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The 37 Best Things to Eat in San Francisco (and Where to Eat Them)

This  post has been updated as of 4/11/2016.

Since so many of my friends live and work in SF, I decided to do a little food tour of the city and find the 37best things to eat in San Francisco – in no particular order.

1. Cellophane Noodles with Crab

at The Slanted Door

Cellophane Noodles with Crab

Thin, glossy noodles served with sweet crab. Absolutely delish.

Price: 21$

where to eat?  The Slanted Door, 1 Ferry Bldg, Ste 3, SF – 94111

 

2. Braised Beef Short Ribs

at Ad Hoc

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Tender beef short ribs, braised and served with a mushroom risotto, fava beans, and shallots. Not overly complicated, but the flavors come together wonderfully.

where to eat?  Ad Hoc, 6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

Price : 52$ (4 course dinner)

 

3. Chicken Milanesa Torta (Milanesa de Pollo)

at Tortos Boos Voni

Chicken Milanesa Torta (Milanesa de Pollo)

Torta, as keen foodies would know, is a Mexican sandwich. ‘Milanesa’, on the other hand, is an Italian dish of breaded and shallow fried meat. It is also the generic term for any meat fillet preparation in Latin America.

This sandwich combines Mexican bread and milanesa meat fillet with tomatoes, chopped lettuce, onions and avocado with a hint of sour cream and some salsa.

Price : Under 10$

where to eat?  Tortas Boos Voni, 5170 Mission St., SF – 94112

Yelp page

4. Lamb Shank with Barley, Pumpkin, Pomegranate and Argula

at Aziza

Lamb Shank with Barley, Pumpkin, Pomegranate and Argula

Aziza is, perhaps, the only Michelin star rated Moroccan restaurant in the country. It is easy to see why. The food here is authentic Moroccan, yet innovative, especially the lamb shank which falls right off the bone and is served in a delicious argula, pumpkin and pomegranate sauce over a bed of barley.

where to eat?  Aziza, 5808 Geary Blvd, SF – 94121

 

5. Tropical Sundae

at Ice Cream Bar

Tropical Sundae at Ice Cream Bar

This fruit-filled concoction is made from macadamia nut and banana puddlin’ ice-cream topped with roasted pineapple sauce, coconut macaroon crumb, toasted passion fruit marshmallows and peace fruit sorbet, all served in a delightfully classic themed ice cream bar and soda fountain.

where to eat?  Ice Cream Bar, 815 Cole Street, SF – 94117

 

6. Egg Sandwich with Shallots and Parsley on Sourdough

at Beergarten

Egg Sandwich with Shallots and Parsley on Sourdough

Besides great beer, this German restaurant also serves a delicious egg sandwich with shallots and parsley on sourdough bread loaded with herb butter. A must eat, especially before you begin your beer drinking spree.

where to eat?  Biergarten, 424 Octavia St., SF – 94102

 

7. Kung Pao Pastrami

at Mission Chinese Food

Kung Pao Pastrami Mission Chinese Food

The signature dish at SF’s favorite Chinese fusion food spot. Pork belly pastrami served with Kung Pao spices. A delicious blend of East and West. Fair warning though: the food can be incredibly hot, so unless you can handle your spices, steer away.

where to eat?  Mission Chinese Food, 2234 Mission St., SF – 94110

 

8. Meatloaf Sandwich

at Fatted Calf

Meatloaf Sandwich at Fatted Calf

The key to this meatloaf sandwich is the meat itself. Since Fatted Calf is essentially a meat shop, you can be sure you’ll get only the best ground beef, pork and bacon in your meatloaf. While you’re at it, also try their toasted fiscalini cheddar and bacon jam sandwich.

where to eat?  Fatted Calf, 320 Fell St., SF – 94102

 

9. Kasu-Zuke Pickles

at Cultured Pickles

Kasu-Zuke Pickles

Cultured Pickles, in Berkeley, does one thing and one thing only: pickles. And boy, do they do it right. If you thought pickles was just cucumber slices in vinegar, you need to get yourself to Cultured.

From Indian mango to tomato and peppercorn, there is a pickle for things you never thought could be pickled at Cultured. The best of the lot is the Kasu-Zuke pickles – burdock roots pickled in sake lees by natural fermentation methods (with no vinegar).

where to eat?  Cultured Pickle Shop, 800 Bancroft Way, Suite 105, Berkeley – 94710

 

10. Salt Cod Cakes

at Mikkeller Bar

Salt Cod Cakes

These hearty, salted cod fish cakes are the perfect accompaniment to the excellent beer served at Mikkeller Bar – the first American outlet of the famous Copenhagen bars of the same name run by brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergso.

where to eat?  Mikkeller Bar, 34 Mason St., SF – 94102

 

11. Peach Crostata

at Zunni Cafe

Peach crostata at zunni cafe

Fresh Peach, melt-in-your-mouth. Crostata is perfectly blend to show off the fruit.  Crust is perfect bake.

where to eat?  Zunni Cafe’, 1658 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94102

 

12. Takoyaki

at Izakaya Sozai

Takoyaki

Izakaya Sozai is arguably SF’s finest Japanese restaurant. You can pick anything off the menu, but I recommend you take a stab at the takoyaki – fried dough balls filled with diced octopus – before trying out the more esoteric and fusion fare.

where to eat?  Izakaya Sozai, 1500 Irving St., SF – 94122

 

13. Moto Pizza

at Ragazza

Moto Pizza

Skip the pastas and the deserts and try out the Moto pizza at this Italian restaurant – tomato, Calabrian chillies, red onion, sausage and mushrooms. The best way to eat it is with an egg on top, a Ragazza signature.

where to eat?  Ragazza, 311 Divisadero St., SF – 94117

 

14. Coffee Rubbed Pork Shoulder

at Range

Coffee Rubbed Pork Shoulder

Tender, slow-cooked pork rubbed with ground coffee and served with creamy hominy and collard greens. The coffee flavor is very subtle, but it does something wonderful to the pork. Highly recommended.

where to eat?  Range, 842 Valencia St., SF – 94110

 

15. Fried Onion Cake

at House of Nanking

Fried Onion Cake

A crispy, light patty made with pizza dough and packed with fresh fried green onions and glazed with sweet-salty peanut sauce. A legendary dish at one of SF’s favorite Chinese eateries.

where to eat?  House of Nanking, 919 Kearny St., SF – 94133

 

16. Morning Bun

at Tartine Bakery & Cafe

 Morning Bun

The morning bun at Tartine Bakery has legendary status among SF foodie circles. You’ll find big lines snaking outside the bakery on weekdays as people get their fill of this delicious sweet buns made from croissant dough, zest of orange and sprinkled with ground cinnamon.

where to eat?  Tartine Bakery & Cafe, 600 Guerrero St., SF – 94110

 

17. Nick’s Baja-Style Fish Tacos

at The Taco Shop at Underdog’s

Nick's Baja-Style Fish Tacos

Crispy fried fish topped with a hearty helping of guacamole, cheese and onions. A big game favorite at this popular fusion sports bar.

where to eat?  Taco Shop at Underdog’s, 1824 Irving St., SF – 94122

 

18. Khoresht Gheymeh

at Maykadeh Persian Cuisine

Khoresht Gheymeh

Persian cuisine is underrepresented in SF, which is a shame because Persian food has some truly delicious dishes, such as Khoresht Gheymeh – a stew of lamb, split yellow peas, saffron tomato paste, and sun dried lime topped with fries and served on a bed of fragrant basmati rice.

where to eat?  Maykadeh Persian Cuisine, 470 Green St., San Francisco – 94133

 

19. Katsu Curry

at JapaCurry

Katsu Curry

Breaded, deep-fried pork or chicken cutlet served with a dark brown tonkatsu curry sauce (curry packed separately) – the dish that’s made JapaCurry one of the best food trucks in the city.

where to eat?  JapaCurry, Location Varies (see website or follow on Twitter for details).

 

20. Oxtail and Chickpea Fritters

at Alta CA

20

Falafel-like fritters and oxtail meat served with red onions and artichoke. A bit avant-garde, but delicious nonetheless.

where to eat?  Alta CA, 1420 Market St., SF – 94102

 

21. Brassicas and Grains

at  SPQR

Brassicas and Grains

Italian food with a Californian artisan twist. This popular favorite has burrata, avocado, olio verde, brassica (a plant of the mustard family), green goddess and grains. Light, and delicious.

where to eat?  SPQR, 1911 Fillmore St., SF – 94115

 

22. Pork Sugo with Pappardelle

at Delfina

Pork Sugo with Pappardelle

Any dish that requires over 5 hours of cooking spread over two days deserves some respect. This local favorite has everything a foodie could ask for – tender pork butt and spareribs in a deliciously well-spiced sauce of carrots, onions, celery, garlic, rosemary, sage, white wine and tomato, served on fresh pappardelle pasta.

where to eat?  Delfina, 3621 18th St., SF – 94110

 

23. Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

at Zuni Cafe

Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

When a dish has been written about in everything from Food and Wine Magazine to Saveur, you know it’s going to be worth it. This legendary dish has tender, free-range chicken spiced with thyme, garlic and pepper, served with a bread salad of currants and pine nuts. Absolutely delicious.

where to eat?  Zuni Cafe, 1658 Market St., SF – 94102

 

24. Orange Cardamom Kouign Amann

at B. Patisserie

Orange Cardamom Kouign Amann

B. Patisserie is arguably the most beloved pastry shop in the bay area, and the kouign amann is its chief star (along with the croissant). Delicate, flaky pastry spiced with orange and cardamom that’s often described at “orgasmic”, and a “gift from the unseeable world”.

where to eat?  B. Patisserie, 2821 California St., SF – 94115

 

25. Crispy Duck Salad

at Hakkasan

Crispy Duck Salad

Hakkasan has been a tremendous force in the SF food world, reinventing Chinese food with trendy, experimental delicious dishes. One of the best things on their menu is the crispy duck salad – well-seasoned duck fried to crispy perfection and served with pomegranate, pine nuts, shallots and watercress.

where to eat?  Hakkasan, 1 Keamy St., SF – 94108

 

26. Brussels Sprout Chips

at Marlowe

Brussels Sprout Chips

Thought brussels sprouts are boring and chips are only good when potatoes are involved?

Then try the brussels sprout chips at Marlowe. You’ll never see chips the same way again.

where to eat?  Marlowe, 330 Townsend St., Ste 101, SF – 94107

 

27. Spiced Lamb Skewers (Arnisio Souvlaki)

at Kokkari Estiatorio

Spiced Lamb Skewers (Arnisio Souvlaki)

Thick chunks of lamb rubbed with Greek spices and grilled to perfection. Nothing fancy or complicated; just plain good cooking.

where to eat?  Kokkari Estiatorio, 200 Jackson St., SF – 94111

 

28. Chicharrons

at La Palma

Chicharrons

You can close your eyes and place your finger on any item on the menu without being disappointed in this Mexican delicatessen (a Mexicatessen). The best thing to eat, by far, are its chicharrons (fried pork rinds). Amp up the flavor by rolling it up in a handmade tortilla taco topped with fresh guacamole and salsa.

where to eat?  La Palma, 2884 24th St., SF – 94110

 

29. Barbeque Pork Bun

at Good Mong Kok Bakery

Barbeque Pork Bun

There are few things as universally well-loved as a good BBQ pork bun (well, to those who eat pork anyway). Freshly baked (or steamed) and filled with succulent cha siu pork goodness, these make for a great breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, or a late night post-drinking meal. Plenty of bakeries serve these buns in SF, but I recommend the ones at Good Mong Kok Bakery. The buns are always fresh and the price always ridiculously low. Try out both the baked and the more authentic steamed buns.

where to eat?  Good Mong Kok Bakery, 1039 Stockton St., SF – 94108

Yelp page.

 

30. Omakase

at Ichi Sushi + NI Bar

Omakase

Given San Francisco’s love for Japanese food, there is no shortage of places to grab some great sushi in the city. For those feeling a bit more adventurous, I recommend the omakase (which means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese, i.e. the chef serves whatever he wants) at Ichi Sushi.

where to eat?  Ichi Sushi + NI Bar, 3282 Mission St., SF – 94110

 

31. Crispy Octopus

at 1760

Crispy Octopus

Octopus isn’t for the faint-hearted, what with the tentacles and all. But when done right, it is heavenly delicious. If you’re new to octopus, try out the crispy octopus at 1760 (which is named after its location, not the year), served with roasted peanuts, fingerling potatoes and avocado. The octopus is charred to perfection and has just the right mix of stringy chewiness and buttery soft meatiness.

where to eat?  1760, 1760 Polk St., SF – 94109

 

32. Papua New Guinea S’More

at Dandelion Chocolate

Papua New Guinea S’More

The folks at Dandelion don’t kid around with their chocolate. They take incredible pains to source the right stuff straight from the farmers and roast everything slowly to get just the right flavor. All this effort translates into chocolate that makes the store bought stuff taste like a three-day old McNugget.

You’ll everything on sale at Dandelion, but I recommend the Papua New Guinea S’More, which uses beans sourced straight from farmers in Papua New Guinea and tastes like a slice of heaven.

where to eat?  Dandelion Chocolate, 740 Valencia St., SF – 94110

 

33. Chicken Mole

at San Jalisco

Chicken Mole

Mole is one of the most complicated sauces in the world with a huge list of ingredients and a cooking process that could make Gordon Ramsay cry. Getting it right is difficult, but San Jalisco comes pretty close with its Pollo en Mole.

where to eat?  San Jalisco, 901 S. Van Ness Ave., SF – 94110

 

34. Maple Bacon Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

at 4505 Meats

Maple Bacon Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

The philosophy at 4505 Meats is simple: high quality ingredients, simple recipes. For breakfast, try out their maple bacon sausage sandwich – maple bacon sausage patty with a fried egg, and seasonal greens between buttered brioche bun. Simple, but delicious.

where to eat?  4505 Meats Burgers and BBQ, 705 Dvisadero St., SF – 94117

 

35. Squid Ink Tonnarelli

at A16

Squid Ink Tonnarelli

If there was ever an ingredient that didn’t sound like something you’d want to put in your mouth, it’s squid ink. Yet, this dish has somehow become an Italian classic, even though few chefs know how to do it right. Chef Christopher Thompson is one of these few, putting out spicy tonnarelli pasta with braised squid, garlic, parsley, lemon and senise peppers. It might not look like much, but it tastes out of this world.

where to eat?  A16, 2355 Chestnut St., SF – 94123

 

36. Chicken and Waffles

at Hard Knox Cafe

Chicken and Waffles

You can find more Korean-Mexican fusion places than a good southern BBQ or soul-food joint in San Francisco. Hard Knox Cafe is one of the few places in the city that does soul-food right, serving all-time classics like cajun meatloaf, beef short ribs, and country fried steak. Best among these is waffles and chicken – well-seasoned chicken fried to perfection and served with thick, delicious pancakes.

where to eat?  Hard Knox Cafe, 2526 3rd Street, SF – 94107

Also at: 2488 Clement St., SF – 94121

 

37. Salted Caramel Ice Cream

at Bi-Rite Creamery

A “best of San Francisco” list without Bi-Rite Creamery’s salted caramel ice-cream would cause riots.

Yes, it’s that good.

where to eat?  Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th St., SF – 94110

Obviously, this list is by no means conclusive. I can think of a 50 more dishes to eat off the top of my head, but including everything that should be here would just make the list too long and unwieldy.

So which among these is on your all-time favorites list?

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  • Jim

    Why would you have a floating social media bar that covers the article I’m supposed to be reading? Wow that is retarded.

    • Really sorry Jim! It’s supposed to be at the side, away from view, but it’s just acting up a bit.

      I disabled the whole thing so you can view the article sans the distracton.

  • What about Millionaires Bacon at Sweet Maple, awesome list!

  • Andrea Naletto

    the vast majority of these dishes are not appealing at all. bad list.

  • rayfilwong

    was San Tung chicken on the list?

  • Penny Clifton

    Although I’m sure the fare at Ad Hoc and Kasu-Zuke are delish, Berkeley and Yountville are NOT San Francisco. And where is this Keamy St.? I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never heard of it.

    • Jay

      Just checked the Keamy St. issue. Turns out it’s there were some issues with font kerning which caused the rn to be squished together to look like m. It should read Kearny St. now.

    • Dean

      hmm all your life? between Montgomery and Grant

      • chocobones55

        Hakkasan is on kearny, not “keamy” (as incorrectly spelled in the article). Penny was being sarcastically funny, while dean thought he was putting her in her place.. but failed.

    • Jetcarolina

      you’re kidding right?

  • Kenny Marks

    Tea leaf salad at Burma SuperStar should have been on the list.

  • Emily Johnson

    why didnt you put Tea Leaf Salad from Burma Superstar in the Richmond???? fail

  • Pico Soriano

    yummmmmmmmmmmm

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  • Raquizzle

    Also the chicken at Tosca! Heavenly.

  • Brigita

    Great list of restaurants in 94108, but I also missed Burma SuperStar.

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