Food & Drink

An editor's guide to eating around town

Published On 05/02/2013 Published On 05/02/2013
West Coast Executive Editor Kevin Alexander
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1. Frances 3870 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

Located on a quiet residential block in the Castro, Frances is a tiny Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by the superbly talented chef Melissa Perello. The seasonal, market-driven menu changes often but you can always expect an appearance from Perello's smoked bacon beignets, a house signature featuring delicately fried balls of dough studded with bacon and served with a creamy maple creme fraiche dipping sauce.

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2. Nopa 560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Alamo Square)

Nopa is a San Francisco institution that does everything really, really well. It's the best brunch in Western Addition and one of the best in the whole city. Its burger is perfect with pickled onions and French fries, especially when eaten at the bar. It's a one-stop-shop for a date, a birthday dinner, or dinner with your parents. Plus, the kitchen is open until 1 AM for a full dinner. Yeah, this place wins at everything.

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3. Turtle Tower Restaurant 645 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (The Tenderloin)

The Larkin St outpost from SF's beloved go-to for piping hot bowls of pho and all things Northern Vietnamese is also the biggest location yet, accommodating hungry hordes clamoring for the aforementioned noodle bowls in impossibly flavorful broth, banh mi, and other delicacies that seem like they ought to be way more expensive.

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4. Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen 3150 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (Downtown)

If it's a little difficult to make it from your office to the deep Mission-located Wise Sons, you are in luck, because this pastrami paradise has started a delivery service using TCB Courier that -- provided you make a minimum order -- delivers to the less-deep Mission with no extra charge and Downtown for an extra fiver.

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5. Ragazza 311 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Western Addition)

Look no further than Ragazza if you're craving Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas, antipasti, and Italian-inspired wine and beer, all in a casual and quiet ambiance in Lower Haight.

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6. State Bird Provisions 1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115 (Fillmore)

State Bird Provisions opened in the Fillmore in 2013, won the James Beard Award for best new restaurant, earned a Michelin star, and has been one of city's hottest spots ever since. After you score a reservation, State Bird will likely be one of your most memorable meals ever thanks to the fact that creative Northern California small plates are served from dim sum carts. The atmosphere is fun, the food is affordable (plates range from $3 to $20), and the dining experience is anything but ordinary.

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7. Namu Gaji 499 Dolores St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

This New Korean American restaurant is a family affair, owned by three brothers who utilize ingredients harvested from their own farm. Korean-inflected spins on favorites, like a pickled daikon-topped double cheeseburger and Korean tacos (nori replaces a tortilla shell, and is filled with marinated and grilled bulgogi beef, kimchi salsa, and spicy aïoli, are well-worth your time during the week, but the real star is the KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) brunch dish.

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8. Locanda 557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Younger brother to game-changing Italian stalwart Delfina, Locando's a bustling osteria and bar that's earned a following of its own thanks to flawlessly fried Jerusalem artichokes and a thoughtful amaro-heavy cocktail program that get things started before you move onto the show-stopping selection of pastas (don't miss the cacio e pepe) and grill selections like Berkshire pork saltimbocca.

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9. Boxing Room 399 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Hayes Valley)

This Hayes Valley gem, situated in the back of a spacious former 19th-century Standard Shirts Factory, will satisfy all your Creole cravings with classics like oysters, hushpuppies, fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas, and po’boys. The theme carries over to the cocktail menu, where New Orleans favorites like the Milk Punch or Ramos Gin Fizz can help you pretend you're actually in the Big Easy and don’t have to go to work tomorrow.

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10. La Taqueria 2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

This no-frills taqueria is home to the best burrito in America. The Mission-style burrito has a healthy dose of meat, cheese, beans, homemade hot sauce, salsa, and no rice. The place has been around for 40 years and if the daily long lines are any indication, they're doing something right. Ask for your burrito "El Dorado-style" to get your rice-less bundle of joy thrown on the grill until the outside is golden brown and the inside has melted to perfection.

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11. Mission Chinese Food 2234 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Though Danny Bowien's since expanded with two NYC locations, the original SF Mission Chinese, which he opened inside a rundown Chinese restaurant in 2000, started it all. The creative Mission eatery takes an interesting spin on classic Chinese dishes. You’ll find the usual suspects like Mongolian long beans, ma po tofu, and sesame chicken, but the real showstoppers are his fun spins on classics. Kung pao pastrami, thrice-cooked bacon and rice cakes, and kung pao burritos are far from forgettable.

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12. The Mill 736 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Alamo Square)

Baking incredible fresh bread daily (made with flour from from their German mill) this partnership between the Barrel guys and Josey Baker Bread is a constant go-to for a bite, coffee, and some quiet contemplation. As you'd expect from a place that has a serious way with dough, the BYOB Monday pizza nights and Wednesday grilled cheese and soup nights are not to be missed.

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13. B. Patisserie 2821 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115 (Pacific Heights)

You may have noticed that buttery, sugary Breton pastry, kouign amann, in just about every bakery these days. Well, you can thank B. Patisserie's Belinda Leong for introducing it to pastry-crazed San Franciscans several years ago. Beyond said sweet standout, you can also hit this Pac Heights institution for other Gallic treats like colorful macarons and impeccable croissants (plus more American creations like key lime tarts and chocolate banana bread). Feeling more savory? Tartines like mushroom ragout with goat cheese or ham and gruyere are equally covetable.

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14. 4505 Butcher Shop 1909 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

Do you like meat? Yes? Oh, well then go to 4505. Seriously, they've got meat galore, from hot dogs to sausages, to gourmet to cold cuts, it's ready to eat or take home to cook yourself. Chef Ryan Farr and his wife Cesalee want to change the way you buy, cook, and eat meat. Allied: Now that you’ve tried literally all the meats, roll to the Whole Foods at 2001 Market St and grab some Smith & Forge, the hard cider that's built strong -- built from Apples and built to Refresh.

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15. Rickybobby 400 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

You know it's a sweet place when it has two first names for its only name. And if you like cheap and hearty eats, soft lighting and crazy crap on the walls, you'll love Rickybobby.

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16. Taqueria El Farolito 2779 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

If you want to push the limits of your stomach's burrito capacity, this place feature a two-pound monster that should hold you over until four days from now. If not, there's plenty of other options to quell your Mexican-food hankering.

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17. Quince Restaurant 470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Jackson Square)

Quince, in operation for more than a decade, offers an always original blend of seasonal Italian and French cuisine shepherded under the vision of owner and executive chef Michael Tusk. The quaint eatery's modern, luxurious layout takes enjoyment of your Michelin-starred meal to another level.

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18. Fat Angel 1740 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94115 (Fillmore)

Fat Angel, based in the Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco, serves comfort food with a sophisticated edge. You're also bound to find a good beer or wine to wash it all down.

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19. Bix Restaurant 56 Gold St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Financial District)

Step back in time and indulge yourself at this '30s-style supper club just minutes from the Embarcadero. Bix is all class, from the white-jacketed bartenders mixing delicious cocktails to the intimate lighting & high ceilings, to the piano player & live jazz. This iconic SF spot serves “modern American” cuisine which includes Dungeness crab rolls, bone marrow, fresh lobster spaghetti, and a black truffle cheeseburger. Co-owners Doug Biederbeck and Bruce Hill are behind other SF staples (Florio, MarketBar, Fog City, and Pizzeria, among others), and Chef Emmanuel Eng previously worked at Boulevard, Maverick, and Aqua.

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20. Boulevard 1 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105 (Financial District)

Located within walking distance of the Embarcadero and the twinkling Bay Bridge lights, Boulevard is owned by Executive Chef Nancy Oakes and was a recipient of Zagat’s San Francisco Bay Area’s 'Most Popular Restaurant' award. Boulevard is upscale yet relaxed -- a perfect spot to take out-of-town relatives or host a celebration -- with a well-curated wine list and daily cheese selections. There are plenty of options for vegetarians, but the filet mignon and Kurobota pork chop are standouts.

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21. Marlowe 330 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Soma)

Named after the owners family butcher shop in Boston, it is no surprise that Marlowe, founded in San Francisco's swanky SoMA neighborhood, slings some of the Bay Area's best burgers. Not to be boxed in, this American-French bistro offers a diverse menu, which includes its signature Northern California oysters the perfect drink complement from its lengthy wine list.

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22. Maven 598 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

Maven is a chic bar and restaurant in Lower Haight that pairs all of its dishes with different cocktails. The highlight of the menu is the burger, which begins with beef that's ground with a few dashes of angostura bitters and is paired with the Mr. Wiggles cocktail, made with bourbon, amaro, vermouth, and bitters. The bar's morning cocktails make it a popular brunch spot, as do the duck hash and Bananas Foster French toast. The seating is all communal, and the best seats in the house are either on the second-floor loft or at the chef's counter.

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23. The Alembic 1725 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Upper Haight)

The Alembic is known for its encyclopedic menu of spirits and handcrafted cocktails. The whiskey selection in particular reads like a written history of brown spirits, featuring American bourbon, whiskey, and rye alongside single-malt and vatted Scotch whiskey. The draft beer list is a nod to those with an appreciation for local craft brews and the food menu is filled with atypical bar snacks like pickled quail eggs and jerk-spiced duck hearts. As for the space, it's a trendy, rustic, dimly lit affair.

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24. Hog Island Oyster Co. 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Embarcadero)

Hog Island Oyster Bar, located in the Ferry Building Marketplace, does its namesake proud; for those that love oysters, few places do it better. With outdoor seating that truly completes the seafaring experience, a grilled-cheese sandwich with superb word-of-mouth buzz, and cold, IPA brews to complement, Hog Island has serious make-a-day-out-of-it appeal.

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25. Zuni Cafe 1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Soma)

A culinary talisman for over thirty years, Zuni Cafe on the ever-bustling Market Street continues to serve New American cuisine with French and Italian influences. With a menu that changes daily, the element of surprise is never lost -- all while using the freshest, most sustainable ingredients.

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26. The Slanted Door 1 Sausalito - San Francisco Ferry Bldg #3, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Embarcadero)

Traditional Vietnamese cuisine infused with Bay Area spirit, The Slanted Door, according to its visionary owner/executive chef Charles Phan, is a restaurant that "refused to cut any corners."Using local, fresh ingredients, patrons experience a variety of meals given a modern, subtle twist.

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27. Zero Zero 826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Soma)

A celebration of all things Neapolitan pizza, Zero Zero serves up wood-fired pies and classic negronis in a modern space with a view. The coursed meals and punch bowls make it an ideal group destination, while the foolproof antipasti and pizzas reserve this restaurant for many a first date. Whether you're here in big company or on an intimate meal, though, make sure to enjoy a glass of over 75 vinos at the bar, where you'll get an impressive view of city lights.

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28. Dynamo Donut & Coffee 2760 24th Street (between York and Hampshire), San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Bacon. Donut. Day. Dynamo Donut & Coffee has made it real, and available every day. Handmade daily by owner Sara and her staff and using organic, locally sourced ingredients, their creative take on donuts make the word "glazed" suddenly sound mundane and unworthy.

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29. Park Tavern 1652 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

If you're looking for a restaurant in North Beach packed with San Franciscans of all neighborhoods, head to Park Tavern. This upscale spot is homey and bustling, and the food is part Southern comfort, part English pub. Every table gets the famed lamb-and-beef Marlowe burger and a starter of smoky deviled eggs, but those in the know will get an extra order of eggs to put on their burger. Park Tavern is also a bonafide brunch hotspot with the best Bloody Marys and a menu filled with griddled goods (pancakes and more pancakes) and savory eggs. And that burger.

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