Restaurants not to be missed??
you'll get a good response here if you ask a specific question. I see you post regularly asking typical traveling questions about different cities. There are some local resources like SFGate's Top 100 in SF, 7x7 magazine has some good general lists, Eater has a top 38 list I like, as well as the michelin list (we have more stars than NYC, just fewer 2 and 3 star places). For example, whether you're looking for international class tasting menu, SF only no wine country, business friendly, cheap, whatever.
Every restaurant is a compromise - so while there's a standard list of 20 or 30 places that might be recommended (and can be found on those general lists I mentioned), I might say to you Aziza or Slanted Door, but maybe you're an expert on Vietnamese food so SD's slightly fusionish take - and high waterfront prices - would be a turn off.
Since I'm at home recovering from root canal work and dreaming of eating, I'll take a stab for a fellow traveler. We go to SF Bay Area twice a year as gastrotourists. I feel like the trip is wasted if I don't make it to Canteen for dinner (book well ahead, they have seatings and book up in this tiny space).
BTW can't say enough about the cocktails at Aziza per bbulkow's comment above -- still remember them fondly years later.
We have no Burmese in Vancouver so that cuisine must be had. My current favourite is Mandalay in the Richmond, just be sure not to waver from the Burmese dishes such as mohinga, tea leaf salad, samusa soup, deep fried onions and balada.
Poc Chuc is great for the platillo maya and an order of the salpicon de res. For a mellow brunch, try the carnitas benedictas at Sycamore in the Mission along with a nice beer on tap or a bottomless mimosa. Or get a torta from Los Picudos, maybe the carnitas (I ask for extra mayo and try to find a friend to share this monster with).
Try Vientiane for their Lao specialties in the East Bay, in particular the nam kao/crispy rice salad, mok pa/steamed fish with lemongrass and the sai ooa/pork sausage. It's a bit of a schlep but worth it.
For a stupidly good burger, bite the $ bullet and try the one at Mission Bowling Club (get it for $10 during happy hour). Try a corned beef sandwich for takeaway from the Sentinel in the Financial District. If you're near Market and Powell, wander across to Blue Bottle Mint Plaza for a New Orleans coffee, or maybe a Gibraltar. Their baked savoury breakies are tasty too and it's quite a lovely room.
Track down Roli Roti (usually at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets among others) and line up for a porchetta sandwich, or have it for breakfast and avoid waiting. Have something wonderfully savoury for breakfast (they have daily specials) at farm:table andadd a kouign amann for afters with one of their tasty coffees -- I liked the Tendernob, a four-oz version of the Gibraltar. Seating said to be expanding soon, for now just one small communal table.
Go to happy hour at Olive for a cocktail then cross the street and order a pile of appetizers at Lers Ros on Larkin (not to be confused with the newer outpost in Hayes Valley). Wash down with a Thai iced tea or Singha. Make a reso if you're going at prime time.
If you need a snack on your way to China town, go to the Sutter Cafe and get a little bag of chicken tamales to eat in Portsmouth Square while you watch the mah jong fiends do their things. Naked Lunch for a stellar sandwich on the other side of Chinatown -- look for something with a fried egg in it. Check out the oeufs en meurette or the bennies at Cafe de la presse -- try to avoid full on brunch hours to minimize the wait.
Cotogna for a splurgy but completely worth it lunch in a beautiful daytime room -- I expect it would be lovely at night also. Sotto Mare for a big plate of petrale sole in North Beach -- great for a slightly later lunch as you can likely walk in especially on a week day (no resos). Or get a pie from Bao Necci, look for something with gorgonzola, dinner only except Sat, closed Sun.
Get a reservation at Jai Yun and have a Chinese meal like no other that I've ever experienced. I've been three times for lunch and would go back in a heartbeat (lunch is only for groups of 10 and up at the moment, alas).
Go to the Legion of Honour for a shot of culture then hit Shanghai Dumpling King for an order of xlb (xiao long bao) and egg puffs -- the latter of which you should eat as they hit the table. Then because you have booked it ahead, walk three blocks further and tuck into your deep fried salt and pepper pork knuckle at Shanghai House which you will enjoy with an order of tea-smoked duck, followed by food coma.
Need more Chinese? Make your way to Old Mandarin Islamic and order the extremely hot pepper dish which has stir-fried eggs, beef plus dried and fresh chiles and is a revelation.
Feeling Peruvian? Check out Inka's for chicken or anything fried and dollops of their yellow sauce, plus an order of shrimp ceviche. Feeling Sardinian? Book yourself into La Ciccia well in advance and prepare to be stuffed in a good way with wonderful hosts. They have some unique to SF dishes here.
Okay, meds are kicking in and that's enough rambling. Hope it helps.