This post was most recently updated on November 18th, 2017
Plain and simple, San Francisco’s restaurants, cafés, and little eateries blew my mind. If I could, I would seriously shell out the $150 for a plane ticket to enjoy just one meal, and then come back home. Every single plate we indulged in during our 72 hours in San Francisco was nothing less than spectacular (and by the way, we treated ourselves to many more than the standard three meals a day, because, well, it was pretty impossible not to). It’s not every day that you can choose a totally new place to eat and be left thinking, “Wait, how did they even make this? That was the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.” And then for that to happen over, and over, and over again, it just can’t be, can it? The answer, in San Francisco at least, is a firm yes; there, that’s the every day norm. I’m pretty sure that the bad, and even mediocre, restaurants close down pretty quickly in San Francisco, because not only do the San Franciscans know about good food, they absolutely demand it. I may have been waddling down the crowded streets, too full to walk like a normal human being, but that’s fine by me. My stomach was happy so I was too.
It may seem like I’m over-hyping San Francisco’s culinary genius, but I really do believe that it’s well-deserved, and I can guarantee that you’re not in for a let down. Mauricio and I spoke with plenty of shop owners, cab drivers, and locals on the streets, and we also conducted some research on our own, to find the best places to eat in the city. Upon your next visit to San Francisco, follow this guide for the most amazing eateries in the city; indulge, savor, and repeat.
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 1
First on the list is Sweet Maple, near Japantown. I’m not a breakfast person in general, but if I could eat at Sweet Maple every morning, I’d never skip breakfast again in my life. The star of the show here is the “Millionaire’s Bacon,” which is “thick, free range bacon, baked with brown sugar, cayenne, red and black pepper.” Honestly, it’s to die for. I ordered the “Millionaire’s Melt,” so in other words, the most amazing breakfast sandwich on the planet full of “Millionaire’s bacon, arugula, tomato, scrambled egg, gouda, [and] aioli.” Mauricio ordered the “Frisco” scramble with “chicken mango sausage, shallot, mixed mushrooms, avocado, [and] gouda.” Sweet Maple is the best breakfast place in town, and I wouldn’t doubt that their lunch menu is just as fabulous.
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 2
For the best Mexican food in the city, as told by various locals, hit La Taqueria in the Mission District. To drink, we tried the agua de fresa (strawberry water) and agua de melón (melon water), which were both refreshing, flavorful, simply delicious. The freshly grilled carne asada, wrapped up in a fresh flour tortilla with beans, avocado, and sour cream, tasted better than any burrito we’ve had in both Southern California and México. The chorizo is also top notch. And if the high-quality Mexican food wasn’t enough, the owner was very sweet; he gave us extra food to sample, and as a parting gift, he handed me a rose. You can read Mauricio’s take on La Taqueria and other Mexican food here.
Ike’s Place is serving up some pretty legendary sandwiches that you’d never even dream could exist. This little shop is cool yet grungy, but the sandwiches are unlike any others on this planet. We went with the “Menage A Trois,” a flavorful combination of “BBQ, Cheddar, Halal Chicken, Honey Mustard, Pepper Jack, Real Honey, [and] Swiss.” Um, yes, please. And then I’ll have another, thanks.
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 4
If you’re in or around Union Square, Puccini & Pinetti (located inside the beautiful Hotel AbRi) is the place to grab an Italian bite. This was our first lunch in San Francisco and we didn’t want anything too heavy before walking around, so we decided to split a pizza and a salad, both of which were pretty yummy.
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 5
San Francisco is where Americanized Chinese food began, so if you’re into that kind of thing, Oriental Pearl in Chinatown is the place for you. They also have authentic Chinese dishes, though, like noodles, Dim Sum, and clay pot plates. Definitely have a pot of tea, some Chinese fried rice, and whatever other Chinese delicacies your heart (stomach) desires.
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 6
To continue with the Asian theme, House of Thai is one of the most authentic and delicious places in San Francisco to grab some Thai grub. Even better, we both ate here for $20. I ordered the Pad Se-Ew, “stir-fried rice noodles with egg, Chinese broccoli in black soy sauce,” with chicken, but you can also order it with beef, pork, or tofu. I tried Mauricio’s Pad Gra-Praw, which is a chicken plate with basil, fresh chili, and bell pepper, with a side of brown rice, and it was super spicy, bursting with flavor, and cooked to perfection. The service here was good and fast and the food was even better!
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 7
The cutest café in the whole city, without any doubt, is Un Cafecito. The two Hispanic women running the place will greet you with a warm, welcoming smile, and will go above and beyond to make sure you enjoy your food and feel comfortable. Order a simple breakfast burrito, and you’ll be surprised by the amount of flavor jam-packed into that flour tortilla. Un Cafecito’s spicy green salsa atop scrambled eggs, bacon, and mozzarella cheese, all wrapped in a warm tortilla will make for the perfect breakfast, along with their memorable cups of coffee or freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. This café is in the Tenderloin, but don’t be alarmed; you’ll be perfectly safe and secure walking there in the day time.
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 8
When in San Francisco, a visit to Boudin is pretty much obligatory. Boudin at the Fisherman’s Wharf has been serving up their famous sourdough bread since 1849, and what could possibly be more typical of San Francisco than a sourdough bread bowl full of clam chowder? Personally, I prefer to have their tomato or butternut squash soup accompanied by a delicious salad or sandwich, but either way, you really can’t go wrong at Boudin.
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 9
Mitchell’s Ice Cream is, by far, the best ice cream in San Francisco, no ands, ifs, or buts about this claim. There’s always a line winding out of Mitchell’s, but it’s worth your 15 or so minute wait. I’m a huge fan of banana ice cream, or banana anything really, and I try it in every single city I visit. I can definitely say that this is the best banana ice cream in the entire world; I’m positive about this. If banana is not your flavor of choice, they have all of the other classics and some original ones too. Oreo is my other favorite here! Ice cream lovers, do not miss this place!
Where to eat in San Francisco – # 10
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is located in North Beach, and I’ve been told that you can’t find a better pizza in the city than at Tony’s. This is the only place I haven’t personally tried on this list, but I’ve heard from multiple locals that Tony’s cannot be beat when it comes to authentic Italian pizza, so I thought I’d throw it in here for you guys. This place has both a restaurant and grab-and-go pizza window, but at either venue, there will be a line, and a long line at that – just like all of the other great places in San Francisco.
Located in the Ferry Building (which is probably my favorite place in the entire city) is Mijita Cocina Mexicana. When you walk into Mijita, the aromas of fresh tortilla chips frying and carnitas and carne asada grilling will immediately steal your nose’s attention and make your mouth water. Mijita’s chef features local, seasonal ingredients to create special dishes from different regions in Mexico, as well as classic Mexican street food. With plates like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and breakfast burritos in the morning, and albondigas soup, tortas de carnitas, and chips with guacamole for lunch or dinner, Mijita is the perfect place to eat during your time strolling through the Ferry Building.
Happy eating everyone!
Let me know below if you think I’m missing one of San Francisco’s amazing eateries! Have you visited any of these places? Do you agree with me?