22 Things You Can’t Leave San Francisco Without Eating
Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but we left our stomachs. From dim sum to burritos to artisanal toast (don’t knock it ’til you try it), the City by the Bay has something for everyone. Here are 22 of our favorite bites.
1. Morning bun at Tartine
Forget the cronut. We’ll take this sugar-dusted, orange-scented sticky-bun-croissant mash-up any day. Be sure to come back in the afternoon for a fresh loaf of country bread, too.
2. Carnitas burrito at La Taqueria
FiveThirtyEight editor in chief Nate Silver called it the best burrito in America. And who are we to disagree? You certainly can’t go wrong with this rice-less wonder, stuffed with pinto beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole.
3. La Regina Sicilian pizza at Tony's Pizza Napoletana
San Francisco isn’t exactly known as a pizza town. But no one told Tony, who uses seven different ovens to create his distinct pizzas (Neapolitan-style, New York-style, California-style, etc). We like La Regina, a thick slice with soppressata, prosciutto, arugula and three kinds of cheese.
4. Blue Bottle Coffee Ice Cream at Bi-Rite
We’re killing two birds with one stone here. Blue Bottle Coffee + Bi-Rite Creamery Ice Cream = San Francisco heaven.
5. Roast chicken and bread salad at Zuni Café
This crispy, free-range bird and savory, currant-studded bread salad is the stuff of legends, and with good reason. The recipe has been widely shared, but nothing can touch the original.
6. Cinnamon toast at Trouble Coffee
San Francisco is known (and mocked) for its four-dollar artisanal toast slices, and this Ocean Beach coffee shop is what started it all. But honestly, it’s delicious. Best eaten on a stroll by the Pacific, just a few blocks away.
7. Kouign amann at B. Patisserie
Give us all the sweet, buttery layers...
8. Shaking beef at the Slanted Door
Stir-fried steak and onions over a bed of watercress. It sounds simple, but the Vietnamese flavors are complex and satisfying every time.
9. Tuna poke at Liholiho Yacht Club
Like perfectly deconstructed sushi, with buttery tuna, sesame oil and radish, on a crisp nori cracker.
10. Lumberjack cake at Frances
This warm, gooey cake—filled with medjool dates and served with a healthy scoop of maple ice cream—is, like the restaurant itself, at once refined and totally comforting.
11. Dry-fried wings at San Tung
Battered and deep-fried with garlic, ginger and roasted red peppers. Mmm…
12. Pickled french fries at Al's Place
These taters are brined before taking two turns in the deep fryer, making them taste like the best salt-and-vinegar chips we’ve ever had.
13. Secret Breakfast at Humphry Slocombe
The flavors change every day at this inventive creamery, but the Secret Breakfast—made with bourbon and corn flakes—is one of three things that never come off the menu.
14. Ménage à Trois at Ike's Place
You can’t go wrong with any of the overstuffed sandwiches here, but we especially like this monstrosity, with three different cheeses, three different sauces (plus the addictive Dirty Sauce that comes on the side) and halal chicken.
15. Dried porcini doughnuts with raclette sauce at Rich Table
These earthy, savory fritters are so popular, they’re now also being offered at Giants games. Don’t forget the cheesy dipping sauce!
16. Tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar
A cult classic for more than a decade. You can even buy the dressing in San Francisco supermarkets now.
17. State bird at State Bird Provisions
In case you’re not up on your California facts, the state bird is the quail. Here it’s fried, on a bed of onions, and you don’t want to miss it.
18. Trout tostada at Cala
This upscale Mexican newcomer specializes in seafood—in fact, that’s all they serve. We love the fresh trout tostadas with smoky chipotles, avocado and crispy fried leeks.
19. Lemon ricotta pancakes at Plow
Don’t even bother trying to get in here on a weekend. But if you do, get the lemon ricotta pancakes, which we assume are made with clouds and fairy dust.
20. Cioppino at Tadich Grill
In business since 1849, this is the best place to get San Francisco’s signature seafood stew, brimming with clams, prawns, scallops, bay shrimp, crabmeat, whitefish and mussels.
21. Xiao Long Bao at Yank Sing
Come for the full dim sum experience (which feels a little like eating in a stadium, with 250 of your closest friends) and make sure to get at least one order of these delicate, soup-filled dumplings.
22. Salsiccia pizza at Delfina
With homemade sausage, bell peppers, onions and the best wood-fired thin crust in town.