What should I eat in S.F.?
Hi, I'll be visiting your city next month and I'd appreciate any tips SF chows can offer. I've never been before so I'm not at all familiar with S.F. I'll be staying at a hotel around Lombard/Divisadero. I won't have a car so I'll either be walking or using public transit so the closer to the downtown area, the better.
A couple of other things. I'm on a limited budget so as much as I'd love to try the fine dining places that your city is known for, they're beyond my means. I'm not a wine drinker so the relative quality of the cellar isn't important for me. Let's say around $30 or under for one. I come from a city, Toronto, with a huge Asian community so Asian food, as much as I love it, isn't a novelty to me. Of course if there are Chinese or Asian things that are unique to S.F. I'd love to hear about it. One last thing, I'm not much of a seafood eater, so I'll be taking a pass on that famous aspect of San Franciscan cuisine.
I'm hoping to try things that are unique to the state/area.
I hope I haven't narrowed the choices down too much. Cheers!.
There are so many places within walking distance. Walk down Chestnut and look at the menus. Steiner between Lombard and Chestnut has an overabundance of places to eat.
On Union at Buchanan, there's a very popular place called Betelnut, different Asian dishes, not just Chinese. Popular dishes: Chicken in lettuce cups, Spicy green beans, steamed dumplings. Next door is a new place called Nettie's Crab Shack, menu looks good to me, Lobster rolls.
Where you're staying is a great place to just walk to Union Street and Chestnut. If you just want a nice walk, you can walk around the Presidio.
Plenty of fine suggestions already, but I might add these.
First, don't be disheartened that your hotel is not "downtown". One block down on Chestnut Street you'll find the 30 Stockton bus which will take you downtown, through North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, etc., the usual destinations. It's a somewhat long and circuitous ride, but you'll see a lot on the way, and it's certainly faster than walking and cheaper than a cab.
Second, perhaps Greens? I find it interesting that people on these boards seldom recommend a vegetarian restaurant unless one is specifically sought. I'm not a vegetarian, and I've never been to this restaurant (so take this with the appropriate grain of salt), but Greens is legendary; it's on my to-do list; its founding chef, Deborah Madison, literally wrote the book on vegetarian cooking; it seems to represent so much of what is great about the San Francisco food scene generally; it's not crazy-expensive (though it's not cheap either); and I would argue that it's within walking distance.
Not sure what you consider walking distance, but you might walk along Lombard as far as Polk Street, and turn right. Many interest eating choices there.
And for what it's worth, while Lombard and Divisadero is not stricly downtown, it's a nice strolling area, with Pacific Heights, the Presidio, the Marina, etc., all right there.
Burmese: Larkin Express Deli for lunch
Tunisian: Cafe Zitouna on Polk St
Since you aren't that close to downtown, it's just as easy to take buses/taxis to other neighborhoods as it is to go downtown. So don't feel limited to certain neighborhoods.
I would definitely suggest visiting the Sat. Ferry Building farmer's market...from there it can be nice to walk up Telegraph Hill, then down the other side into Chinatown and North Beach.
Also worthwhile is a trip to the Mission. Great taquerias, bakeries, cafes, etc.....all sorts of good food, so search the board.
The Tenderloin also has great food, esp. at lunch - lots of Vietnamese, Pakistani and Chinese that is quite good and reasonably priced.
But overall what I think is unique about San Francisco is the variety of neighborhoods that are packed close together. Toronto has this too to a certain extent, but it's more spread out. Most friends who visit me spend their days walking around (one recent visitor walked from my house in Potrero Hill all the way to GG Park!).....and eating along the way! If you walk all over the place, then you will find good things. Have fun!
If you are staying up near Lombard and Divis, you'll have some great options and a more "local" nightlight than downtown! Check out Mamacita, Isa, and Yuzu on Chestnut. Also Emporio Rulli Cafe for the best little Italian cookies and coffee. You've also got some great bus options: the 22-Fillmore will take you down to Pac Heights (the new 2nd site of Pizzeria Delfina, SPQR-go for a weekday lunch), Lower Haight (Rotee, Axum Cafe) and then down to the Castro and the Mission (Delfina, Weird Fish, Dosa, Pauline's Pizza). The 43-Masonic will pick you up on Lombard and take you through the Presidio to Laurel Heights, Haight-Ashbury, and then on to the Inner Sunset (New Eritrea, Marnee Thai). There's also a Real Foods on Fillmore near Filbert if you need any grocery items or takeaway. You'll have MANY choices, and I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself!
3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
698 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
260 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103
995 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Emporio Rulli Gran Caffe
2300 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Marnee Thai Restaurant
1243 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
2193 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
2317 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
3324 Steiner St., San Francisco, CA 94123
400 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Real Food Company
3060 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA
2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115
3347 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
New Eritrea Restaurant & Bar
907 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122
Some foods unique to Northern California:
SF Sourdough - Tadich Grill $$$
Super Burritos - Mission Street $
Grilled Tri-Tip - Memphis Minnie's on Haight $
BBQ Oysters - Ferry Plaza $
Cioppino (Italian seafood stew) - Tadich Grill $$$
Steamed Dungeness Crab - Fisherman's Wharf (or for a twist Vietnamese roasted crab over garlic noodles) $$
Artichokes - ?
re: Kim Cooper
I fully second that one, but it's important to note that Tadich's is pretty much the one stop left for the authentic tasting sourdough natives were raised on.
Thorough Bread, and Acme are good breads, and you can luck out and get a batch that's sour enough to fit a craving, but it's really not the same.
It is the style supposedly invented in San Francisco and available at almost all of the "Mexican" restaurants that make burritos. Here is the Wikipedia blurb and some examples of burrito obsession.
Mexican is a no-brainer, sure thing suggestion for anyone visiting California. Mission Street is known for a high concentration of burrito place, but they really mean San Francisco (or Bay Area) style.
Everyone has their favorites, and it really depends on your own grunge level.
I'll suggest El Toro, El Burrito Express, or La Cornetta ... I've had some scrappy fillings at some of the other more popular places, but there are more get down choices with a wide range of reviews. These places are going to be casual, and most have cafeteria style service. Most sell beer or really good aqua frescas made from fresh fruit juices.
I'll second the carne asada super burrito at La Cornetta. It's just a block from the Balboa BART too.
My all time favorite is probably the carne/shrimp combo at Pancho Villa just off the 16th St BART.
...or if you want to skip the rice, the carne asada with guac at La Taquaria just off the 24th St BART. While you are there, you may want to try an al pastor (bbq pork) taco across the street at San Jose Taquaria.
re: Civil Bear
Taqueria San Jose
2830 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
3071 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
La Corneta Taqueria
2834 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131
La Corneta Taqueria
2731 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
I'm a huge fan of Papalote, which makes some amazing burritos. Sure, they're yuppie-fied, but still delicious and inexpensive! Also check out Little Chihuahua's plantain and black bean burrito.
Papalote Mexican Grill
3409 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Papalote Mexican Grill
1777 Fulton St, San Francisco, CA 94117
The Little Chihuahua Mexican Restaurant
292 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Oh, and Papalote in the Mission is accessible by the 22 to the J. The Fulton location is just steps away from the 43 stop. You can get to Little Chihuahua by 1) taking the 22 to Oak and walking west about 5 blocks. You can also take the 43 to Haight and either walk or take the bus 6 blocks to Divisadero.