Where Would You Have Your Last Meal In San Francisco? A Local's Perspective
Where would you have your last meal in San Francisco? You can tell a lot by a person's answer. Are they looking for something fancy, a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a tried-and-true spot that they hit up every week? Whatever the answer, it's sure to be delicious. As a visitor, you're already in the "last meal" mindset, so why not learn from the best source—our locals—and make every meal your last meal in San Francisco.
Pei Ketron, Photographer
Nopa, my all time favorite. They can do no wrong, in my opinion. Their burger is a favorite of mine. If I wanted to get fancy, I would say the tasting menu at Benu, which is always incredible.
Kimberley Lovato, Writer
That's totally unfair to make me choose just one place. I'm going to cheat and declare my last meal in San Francisco a progressive one.
- Breakfast: Shrimp and Grits at Brenda's French Soul Food (beignets on the side).
- Mid-morning sweet: The Kouign Amann from b. patisserie. No chocolate, just the plain old Kouign Amann (but, OMG, is it good) .
- Lunch: Nopalito for the Panuchos de Pollo al Pibil or the Pozole. I am a creature of habit and don't think I've ever ordered anything else because these are so good.
- Mid-afternoon snack: Oysters at Swan Oyster Depot. Maybe the line isn't so long now.
- Afternoon tea: The Garden Court at The Palace Hotel, just to get a little fancy in a beautiful setting.
- Happy Hour: A final tequila from Tommy's Mexican Restaurant, whose bar has made it to the World's 50 Best Bars list.
- Dinner: It would have to be a classic, such as Tadich Grill for Cioppino, Zuni Café for the roasted chicken, or Foreign Cinema, with an Audrey Hepburn movie flickering on the back wall on the patio.
- After dinner drink: I'd probably opt for a cocktail at Alembic, a final glass of champagne at the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel, or maybe a tiki drink at Smuggler's Cove or the Tonga Room at the Fairmont San Francisco.
Lisa Rogovin, Tour Guide
It would have to be dumplings. Maybe Yank Sing for its elegance and its eminence. But it might also be Shanghai House for just bare-bones authenticity. I hope I never have to choose!
Adam Jacobs, Star of Disney's Aladdin
I'm always a big fan of some clam chowder in a sourdough bowl and the fresh "catch of the day," whether it's cooked and wrapped in parchment from Hyde Street Seafood House or from one of the many restaurants on Fisherman's Wharf—or from my personal favorite, Barbara's Fishtrap, just north of my hometown of Half Moon Bay, where I ate countless times with my family. That particular meal is quintessential San Francisco to me.
Lisa Geduldig, Comedian
Sitting on the beach listening to the ocean, eating Tokyo Maki rolls.
Nya Cruz, AsiaSF
I would have to say the BBQ pork shoulder at Sai Jai Thai in the Tenderloin. It is literally one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth.
Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
A gut-busting sandwich with Romanian pastrami from Deli Board.
The PIER 39 Sea Lions
Although I’m on a strict fish-only diet, I wouldn’t mind one of those mini-donuts…
Luis Herrera, Librarian
I love taking a leisurely afternoon and dining at the Ramp. It’s a gathering place for locals right on the waterfront in Mission Bay that was originally a bait shop in the 1950s. You can enjoy patio dining with great views of the East Bay. Fish and chips would be my choice, but the varied menu gives you lots of options, ranging from calamari to oysters to guacamole. And to top it off, the Ramp hosts live Salsa and Brazilian music and dancing on select days.
Dennis McNally, Historian
In 1976, Tony Hiss wrote in The New Yorker that Henry’s Hunan (then a tiny hole in the wall a block or two below Broadway on Kearny, I think) was the best Chinese restaurant in America. There are still Henry branches in San Francisco, but for this meal I’d go to the place I regard as Henry’s heir, Brandy Ho’s, which is at 217 Columbus, only a few doors away from where Henry started out. The order would be the chicken salad--shredded chicken over cucumber slices and noodles (they usually have glass rice noodles, but I prefer wheat noodles)--covered with a peanut sauce. And onion pancakes. Not the most dietetic of meals, but luscious.
Ryan Scott, Chef
I’d like to start at Bix for a martini paired with their Potato Pillows with Creme Fraiche and American Sturgeon Caviar, then move on to the House of Prime Rib for the End Cut. The secret is to order the pink peppercorn horseradish sauce. You must ask for it because it’s not listed on the menu. Top it off with champagne and a soufflé at Gary Danko.
Dorka Keehn, Artist
One of my favorite older restaurants--and one of the few that was open late when I first moved to San Francisco 25 years ago--was Bix. The ambiance, food and drinks are still great after all these years. I would have champagne, oysters and steak tartare.
Colleen Mauer, Maker
Zuni Cafe will always hold a very special place in my heart. Not only was I once a part of its staff, I love the food, the ambiance and the feelings I get when I dine at Zuni. I was lucky enough to work under the late Judy Rodgers and perhaps it was her meticulous attention to detail and service that made me cherish this place—even now, nearly a decade after I worked there. It could also be the cold Tomales Bay oysters and mignonette paired with a glass of bubbly, or the perfect Caesar salad tossed with Acme bread croutons and made-to-order dressing. If not, I am certain that it’s the pile of shoestring potatoes alongside the roasted chicken, which is definitely worth the one hour wait. And if you’re fortunate enough to be there when they are serving the pot de creme--well, then it’s been the perfect last meal. But the gateau Victoire or the espresso granita could also finish off the dinner with a bang. Treat yourself to a beautiful Willamette Pinot and enjoy a slow meal and really amazing company. The ambiance will make you want to stay all night.
Jack Boulware & Jane Ganahl, Founders of Litquake
Jack: Tadich Grill in the Financial District, the oldest restaurant in the city. Sit at that big wooden counter. Order the surf and turf, oysters Rockefeller and salad on the side, a cocktail or a glass of wine. The waiter will be grumpy; don’t worry, that happens. And as they take you out and handcuff you and put you in the van to drive you to San Quentin (you said this was the last meal, right?), look out the mesh window at the beautiful sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge, and wonder how Mother Earth created such a beautiful place.
Jane: Wild mushroom ravioli at Greens! Nice way to die, with that view!
Roberto Hernandez, Poet
Las Tinajas to eat a giant nacatamal made by Nicaraguans.
Linda Lee, Chinatown Tour Guide
Capital Restaurant is the restaurant Chinese Americans flock to for good, down-home meals that remind us of what mom would cook at home. The food selections are reasonable and delicious. Diners come here for the comfort food, and it’s not possible for me to dine here without running into my friends. Make sure you try the salt and pepper chicken wings.
Alice Kawahatsu, Food Tour Guide
Every now and then, I get this bad craving for Tonkatsu Donburi (pork cutlet and egg and onion over rice). My secret place to have it is at Super Mira. Not many people know that there is a small kitchen in the back of this mom and pop grocery store. If you ring the bell, Mr. Suzuki or Mr. Miura will come out and you can order it fresh. They also make a wonderful fried chicken (only on Saturdays). For dessert, I would have the Yasukochi Sweet Stop Guava Chiffon Cake and Benkyodo’s Age monju. It’s like a round doughnut with smooth red sweet bean. I would finish it off with a nice hot cup of Genmaicha tea at Kissako.
Michael Mina, Chef
It would have to be Hana Japanese Restaurant. I have profound respect for Chef Ken Tominaga, for his skill and ability to make Japanese food delicious and approachable. I’d completely leave it in Chef Ken’s hands and do an omakase menu. As for a restaurant in San Francisco, it would have to be Zuni Café. I have special memories of dining there as it was one of my first meals after I moved to San Francisco and really introduced me to California cuisine. The roasted chicken can’t be beat.