35 Things Every San Franciscan Must Add to Their Foodie Bucket List
Thank goodness for San Francisco’s hills—we need them to work off all the fabulous food we’re having for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But with so many great options, sometimes it’s hard to settle on just one dish. So the next time you’re feeling stuck about what to eat, pull up our list of the 35 things you absolutely have to try. Consider this your bona fide foodie bucket list.
MORNING BUN AT TARTINE
We’ll take Tartine’s morning bun—a sugar-dusted, orange-scented sticky-bun-croissant mash-up—any day.
AMERICANA BURGER AT CAUSWELLS
There are many great burgers in this city, but none that our mouth waters more for than the Americana burger at Causwells, which comes with American cheese, special sauce and a side of crispy onions that are better than fries.
CARNITAS BURRITO AT LA TAQUERIA
You certainly can’t go wrong with the carnitas burrito at La Taqueria, a rice-less wonder, stuffed with pinto beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole.
LUMBERJACK CAKE AT FRANCES
The warm, gooey Lumberjack cake—filled with Medjool dates and served with a healthy scoop of maple ice cream—at Frances is, like the restaurant itself, at once refined and totally comforting.
ROAST CHICKEN AND BREAD SALAD AT ZUNI CAFE
The roast chicken and bread salad at Zuni Cafe is the stuff of legends, and with good reason. The recipe has been widely shared, but nothing can touch the original.
CLAM CHOWDER BREAD BOWL AT BOUDIN BAKERY
Admit it: You secretly love the clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boudin Bakery. Cheesy? Sure. Classic San Francisco? Absolutely.
KOUIGN AMANN AT B. PATISSERIE
Give us all the sweet, buttery layers of B. Patisserie’s kouign amann any day.
DRY-FRIED WINGS AT SAN TUNG
The dry-fried wings at San Tung are battered and deep-fried goodness with garlic, ginger and roasted red peppers. Mmm…
ALL THE SEAFOOD AT SWAN OYSTER DEPOT
Oysters on the half shell, Dungeness crab salad, Boston clam chowder—we can’t even begin to choose a favorite at Swan Oyster Depot, so why not order all of the above?
BREAKFAST SANDWICH AT DEVIL’S TEETH BAKING COMPANY
The special breakfast sandwich at Devil’s Teeth Baking Company—scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, avocado and lemon-garlic aioli on a house-made buttermilk biscuit—is the secret to curing any hangover.
SECRET BREAKFAST AT HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE
Humphry Slocombe’s Secret Breakfast—made with bourbon and corn flakes—is one of three flavors that never come off the daily-changing menu.
CINNAMON TOAST AT TROUBLE COFFEE
The cinnamon toast at Trouble Coffee may have started the whole $4 artisanal toast craze that swept the nation, but honestly, it’s delicious.
SHAKING BEEF AND CELLOPHANE NOODLES AT THE SLANTED DOOR
These dishes from The Slanted Door are the simple kind of comfort foods with complex Vietnamese flavors that we crave on the regular.
PASTA AT FLOUR + WATER
We swoon for Flour + Water’s freshly made pasta, especially the sinfully rich and delicious rabbit pappardelle when it’s on the menu. But if we’re being honest, we’ll eat anything they’re serving.
PRIME RIB AT HOUSE OF PRIME RIB
The House of Prime Rib is about as classic as it gets. The super-old-school, English-style restaurant has been slinging perfect slabs of meat, carved tableside, since the 1940s.
PURGATORIO PIZZA AT PIZZERIA DELFINA
It’s no New York slice, but the artisanal pies at Pizzeria Delfina define good SF pizza. Our favorite is the off-menu Purgatorio, baked with two farm eggs on top of spicy tomato sauce, mozzarella and shards of Pecorino Romano.
PICKLED FRENCH FRIES AT AL’S PLACE
Brined before taking two turns in the deep fryer, the pickled french fries at Al’s Place taste like the best salt-and-vinegar chips we’ve ever had.
EXPLOSIVE CHICKEN AT Z & Y
When the grandmother of classic Chinese food in California, Cecilia Chiang, calls the explosive chicken at Z & Y Restaurant her favorite dish, we listen.
DRIED PORCINI DOUGHNUTS AT RICH TABLE
With a side of raclette sauce, these babies from Rich Table are so popular that they inspired the sweet potato fries dusted with porcini powder at the chefs' newest restaurant RT Rotisserie.
HOUSE-MADE POP TARTS AT FOREIGN CINEMA
Cue all the nostalgia for your favorite ’90s dessert breakfast. Pair it with a Bloody Mary, and you’ll have the brunch of your dreams at Foreign Cinema.
TROUT TOSTADAS AT CALA
Cala specializes in seafood, and boy do we love the fresh trout tostadas with smoky chipotle, avocado and crispy fried leeks.
SIGNATURE QUAIL AT STATE BIRD PROVISIONS
In case you’re not up on your California facts, the state bird is the quail. At State Bird Provisions, the signature quail dish is fried and served on a bed of onions, and you don’t want to miss it.
MÉNAGE À TROIS SANDWICH AT IKE’S PLACE
You can’t go wrong with any of the overstuffed sandwiches at Ike’s Place, but we especially like the Ménage à Trois, with three different cheeses, three different sauces (plus the addictive Dirty Sauce that comes on the side) and halal chicken.
TEA LEAF SALAD AT BURMA SUPERSTAR
It’s been a cult classic for more than a decade. You can even buy the Burma Superstar dressing in San Francisco markets.
CHILLED SQUID INK NOODLES AT OCTAVIA
Served with bottarga and fennel vinaigrette, it’s so memorable we sometimes have dreams we’re eating it at Octavia.
FRO-YO AT SOUVLA
Every time we need a little pick-me-up, we treat ourselves to Greek yogurt fro-yo with baklava crumbles and syrup at Souvla.
CIOPPINO AT TADICH GRILL
In business since 1849, Tadich Grill is the go-to place for cioppino brimming with clams, prawns, scallops, bay shrimp, crabmeat, whitefish and mussels.
GARLIC FRIES AT AT&T PARK
It’s pretty much illegal to not get a heaping order of garlic fries at a Giants game. Just be sure to bring the breath mints.
LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES AT PLOW
After braving the long line at Plow, you deserve the lemon ricotta pancakes, which we assume are made with clouds and fairy dust.
CHICKEN PARMIGIANA AT ORIGINAL JOE’S
It may not be fancy, but the chicken parmigiana at Original Joe’s is the ultimate comfort food.
XIAO LONG BAO AT YANK SING
Come for the full dim sum experience at Yank Sing and do not leave without ordering the delicate, soup-filled xiao long bao dumplings.
SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM AT BI-RITE
No surprise here. Nothing tops a scoop (or two) of Bi-Rite’s salted caramel ice cream.
POKE AT LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB
Deconstructed sushi with buttery tuna, sesame oil and radish on a crisp nori cracker. Yeah, Liholiho Yacht Club, we’re addicted to you.
GINGERBREAD PANCAKES AT ZAZIE
The gingerbread pancakes—fluffy rounds with Meyer lemon curd and Bosc pears—at Zazie are so famous they draw two-hour-plus lines every day of the week. Even Adele stopped in to see what they were all about.
EGG CREAM AT CASTRO FOUNTAIN
Anytime you’re feeling nostalgic, head to The Ice Cream Bar or the new Castro Fountain for an old-fashioned egg cream with sarsaparilla tincture, vanilla extract, Lactart, soda and egg white.