Chef Favorites

You are here

August 28, 2015

10 San Francisco Restaurants Where Chefs Love to Eat

People always ask chefs where they like to eat, but unfortunately chefs don’t get to eat out very much, and when they do, it’s often on the late side. But here are a few places where you’ll find cooks and chefs in San Francisco when they have a chance to let someone else do the cooking.

La Ciccia  (291 30th St.)
An San Francisco restaurant industry favorite, this authentic Sardinian restaurant in Noe Valley always has a happy crowd dining on chef Massimiliano Conti’s spaghetti and bottarga, spicy octopus, fresh seafood, and fregola and urchin. The wine list is deep and the hospitality from wife, Lorella Degan is unmatched. (Their neighboring enoteca, La Nebbia, is also becoming an industry hangout.)

Turtle Tower (501 Sixth St. and 5716 Geary Blvd.)
Serving some of the city’s best chicken pho (pho ga), this is where chefs go in the morning to nurse a hangover, a cold or just hit the reset button.

Lers Ros (730 Larkin St.)
One of the city’s most authentic Thai places, chefs take advantage of the late hours (and delivery). Top dishes include the duck larb, pad kra prow moo krob (stir-fried pork belly and Thai basil), nuer tod (it’s like beef jerky) and fried garlic quail. The Tenderloin address is the preferred one, open nightly until 12 a.m.

Liholiho Yacht Club (871 Sutter St.)
One of the city’s most popular hotspots right now, chef Ravi Kapur and his team have many friends in the restaurant industry. He has a heritage style of cooking, pulling from his Hawaiian roots, while weaving in California ingredients and finely tuned technique. His soulful and delicious food is inimitable, delicious and fun to share. The beef tongue bao can’t be missed.

Locanda (557 Valencia St.)
Not only does the bar have one of the best selections of amari in the city (chefs love their fernet!), but also the housemade Roman pastas, fried artichokes and oxtails alla vaccinara are tops.

Kin Khao (55 Cyril Magnin St.)
Chefs dig the quality ingredients and handmade curries at this Thai eatery from Pim Techamuanvivit and chef Michael Gaines. The pretty hot wings and khao soi are popular and if you’re a party of one, the pork bowl with flat noodles and a runny egg is the answer.

Nopa (560 Divisadero St.)
It’s like this place invented late-night dining (open until 1 a.m. every night!), and its pork chop, burger and roast chicken are so good, it’s like they invented those, too. The menu features Californian dishes made with the best seasonal and local ingredients, plus there’s an excellent wine list and cocktails—and it’s always hopping. Many chefs come in late and snag a seat at the bar.

House of Prime Rib (1906 Van Ness Ave.)
When it’s chef’s night off, many love to come to this old school spot for some of the city’s best prime rib, with the fun sideshow of a spinning salad, plus Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach and baked potato.

Alta CA (1420 Market St.)
This Mid-Market restaurant and bar has a Cali bistro-esque menu with some Eastern European influences. Pickled deviled eggs, pastrami, wings, their cracked wheat porridge and a killer burger are all on the late-night menu, served 10:30 p.m.–1 a.m. nightly.

Pizzeria Delfina (3621 18th St. and 2406 California St.)
Both locations have a loyal chef following, from the purgatorio pizza (with an egg) to the panna (with cream) to the clam pie, and then there’s the chilled tripe, and don’t forget the spicy cauliflower.

Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the SF dining and drinking scene, get all the latest news at www.tablehopper.com. Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more SF finds!

Sponsor Ad