So the last 10 days before we moved from San Francisco we tried to eat at our favorite haunts. The food is one of the best things about that city. I get emails all the time from visitors asking where they should eat and it’s high time I did a post about it. Here is my San Francisco Food Bucket List. The starred ones are my absolute favorites.
1. The Sentinel. This place is such a gem. For $8 you can get a gourmet meal. Go for the Corned Beef Sandwich even if you aren’t a huge fan, it’s life changing. It’s in the financial district so its only open Monday-Friday for lunch.
2. Tartine. Go for breakfast. Get the morning buns and something hot to drink make the person you are with try something else like bread pudding. Avoid the sandwiches, the bread hurts your mouth.
(photo by Nicole Gerulat and styled by Jordan Ferney)
3. Pizzeria Delfina*. This is my favorite pizza in the world. Don’t get fancy, just get the Margherita. And get the brussel sprouts if they have them. Heaven. There are two locations. No reservations, just go and wait.
4. Pena Pacha Mama. The food here is great but you go to Pena Pacha Mama for the music. When you call ask what time the music starts and make reservations 30 minutes before. It is a pretty small place and everyone gets up to dance at some point. Super fun, go with friends.
5. Red Door Cafe. There are 6 small tables in this whole quirky place. The owner/waiter is probably the most charming dude you’ve ever met. The food is art and comes like sculptures. It’s a real San Francisco experience. No reservations, just go and wait. Open for Lunch and Brunch.
(photo by me from my phone)
6. Frances*. Oh I love this restaurant. Small. Cozy. Amazing food. Impossible to get in. Show up 15 minutes before it opens and sometimes you can get a seat at the bar. I wish I was friends with the hostess here.
7. Zazie*. Go for brunch, don’t let the line deter you (on the weekends). And flirt with the host–he will hook you up. Also order the Challa French Toast with fruit, or the Gingerbread Pancakes with Lemon Curd and fruit, or the BLT.
8. Boulette’s Larder*. My favorite breakfast place of all time. Everything here is special. It doesn’t get better than this place.
(photo by Tasty Type)
9. Bi Rite Ice Cream. There are other specialty ice cream stores but BiRite is still my favorite. Even if there is a line ask to try a couple kinds. Then buy some. Salted Caramel rules all.
10. Nopa*. Some of the best meals of my life have been eaten here. Impossible to get in at the last minute. You have to get reservations way in advance or show up ten minutes before it opens and sit at the bar.
11. The Ferry Building*. Where do I start with this wonderful place? This topic needs a whole post of its own on how to do it right. I worked on the third floor of the building so I consider myself a mini expert. Go Hungry, bring money, don’t be cheap, ask questions and be in an adventurous and experimental mood. If it is a day the farmers market is running (Tue, Thu, Sat) take some time to go around the booths. Try every sample that is offered to you. Ask the farmers questions. Buy small bags of the things you like. If it’s Thursday try the Tacos from the Tacolicious booth. Then go inside and try the following:
-Salted Caramels from Recchiuti (ask the employee to recommend 1 or 2 other kinds to purchase.)
-Boulette’s Larder ask the shopgirl to recommend some of their custom spice mixes. I love the African salt for Pizza. Do not leave the Ferry Building without buying at least one.
-Stonehouse Olive Oil + McEvoy Olive Oil Don’t be shy and try every single kind. If you love it buy a bottle. I had never tasted real olive oil before these guys.
-Boccalone Ask for recommendations for “Tasty Salted Pig Parts”
-Sidekick Go to the milk bar and try the steamed caramel milk. So good you’ll die.
-Cowgirl Creamery Ask the shop keeper to recommend a few kinds. Try taste tests of several. Then buy some.
-Acme Bread Ask the employee to recommend a few kinds. Buy some. (these guys only accept cash.)
-Miette I like their macarons the best. Buy one for each person in your party.
-Blue Bottle Coffee Best coffee in SF (though I’m not a coffee drinker.) But I have it on all kinds of authority.
(photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day)
Then go out back and have a picnic with all your treasures in front of the Bay Bridge. If it’s crowded walk a block over to Pier 7. Find a bench and eat some really good food.
What are your favorites and what am I missing?