San Francisco's Iconic Eats for Every Neighborhood
Did you come to San Francisco just to eat? Don't be embarrassed; this is what San Francisco is famous for! If you're here to treat yourself, you might get overloaded by the options. Not to worry; we've gone ahead and picked out the must-eats in San Francisco at a number of famous and unique places all throughout the city's wonderful, diverse neighborhoods.
One of San Francisco's most visited neighborhoods, Fisherman's Wharf is your best bet for finding three classic San Francisco delicacies: sourdough bread, Dungeness crab, and cioppino.
The massive Boudin Bakery at Fisherman's Wharf lets you see the scrumptious sourdough bread as it's being made, and offers a variety of ways to enjoy it.
The Liguria Bakery on Stockton St. offers a taste of the old country with its handmade focaccia, baked fresh daily.
We recommend trying Tosca Cafe's cappuccino, which has a bit more to it than your average brew: Marie Duffau Bas Armagnac, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Dandelion Chocolate Ganache, and organic milk.
Dutch Crunch BBQ Pork Buns
When visiting award-winning Mister Jui's, these incredible appetizers are a must.
Salt and Pepper Crab
This is a popular dish in the neighborhood, but nobody does it better than R&G Lounge.
If you want to see the origins of an American Chinese food staple, you can visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory!
San Francisco's downtown is home to a wide variety of dining experiences, from grab-and-go storefronts to Michelin star-winning restaurants.
Secret Breakfast Ice Cream
San Francisco loves its ice cream. No flavor put the obsession on the map more squarely than this concoction from local maker Humphry Slocombe, which blends bourbon ice cream and corn flakes. It has to be tasted to be believed.
You'd never expect to find one of the city's best restaurants at its ferry terminal, but San Francisco is all about the unpredictable. At The Slanted Door, one of San Francisco's most honored eateries, diners are treated to exceptional Vietnamese cuisine. Their go-to dish is the cellophane noodles, with green onion, sesame, and Dungeness crab. The Slanted Door is reopening in early 2023.
Don't be surprised that the best dim sum in the city is outside of Chinatown. At both of Yank Sing's downtown locations, you'll find a terrific variety of delicious dim sum.
The Financial District also offers chic, contemporary dining at places like Wayfare Tavern, as well as the classic, no-frills professionalism of local legend Tadich Grill. There's great bayside dining at elegant eateries such as La Mar, Waterbar, and EPIC Steak, each with their own spectacular view of the Bay Bridge. And if getting things super-fresh is your style, head to The Ferry Building on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for its enormous farmers' market.
You can shop 'til you drop in Union Square. Why not refuel with some of these exceptional dishes in the neighborhood?
At Campton Place Bar & Bistro, you'll find unique dishes with a modern take on Indian cuisine. A favorite is the chicken curry with light lentil wafers. Vegetarian option includes a rich and buttery paneer makhani.
French Onion Soup
Cafe de la Presse sits directly across from the Dragon Gate entrance to Chinatown, so it's easy to find. What you want to order is their classic French onion soup. The cafe is timelessly French, consistently busy, and it feels like a taste of Paris in San Francisco!
At Le Colonial, where French and Vietnamese cuisine combine to amaze your senses, we can't get enough of the crispy, chili-glazed brussel sprouts, served with portabello mushrooms, carrot chips, and nuoc cham.
This rapidly evolving neighborhood is home to a little bit of everything, from historic theaters to major tech company offices. It also has a terrific variety of food you absolutely have to try.
No one creates these Vietnamese sandwiches better than Saigon Sandwich, also on Larkin St. They're only $5 and whether you get yours with roast chicken, roast pork, or meatballs, you won't be disappointed.
We're a long way from New Orleans, but the beignets at Brenda's French Soul Food on Polk St. taste like they came straight from the French Quarter.
Out with a big group? The best way to sample the most of the menu at Bellota is to select from their shared tapas plates. You can't go wrong no matter what you pick. Roasted beets, crispy cod, and poached prawns are just some of the delicious options.
Delarosa has 10 terrific pizzas on the menu, but our favorite item is their tremendous meatballs served in spicy marina sauce.
Among the many great things to come from this neighborhood is the fabled Mission-style burrito: overstuffed with beans, rice, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, and the meat of your choosing. It's a must-have for visitors, and there are plenty of places that compete for the title of best burrito in the Mission. La Taqueria, El Farolito, and Papalote are just a few of them.
Whether you go for brunch or dinner, oysters are always abundant at Foreign Cinema. This one-of-a-kind restaurant serves up exceptional cuisine while showcasing classic and rare films along its exterior patio wall.
Going out to some of the bars and clubs in San Francisco's LGBT neighborhood? Then you'll want some quick, easy eats before or after your evening adventures.
Hot Cookie may be small, but its creations certainly aren't! These monster cookies, available in a variety of flavors, are a must when visiting the Castro.
One of the best by-the-slice options in the city is Marcello's, located right across the street from the historic Castro Theater and steps from the Castro Muni stop. They have a variety of toppings and are open until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Civic Center/Hayes Valley
Jam-packed with some of the city's major cultural institutions and hottest venues—the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and SFJAZZ, to name but a few—Civic Center/Hayes Valley has plenty of options for a pre-show meal and a post-show drink.
Hear us out! At Rich Table, the family style menu has options for the cautious diner (spaghetti, roasted cauliflower) as well as choices for the more adventurous. For our money, the most unique thing on the menu are the sardine chips, which we can report are great.
Soft Garlic Pretzels
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar takes its cues from French and Northern Italian cuisine. While you might expect to find great pretzels at a German beer hall, we promise these classic twists, served with Vermont cheddar Mornay, are the best.
The mussels at Chez Maman West on Gough St. are unstoppably good. When we say that, we mean you'll have a hard time stopping yourself from ordering more!
The home of hippie-dom still has its free-loving style, as well as some more recent, tasty additions.
At Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, you can choose from andouille, or beer bratwurst—or you can have both by ordering the full sausage board with sauerkraut, levain bread, and stone ground mustard.
Fillmore has its own storied music history. Everyone from Duke Ellington to The Doors has played venues along the main drag of this neighborhood. Now it's as well known for its top-notch dining as much as anything else.
Don't laugh. You haven't had toast until you've been to Jane on Fillmore Street and had their toasted walnut and fig bread, topped with fresh Jersey ricotta, honey and hazelnuts. What a decadent way to do breakfast!
State Bird Provisions is one of the most well-regarded restaurants in the city. There's always a bit of surprise to the dining experience there. For one thing, its simple storefront is easy to walk past on busy Fillmore St. For another, the menu frequently changes. If luck is on your side, you'll find the pork ribs served with black beans and black garlic on the menu. We say, go for it!
San Francisco's Japantown is one of the few remaining such enclaves in the U.S. Visit this neighborhood for its history, its culture, and its great food!
Ever wonder what satisfies a sweet tooth halfway around the world? You can find out by purchasing authentic Japanese treats at a number of stores in the Japan Center on Post St. Visit Nijiya Market or Daiso for plenty of sweets inside this large neighborhood mall.
There is a drink and a location to suit every style in Nob Hill. Looking for kitschy fun? Party in the Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel, with its tiki torches and simulated tropical storms. Want breathtaking elegance? Head to Top of the Mark in the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, with its dramatic views and fabled history.
The north end of the city slopes down from the majestic tip of Pacific Heights to the Marina, a neighborhood full of great dining best traveled on foot.
Strawberry Almond Cake
You might think that a restaurant dedicated to vegetarian cuisine wouldn't have much in the dessert department. You'd be wrong. This fully vegan delight at Greens Restaurant simply can't be missed.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Tacos
There's a little bit of everything in these neighborhoods, which is why you can find this Caribbean twist on typical tacos at Palm House on Union St.
We know; pizza has appeared on this list a few times already. What makes the pizza at A16 so special is the incredible wood-fired oven that heats them up. Whatever toppings you choose (and there are many), you can't go wrong.
This expansive neighborhood west of Arguello St. stretches all the way to the sea. Maybe that's why it's so full of great places to eat.
Heaping sandwiches on sourdough bread served at Devil's Teeth Baking Company are a challenge worth accepting.
The dry-fried wings at San Tung are legendary. They're always on the menu (except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when the restaurant is closed).
Andytown Coffee Roasters makes their own delicious blends inspired by the sights, sounds, and flavors of the neighborhood. They also have a beach location in the Sunset, too.
If you want some great seafood without the crowds of Fisherman's Wharf, head for the Bayview on the city's south side.
Two of our favorite spots in the neighborhood both have plenty of history. The Old Clam House has been shucking and selling since 1861, and Radio Africa & Kitchen was one of the founders of San Francisco's storied restaurant pop-up trend. Both offer excellent cuisine. The Old Clam House is a bit more predictable with their signature seafood dishes, while Radio Africa, open Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., serves favorites like chicken jambalaya or lighter fare, such as saffron prawns.
Want to have a drink in the middle of San Francisco Bay? Head across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island, the next neighborhood about to boom in San Francisco. The Woods Island Club is now situated in Treasure Island's iconic Main Administration Building, a historic spot with wartime murals on the walls. Enjoy a wide variety of beers, ranging from IPAs to pilsners to saisons. Their Local Honey brew is back, in 16 ounce cans, so you can sit outside at a picnic table and enjoy the city views, too.