The Foodie's Guide to Eating and Drinking in SOMA
Whether you’re in town for business, a convention, or just enjoying the city like a proper visitor, San Francisco’s SoMa (South of Market Street) neighborhood is full of quality restaurants. Here are some of our favorites.
Where to Eat
1601 Bar & Kitchen (1601 Howard St.)
This under-the-radar Sri Lankan-inspired restaurant is truly a hidden gem—you’ll encounter fascinating flavors in elegantly executed dishes (don’t miss the egg hopper and mulligatawny soup), and the room has a modern and urban look to it. The experience over-delivers, and you’ll find quality wines (and beers) on the list.
54 Mint Ristorante (16 Mint Pl.)
Come here for some of the city’s best Roman pastas, featuring classics like pasta all’amatriciana, carbonara, and cacio e pepe, and don’t miss the lamb chops and oxtail. The outdoor patio is perfect for an aperitivo and antipasti on a warm night, and the wine list features some unique Italian selections. The room has a welcoming style, ditto the friendly staff.
Alexander's Steakhouse (488 Brannan St.)
One of the higher-end steakhouses in the city, this one has a strong Japanese influence, featuring ingredients like Hokkaido scallops and maitake mushrooms, and their Japanese Wagyu A5 grade beef sourced from almost 10 different places (astounding!). Their prime rib is also notable, ditto the deep wine cellar. Business dinner central.
Anchor & Hope (83 Minna St.)
If you have a love of East Coast-style seafood, here’s your spot for a lobster roll, chowder, and shrimp cocktail, plus seasonal specialties like soft-shell crab, Dungeness crab soup, and oysters on the half shell. Main dishes include all kinds of fish, from branzino to fisherman’s stew to fish and chips. It’s casual and fun, a good choice for lunch and dinner.
Cocksomb (564 4th St.)
Chris Cosentino’s new restaurant has an industrial-chic look, and packs a lot of appeal for carnivorous groups who want to share a groaning platter of sliced pinbone steak. But you’ll also find appealing vegetable dishes, seafood, and simpler dishes, like a rather perfect grilled cheese. Cocktails and a stocked raw bar round out the urban experience.
Marlowe (500 Brannan St.)
Famed locally for its burger (there’s even a nearby offshoot, Marlowe Burger), Marlowe has a welcoming neighborhood bistro style that keeps people returning. Other hearty hits on the menu include their Brussels sprout chips, warm deviled eggs, and roasted bone marrow. It’s a busy spot for lunch and dinner, same at weekend brunch. You’ll find plenty of snacks and cocktails at the bar as you wait for your table.
Palette (816 Folsom St.)
Part restaurant/art gallery/artist studio/retail shop, Palette is an extire experience for your senses. Their $30 "Art of Lunch" 3-course prix fixe menu is a great option for anyone looking for a quality meal at an affordable cost. Every Tuesday from 3-6 p.m., stop by for "Buck-a-Shuck", Palette's weekly offering of $1 local oysters on the half shell.
Prospect (300 Spear St.)
A sister restaurant to the ever-adored Boulevard, it actually feels more like a brother with its urban-masculine look. Popular for lunch and dinner, the menu features well-thought-out dishes with a touch of French culinary elegance, highlighting the best local and seasonal ingredients. The friendly bar is an easy place for solo diners to enjoy a cocktail or perch for a full meal.
ROOH (333 Brannan St.)
Nestled in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area is this urban, Indian-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar. A communal space for relaxed social dining, drawing inspiration from the vibrancy of the culture, art and music, as well as the innovative spirit of modern India.
Town Hall (342 Howard St.)
A sister restaurant to Anchor & Hope, this Southern-inspired spot always has high energy, partially fueled by its excellent Sazeracs. The fare is hearty, offering dishes like Faith’s cheese toast, juicy fried chicken, and cornmeal fried oysters. It's an ideal spot for a business lunch or dinner that isn’t too serious, and is also fun for groups. Share the butterscotch and chocolate pot de crème for dessert, thank us later.
Zero Zero (826 Folsom St.)
This is one of those perfect restaurants for when you’re hungry and craving some hearty Cal-Italian dishes, from housemade pasta to wood-fired pizza, and you want a place where you can come as you are. You’ll notice some seasonal flair on the appetizers, and dishes are easy to share, making it a great spot for groups (check out the punch bowls). Cocktails from the two bars (there’s a mezzanine) and wine on tap are also served.
Where to Drink
Trou Normand (140 New Montgomery St.)
Anyone who loves charcuterie and salumi, or wants to learn more about its myriad forms, needs to pull up to a wooden slab of the housemade meaty goodness at this chic downtown spot (served until midnight!). Cocktails are beautifully crafted here. Dinner also offers chophouse cuts of meat and seasonal vegetables. Lunch or weekend brunch on the outdoor patio is downright pleasant. (Note that all prices include service.)
Dirty Habit (12 Fourth St.)
This place really packs in the flirty post-work crowd, drawn to the enclosed patio (it’s safely nestled from the wind on the fifth floor) and well-crafted cocktails. The menu features some of the city’s nicer bar snacks, from the incomparable wings to steamed buns with lamb belly, plus luxe dishes like foie gras and Robuchon potatoes with caviar. Larger dishes include aged rib-eye and a pork chop, so you won’t go hungry.
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!
Photo via Dirty Habit.