SF food guide


in my opinion, san francisco is one of the best cities
for food in the world, and we live right in the center
of it all. how lucky are we? we try to take advantage
of this and taste all we can in this city, and i’ve been
working on a list of favorites for a while now. i get
countless emails often asking for restaurant
tips in san francisco, and there are just so many!
 
so it has come to the point where i need to create a
collection of all our favorite san francisco restaurants.
so along with our guide to SF ,this will
serve as a resource for all
you fellow foodies.
 
{brunch}
the menu changes weekly based on what is in season. tiny walk-up on post street near union square. order each of their 4 specials, you cannot go wrong here. follow them on instagram @farmtable to see their menu!
 
mama’s 
this is one of the best known brunch spots in the city, and in one of my favorite areas right on washington sq…best french toast you’ll ever have, BUT—up to a 3 hour line. it really is that good, but sometimes i get pretty hangry in line. either go around 7:30 AM to be at the front when they open at 8, or stop by around 2 or 2:30 pm for no line (and a late brunch).
 
yes we are partial to this place because it was around the corner from our old apartment, but after making this our weekend staple and bringing every visitor here, we realized it’s one of the best hidden gems in the city. it’s filled with locals every weekend morning, and for good reason. the line moves fast, so you can get to your soufflé pancakes and baja california eggs benedict sooner :) 
 
zazie
cutest little french spot that we love for brunch, though a little pricier but worth it! try one of their many unique eggs benedict offerings.
 
dottie’s true blue cafe 
such a de-lish brunch spot. it’s right in the tenderloin (rough area) but it is delicious. you have to wait in a long line, but once you get in the doors it’s the best. love the feel of it, and the food really is so great. just classic and amazing. get the raspberry pancakes, a huge blueberry muffin, and always try the specials.

tartine
the bakery and the manufactory, for arguably the best for pastries/bread in SF!

arsicault bakery
must. get. the. croissant. !!!!!

craftsman & wolves
this place has perfected the morning bun. get it warm and love it. it’s perfection. also try the “rebel within”, or any of their treats! {hint, hint – the eclair}
 
if you’re an eggs benedict fan, go here. if you’re a bacon fan, also go here. there are all different kinds of eggs benny, and the millionaire’s bacon is solid gold…and i don’t even normally like bacon! you’ll leave here very FULL and there’s a long wait, but it’s very worth it.
 
one word: beignets. come here for the best. get the basic and the chocolate filled…maybe the apple cinnamon too, why not! this has a new orleans influence and some of the best fried chicken eggs benedict you can find…yes you heard me right! also watch for their specials like sweet potato pancakes. you will never leave brenda’s hungry!
 
boulette’s larder
i love eating brunch here at the ferry building!

b. patisserie
one of the best kouign amann!! also delicious pastries including also banana chocolate almond croissant.

rose’s cafe
try the breakfast pizza! yes you read that right!
 
the mill
cute coffee shop with yummy yummy TOASTS!
 
devil’s teeth baking co
get the breakfast sandwich or other yummy pastries!
 
{lunch}
salad lovers, unite! this is a fresh, darling, delicious place with huge amazing salads. they also have really good warm sandos, so don’t be afraid to go hungry. i love the detox salad + the beet salad. perfect for a girls lunch.
 
this gorgeous restaurant under the dome on the top level of neiman marcus in union square is pricey, but so worth a splurge. the atmosphere is perfection, and the food is top quality. you have to get a crab louie and one of their famous popovers with strawberry butter! you can do afternoon tea here too. fancy and fun!
 
i am a french girl at heart, so the first time i saw la boulange my heart stopped. it’s a little bit of paris right in san francisco! each location is so charming, you can’t go wrong. brunch is amazing here, but i also love their lunch…croque monseiur, and all of their treats!
 
boudin bakery 
this place may be cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. it’s the classic san francisco sourdough spot, and i always take visitors here for clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl because it’s kind of a must. i love the grilled cheese, tomato soup, and spring salad… and of course love picking up the sourdough fresh. go to the fisherman’s wharf main location and watch the bread being made through the windows, then eat lunch and stop at the museum on the top floor before you leave…one of my favorite tiny museums all about the city! i’m in love with it.

ike’s place

some of the best sandwiches in the bay. whatever you do, get the dutch crunch bread. the “blind date” sandwich is great, as is the “SF giants” and lots more. yummy, filling lunch!
 
liguria bakery 
i am borderline obsessed with this place. right in washington square in the heart of little italy (and across from mama’s), this bakery has been around since the city began. fresh authentic foccacia bread is made in all different flavors, then wrapped up in brown paper and tied up with string…literally. i feel like i’m living in italy whenever i leave here! pick this up for a dinner party, or to go home and make paninis with!
 
this is off the beaten path for most visitors, but locals–check this place out in the bayview. the hours are tricky, but the food is worth scheduling around. it is basically a permanent food truck in a cute little yard with twinkly lights, succulents, and random outdoor furniture. pizza is done just right here. get the margherita, + a kale salad (TRUST ME…best ever). don’t forget a fresh squeezed lemonade!
 
gott’s roadside 
we first tried this place in napa at oxbow market, and it’s so popular that it made it down to the city! it’s right in the ferry building and great for a burger lunch break.
 
red’s java house
i love this tiny shack restaurant right on the water past the bay bridge toward AT&T park. this is a fun lunch spot while strolling along the water, or for a quick dinner before a baseball game! it’s a simple menu with hot dogs and burgers, but all made on amazing san francisco SOURDOUGH bread … grilled and buttered. this is a hole-in-the-wall, gem of a place.
 
this place is really fun and i love the style, and the gourmet tacos are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. seriously they are works of art. we love the place, but i always leave feeling a little hungry because the servings are small and they add up. go for a light lunch! It gave me some fantastic small plate menu ideas that I can cook at home!
 
{dinner}
perfection in a restaurant. this place is special. out at lands end overlooking ocean beach, and literally over the cliffs. go for a special occasion, order the lobster roll + salmon, and be happy.
 
this place is absolutely incredible. eating here is like a scene from a movie..the restaurant is so pretty, with streams of twinkly lights overhead and a great atmosphere. the food is on another level — so fresh that the menu is changing daily. it’s so incredible and the brunch is top notch too.
 
this is one of our absolute favorite local spots. it’s a hidden secret on polk street that i’m willing to let you all in on :) the menu changes constantly based on what’s in season, and we’ve never once been disappointed. don’t miss the homemade meatballs, a fresh unique pizza, and the perfect ambience. it’s family-run and draws you right in from the sidewalk.
 
a favorite with locals…really good authentic pizza. stay simple here, i like their basic pizzas better than the more adventurous flavors. also get brussels sprouts as an appetizer of course! their sister restaurant –delfina– is next door. it’s incredible and a little more high end.
 
lers ros thai 
favorite thai in the city!
 
china live
major gem in chinatown! the open kitchen, beautiful shop, and endless incredible dishes make this a must-stop.

slanted door
my dad and i discovered this place so many years ago on one of our father-daughter trips to san francisco, and i’ve loved it ever since. it’s right on the embarcadero outside of the ferry building facing the bay. it’s a gorgeous setting and really unique modern vietnamese food…i don’t think i had ever tried vietnamese food before this, but trust me– it’s amazing here. this place is high end and good for a meeting or a fancy lunch/dinner on the water!

tony’s pizza
the. best. this little italy pizzeria is one of the only authentic italian places with food to deserve the neighborhood. it’s always crowded, but worth the wait for that margherita pizza + new yorker pizza. MMM!
 
papito hayes
love this mexican food joint! this hayes valley spot offers a fresh, organic take on mexican food. you NEED the house guacamole and the FAJITAS!
 
this is a unique place that reflects why i love san francisco. it’s a unique spot offering incredible fondue with an american influence. it’s the coziest little place and the salads + fondue are KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. the owner is the nicest guy and old western movies play on the wall while you eat incredible fondue with every dipping side you can think of.
 
nopalito
some of the best mexican food in the city. try all of the salsas!

mozzeria
this place is special. not only is has fabulous pizza, but an amazing spirit and story as well. it is san francisco’s deaf restaurant, owned and operated by those hard of hearing. it’s near-and-dear to our hearts because of my nephew with hearing loss — so we are big fans. it is unassuming and such a great experience to dine at.

delarosa 
we finally made it to this top notch italian eatery. from the turkey gruyere panini, gnocchi florentine, and any pizzas you can’t go wrong with the high quality cuisine here.

little star pizza
this is really popular with locals. definitely get the garlic bread, and go for the deep dish pizza..the best.

zuni sf
a beloved classic. try their famous chicken!

nick’s crispy tacos
if you’re in the city on a tuesday night, come here for taco tuesday! come here any night for some of the yummiest fish tacos. make sure to get them “nick’s way” which means packed with guacamole + sour cream. no brainer! get the guac + chips appetizer and agua fresca or horchata. *nick’s is inside of rouge, which is a nightclub. depending on when you go, it can be loud but it’s a fun atmosphere and you work your way to the back to get your tacos!

the classic italian spot in nob hill, this is a fun and authentic italian meal you will remember. the walls are filled with pictures of celebrities who have dined here, yet it still feels personal and local. the owner lorenzo will surely become your friend throughout the meal! he lives just upstairs and truly runs the place :)

señor sisig food truck
you have to wait in this hour-long line at least once. the sisig tacos with cilantro cream sauce are the tastiest menu item and perfect if you’re wanting something lighter •• however- if you’re hungry and going for the big leagues, you get the california sisig burrito. it has FRIES in it. and avocado. and sour cream. and shredded cheese. and amazing pork. and pico de gallo. just dream about that. it’s heavenly.

le colonial
this place has a beautiful setting to stumble into, with the prettiest dining rooms serving chic French-Vietnamese food.

thai cooking with sunshine
if you’re looking for some of the very best thai food in the city AND an experience, book a night with sunshine for her famous thai cooking classes. she hosts them in her home which is a former church that they bought and redid. it’s incredible. her thai food is flawless and you get to learn to make it at the same time! see more here.

after passing this classic restaurant countless times right on top of nob hill, we finally had to give it a try. for the sake of the city’s history, it is a fun place worth dining once. the food is pretty good, but you’re going for the atmosphere. you sit in the same places that some of the most important people in the city’s history once sat. there are some good stories in there!
 
house of prime rib
a little bit similar to above, this old-school restaurant serves beloved prime rib since the 1940s. a fun fancy classic SF dinner.

state bird provisions
well-known and beloved, get reservations well in advance for this place offering small plates served dim-sum style.
 
greens restaurant
this is an all vegetarian restaurant that we love despite that face that we’re not even vegetarians. it is right down in fort mason with the prettiest view of the water. they have such fresh, delicious menu items…try the butternut squash + sweet potato gratin, the asparagus pizza, squash + coconut milk soup, and more! everything is so creative.
 
super duper burgers
this was chase’s favorite weekend stop when we lived in the city. cute fun stop with simple burgers and shakes! 

hillstone
our longtime favorite chain-that-is-nothing-like-a-chain … you can never ever go wrong here.

the little chihuahua
cute and unique little mexican spot- get the fried plantain & black bean burrito!

el farolito
one of the famed mission taquerias spots. go get tacos or a big burrito!
 
sears fine food 
this may not be the most gourmet food, but it’s comfort food and it’s a classic in union square. go in for the famous 18 swedish pancakes stacked on a plate…even for dinner! it’s a memory and fun to eat right in union square. 
 
flour + water
first of all, i love the name of this place! it’s yummy italian food, from pastas to wood-fired pizza in a pretty space.

la taqueria
this taco joint in the mission is crazy popular. the owner hands ladies roses as they pick up their food…so loved that! get carne asada with sour cream, or tacos “dorado style.”

 
 
{desserts}
soft serve ice cream, perfected. track this ice cream truck down in golden gate park if it’s the last thing you do. think: organic vanilla bean soft serve, dipped in dark chocolate with sea salt sprinkles in a hand rolled sugar cone. it’s everything. it’s completely 5 stars, knock-your-socks-off goodness.

tartine bakery
this is a famous sf bakery that must be stopped into if you love sweets…which you hopefully do. get an eclair or a banana cream tart..or anything, really!

another unique and YUMMY treat in the city. they have the best homemade pies and ice cream, but the best part is..they blend them together into pie shakes! sounds weird, but it’s genius and you need one.

bob’s donut shop
donut lovers, this is your spot. this place is really classic and just simple. it’s open 24 hours a day and if you go late at night you can get lucky and catch a fresh hot batch. it’s chase’s true happy place, and even though i don’t even love donuts i will always get one here. try the apple pandowdy, maple old fashioned, or anything that is fresh and warm.

the loving cup 
all different flavors of rice pudding, plus some really good homemade frozen yogurt. cutest shop! 

miette patisserie
you have to stop in here for a macaron, and to take in the darling darling shop. in love!

golden gate bakery 
a chinatown gem! there is usually a big line, and everyone is getting the same thing–freshly baked chinese egg custard tarts. yummiest treats ever. i always bring people here!
 
sift dessert bar
i am in love with this all-pink, amazing bakery near fillmore. it’s local (started in napa) and perfect for a dessert date … or a treat delivery! get a homemade cookie ice cream sandwich, or chocolate filled rice krispie!
 
over the moon 
this is the even-better version of cream, the ice cream /cookie sandwich spot. the flavors of cookies and ice cream here are much better and taste more homemade. 
 
dandelion chocolates
this chocolate factory and shop in the mission is really unique with all different types from countries all over the world. some are crazy! go sample some and get a frozen hot chocolate. new location now in the ferry building!
 
beard papa 
i completely heart this place…all different flavors of cream puffs! we have decided that the best kind is the cocoa cream puff with vanilla filling. YUMM-o.
 
bi-rite ice cream 
go here on a sunny day in the mission, wait in a long line (!!!!) and eat it at dolores park. i have a hard time with the line, but those flavors are so unique. if it’s too long, walk down the street to the darling birite market and pick up a pint there.
 
johnny doughnuts
these donuts rival any we have tried. they differ from bob’s because they are more unique flavors, not just the classics. they are fluffy and amazing and flavorful. find the food truck!

tcho

our favorite local chocolate — you will see tcho being used in so many restaurants through the city, and we love going to the factory (down on the embarcadero with the gorgeous huge wooden doors) and doing some sampling.
 
mr. holmes bakehouse
cruffins, croissants, you won’t be disapponted here! just be prepared for a line at some times of day :)
 
smitten ice cream
this is a tiny little place with made-t0-order ice cream. literally, they make it when you order it. there are only a few flavors, and you can see exactly which ingredients go into them. ice cream in it’s purest form!
 
 
 
 

enjoy SF and all of its deliciousness!


'SF food guide' has 6 comments

  1. April 14, 2014 @ 7:57 pm AJ Candrian

    You need to add Red’s Java House to your list of places to try. Best hot dogs and hamburgers served on sour dough bread… right next to Pier 30. They are only open for breakfast and lunch. Best “hole in the wall” type place in the Bay Area.

    Reply

    • April 15, 2014 @ 7:50 pm emi

      thanks! you know i trust your food recommendations after all the places you showed me in DC…sweetgreen, still miss it! we will check it out! XO

      Reply

  2. October 4, 2014 @ 10:17 pm Haley @ Cupcakes and Sunshine

    I’m definitely checking this list before I head to SF! This will be the first place I check for suggestions. YUM!

    Reply

  3. June 22, 2015 @ 10:11 pm Torina

    Have you tried the red door or Olea for breakfast!?? – different & delicious and yummy fav!

    Reply

    • emi

      June 23, 2015 @ 10:25 am emi

      those are both right by us but we’ve tried neither for breakfast so we’ll have to!!

      Reply

  4. May 11, 2019 @ 1:55 am xxx

    awesome i loved it

    Reply


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