The Guide to Priority Pass Lounges, Restaurants at SFO

Travelers with Priority Pass can visit multiple lounges and restaurants, depending on your terminal.
Meg Lee
Sally French
By Sally French and  Meg Lee 
Updated
Edited by Kevin Berry

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Priority Pass is an airport lounge program that allows members access to more than 1,300 airport lounges and restaurants worldwide. Seven of those Priority Pass locations are at San Francisco International Airport.

But of those seven Priority Pass “lounges,” about half of them aren't lounges at all; they’re restaurants. In lieu of a lounge, both restaurants offer you and a guest a $28 credit per person (for a total of up to $56 off the final bill), which in some cases can be even more appealing than a full lounge.

At SFO, holding a Priority Pass membership is a home run, just as long as you know how to use it correctly. Here's a guide to all of the SFO Priority Pass lounges and restaurants.

Golden Gate Lounge (International Terminal, Concourse A, Level 4)

(Photo by Sally French)

The Golden Gate Lounge is a temporary lounge offered in lieu of the Air France - KLM Lounge, which is technically on the Priority Pass network (also located in SFO's Concourse A).

The San Francisco Air France - KLM Lounge had long been a Priority Pass staple until it underwent extension renovations to add a superior buffet, staffed bar and even showers. But when the lounge reopened in June 2023, it no longer welcomed Priority Pass cardmembers. Since then, Priority Pass cardmembers who arrive at the Air France - KLM Lounge get redirected upstairs to the Golden Gate Lounge, which just isn't as nice.

Here's what it is like inside:

What the food is like: Luckily, this lounge doesn’t skimp on the snacks. There’s usually charcuterie and cheese (think a supermarket-quality brie), bread and crackers, Nutella, dried snacks like banana chips and raisins, and sometimes even a caprese skewer.

(Photo by Sally French)

Depending on the time of the day, you might get breakfast items either in addition to or in lieu of the meats and sandwiches. Breakfast items typically include fruit and yogurt.

(Photo by Sally French)

Drinks are serve yourself, and there are both alcoholic and nonalcoholic options — all complimentary and unlimited.

(Photo by Sally French)

Why we love it: The food options are fairly generous, and the unlimited alcoholic drinks can be a huge money saver — particularly if you'd otherwise pay for food and drinks within the airport terminal.

(Photo by Sally French)

How it could use some work: The atmosphere needs improvement — maybe booth seating for a bit more privacy, color on the mostly white walls or classy music. Right now, the lounge feels like a nice doctor’s office, which is certainly pleasant, albeit sterile.

There is a lot of seating, but it can also get fairly crowded. With the mass of chairs and tables in the center of the lounge, it can be easy to feel like you're traipsing through a wilderness of suitcases, particularly if crowds are heavy.

When we visited, one toilet was out of order the whole time, leaving just one available (which felt insufficient given the crowds). It hardly feels like sitting in a luxe, exclusive space.

Restrictions to be aware of: Maximum three-hour stay, and flights departing from Concourse A only (although this may or may not be enforced).

China Airlines Lounge (International Terminal, Concourse A, Level 4)

(Photo by Sally French)

If food is your top priority, the China Airlines Lounge is the best Priority Pass lounge option at SFO. This lounge stands out for its Chinese food buffet.

(Photo by Sally French)

What the food is like: If you like Chinese food buffets, this is your spot. It's easy to load up on a complete meal here, including protein and veggies. When we visited, the buffet was a delightful mix of congee (with DIY toppings like dried pork), chicken and broccoli, and fried rice.

Even if you don't like Chinese food, there are enough American food options too. Those options are less standout, and have continental breakfast energy (think breads, muffins and cereals). But you likely came here for the Chinese food buffet, which delivers.

(Photo by Sally French)

Why we love it: You're coming here for the food. But, that's not to save the atmosphere is horrendous. There's plenty of seating, and there are more than enough bathrooms to match the lounge even at max capacity.

Power outlets are aplenty, and there are lots of seating options to choose from, ranging from counter seats to oversized chairs.

(Photo by Sally French)

How it could use some work: The lounge marginally falls short in terms of atmosphere. It feels like a sad, outdated living room. While there are windows, the views are pretty paltry.

Folks seeking a truly five-star, elegant experience should visit one of SFO's premiere airport lounges, such as the SFO Centurion Lounge or SFO Air Canada lounge.

(Photo by Sally French)

Restrictions to be aware of: Maximum three-hour stay. Children under 2 are free.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (International Terminal, Concourse A, Level 5)

If style — and a serene place to relax or get work done — is your top priority, head to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

What it lacks in food is made up in the vibes. Giant, colorful windows offer excellent runway views, which you can admire from posh, velvet chairs that block out the airport chaos.

What the food is like: Of the three lounges in Concourse A, this one is the weakest in the food department. Expect ho-hum options of the continental breakfast variety, such as pastries and yogurt.

Why we love it: You're really coming here for the atmosphere, which is that funky yet elegant Virgin Atlantic style. It's modern, clean and spacious.

How it could use some work: Again, the food could be better. If you're starving, load up on a meal at the China Airlines lounge, then head over here to relax.

Restrictions to be aware of: Maximum three-hour stay. Children under 2 are free.

Mustard's Bar & Grill (International Terminal, Concourse G, near Gate G3)

Mustard's is the only Priority Pass outpost in SFO's Concourse G of the international terminal. Concourse G and the other international terminal, concourse A, are separated by their own TSA checkpoints. So unless you're willing to pass through security twice (once for a lounge, and again to access your flight), this is your only Priority Pass option if you've got a flight out of Concourse G.

How it works: Flash your Priority Pass card and boarding pass with confirmed same-day travel for the host at check-in. Typically, they’ll print you a receipt indicating you’re a Priority Pass member, which you’ll then pass on to your server before ordering. As long as your bill is less than $28 (or $56 for two meals), you’ll owe nothing besides the tip.

Note that not all credit cards with Priority Pass access cover restaurants in the Priority Pass network, such as this one. American Express cards no longer include benefits at Priority Pass restaurants, nor does the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Check with your issuer to ensure it covers restaurants before charging a visit to your card — unless you're willing to potentially pay the cost of it on your own.

What the food is like: Mustard's is a well-known name in Napa Valley, and the version of Mustard Bar & Grill is something of a staple in wine country. It's an eclectic, wood fired focused menu with craft cocktails and a local beer and wine program.

Think of elevated classics, like an adult grilled cheese (that's a grilled cheese with roasted red peppers, fontina cheese and basil aioli).

Why we love it: The restaurant is famous for its helm by celebrity Chef Cindy Pawlcyn. Service tends to be excellent, and you're more likely to feel welcome than rushed out.

Restrictions to be aware of: Cardholder may only register one guest per visit to receive the additional $28 deduction. Cardholder is responsible for the balance if total final bill exceeds $28 per person.

Lark Creek Grill (Terminal 2, After security)

The Lark Creek Grill is the only Priority Pass outpost in terminal 2, and it's a restaurant, not a lounge.

How it works: Flash your Priority Pass card and boarding pass with confirmed same-day travel for the host at check-in. Typically, they’ll print you a receipt indicating you’re a Priority Pass member, which you’ll then pass on to your server before ordering. As long as your bill is less than $28 (or $56 for two meals), you’ll owe nothing besides the tip.

Note that not all credit cards with Priority Pass access cover restaurants in the Priority Pass network, such as this one. American Express cards no longer include benefits at Priority Pass restaurants, nor does the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Check with your issuer to ensure it covers restaurants before charging a visit to your card — unless you're willing to potentially pay the cost of it on your own.

What the food is like: The food is pretty standard American fare, such as chicken wings, burgers, quesadillas, tacos, salads and omelettes. It's likely nothing to knock your socks off, but it's of generally higher quality than what you'll find in the actual lounges on the Priority Pass network.

Why we love it: It's tough to complain about a free, sit-down meal at a restaurant with a decent tap list. We also love it for the signature dessert, the carrot cake.

How it could use some work: It can sometimes take time to have your food served, which is not ideal if you're in a rush to catch your flight.

Restrictions to be aware of: Cardholder may only register one guest per visit to receive the additional $28 deduction. Cardholder is responsible for the balance if total final bill exceeds $28 per person.

San Francisco Giants Clubhouse (Terminal 3, Concourse F, near Gate F13)

(Photo by Sally French)

(Photo by Sally French)

Rather than the all-you-can-eat style typical in most lounges, this restaurant allows Priority Pass members a credit for $28 off their bill (not including tip). You can also bring a guest, so together you can order up to $56 worth of food and not pay anything besides gratuity.

How it works: Flash your Priority Pass card and boarding pass with confirmed same-day travel for the host at check-in. Typically, they’ll print you a receipt indicating you’re a Priority Pass member, which you’ll then pass on to your server before ordering. As long as your bill is less than $28 (or $56 for two meals), you’ll owe nothing besides the tip.

Note that not all credit cards with Priority Pass access cover restaurants in the Priority Pass network, such as this one. American Express cards no longer include benefits at Priority Pass restaurants, nor does the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Check with your issuer to ensure it covers restaurants before charging a visit to your card — unless you're willing to potentially pay the cost of it on your own.

(Photo by Sally French)

What the food is like: Almost everything on the menu is good. People love the hot korean chicken sandwich, which is served with chipotle aioli and spicy Napa cabbage kimchi on a brioche bun.

Giants fans will appreciate that you can order garlic fries here — as those are practically a stable during Giants games. Other food is similar to what you'd find at a ballpark, such as nachos, chicken wings and hot dogs.

If you're visiting for breakfast, you might get your money's worth by ordering the smoked salmon, served with a bagel.

(Photo by Sally French)

Why we love it: The Giants theme is positively delightful, with plenty of decor sprinkled throughout, as well as games always on the TV. With above-average food and a fun theme, this restaurant is a home run.

How it could use some work: Sometimes the service can be a bit rough, especially toward Priority Pass cardholders. We suspect it’s because some diners don’t tip. The meal is free, so leave some cash for the waiter who took your order and served it to you — and set a good precedent for future Priority Pass members.

Restrictions to be aware of: According to Priority Pass, “the restaurant may exceed their seating limit at certain times of the day & access to the restaurant is at their sole discretion.” That basically means that if it’s slightly crowded, the restaurant may turn away Priority Pass cardholders and prioritize full-paying customers.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Come here to eat, not to focus and do work. While you technically can whip out your computer and send emails while noshing on garlic fries, realize that you’re still in a full-functioning restaurant where waiters are working around you (and other diners might be waiting for a table). It’s a fine place to work if you’re eating during a nonpeak hour, but be cognizant that this might not be the space for you if you’re looking to minimize distractions.

Yankee Pier (Concourse F, near Gate F4)

(Photo by Sally French)

Yankee Pier is SFO’s second Priority Pass restaurant. Like at Giants Clubhouse, Priority Pass cardmembers are entitled to a credit for $28 off their bill (not including gratuity). You can also bring a guest, so together you can order up to $56 worth of food. You’ll be on the hook for anything beyond those amounts, plus the tip.

How it works: Flash your Priority Pass card and boarding pass with confirmed same-day travel for the host at check-in. Typically, they’ll print you a receipt indicating you’re a Priority Pass member, which you’ll then pass on to your server before ordering. As long as your bill is less than $28 (or $56 for two meals), you’ll owe nothing at the end besides the tip.

Note that not all credit cards with Priority Pass access cover restaurants in the Priority Pass network, such as this one. American Express cards no longer include benefits at Priority Pass restaurants, nor does the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Check with your issuer to ensure it covers restaurants before charging a visit to your card — unless you're willing to potentially pay the cost of it on your own.

A photo of the Yankee Pier menu from October 2023. (Photo by Sally French)

What the food is like: Yankee Pier is all about the seafood, so whet your appetite for clam chowder, fish 'n' chips, lobster rolls, steamed mussels and popcorn shrimp. It’s on the pricey end if you’re paying with cash, but your Priority Pass will cover the cost of most items on the menu.

Why we love it: Service is generally pretty speedy. If you don’t have time for a sit-down meal at Giants Clubhouse, we like that you can order takeout from Yankee Pier. Freshly made items tend to come out within about 10 minutes of you placing your order.

If you’re really in a hurry, Yankee Pier has a section of its menu called the “Speedee Meal” with options including a cup of chowder plus a fish or grilled-chicken sandwich. Presumably, you’ll get that even faster than anything else on the menu.

How it could use some work: Yankee Pier is kind of mediocre at everything, but it doesn’t win at anything. The prices are pretty high, so pay attention to the $28 limit, as you’ll owe the difference in cash for anything beyond that (plus you should tip on the full price of your meal, not the price post-Priority Pass discount). The food is just fine, but the portion sizes on most items are small.

Restrictions to be aware of: According to Priority Pass, “the restaurant may exceed their seating limit at certain times of the day & access to the restaurant is at their sole discretion.” That basically means that if it’s slightly crowded, the restaurant may turn away Priority Pass cardholders and prioritize full-paying customers.

🤓Nerdy Tip

It’s a seafood restaurant, but we’re here for the scrambles served during breakfast, especially if you want to get food to grab and go before your flight. Order from the takeout counter, and they’ll fill up a big to-go box with a hearty egg scramble plus a side of breakfast potatoes and send you on your way.

Accessing SFO’s Priority Pass lounges

You can theoretically get into all of SFO’s Priority Pass locations in one day, but it requires some work. Here’s what you need to know about lounge hours, guest policies and accessing lounges in a terminal you’re not actually flying out of:

How do you get into SFO’s Priority Pass lounges?

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You’ll need Priority Pass membership to get access to SFO’s Priority Pass lounges and restaurants, which typically costs between $99 and $429 annually. Perhaps a better deal: Score complimentary membership through many premium travel credit cards.

One of the best credit cards with Priority Pass access that also allows access to the Priority Pass restaurants is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Each of SFO’s Priority Pass lounges is located airside (past the security checkpoint), so you’ll need not only your membership, but a same-day boarding pass and valid ID to get past security and into a lounge.

Can you hop between terminals at SFO?

Even if your flight is departing from a different terminal, you more than likely can still access the SFO Priority Pass lounges before your flight, but it’s not always the easiest process.

While all of SFO’s terminals are connected by both a walking route and AirTrain, they’re located outside of the security checkpoints. In most cases, you’ll have to fully exit the terminal, walk or ride AirTrain to another terminal, and re-enter security to access lounges in other terminals.

A Transportation Security Administration spokesperson confirmed to NerdWallet that TSA allows travelers to enter any terminal in an airport, as long as you have your ID and a valid boarding pass for a flight that day. However, TSA lines are often managed by airport or airline employees (not TSA), so you might have to explain to the line manager why you’re in the “wrong” terminal.

The good news: It’s a fairly quick hop between terminals (if you’re agile, walking tends to be faster than AirTrain). SFO even has solid signage indicating how long the walk is between terminals, so you can decide if the hike is worth a free preflight Prosecco.

If you opt to terminal-hop, leave enough time to re-enter security. You might want to consider expedited screening programs like Clear or TSA Precheck to speed things up.

Can you visit lounges in terminals you’re not departing from, and are there any other restrictions for entering?

Even though you can visit a terminal you’re not actually flying out of (keep in mind, you might have to go through security again), you might not actually be able to access the lounge.

Each lounge sets its own policies:

SFO Priority Pass lounge hours

Even though some lounges may be “open” throughout the day, some lounges restrict hours that Priority Pass members can enter. Here are the hours that Priority Pass members can access the SFO lounges:

Air France - KLM Lounge: 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

China Airlines Lounge: 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

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Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Lark Creek Grill: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Mustards Bar & Grill: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

San Francisco Giants Clubhouse: 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Yankee Pier: 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Priority Pass at SFO: is it worth it?

San Francisco International Airport has a healthy mix of lounges and restaurants in the Priority Pass network, and most terminals have some sort of Priority Pass option. Among those options, there’s something for everyone: the buffet lover, the peace-seeking busy bee, the foodie and the person who just wants some complimentary takeout for their flight.

None of the lounges named above are the absolute best lounges in San Francisco International Airport. That honor goes to other worthy contenders, such as the Centurion Lounge at SFO which is accessible to folks who hold the The Platinum Card® from American Express (those cardholders also have access to all of the above Priority Pass lounges, albeit not the restaurants). Other posh lounges are SFO’s Delta Sky Club and the Air Canada Lounge, none of which are on the Priority Pass network.

But considering many airports have only one or two Priority Pass locations (if any at all), having so many locations to visit makes SFO one of the best U.S. airports for Priority Pass members.


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