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Best Places To Eat in San Francisco on The Next Somewhere Blog

Looking for a memorable meal in San Francisco? Here are the best places to eat in San Francisco along with tips for first-timers.

San Francisco is known for its collection of hole-in-the-wall Asian joints, eclectic New American restaurants, a booming fusion scene, and all the sourdough bread, Ghirardelli chocolate, and seafood a person could want. What you’ll find is a mixture of the trendy (thanks to the techies) and the cherished (thanks to the hippies) sitting side-by-side in the City by The Bay. But how do you sort through the best places to eat in San Francisco?

For those traveling to San Francisco for two days, check out “48 Hours in San Francisco: What To Do, See, and Eat”.

Personally, meals for me in San Francisco have been a hit-or-miss (overrated, overpriced, or both). Not all of the suggestions from eating guides have lived up to the hype. Instead, I’ve turned to the guidance of locals to point me in the right direction of a great meal. Over the course of three years living and—for a short time—working in San Francisco, here are the spots that keep me coming back for more. This list is not exhaustive and a little Asian-leaning, but it’s tried-and-true. Here are the restaurants sorted by neighborhood:

🗺️ Food by Neighborhood

Find a map of all the best eats in San Francisco at the bottom of the post.

Disclaimer: I still have to eat at Zuni Cafe, Nopa, Foreign Cinema, Flour + Water, Tadich Grill, Rich Table, Hook Fish Co., and Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. But we’re treating this as a running list to be updated when new discoveries come into play.

Embarcadero + Fisherman’s Wharf

Ferry Building Best Places to Eat in San Francisco

The Ferry Building – $ (Variety)

If you’re limited on time in San Francisco, The Ferry Building is the one place you should eat. A NorCal food mecca, the restored and working ferry station is home to dozens of local proprietors selling everything from cheese wheels (Cowgirl Creamery) to milkshakes (Gott’s Roadside), empanadas (El Porteño) to funghi (Far West Fungi), bagels (Daily Driver) to waffle cones (Humphry Slocombe), and everything in between. You’ll spot the Ferry Building’s iconic clock tower instantly as you travel down San Francisco’s layered waterfront.

Pro-tip: Go on Saturday for their massive Farmers Market day where the offerings spill out on the front and back portions of the Ferry Building.

Address: 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94105
What To Order: I’ll always have a soft spot for Hog Island Oyster Co., especially their grilled Chipotle Bourbon oysters and a bowl of mussels. Ask for outdoor seating to look out onto the bay.

Fresh oysters best places to eat San Francisco

Don’t forget to drizzle some lemon on your Hog Island sweetwater oysters

A bowl of mussels at Hog Island Oysters

A bowl of mussels at Hog Island Oyster Co. Order the fries and dip it into the broth.

BestPlacesToEat-SanFrancisco-HogsIslandOysterCo5
Geoduck belly fritters

Best Places in San Francisco Boudin At The Wharf

Boudin At The Wharf – $ (American + Bakery)

Another tourist favorite is Boudin At The Wharf, home of the original San Francisco sourdough bread. The massive two-story waterfront property holds another accolade as the oldest continually operating business in San Francisco, claiming to use the sourdough starter it developed during the California Gold Rush. They even have a tour of their bread baking operations at the Bakery Museum.

Address: 160 Jefferson Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
What To Order: Thick clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Order downstairs in the canteen area for cheaper prices. Every meal is double the price at their sitdown restaurant located upstairs.

Clam chowder at Boudin Bakery San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf

A bowl of hot clam chowder in a carved sourdough loaf is the perfect way to thaw out on a cold day in SF

Boudin Bakery Best Places to Eat in San Francisco

It’s cheaper to eat at the downstairs portion of the Fisherman’s Wharf Boudin.


Richmond

Best dimsum in San Francisco Dragon Beaux

Dragon Beaux – $$ (Cantonese + Dimsum)

The more, the merrier. This phrase applies to both company and food selections at the high-end Dragon Beaux, a dimsum heavy hitter with 2-hour average wait times on Sundays. But the food is well worth your while with an enormous menu of Cantonese dishes refreshed. Think colorful xiao long baos, sea bass dumplings, and even fish ball congee! They have two dining services, one for lunch and one for dinner so pay attention to the last call and ask about their specials. This is one of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco.

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Address: 5700 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121
What To Order: You must order the “Five Guys Xiao Long Bao,” a quintet of uniquely flavored and colored soup dumplings. But the “Rainbow Taro Bao,” a trio of steamed chewy rice buns packed with sweetened taro paste, is best saved for last.

Great Chinese Food in San Francisco Dragon Beaux

The trio of Baked Taro Paste Bao goes beautifully with their pots of tea.

A dimsum spread best places to eat in SF

Spin the lazy Susan to get your full spread of food at Dragon Beaux.

Dragon Beaux Best Places to Eata in San Francisco

The Five Guys Xiao Long Bao is an assortment of five soup dumplings: original. beef, crab roe, spinach and kale, and black truffle squid ink.


Burma Superstar Best Places To Eat in San Francisco

Burma Superstar – $$$ (Burmese)

Travel to far corners of Myanmar at Burma Superstar, the restaurant that put Burmese food on the map in San Francisco. A textural wunderkind, think of Burmese food as a mishmash of Thai and Indian cuisine, but with surprising bursts of flavors you can’t quite put your finger, err I mean your tongue on. Double your order on the coconut rice and don’t be afraid to ask your server what exactly you’re eating when ordering the laphet thoke, the tea leaf salad, as it’s being stirred tableside.

Pro-tip: If you are deterred by the line at the original Richmond location, check out their sister restaurants Burma Love or Burma Club, which features all the Burmese national dishes on their menus.

Address: 309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118
What To Order: The platha and dip is the one appetizer I will always go back for. Soak all the chewy, buttery layers in a coconut chicken curry sauce.

Best Places To Eat in San Francisco Burma Superstar

The sights of Myanmar adorn the walls of the restaurant


Tenderloin

Son And Garden Fancy Brunch in San Francisco

Son and Garden – $$$ (Asian Fusion)

Come for the instagram pics, stay for brunch. Son and Garden is a buzzy Asian fusion brunch spot that packs a “wow” factor. Thanks to its blooming walls, ceilings cascading with hanging blossoms, and its picture perfect plates decorated with edible flowers, Son and Garden is the perfect spot for brunch with your friends. Fluffy pancakes, a whimsical Cloud 9 cocktail complete with a sugar butterfly, and an exquisite high tea spreads leads to a lot of swooning and snapping all around the table. Son and Garden is a sister restaurant to Farmhouse Thai Kitchen.

Address: 700 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
What To Order: The Bibimbap comes in a traditional Korean stone bowl but is served up with fried chicken as the main protein. Slather on the gochuchang and mix the white rice with runny fried egg yolk.

Son and Garden Best Places to Eat in San Francisco

The chef special Bibimbap is my go-to order

All the breakfast at Son and Garen
Cloud 9 Mimosa Best Places To Eat in San Francisco
Fried chicken bibimbap chef special at Son and Garden

My mom scarfed down a stack of matcha pancakes served with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh fruit.


Brendas French Soul Food Broiled Oysters

Brenda’s French Soul Food  – $$ (Southern + Creole)

Satisfy your beignet cravings at Brenda’s French Soul Food. A carousel of Creole comfort food like jambalaya, gumbo, and shrimp n’ grits await. From crawfish to chicory coffee, catfish to po’boys, experience a taste of the Big Easy by way of the Bay. A fair warning that the food is very heavy and savory and the dining area is a wee bit cramped quarters, but they take Covid protocols seriously.

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Address: 652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102
What To Order: Instead of ordering a plate of crawfish beignets, get the flight to try all the beignet flavors: plain, crawfish, plain, apple, and chocolate. Another flight worth ordering is the broiled oysters set. The Casino oyster broiled with bacon bits, scallion, biscuit crumbs, and cheese is my favorite of the trio.

Brendas French Soul Food Bon Voyage Mural

The humble crawfish is highlighted as a welcome mural

Creole Food in San Francisco

Shrimp and grits just like they do it in the Bayou

Brendas French Soul Food bread pudding

If you love bread pudding like me, order their bread pudding du jour with flavors changing daily. This one was a Ghiardelli chocolate infused bread pudding.


Cow Hollow

Kaiyo Japanese Peruvian Cuisine

KAIYO – $$ (Peruvian + Japanese)

A relative newcomer to the San Francisco food scene is KAIYO, a trendy restaurant that does nikkei food serious justice. Nikkei food marries Peruvian ingredients with Japanese techniques. With a live moss wall, comic-book adorned bathrooms, peruvian mirrors galore, and streamer-lined parklets, you’ll never want to leave especially with their passionfruit pisco sour in hand. One of the best places to eat in San Francisco if you’re looking for something more under the radar.

Address: 1838 Union Street, San Francisco, California 94123
What To Order: The signature Kaiyo Roll is fire with tempura asparagus, avocado, onion, jalapeno, trout, crab, and a garlic chili oil drizzle. As a sharing plate, the Pulpo A La Parilla (octopus skewer) has the meatiest grilled octopus in bite-size chunks. And if your a fan of sashimi, the Hamachi is buttery and melt-in-your-mouth.

Kaiyo Cow Hollow Best Places To Eat in San Frnacisco
Kaiyo peruvian nikkei restaurant
Kaiyo peruvian nikkei restaurant

From left to right: Pulpo a La Parilla (octopus skewers), Ceviche de Camaron, and the Lima Roll


Lower Pacific Heights

Statebird Provisions Date Night in San Francisco

State Bird Provisions – $$$ (New American)

A highly coveted table at State Bird Provisions takes months to book. But if you score a seat thanks to a well-timed reservation, you’ll be rewarded with a novel dining experience thanks to an ever-changing menu. Akin to dimsum, staff wheel around regionally sourced small plates and you pick and choose what you like depending on what catches your eyes.

Pro-Tip: You can book up to 30 days in advance but the best way to dine there is by grabbing a walk-in table. Just get in line 30 minutes before it opens at 5 pm.

Address: 1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
What To Order: The namesake “state bird” dish is the quail recipe that inspired the concept of the restaurant.

Statebird Provisions Best Places To Eat in San Francisco
Statebird Provisions American Dimsum
Statebird Provisions Small Plate Desserts

Mission

Fammhouse Thai Thai Food in San Francisco<

Farmhouse Thai Kitchen – $$$ (Thai)

To my surprise, finding great Thai food hasn’t been that easy in the Bay Area. Enter Farmhouse Thai Kitchen, a festive-fun restaurant in every sense of the word. The predominantly Thai staff wear floral shirts and parade around vibrant khantoke trays of noodles and rice. Perfect for celebrations, visitors can enjoy the inventive new takes of traditional Thai flavors. This is a sister restaurant of Son and Garden.

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Address: 710 Florida St. San Francisco, CA 94110
What To Order: The Hat Yai Fried Chicken is a triumphant display of fried chicken, blue rice, and yellow curry served with flaky roti for dipping.

Beef Noodle Soup Best Places to Eat in San Francisco

The 24 Hours Beef Noodle Soup has melt-in-your-mouth beef short rib.

Tom Yum Goong Perfect for Sharing at Farmhouse Thai

The tom yum soup is served in traditional “hot pot” complete with a little stereo in the middle to keep the soup warm at the table.

Hat Yai Chicken What To Order at Farmhouse Kitchen

The Hat Yai Chicken’s blue rice gets its bright cerulean tint from butterfly pea flower.


Tartine Bakery Best Places to Eat in San Francisco

Tartine Manufactory – $$ (Pastries + New American)

An outpost of the beloved Tartine Bakery, you’ll find the morning bun and more at the warehouse version of the popular bakehouse. Tartine Manufactory has a walk-up bakery and a sitdown restaurant. But tables are booked in advance so make a reservation beforehand to enjoy a rustic menu with sandwiches made with their freshly-baked breads.

Pro-tip: Snake around pack to visit Heath Ceramics and my favorite shop Heath Newsstand, which stacks tons of travel magazines and guide books.

Address: 595 Alabama St San Francisco, CA 94110
What To Order: The Morning Bun, a sticky, pillowy ensemble of cinnamon, orange zest, and sugar.

Tartine Manufactory is a much bigger version of the bakery
Tartine Bakery Best Places To Eat in San Francisco
Tartine also brews coffee

Dandelion Chocolate Shop on Valencia Street San Francisco

Dandelion Chocolate – $$ (Pastries + Dessert)

As a bean-to-bar chocolate collector, I can’t get enough of Dandelion Chocolate. Their shop on Valencia Street is a great place to snag some edible souvenirs and also to sample their award-winning chocolate made on-site by way of pastries and drinking chocolates.

Address: 740 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
What To Order: The Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookie go hand-in-hand.

Dandelion Chocolate Shop on Valencia Street

All the desserts are baked with Dandelion Chocolate made onsite.


La Taqueria Best Places To Eat in San Francisco

La Taqueria – $ (Mexican)

The proudly Hispanic Mission district is where you’ll find La Taqueria, part of the old guard of taco spots that wage war over who has the best tacos and burritos. No you won’t find the Mission Burrito here (served with Mexican rice) but their rice-free burritos leave room to enjoy their incredibly juicy meats and “super” medley of avocados, beans, sour cream, and cheese. Take your foil-wrapped prize to the nearby Mission Dolores park for an easy picnic opportunity. If you’re looking for great Mexican food, this is one of the best places to eat in San Francisco.

Pro-tip: Previously cash only, they now accept credit cards with a 3.5% transaction fee. The food is inexpensive so go the cash route.

Address: 2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
What To Order: A super beef burrito served up Dorado-style, seared with a hot, oily plancha so the flour skin is golden and crisp. You have to ask specifically for Dorado-style since it’s not featured on the menu.

La Taqueria best places to eat in san francisco burrito

Enjoy that super beef burrito to go since there’s no seating at La Taqueria.


First Time Eating in San Francisco?

Here are some things to consider when beginning your culinary adventure around the city.

📍 The best Chinese food is not in Chinatown. Travel to the far reaches of the Inner/Outer Sunset and Richmond area for delicious Chinese fare. Parking is a nightmare especially on the weekends. With the recent spike of car break-ins (rentals with out-of-state license plates, beware!) some neighborhoods are harder to park in than others (ex, Embarcadero, Mission, Richmond). If you can find a garage, it’s a good investment. Make sure you clear your car of all things, even phone chargers and coins in the cup holder.

📍Download the Yelp App. Yelp is THE food app for Bay Area citizens who rely on the popular menu items feature to choose their meal of choice. But it’s also great for the waitlist app which allows you to put your name in the queue when you’re in the vicinity. Worked wonders for me at Dragon Beaux on a weekend.

📍Go to North Beach for Italian food. This is a great area to walk around and since I have not tried any Italian food in the city, under the advice of a North Beach local and good friend, Tony’s will never disappoint.

📍Gratuity might be automatically added to your bill. Before you leave a tip, check your bill to see if gratuity has been automatically added under the line item “gratuity” or “service charge.”

📍What are all these other charges? The SF Mandate Tax is another surcharge that restaurants tack onto the bill to pay their employees fairly. If you see a 22% gratuity suggestion, it’s okay to balk. With rising prices, the tax suggestions seem to only grow but don’t be intimidated to leave such a high tip. 18-20% is fine enough depending on the quality of service.

📍Is there a vaccine mandate in SF? As of Feb 6. 2022, you are 12 years or older, you must show proof of vaccination to dine indoors.

Here’s a map of all the best places to eat in San Francisco

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a trip planner app on iOS and Android

👉 Did I miss some of your favorite places to eat in San Francisco? Let me know if there’s a restaurant I should check out to add to my best places to eat in San Francisco list.

Give me a shout-out on Pinterest pretty please?

Discover The Best Places To Eat in San Francisco on The Next Somewhere

 

Filipina-American Millette Stambaugh is a thirty-something former expat who has traded her nomadic ways for a grounded life in Philadelphia. Moonlighting as a corporate worker, part-time content creator Millette specializes in curiosity and wants to help others find their "next somewheres." Follow her journeys around the world on Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok @thenextsomewhere.

Comments:

  • Dre

    February 6, 2022

    Yum! Dragon Beaux is a MUST and some of the best dim sum that I’ve had! Still thinking about the taro buns…

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  • Elise

    February 7, 2022

    Yummmmm now I am craving soup dumplings! Bookmarking this for our next trip to San Francisco- amazing work as always, Millette!

    reply...
  • February 24, 2022

    So many great places I can’t wait to try!

    reply...
  • February 24, 2022

    They all look amazing; will definitely save for my trip! Thanks for the recommendations – great post!

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  • February 24, 2022

    Oh my good ness this post has soooo much good looking food! It’s awesome that even some of the tourist spots actually have good grub. It is also interesting to hear that yelp is still popular in SF (it is really in decline in London and Vancouver…but I guess it makes sense that it is still working where it started!)

    You made me smile with the comment that the best Chinese food is outside Chinatown. I feel like that is often true all around the world. 🙂

    reply...
  • February 25, 2022

    I love this food guide to San Francisco! I haven’t been yet but the food choices look great here. Saving for future trip planning!

    reply...
  • Kay

    February 25, 2022

    Homie you KNOWWWW how to throw down on a food post!!!! You have me (and my stomach) ready for my next excursion to the bay haha. Now…let’s get working on your Portland foodie post….hahah. Love you sis and thanks for the recommendations!!

    reply...

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