Wedding and Event Catering

Find a caterer near San Francisco, CA

Find a caterer near San Francisco, CA

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Top 10 Caterers near San Francisco, CA

Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do you find a good caterer?

Reviews, interviews and menu tastings will help you find the right catering choice for your big day. Start by screening possible wedding caterers based on past reviews. If a caterer you are interested in has a review that concerns you, ask them about it; how they respond will be very telling. Next, ask about their availability for your wedding date.

If the wedding caterer is available on your date, it’s time to talk about menus and prices. Be clear about what your maximum budget is find out what choices this will allow you. Caterers may custom-create a menu for your event, or they may have menu templates within different price ranges that can guide your decision. A clear budget gives the caterer clear parameters within which to work and offer creative suggestions. Schedule a menu tasting to confirm you love your wedding menu. Once you have a menu and date, and have paid a deposit to reserve the caterer’s services, confirm additional details including when the food will be delivered to the site, what kind of service will be provided, how many servers will be onsite and for how long, and who is responsible for setup and cleanup. The more specific your contract, the fewer worries you’ll have on your wedding day. Get more smart hiring tips here.

What should you look for in a caterer?

A delicious meal is a critical element of a successful wedding, with happy guests fondly remembering your fabulous wedding food. The right caterer for you will be:

  • Available: Even the best caterer is no good if they aren’t available on your wedding date. Ask early before you get your heart set on someone.
  • Affordable for you: Find a caterer that you can afford. Having a spending plan ahead of time will mean you won’t overspend on food.
  • A good personality fit: Wedding planning is stressful, so work with someone that you can get along with and communicate with easily.
  • Experienced and recommended: Ensure the company has a proven track record with events of your size and the references to back it up.
  • Transparent about money: Steer clear of shady pricing. Find a caterer who is very clear about costs and is happy to talk you through budgets and pricing options.
  • Transparent about food: Find someone who is clear about where they source their food from and where it is prepared.

How much does it cost to hire a caterer?

Catering prices depend mainly on how fancy you want the food and service to be and how many guests you’ll have. When you’re first looking to hire a caterer for your event, consider how many guests you’ll have and your total food and drink budget. The national average for event catering is $340, but catering prices can range into the thousands depending on your menu, guest count, and service.

Event catering is a broad term that covers everything from fully prepared, ready-to-eat food that the hosts plate and serve themselves to full-service, multicourse meals, including rental of linens, glassware and other items, with service staff organized by the catering company. Usually a caterer will determine cost based on the type of event you’re having, how many guests will attend, the level of service you desire, and what type of menu you’d like to have. For example, if you have a set catering budget, say $1,500, and you plan to have 50 people attend, that means you have $30 per person for food. If you have the same budget with 100 people, you have $15 per person for food. In this way, the number of people you want to attend your event and the level of food you want to serve them determines how much catering will cost.

How much should catering cost per person?

Catering prices can range from about $10 per guest on the low end to $150 or more per person on the high end. Catering costs represent the quality of food, presentation, variety, ingredients and service. But catering prices are more than the cost to cook the food that will be at your party; they also include the cost for the company to do business. Here is a simple breakdown of catering prices:

  • Menu: The food you serve your guests will directly affect the price per person. Organic ingredients, complex recipes, elaborate presentations, or high-ticket items like lobster or filet mignon all add to the cost.
  • Service: Buffet, family style, plated dinners — how you serve the food affects the cost per person. For example, a true plated meal can cost about twice the price of a staff-assisted buffet because of staffing costs. Hiring waiters, bartenders and cleanup crew will all be calculated into the per-person catering price.
  • Drinks: Providing beverages and alcoholic drinks for guests greatly increases your catering budget. Hosting an open bar can cost as much per person as the meal.
  • Rentals: Seating, plates, glassware, etc., will all have an effect on the cost per person for catering. For example, a plastic conference table that seats 10 costs about $6 to rent on average, while a wooden farmhouse table is about $80 to rent on average.
  • Business costs: Any catering cost will also include the cost for the company to do business such as insurance, employee wages, commercial kitchen space and more.

How much does wedding catering cost per person?

Wedding catering costs will always vary based on the number of guests you’re inviting, the menu you want to serve, and the way the food will be served to your guests. As you interview wedding catering companies, you’ll be presented with a cost per person for various menus. On the low end, wedding catering may cost approximately $15-$18 per person. This would include prepared food only, with no setup or service of any kind. The starting price for a simple buffet meal with minimal service typically averages $22 per person. Opting for the same menu with all organic ingredients could raise your costs to about $33 per person. A moderately upscale menu (finer ingredients, more elaborate presentation) could range from $24 to $34 per person. High-end wedding catering cost truly has no limit. Lobster, filet mignon, specialty seafood, organic ingredients — menu choices like these can boost your cost per person up to $150 and more.

How much should catering cost for a wedding?

The cost of wedding catering will reflect the level of service, the menu you choose, the luxury you desire and the number of guests you invite. Where you live also plays a major role in your wedding catering costs. The regional cost to do business and local cost of food will affect your catering bill. There is no set price for wedding catering, because each wedding and each menu is different. This is why many caterers provide a per-person price. This allows you to break down what it costs to feed each person based on the menu you want. Working with your caterer, you can adjust menu items, service level and more to accommodate your budget and guest count. Keep in mind that wedding catering costs are not just for the food. The bill reflects all the components that go into commercial food catering: a commercial kitchen, ingredients, staff, insurance, marketing and more. Here are some examples of average costs:

  • Three-course plated meal, moderately upscale, for 125 in Los Angeles: $14,000. Because of staffing costs, a true plated meal costs about twice as much as a staff-assisted buffet.
  • Buffet meal, standard menu, for 100 in Los Angeles: $5,000.
  • Per-person cost for hors d'oeuvres, dinner and nonalcoholic beverages: $24–$37, depending on menu selection, in Southern California.
  • Drop off prepared food for 50: $1,000 in North Carolina. Price does not include any service, setup or breakdown.

How do you serve food at a wedding?

Food service at your wedding will affect your catering costs and influence the atmosphere of the reception. Buffet style is more informal; plated meals are a bit fancier; family style encourages sharing. Read about the different food service styles to select your preferred wedding catering choice.

  • Buffet: Caterers can drop off prepared foods for a DIY and budget-friendly buffet option where you set everything up and food is entirely self-service. For a fuller-service buffet, the caterers set up food, oversee the buffet throughout the event, and clean up afterwards. For food only, prices per person might average $16-$18, while a service buffet may start around $20-$22 per person. Adding food stations can increase per-person costs by at least $3-$5.
  • Family style: Servers bring large platters of food to guest tables in courses. It’s less formal (and less expensive) than a plated meal, but more formal and higher-cost than a buffet. You’ll need large tables to accommodate the platters, so plan accordingly when renting furniture for the event.
  • Plated: A plated event is a formal dining experience; waitstaff serve your seated guests for each course, fill their drinks, and attend to them throughout the dinner. A plated dinner is typically the most expensive option for both food and service.
  • Food trucks: Similar to buffets, with food trucks your guests get their own food and bring it to their table. A food truck gives a relaxed and playful vibe to your reception.
  • Cocktail reception: If you don’t want a formal seated dinner, you can opt for a wide assortment of passed appetizers at an extended cocktail hour reception.

Do you tip a wedding caterer?

Tipping 15 percent to 20 percent on a $3,000 catering bill can feel daunting — especially in light of all the other costs of throwing a wedding — but tipping your wedding caterer is standard practice. Be sure to ask your caterer about their specific policies. Many catering companies include gratuity as a line item on their bill. If tipping is not automatically included in your total, a good approach is to tip all the people involved the day of the event rather than paying one lump sum to the catering company. For each server and bartender, you can tip $20-$50, depending on how long they were onsite and whether they did exceptional work. You can also tip the chef; experts suggest $50. It’s also a good idea to tip the catering manager, the point-of-contact person who keeps the catering service running smoothly the day of your wedding, ensures all the food looks beautiful and is plentiful, and resolves any mishaps. Industry pros recommend tipping the catering manager $100-$200. If gratuity is not included and you’re tipping individuals, set aside $200-$500 in cash to be safe.

Reviews for San Francisco caterers
Louise K.
Deborah catered my Thanksigiving dinner for 14 people. It was fabulous!
Quiche and CarryQuiche and Carry
Brandon A.
I had a very complicated catering request to deliver almost 30 individual meals to different people catered throughout the Bay Area. Not only was he able to accomplish this but the food arrived early and was quite delicious! We will definitely be in contact with Dennis again!
Liberation FoodsLiberation Foods
Aarambh P.
I had a great experience catering from Fumi. She was very responsive which made it easy to co-ordinate all the logistics and she easily accommodated a few allergies and food restrictions. The food was amazing and a great value. Would highly recommend her for anyone looking to cater for a group/an event!
Sweet And NaturalSweet And Natural
Pete catered our wedding on 4/28. For what he lacks in communication he makes up for in his work as a chef. Excellent food :)
Chef Pete ColemanChef Pete Coleman
Samantha G.
Great value. Food was good and not too pricey. We had 30 people and there was lots of extra food and drinks. Thanks for catering our event!
Basic CateringBasic Catering
Thumbtack Customer
We absolutely loved having Michele and gather and grub cater our wedding. They were personable, they took on a challenge of cooking a new cuisine they hadn't ever made before and exceeded expectations, they went above and found ways to make things as easy for us as possible. I would absolutely, 100% recommend them for anyone planning a wedding, or needing catering for any kind of event, big or small
Michele HDMichele HD
Catherine M.
I had an excellent experience using Sweet and Natural for my birthday party! They were responsive and flexible, catered exactly what I asked for, and everyone loved the dishes.
Sweet And NaturalSweet And Natural
Christina N.
We had Liberation Foods cater an employee happy hour and it was great! Everyone loved the food, they showed up on time and were super helpful. I would definitely recommend them!
Liberation FoodsLiberation Foods
Carlos S.
We loved the food very authentic and delicious the fig spicy sauce is to die for everyone had a great time and Aliki was so sweet to all the guests and super professional I highly recommend this caterer
Lisa F.
Dani did an amazing job catering a small dinner party that I had. She was easy to work with and all of my guest raved about the food. I would definitely hire her again.
Dani Bensimon CateringDani Bensimon Catering
Thumbtack Customer
I couldn't be happier with my experience with Alisa! If you are looking for a personal chef / group caterer.. look NO further! She was professional, exceptional and an extraordinary chef. Oh.. and extremely flexible..Love you Alisa!
Passionate PlatesPassionate Plates
Thumbtack Customer
Pete catered a small birthday dinner party for my wife and our friends at our home that had an Oscar party theme. Pete did a fantastic job. He developed a very creative menu that had a variety of dishes tied to different award categories and nominees that helped add to the festive feel of the evening. The food was outstanding and everyone loved his dishes. Plus, Pete is a great guy who fit right in with our friends. You can’t go wrong if you choose Pete to cater your event.
Chef Pete ColemanChef Pete Coleman
Bianca S.
I had lunch catered for an office of 12. Kitchenina helped me pick a menu that I liked and that would fit my budget, the food arrived on time, and it was delicious! We especially loved the mango habanero chicken.
Thumbtack Customer
Benjamin catered a fantastic selection of delicious healthy items at our holiday party. He timed the food perfectly and made sure the party flowed. He is delightful and a gifted chef. He will be our go to chef for all events!
Benjamin Sawicki Natural FoodsBenjamin Sawicki Natural Foods
Terry F.
Chef Nancy and her team were awesome! We had a 15 person company party catered by her and were thrilled with the results! Great food cooked on-site with great service. Would absolutely recommend her for any event!
Abroad Catering: chef, Nancy GerbaultAbroad Catering: chef, Nancy Gerbault
Kimberly O.
Chef Pete catered by 40th bday party and made the event amazing! So easy to work with. He provided an amazing menu and seamlessly fed my rowdy group and cleaned up afterwards. Guests raved about the food. Incredible!
Chef Pete ColemanChef Pete Coleman
Katie A.
Angela was just perfect for my event. She was extremely professional, sent a contract with time for review and was very communicative throughout the hole process. I have never hired a caterer previously and was a little nervous, but she rocked it! Food was delicious 😋
Green Chow DownGreen Chow Down
Thumbtack Customer
Alisa went above and beyond to provide us with a fantastic catering experience. She kept 150 people fed and happy, while also helping with rentals, cleaning, and set-up. We would absolutely use Alisa again! Thank you, Alisa
Passionate PlatesPassionate Plates
Thumbtack Customer
We LOVED Taqueria Cazadores! Very professional set up, more than enough (very delicious) food and super friendly staff. This is an amazing option for casual catering for work or friends for any occasion. Would DEFINITELY use Evan again - highly recommend!
Dolly B.
It was great to have Grace with Graceful Kitchen as our caterer. She was on time, very conscientious of our needs. Her demeanor was so calm and accommodating, even under pressure. Everything she made for our brunch was delicious. She is an excellent person to team with for any event.
Graceful KitchenGraceful Kitchen
Shreya O.
I hired Deb to cater some finger foods for a birthday party I was throwing. She was able to accommodate my last minute request. She was easy to work with and set up a beautiful display. I received lots of compliments on her spanakopita, dolmas, and brownies.
Quiche and CarryQuiche and Carry
Yudi G.
All is great!! I threw a birthday party at home and asked Fumie to do the catering for the dinner. Fumie was able to customize the menu according to my needs and worked around with my budget! She's professional and super responsive to my messages/calls. Strongly recommend her to everyone!
Sweet And NaturalSweet And Natural
Cheri T.
We needed a caterer with only 48 hours notice and Chef Albert really came through for our corporate event for 90 people. The guests complimented the food and extraordinary service. Chef Albert and his wife went above and beyond for our event and really came through last minute. Amazing!
Albert J. Hernandez The Untamed ChefAlbert J. Hernandez The Untamed Chef
Thomas V.
Our company catered event only required food drop-off / set-up. With that said, from the initial contact to food delivery, everyone I dealt with was professional, courteous and timely. The food was delicious and we will definitely use them again. Thank you for making our holiday lunch a success!
Julia A.
Working with Deb was wonderful! She catered a college football "tailgate" party at our home and had amazing suggestions to put together the menu, and made it easy and seamless for us. ALL of the guests commented on how delicious the food was and how lovely the presentation was. I would absolutely use Quiche and Carry again for our next event!
Quiche and CarryQuiche and Carry
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