Late Night Eats

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August 6, 2015
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

Late-Night Eats in San Francisco: 13 Places That Do it Right

Everyone likes to complain that San Francisco shuts down early, but you’d be surprised how many places serve food after 11 p.m. and into the wee hours. We are mostly focusing on sit-down places for this piece, plus a few casual and late late spots for those of you who just want a 2 a.m. slice or burrito (hic).

Nopa (560 Divisadero St.)
It’s like this place invented late-night dining, 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, local ingredients, plus there’s a fab wine list and cocktails, a friendly staff, and it’s always hopping. Try to snag a seat at the bar, or the communal table draws a fun crowd. Open nightly until 1 a.m. 

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 snack menu, served 10:30 p.m.–1 a.m. nightly.

Dosa (995 Valencia St.) & Dosa (1700 Fillmore St.)
Both locations of this South Indian restaurant now offer a late-night happy hour, with a menu of affordable bites like their vada pav slider and Chennai chicken and cocktail/wine specials. Available Mon–Thu 9 p.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 9 p.m.–12 a.m. www.dosasf.com

Tosca Cafe
This venerable North Beach watering hole created national buzz when April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (the team behind Spotted Pig in New York) took it over in 2013. The new iteration (now with a functioning kitchen) has dishes like excellent bucatini all’amatriciana, plus craft cocktails, a deep wine list, and most importantly for night owls, late-night hours. Food nightly until 1 a.m.

Lolinda (2518 Mission St.)
If you find yourself in the Mission craving some hot empanadas, ceviche, steak (with a glass of Malbec), a pork chop off the grill, and a cocktail, this Argentinean-meets-Latin American steakhouse has plenty to send you home with a full belly. Kitchen open until 11 p.m. Sun–Thu (bar until 12 a.m.), and midnight Fri–Sat (bar until 1 a.m.). www.lolindasf.com

Bix (56 Gold St.)
Just so you know, the late-night hours at this supperclub only apply on the weekend. It’s tucked away on an alley in Jackson Square and makes you feel like you’re slipping back into the 1930s. The long bar is perfect for a nightcap and a bite (Bix makes one of the city’s best burgers and steak tartare). Kitchen open until midnight Fri–Sat. www.bixrestaurant.com

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar (398 Hayes St.)
This classic Hayes Valley brasserie can draw a crowd late into the evening thanks to the nearby opera and symphony houses. Don’t miss the soft (and warm) garlic pretzels with Vermont cheddar Mornay sauce, oysters, the burger (get it with Gruyère!), and French onion soup. Some great cocktails and wines too, ooh la la. Kitchen open until midnight Mon–Sat, 10 p.m. on Sunday. www.absinthe.com

CHEAP EATS

ABV
This Mission bar has a mighty tasty bar menu, served nightly until 1 a.m. Their burger with pimento cheese is a winner, ditto the fish tacos, plus creative dishes like their kimchee fritter, mapo sloppy joes, and falafel lamb dog. Nothing is over $10, and you’ll want to come back for weekend brunch. 

El Farolito
You’re not a true San Franciscan until you have stood in the line at this no-frills taqueria in the heart of the Mission after 2 a.m.. The burritos are a benchmark here, or get a sloppy al pastor torta. Be sure to hit up the salsa bar. Three locations, but the one on Mission at 24th Street is the most well known (and open until 2:30 a.m. Sun–Thu, and 3:30 a.m. Fri–Sat).

Golden Boy Pizza
This place is a North Beach tradition and waiting in line with fellow boozehounds is almost as fun as when you take your first bite of your slice of thick-crust, Sicilian-style pizza. You can try to grab a seat in the back (good luck) but the people-watching outside is where it’s at. You can go for simple cheese and some people swear by the garlic and clam. Until 11:30 p.m. Sun–Thu, 2:30 a.m. Fri–Sat.

Grubstake Diner
This is a classic San Francisco late-night diner that’s charmingly in a converted train car. The former Portuguese owners are retiring but the caldo verde (kale, potato, and linguiça stew) and Portuguese chicken wings will stay on the menu, along with their Nugget cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg. Breakfast served all day, all night. Open until 4 a.m. Wed–Sun.

It’s Tops Coffee Shop
This kitschy place (since 1935!) looks like a vintage lodge and you’ll even hear oldies on your tabletop jukebox. Stick with breakfast for dinner, like the bacon waffle and pancakes (peanut butter and banana pancakes, genius). Open Wed–Sat until 3 a.m., Sun until 11 p.m.

Café Mason (320 Mason St.)
Sometimes you need a 24-hour diner, and this downtown spot comes with quite the sideshow of late-night characters. You’ll find a bunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, salads, pumpkin pancakes, and some healthy picks on the menu too—even the juices are fresh-squeezed. mainstreethub.com/cafemason

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!

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