ways. Many caterers in San Francisco have an abundance of extra features and catering services that could spice up your event. Take advantage of the caterers expert consultation and consider their full menu of options before you make up your mind.

Let Yourself be Pampered By The Caterers.
Most caterers in San Francisco can provide the average buffet, but you can also find caterers who cook gourmet ethnic food, brings a wait staff, bartenders, arranges games and contests, or any number of extra catering goodies. Instead of a simple get-together, your party could be an extraordinary catered affair to be remembered.

Get the Catering Services Writing From the Catering Companies.
Particularly if your caterers are only one of many services you're hiring to accomodate your catered event, keep track of all dealings. Keep your own notes, but get all agreements for the catering services in writing as well.

Make Sure The Catering Companies Are Self-Sufficient.
Make sure you can rely on your caterers to independently run their operation. The last thing your want is to have to baby-sit a confused catering staff that was supposed to prevent you from having to deal with such things.

 

 

Resources About Caterers in San Francisco CA 

Regulatory Bodies & Trade Associations for Caterers in San Francisco
ABC California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (www.abc.ca.gov)
ACEP Association of Catering and Event Professionals (http://www.acep.com/)
BBB Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.com/)
CCFMA Convenience Caterers & Food Manufacturers Association (http://www.mobilecaterers.com/)
DCA California Department of Consumer Affairs (www.dca.ca.gov)
DHS California Department of Health Services (www.dhs.ca.gov)
Diamond Certified www.diamondcertified.org
ICA International Caterers Association (http://www.icacater.org/)
NACE National Association of Catering Executives (http://www.nace.net/)

Media Related to Caterering in San Francisco
Catering Magazine
Catering Update
Cater Source Journal
Chef
Event Solutions
Special Events Magazine

 
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Caterers in San Francisco within the following zip codes:

94121, 94169, 94159, 94170, 94104, 94158, 94114, 94108, 94168, 94134, 94111, 94109, 94172, 94140, 94123, 94101, 94126, 94118, 94188, 94130, 94119, 94142, 94147, 94102, 94122, 94166, 94132, 94131, 94165, 94103, 94107, 94129, 94120, 94141, 94115, 94146, 94164, 94116, 94157, 94117, 94124, 94133, 94127, 94167, 94105, 94110, 94125 and 94112



The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Catering in San Francisco within the following cities.

Eureka Valley, Rincon Hill, Inner Sunset, Cow Hollow, Haight-Ashbury, Sea Cliff, Marina District, Western Addition, Pacific Heights, Noe Valley, Telegraph Hill, Outer Sunset, Mission District, Union Square, Duboce Triangle, Hayes Valley, Japantown, Treasure Island, San Francisco, Russian Hill, Bernal Heights, Sunset District, Fisherman's Wharf, Presidio, Twin Peaks, North Beach, Laurel Heights, Nob Hill, The Presidio and Diamond Heights