NFT San Francisco Restaurants


San Francisco / Restaurants

Eating out is an essential part of living in San Francisco. For some, it's an obsession. For others, it's an art form. We can't wait to try a new restaurant (when we can get in) or a new type of food, and while we don't mind spending an occasional fortune in the city's most happening spots, we're also down with cramming into dives that might alarm some tourists—it's all part of dining out in our fair city. With so many distinct neighborhoods, ethnicities, and sub-cultures, it's no surprise that San Francisco brims with just about every kind of restaurant and cuisine imaginable. Hakka? Check. Yucatecan? Yep. Finding gastronomic pleasures in this city is easy. It's choosing among them that's challenging.

Eating Fresh
Vetting new restaurants is practically a competitive sport in San Francisco. Everyone wants to discover the next big culinary treasure before word hits the streets. Take farmerbrown (Map 7), for example. This destination for neo- soul food now attracts everyone from hipsters who've come for the swanky scene to organic foodies who appreciate the restaurant's reliance on small, local farms. Minako (Map 11) offers organic Japanese to patient diners, while star chef Gerald Hirogyen's Piperade (Map 4) serves up dreamy Basque food made from locally sourced ingredients, and Zuni Café (Map 11) is famous for its simple roast chicken and panzanella. Across the Bay Tamarindo Antojeria (Downtown Oakland/Lake Merritt) continues to impress critics and patrons alike with south of the border cuisine, and Pizzaiolo (North Oakland/Emeryville) is a destination pizza place. Reservations at NOPA (Map 10) are hard to come by, and maple-laced bacon beignets and house wine blends dazzle foodies at Frances (Map 11).

Eating Cheap
Can you really do this here? Mos' def! For pizza, check out Golden Boy (Map 4) in North Beach, Giorgio's (Map 21) in the Richmond area, and the venerable Escape From New York Pizza (Map 9) on Haight. There's cheap Chinese food in almost every neighborhood, but we recommend Ton Kiang (Map 20) in Richmond, R&G Lounge (Map 8) near North Beach, and Tai Chi (Map 7) in upscale Russian Hill. Possibly the greatest Chinese experience in all the land is House of Nanking (Map 8) in Chinatown, where you'll consider yourself lucky to wait in line only to be rushed out, with the best fried rice you've ever eaten in between. Primo Patio (Map 13) is a reliably cheap and awesome Caribbean lunch spot. There is also an endless supply of Thai—try Manora (Map 11) South of Market or Thep Phanom (Map 10) in the Lower Haight. You can also get just about any type of Southeast Asian food in the Richmond area. One of our favorites is Burma Superstar (Map 21) on Clement Street, not far from a handful of Vietnamese pho joints.

For solid Indian on a shoestring budget, hit the popular Naan-N-Curry chain (Maps 8, 25), Shalimar (Map 7), or Udupi Palace (Map 15). The Mission is a gold mine for Mexican and, with so many taquerias, you'll find fresh tacos and bulging burritos on every block. La Taqueria (Map 15) and El Farolito (Map 15) are city favorites.

Mediterranean fare is another way to save a buck or two. Stop by Turkish-leaning Troya (Map 21) on Clement for lavash sammies or Truly Mediterranean (Map 11) for fab falafel. For poultry fans, Goood Frikin' Chicken (Map 35) (yes, that's three Os) serves up a delicious version of the ubiquitous bird and American sides with Middle Eastern flair.

Eating Hip
Want to see and be seen by San Francisco's beautiful people while indulging in a truly fabulous meal? Hot spots include Nopalito in the Inner Sunset (Map 25) and by-now classic Dosa on Fillmore (Map 5). If you find yourself in the chi-chi Marina, try Betelnut (Map 2) for swanky Asian small plates or make a beeline for Mamacita (Map 1). Just be prepared to suck down a few cocktails while you wait for tables. In the Mission, The Blue Plate (Map 35), Foreign Cinema (Map 15) and Luna Park (Map 11) are constant favorites, while new cutting-edge patisserie Craftsman & Wolves (Map 11) offer architectural works of sugar. In the financial district, you can mingle with business folk and locals who lunch at chic Northern Italian hotshot Perbacco (Map 8). Across the Bay, the Oakland renaissance continues with Wood Tavern (North Oakland/Emeryville), Flora (Downtown Oakland/Lake Merritt), and Camino (Downtown Oakland/Lake Merritt). For whiskey cocktails as dressy as its diners, line up for Picán (Downtown Oakland/Lake Merritt), or try Luka's Taproom (Downtown Oakland/Lake Merritt), where the Belgian fries are not to be missed.

Eating Brunch
Saturdays and Sundays are eggfests in the city, and there's no shortage of restaurants and cafés to choose from. So sleep late, call some friends, and step out for the best first meal of the day. Down home diners like Chow (Map 10) in the Castro, while Dottie's True Blue Café (Map 7) and the Pork Store Café (Map 11) are jumping almost every day of the week. Weekend warriors are willing to wait at constant favorites like Mama's (Map 4) on Washington Square in North Beach, Noe Valley's Chloe's Café (Map 14), Ella's (Map 5) in Laurel Heights, and Cole Valley's Zazie (Map 9). Brenda's French Soul Food (Map 7) wows the Tenderloin with puffy beignets, while Outerlands (Map 23) attracts early birds for Dutch pancakes in the Sunset district. Outside the city, Fred's Coffee Shop (Sausalito) serves good French toast, Mama's Royal Café (North Oakland/Emeryville) has hipsters out the door on weekends, while Chop Bar (Downtown Oakland/Lake Merritt) draws a late, casual crowd for chilaquiles and challah French toast.

Eating Old
Even though restaurant turnover continues at an astonishing rate, there are some old San Francisco eateries worth checking out, including 1867 relic Sam's Grill (Map 8), Big 4 (Map 7) at the Huntington Hotel, the Tadich Grill (Map 8), and Swan Oyster Depot (Map 7). Alfred's (Map 8) serves up steaks and Sears Fine Foods (Map 7) still plates a mighty good breakfast. Spenger's (Berkeley West) still kicks it old-school across the Bay.

Eating Meat
As much as we love our locally grown, organic veggies, sometimes nothing will do but a thick slab of rare beef. Van Ness Avenue is home to several good choices for this undulgence, including Harris' (Map 6) and House of Prime Rib (Map 6), which has been there forever and serves up good martinis and huge portions. Also worth mention on Van Ness is Tommy's Joynt (Map 6), which dishes up carved turkey and roast beef to locals, tourists and the occasional celebrity (previous diners include Metallica and the late Hunter S. Thompson). Nearby, you'll find Boboquivari's (Map 2), a crab and steak joint with carnival-esque décor. If you want to bring it down a notch, hit Izzy's (Map 1) in the Marina (order the creamed spinach and Izzy's potatoes). For upscale diners, 5A5 Steak Lounge (Map 8) offers Japanese steaks at blue-chip prices in a Vegas-style setting. For the best BBQ, go to the East Bay, where the venerable Everett & Jones (Berkeley West) leads the pack, and T-Rex (Berkeley West) is a worthy contender.

Eating Meatless
Pretty much every San Francisco restaurant offers vegetarian options, but there are some places that cater strictly to the greens-only crowd, from Millennium (Map 7), San Francisco's high-end organic vegan restaurant (even the wine is organic), to tiny Lucky Creation (Map 7) in Chinatown and vegan chain Herbivore (Map 15), which offers soups, salads, and wraps at three locations around the Bay Area. Greens (Map 2) is a city favorite for its upscale vegetarian food and beautiful Bay views. Fans of Asian cuisine will find many options for meatless fare, including Shangri-La (Map 24) in the Sunset and Cha-Ya (Map 11) in the Mission.

Eating Your Wallet

If you can afford it, this is possibly the best (and easiest) way to spend your time in San Francisco. Living in this city is not cheap and neither are some of the most delicious restaurants. The following all cost a fortune, so when you get there the best thing to do is sit back with your glass of Champagne and lap up the indulgence. Quince (Map 8) is the best of the best. You'll have to call at least a month ahead to get a reservation, but the experience is well worth the wait. Spruce (Map 22), Fleur de Lys (Map 7), COI (Map 4), Campton Place (Map 7), Boulevard (Map 8), La Folie (Map 3), and The Slanted Door (Map 8) are just a handful of other spots where you can empty your bank account, fill your belly, and enjoy every minute of it. Happy eating!

Eating Small
While few wallets stretch as far as the fanciest restaurants, most folk can afford an egg custard tart. That's why we've gone small, for specialty dishes like the famous tarts at Golden Gate Bakery (Map 8), or the fried chicken sandwich at Bakesale Betty (North Oakland/Emeryville). Think of these as urban orienteering, as foodies map their way around the city bite by bite: breakfast beignets from Just For You Café (Map 17), tamales from the Tamale Lady at Zeitgeist (Map 11), or banana cream pie at Mission Pie (Map 15). Whatever your tastes, San Francisco has something tasty awaiting you—from crab salad at Swan Oyster Depot (Map 7)to cream puffs at Beard Papa (Map 7) to, uh, crab puffs at Thanh Long (Map 23). Continue the culinary treasure hunt across the Oakland Bay Bridge with the huge bhatura cholle breads at Vik's Chaat (Berkeley West) and lemon icebox pie at Lois the Pie Queen (North Oakland/Emeryville).

Eating By the Bay
Surrounded by sea on three sides, San Francisco is a wonderful place for waterfront dining. Start out west with a view of the Pacific at Cliff House (Map 18) or swap silverware for sandwiches at nearby Louis' (Map 18), where the outlook is higher but the prices are lower. Go east for Golden Gate snapshots and vegetarian fare at Greens (Map 2) or order crab fresh off the boat at Scoma's (Map 3), one of Fisherman's Wharf's better options. The Ferry Building is a food mecca—especially with its farmers market on Saturday—try haute Vietnamese at The Slanted Door (Map 8) or rotisserie sandwiches at Cane Rosso (Map 8). Farther down the Embarcadero, in the shadow of the Bay Bridge, kick back with chili cheese fries and burgers at Red's Java House (Map 8) or super-fresh seafood at Waterbar (Map 8). Past the ballpark to the south, The Ramp (Map 13) offers beer, brunch and burgers just a stone's throw from the shipyards. Elsewhere around the Bay, there are options aplenty, from Fish. in Sausalito to Sam's Anchor Café in Tiburon, a popular joint where the seafood is secondary to the skyline view across the water.



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Carolyne Rohrig
Photo:  Carolyne Rohrig

NOPA
Nopa's Custard French Toast is so spectacular you'll want to skip the main course and go straight for that. A full order is plenty for two people, or just you if you don't want to share. Believe me you won't. It comes bathed in warm butter, grilled kumquat slices and drizzled with warm syrup with a hint of orange. Other items on the brunch menu include the wood grilled garlic sausage, slow cooked pork, and the grass fed burger. The cocktails are gems. And they serve Blue Bottle Coffee. Nopa is a palate explosion on Divisadero.



Posted By:  Carolyne Rohrig
Photo:  Carolyne Rohrig

Absinthe
Before you go to the opera and the ballet have a bite at Absinthe. The Croque Monsieur is a toasty delight filled with Black Forest ham, Gruyere, Dijon mustard, and bechamel. The Cheddar grilled cheese is not your mother's recipe, but is filled with pickled red onion, jalapeno-sun-dried tomato jam, and go ahead, add bacon for that extra zing. The cocktails are delicious. The decor is tres French. And you'll be off to an amazing start before the show.



Posted By:  Carolyne Rohrig
Photo:  Carolyne Rohrig

Tout Sweet
Tout Sweet San Francisco is a feast for the eyes as well as your palate. As soon as you come into the store you feel like you're in France. The clean, colorful, modern California design of the store showcases the many mouth-watering delights. French macarons, petit gateaux (small cakes), verrines (layered parfaits), tarts, cookies, and other stunning desserts beckon you from the display case. Made with the freshest ingredients from the farmer's market, Yigit Pura, the designer-chef, finds his joy in his inspired flavor combinations that make your mouth sing. Come in and taste the Tesla or a Jessica macaron. Then pick up some extra for family and friends. That is if you don't eat them before you get home.



Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda

People's Cafe
This comforting cafe perfectly exemplifies the warmth of the San Francisco people. The space is perfect for a meet up or for just spending an afternoon alone in your thoughts. You'll find locals congregating with friends, skaters stopping in for a quick bite, and literary folks enjoying a salad and writing notes in their Moleskins. This place serves up big plates of comfort Cali food, so be sure to grab a table and get some people watching down--you're in The Haight afterall.



Posted By:  Andrew Savage
Photo:  Andrew Savage

Taqueria Cancun
The burrito which all burritos aspire to be. The wee-hours are usually the busiest time for this Mission staple, so be prepared to share lines with the late night set. You know the drill, gargantuan burritos wrapped in foil. They take two hands to eat. Comes with complimentary chips and salsa. All ingredients are fresh and used in accordance with one another. In other words, nothing clashes; nothing is superfluous. Fillings include an array of meats (carne asada, lengua, sesos, chorizo) or vegetariano. Wash it all down with cold Horchata.

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