SF’s food scene revolves around locally sourced, organic, independent, hidden spots (without outside signage), and single-concept food purveyors. From nitrogen infused ice cream in Hayes Valley to Burmese tea leaf salad in the Inner Richmond, San Francisco supports the right to eat well. Go beyond the Boudin clam chowder bread bowl!
Most Memorable Restaurant Experiences
- Mr. Pollo (2823 Mission St.) A hole in the wall that used to serve Venezuelan/Colombian fare focused around an amazing $25 4-course chef’s tasting menu. Times have changed and they now serve new-American fare, but still focused around a $25 4-course delicious chef’s tasting menu. Make sure to order an arepa to share—although their menu is constantly changing, the arepa is always available as a tribute to their past Venezuelan/Colombian days. BYOB!
- Mozzeria (3228 16th St). Super unique eating experience that most San Franciscans don’t know about. Entirely staffed by deaf—many of the customers are deaf as well. Really delicious Napoletana pizza cooked in a beautiful Stefano Ferrara wood-burning oven. Reasonably priced for the special dining experience that it is. Pizzas about $17.
- ICHI Sushi (3282 Mission St). ICHI is modern-traditional nigiri, sashimi with a large sake list run by a husband-wife team. Chef Tim studied in Japan for years – and cuts the most beautiful otoro tuna you’ve ever seen. Order the Omakase for the full adventure. The bar inside, Ni Bar, is also a great spot to get a drink and watch the Mission street life roll by. Entrees are about $15.
- Nopa (560 Divisadero St). Named for it’s neighborhood NoPa (“North of the Panhadle”) is hands down one of the best restaurants in the city. It’s a busy restaurant, but romantic nonetheless with one of the best pork chops in town. They have a killer list of cocktails, the “Sunshine Fix” is my favorite. Entrees are about $20.
- Zuni Cafe (1658 Market St). The late chef Judy Rodgers was a student of Alice Waters of Chez Panisse (credited with inventing California seasonal farm-to-table cuisine). Their roasted chicken is out of this world and I love the space! Entrees are about $20.
- Blue Plate (3218 Mission St). Amazing comfort food in a charming atmosphere. Their goat mac ‘n (goat) cheese, meatloaf, and focaccia bread are to die for. Located between Bernal Heights and the Mission, this area is referred to as “La Lengua” and home to some of my favorite bars: El Rio, Knockout, and Royal Cuckoo. Entrees are about $20.
- Mission Chinese (2234 Mission St). Trendy, hip, divey spot with kitschy decor. Creative and modern take on Chinese cuisine. Salt Cod Fried Rice and Broccoli Beef Brisket are standouts. Entrees are about $12.
- Woodhouse Fish Co. New England-style seafood – Maine lobster rolls, crab cakes and seafood chowder. They also do a creative take on lemonade – it comes in three jars: one lemon juice, one simple syrup, one sparkling water! $1 oyster Tuesdays! Entrees about $18.
Brunch/Breakfast Like Kings
- Mission Beach Cafe (198 Guerrero St). Every single thing on their rotating and seasonal menu is delicious but I’m a sucker for their classic egg sandwich. Perfection. Also their giant mimosas are amazing! Entrees are about $15.
- Brenda’s French Soul Food (652 Polk St). Southern comfort brunch fare known for hearty portions, Watermelon iced tea, and flight of beignets (must try: crawfish). No reservations so must be prepared to get in line early. Entrees are about $10.
- Devil’s Teeth Bakery (3876 Noriega Street). One of my favorite hangouts in all of the city. Devil’s teeth is a bit of a trek out to Ocean Beach, but it’s worth it and interesting to discover SF’s surf culture. They serve my favorite breakfast sandwich in the city—it’s an egg sandwich on a buttermilk biscuit with bacon (and avocado for extra!) Sit a while on the outdoor parklet, you’ll find half the neighborhood there. Entrees are about $5.
- Tartine Bakery. An SF institution – famous for a reason – local, organic, baked goods that are actually worth the wait in line for. The coffee is also near to perfect. Pastries about $5. They do awesome hot pressed sandwiches for lunch ($15).
Off the Grid: Check out all your favorite gourmet food vendors in one place. Find all the weekly schedules at offthegridsf.com, but here are the most popular ones:
- Thursdays 5-9pm: Upper Haight
- Friday 5-10pm: Fort Mason
- Sundays 11am-4pm (through November 2nd): The Presidio Picnic, a collection of food trucks pop up in beautiful Presidio Park. Games, music, and yoga (@ 11am & 1pm) also included!
SoMa StrEat Food Park: A permanent food truck party, open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.
San Franciscans are particular about their coffee and where it comes from, willing to wait in long lines to gain the perfect cup. Know the big names in the coffee scene:
- Blue Bottle
- Hayes Valley: Outside kiosk (315 Linden St.)
- Ferry Building: Served inside this SF landmark! (1 Ferry Building, #7)
- SoMa: Pretty equipment in this unique space. (66 Mint Plaza)
- Four Barrel
- Mission: Hang out in the wonderful parklet out front. No internet! (Valencia & 15th St.)
- Philz: Unique from the other roasters, because they only serve pour-over, NO espresso drinks. 6 locations in the city, 1 in Berkeley, 1 in Sausalito, and 5 down the peninsula.
- The original Philz: Mission (3101 24th St. at Folsom St.)
- Castro: How many unicorns can you count? (4023 18th St.)
- Sausalito: Hidden without a sign since Sausalito doesn’t allow chain establishments. (317 Johnson St.)
- Ritual Roasters
- Mission: Popular as a work space, lots of solo customers with their computers. (1026 Valencia St.)
- Bayview: More of a pop-up, you’ll find this Ritual inside magical Flora Grubb Gardens (1634 Jerrold Ave.)
- Hayes Valley: Serving coffee outside of a shipping container. Enjoy outside in this cute square! (432 Octavia St.)
- SoMa: Amazing space. No internet. (270 7th St.)
- Mission: Their newest location. Beautiful. (3014 20th St.)
- Bicycle Coffee Company: While their storefront is in Oakland, you can order their coffee in a number of different SF cafes.
Just like coffee, SF likes to support local. Here are the big (and not so big) names to know about:
- Anchor Brewing Company (1705 Mariposa St): Anchor is America’s first and oldest craft brewery, with roots dating back to the California gold rush. FREE tour with FREE tastings! 2 public tours each weekday, by reservation only.
- 21st Amendment (563 2nd St.)
- Cervecería de MateVeza (3801 18th St): A tiny shop next to Dolores Park brewing their beer with yerba mate.
- Magnolia Pub & Brewery (1398 Haight St): Do you know the song Sugar Magnolia? This brewery has some interesting Haight-Ashbury history! Delicious food!
- Social Kitchen & Brewery (1326 9th Ave): The Inner Sunset’s own brewery.
- Southern Pacific Brewing Company (620 Treat Ave): A huge covered warehouse. Serve yummy pub food alongside yummy beer.
- Speakeasy Ales & Lagers (1195 Evans Ave):
- Barrel Head Brewhouse (1785 Fulton St):
- Bluxome Street Winery (53 Bluxome Street): Winemaking in the heart of SoMa. Tasting hours Tuesday-Sunday 1-8pm.
- Tank 18 (1345 Howard St.): Tasting hours Thursday-Sunday 3ish-10ish. $15 for a tasting flight of 4 wines.
- The Winery SF (Treasure Island): Tasting hours Saturday & Sunday 12-5 pm, weekdays by appointment only.
- Fat Grape (Treasure Island): Tasting hours Tuesday-Sunday 11am-6pm. Free tastings.
- Sol Rogue (Treasure Island):
Cool Local Food Organizations
- Bi-Rite: Creating community through food, including two markets, two farms, a catering service, ice cream shop, and a nonprofit called 18 Reasons.
- Feastly: The Airbnb for dinner parties, Feastly is a website that allows you to book a dinner in a local home.
- EatWith: Like Feastly, EatWith is a global community that lets you enjoy authentic and intimate dining experiences in people’s homes.
- La Cocina: cultivates low income food entrepreneurs as they formalize and grow their businesses by providing affordable commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance and access to market opportunities.
- Rainbow Grocery: a vegetarian grocery with a huge selection of locally sourced products and 800+ bulk items to choose from.