After a quick 1-hour flight up to San Francisco, we had four days to explore the city. And while attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street are exciting, they are not the main attractions. At least, not in our books.
We came to eat.
If you’re visiting soon, this list of the best restaurants in San Francisco is essential. If you have no immediate plans to visit, well, you better bookmark this post for future reference anyway – these legendary joints aren’t going anywhere, any time soon!
So now that that’s settled, let’s start with the best meal of the day. Shall we?
Mission Beach Cafe
On the weekends, the wait for a table at Mission Beach Cafe will be at least 30 minutes. But when your food arrives, you’ll thank yourself for waiting. We queued for over an hour, but the eggs benedict, bacon, French toast, truffle fries with parmesan, lattes, and fresh-squeezed juices made it all worth it. Brunch heaven!
Where: The Mission
Another San Francisco brunch staple is Sweet Maple. Omelettes and scrambles, breakfast sandwiches, and the famous Millionaire’s Bacon are the dishes to try. My personal favorite is the Millionaire’s Melt, with Millionaire’s Bacon, arugula, tomato, scrambled egg, gouda, and aioli. Mmmmm!
Where: Lower Pacific Heights
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse has become “Instafamous” via their fluorescent sign, proclaiming, “I got baked in San Francisco.” So let’s clear that up for a second… They’re totally talking about their amazing donuts, croissants, muffins, cookies, and cruffins.
Head here in the morning – early, if you want to beat the crowd – and grab some coffee and the best pastries of your life. Mr. Holmes’ salted caramel and chocolate chunk cookie was basically to die for… And I’m always ready to eat cookies for breakfast.
Where: Between Nob Hill and the Tenderloin
Shanghai Dumpling King
Shanghai Dumpling King is where it’s at. Because sometimes, the grimy, hole-in-the-wall places are simply the best. This was one of those times.
At Shanghai Dumpling King, we feasted on pork buns, soup dumplings, beef chow fun, garlic green beans, chow mien, chive pancakes, and pot stickers. It was the greatest day of my life.
Where: Outer Richmond
Voted “The Best Tacos and Burritos in the Whole World,” you cannot miss La Taqueria. As a Mexican food fanatic, this is my favorite restaurant in the city.
From the carne asada burritos and the carnitas tacos, to the fresh agua de melon and horchata, this is the world’s best joint to eat Mexican food. And while some of you will argue that Mexico is the best place to find authentic Mexican, I see your point. But still, no.
Where: The Mission
Hog Island Oyster Co.
As a foodie, you can’t leave San Francisco without visiting the Ferry Building, and subsequently stopping at Hog Island Oyster Co.
Here, we savored the clam chowder, accompanied by a four-cheese grilled cheese, seared scallops atop a cauliflower purée, french fries, sriracha oysters, bourbon-chipotle oysters, and glasses upon glasses of pinot grigio. How’s that for a San Franciscan seafood feast?
If you love fusion food like I do, then you need to check out The House.
This plate of warm wasabi house noodles, topped with a juicy flatiron steak, and topped again with spicy, sour kimchi really hit the spot. The House’s style of Asian fusion food is spicy and flavorful, yet elegant. And it’s a must try!
Where: North Beach
First of all, please forgive me for the dimmed lighting, resulting in a poor-quality photo of this delicious dish.
If you’re searching for the fine-dining experience of a lifetime, Chapeau! is the answer.
At this French bistro, I devoured four unbelievable courses: 1) Mesclun salad with crème Dijonnaise, red seedless grapes, pistachios, and fried camembert; 2) seared scallop with pesto risotto; 3) Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with a parsnip purée, kale, and apple-calvados sauce; 4) French toast with salted caramel ice cream and hazelnut crème anglaise. Needless to say, Chapeau! is one of my favorite fine-dining experiences to date. We left, almost too stuffed to move, but happy from copious amounts of amazing food, wine, and laughter!
Where: The Richmond
Again with the dimmed lighting…
I think we can all agree that you have to love Italian food. And that means only one thing: you’re going to become obsessed with Delfina.
Back to the basics, Delfina focuses on simple dishes, fresh ingredients, and big flavor. That you can be sure of. Handmade pasta, high-quality ingredients, and a carefully curated wine list, are what helped Delfina rank on our Best Restaurants in San Francisco list. Super simple, but totally delicious. But please note, if you don’t try their panna cotta, you may as well not go at all. Delfina’s panna cotta is life.
Where: The Mission
Mitchell’s Ice Cream
After so much savory indulgence, a sweet treat is always in order. Ask any local where to find San Francisco’s best ice cream, and they’ll all tell you one place: Mitchell’s Ice Cream. Personally, I can’t leave San Francisco without having Mitchell’s banana ice cream, but there are a myriad of flavors to choose from. No matter the flavor, instant happiness ensues. Mitchell’s is happiness. And happiness is Mitchell’s. That I promise.
Where: The Mission
The Best Restaurants in San Francisco
While there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, we’re confident that these are among the best restaurants in San Francisco. On any given day, you can go to these restaurants and expect to be blown away!
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Over to you! Have you been to San Francisco before? Have you dined at any of our picks for the best restaurants in San Francisco? Where are your favorite places to eat and drink in the city?