Thursday, April 10, 2014

SF food guide

in my opinion, san francisco is one of the best cities 
for food in the world, and we live right in the center 
of it all. how lucky are we? we try to take advantage
of this and taste all we can in this city, and i've been 
working on a rating system for a while now. i get
countless emails every week asking for restaurant 
tips in san francisco, and there are just so many! so
 it has come to the point where i need to create a
collection of all our favorite san francisco restaurants.
so along with our guide to SF and features that we do 
on the blog, this will serve as a resource for all
you fellow foodies. this will be my new place to share 
and rate all the places we eat in the city. it will be 
an ever-changing post as we try more places--feel 
free to comment with tips for our next meal!
*note: we work together with some of these restaurants, 
but all opinions are 100% our own! i promise-- i would never 
want to lead you astray, especially when it comes to food!

farm : table 5 stars
     the menu changes weekly based on what is in season. tiny walk-up on post street near union square. order each of their 4 specials, you cannot go wrong here. follow them on twitter @farmtable to see their menu!

mama's 4.9 stars
     this is one of the best known brunch spots in the city, and in one of my favorite french toast you'll ever have, BUT---up to a 3 hour line. it really is that good, but sometimes i get pretty hangry in line. either go around 7:30 AM to be at the front when they open at 8, or stop by around 2 or 2:30 pm for no line (and a late brunch)

dottie's true blue cafe 4.8 stars
     such a de-lish brunch spot. it's a true hidden gem because it's right in the tenderloin (rough area) but it is perfection. you have to wait in a long line, but once you get in the doors it's the best. love the feel of it, and the food really is so great. just classic and amazing. the owner is a perfectionist which is why the food is just right. get the raspberry pancakes, a huge blueberry muffin, and always try the specials.

mymy 4.8 stars
     this is a hidden gem breakfast. very local, right in our neighborhood and just AMAZING. it's very worth eating here! there is a line each weekend, but nothing compared to mama's or dottie's {mentioned above.} this is your place for a local, memorable place to have brunch. it's your place for all kinds of eggs benedicts, and unique items like blueberry soufflé pancakes...AKA the best thing i've had this year! my-oh-my, we love it. :)

flour & co. 4.8 stars
     this is the most darling american bakery and the owner emily is the cutest! they use all natural ingredients and come up with some of the best food. for example: banana + nutella pop tart. hello, yes please! pretzel breakfast sandwiches are a win, and all of their treats are divine. they also host holiday decorating classes from time to time, and they always have something new. we love this neighborhood spot!

boulette's larder 4.8 stars
     go here -- get the warm morning bun -- have your morning made -- return again and again. simple as that! :)

happy moose juice 4.7 stars
     pressed juice lovers -- this is your spot. there are lots of amazing juice places all over the city and they are good, but happy moose is our favorite. it's right in the mission and the owner is a nutritionist so the juices all have specific benefits depending on what you want. they also name their juices so creatively, might be one of my favorite parts :) it's inside of range restaurant on valencia.

bio cafe 4.7 stars
     if you're in the mood for a healthy yet satisfying breakfast, this is your place. everything is handmade with the best of ingredients, but still so flavorful and filling. the homemade yogurt is the show stopper, with rosewater and creamy, heavenly flavor. the brioche french toast + quinoa oatmeal are both necessary delights as well.

brenda's french soul food 4.5 stars
     one word: beignets. come here for the best. get the basic and the chocolate filled...maybe the apple cinnamon too, why not! this has a new orleans influence and some of the best fried chicken eggs benedict you can find...yes you heard me right! also watch for their specials like sweet potato pancakes. you will never leave brenda's hungry!

honey bistro 4.5 stars
     the name of this place is my favorite. the first time i saw it in the city i knew i had to go try it! again, it's more for locals since it's right in the financial area and open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays...but it is completely changing the street corner it's on, and it has such quality, fresh food. get an avocado omelette, greek yogurt parfait, or the honey bear sandwich with peanut butter, honey, nutella, and bacon on sourdough bread. yep.

sweet maple 4 stars
     if you're an eggs benedict fan, go here. if you're a bacon fan, also go here. there are all different kinds of eggs benny, and the millionaire's bacon is solid gold...and i don't even normally like bacon!

mission beach cafe 3.8 stars
     it's always sunnier in the mission, so sometimes we wander over there for brunch. you can sit out on the sunny sidewalk at mission beach cafe and the wild mushroom benedict wins everything.

mission public 3.7 stars
     the mission is full of amazing food -- this place is unique and i will go get one of their croissant breakfast sandwiches right now.

mo's grill 3.7 stars
       this is a good brunch option if you don't want a long wait...AKA if you're at mama's and give up on the line. i love their huge spinning griddle and i'm a little bit in love with their banana pancakes.

blue barn gourmet 4.8 stars
     salad lovers, unite! this is a fresh, darling, delicious place with huge amazing salads. they also have really good warm sandos,  so don't be afraid to go hungry. i love the detox salad + the beet salad. perfect for a girls lunch.

la boulange bakery 4.8 stars
     i am a french girl at heart, so the first time i saw la boulange my heart stopped. it's a little bit of paris right in san francisco! each location is so charming, you can't go wrong. brunch is amazing here, but i also love their lunch...croque monseiur, and all of their treats!

boudin bakery 4.7 stars
     this place may be cliché, but it's cliché for a reason. it's the classic san francisco sourdough spot, and i always take visitors here for clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl because it's kind of like a must. i love the grilled cheese, tomato soup, and spring salad. and of course love picking up the sourdough fresh. go to the fisherman's wharf main location and watch the bread being made through the windows, then eat lunch and stop at the museum on the top floor before you of my favorite tiny museums all about the city! i'm in love with it.

ike's place 4.7 stars

     some of the best sandwiches in the bay. whatever you do, get the dutch crunch bread. the "blind date" sandwich is great, as is the "SF giants" and lots more. yummy, filling lunch!

liguria bakery 4.7 stars
     i am borderline obsessed with this place. right in washington square in the heart of little italy (and across from mama's), this bakery has been around since the city began. fresh authentic foccacia bread is made in all different flavors, then wrapped up in brown paper and tied up with string...literally. i feel like i'm living in italy whenever i leave here! pick this up for a dinner party, or to go home and make paninis with!

all good pizza 4.7 stars
     this is off the beaten path for most visitors, but locals--check this place out in the bayview. the hours are tricky, but the food is worth scheduling around. it is basically a permanent food truck in a cute little yard with twinkly lights, succulents, and random outdoor furniture. pizza is done just right here. get the margherita, + a kale salad (TRUST ever). don't forget a fresh squeezed lemonade!

gott's roadside 4.7 stars
     we first tried this place in napa at oxbow market, and it's so popular that it made it down to the city! it's right in the ferry building and great for a burger lunch break.

glaze 4.6 stars
     very fresh teriyaki bowls. this is all the comfort food flavor of a place like rumbi's, but much fresher ingredients and you'll leave feeling great! we love the feel of this place, and love sitting on the back patio when it's nice outside. this is a great part of fillmore street.

tacolicious 4.4 stars
     this place is really fun and i love the style, and the gourmet tacos are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. seriously they are works of art. we love the place, but i always leave feeling a little hungry because the servings are small and they add up. go for a light lunch!

san francisco fish company 4 stars
     also in the ferry building, this place is good to grab lunch if you're a seafood lover!

the sentinel 4 stars
     HUGE sandwiches, good prices, simple menu.

the cliff house 5 stars
     perfection in a restaurant. this place is special. out at lands end overlooking ocean beach, and literally over the cliffs. go for a special occasion, order the lobster roll + salmon, and be happy.

foreign cinema 4.8 stars
     this place is absolutely incredible. eating here is like a scene from a movie..the restaurant is so pretty, with streams of twinkly lights overhead and a great atmosphere. the food is on another level -- so fresh that the menu is changing daily. it's so incredible and the brunch is top notch too.

pizzeria delfina 4.8 stars
     a favorite with locals...really good authentic pizza. stay simple here, i like their basic pizzas better than the more adventurous flavors. also get brussels sprouts as an appetizer of course! their sister restaurant --delfina-- is next door. it's incredible and a little more high end. 

lers ros thai 4.8 stars
     favorite thai we've had in the city so far. i love the upscale feel and the presentation here.

allegro romano 4.8 stars
     this is the place for authentic italian pasta in nob hill. it's an establishment. you will get first class treatment from the chef who lives in the apartment above his restaurant and truly puts heart & soul into this place. many famous people have dined here, but it still feels local and authentic. get reservations if you go!

slanted door 4.8 stars
     my dad and i discovered this place so many years ago on one of our daddy-daughter trips to san francisco, and i've loved it ever since. it's right on the embarcadero outside of the ferry building facing the bay. it's a gorgeous setting and really unique modern vietnamese food...i don't think i had ever tried vietnamese food before this, but trust me-- it's amazing here. this place is high end and good for a meeting or a fancy lunch/dinner on the water!

tony's pizza 4.8 stars
     the. best. this little italy pizzeria is one of the only authentic italian places with food to deserve the neighborhood. it's always crowded, but worth the wait for that margherita pizza + new yorker pizza.

gioia pizzeria 4.8 stars
     this is a more gourmet farm-to-table pizza place centered around fresh ingredients and the best flavor combinations. be sure to try their zucca ricotta pizza, best i have ever had. the menu changes so expect that! the meatballs are always on the menu and they are perfected. perfect setting and ambience on polk street! more here.

thai cooking with sunshine 4.8 stars
     if you're looking for some of the very best thai food in the city AND an experience, book a night with sunshine for her famous thai cooking classes. she hosts them in her home which is a former church that they bought and redid. it's incredible. her thai food is flawless and you get to learn to make it at the same time! see more here.

tony's pizza napoletana
 4.7 stars

     right in little italy on stockton street in washington square, this place is a definite sf favorite. try the margherita or their famous new yorker pizza. the wait can be long, so order takeout if so!

green chili kitchen 4.7 stars
     this is the parent restaurant of chili pies and it's so unique and great! it has new mexico inspired flair, and all of the salsas are the greatest. all of the mexican food is so great and has a twist, and i love the 'grains & greens' salad. walk down to their chili pies after for a pie shake!

little star pizza 4.6 stars
     this is really popular with locals. definitely get the garlic bread, and go for the deep dish pizza..the best.

fondue cowboy 4.6 stars
     this is a unique place that reflects why i love san francisco. where else can you find incredible fondue with an american influence? it's the coziest little spot and the salads + fondue are KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. the owner is the nicest guy and old western movies play on the wall while you eat incredible fondue with every dipping side you can think of.

nick's crispy tacos 4.5 stars

     if you're in the city on a tuesday night, come here for taco tuesday! come here any night for some of the yummiest fish tacos. make sure to get them "nick's way" which means packed with guacamole + sour cream. no brainer! get the guac + chips appetizer and agua fresca or horchata. *nick's is inside of rouge, which is a nightclub. depending on when you go, it can be loud but it's a fun atmosphere and you work your way to the back to get your tacos! 

señor sisig food truck 4.5 stars
     you have to wait in this hour-long line at least once. the sisig tacos with cilantro cream sauce are the tastiest menu item and perfect if you're wanting something lighter •• however- if you're hungry and going for the big leagues, you get the california sisig burrito. it has FRIES in it. and avocado. and sour cream. and shredded cheese. and amazing pork. and pico de gallo. just dream about that. it's heavenly.

mocca on maiden lane 4.5 stars
     this tiny alleyway has the cutest restaurant in the middle of it with lights and darling feels like europe! you walk through the line (looking at all of the gorgeous gourmet food) and MAKE SURE to order the tri-tip sandwich. it's a winner!

papito west 4.5 stars
     come here for organic, fresh mexican. if you love mexican food, papito is DEFINITELY worth visiting with their handmade guacamole appetizer, FAJITAS, and tacos...and don't forget the churros at the end! it's nice to sit down for a nicer mexican meal and the freshness of ingredients is noticeable.

aquitane 4.5 stars
     this bustling, cozy restaurant feels like the south of france, and it's just steps off union square. everything is delicious, flavorful, and just out of your comfort zone, making it a memorable and different meal. it's definitely a refreshing break from typical french food with it's southern french influence. the deviled eggs, house popcorn, and crispy cod dish were our favorites. be sure to try the rice pudding sundae as well! *note: we don't drink wine, but obviously it's a major focus of this place and pairs well with the food!

osha thai cuisine 4.4 stars
     this place is right across from our building, so we finally had to try it. it's amazing...just a little pricy. but amazing. the yellow curry has red peppers in it which adds to it a lot, and the pad thai is great. the presentation is beautiful too!

ala romana 4.4 stars
     this is the sister restaurant of allegro romano, and is a darling, local, authentic restaurant right in nob hill. it has a great feel and some unique italian food with some south american influence from the chef. the pizza is so good with a different style crust that i've never had before! there are always great specials and a big emphasis on quality.

greens restaurant 4.2 stars
     this is an all vegetarian restaurant that we love despite that face that we're not even vegetarians. it is right down in fort mason with the prettiest view of the water. they have such fresh, delicious menu items...try the butternut squash + sweet potato gratin, the asparagus pizza, squash + coconut milk soup, and more! 

super duper burgers 4.2 stars
     we love the location in the marina right on chestnut street. sometimes i will get a blue barn salad and chase will go down the street and get a super duper burger. they keep the burgers simple, and the shakes/ ice cream are great. it's a fun stop!

roam burgers 4.2 stars
     i love the feel of this place and they have some really unique burgers. people love it, but i think the burgers i've had here have been a little too complicated. i know it's good so i'm willing to go back, but my last one wasn't the best burger of my life.

fog city 4.2 stars
     this is a classic san francisco restaurant on the embarcadero that we have loved. it recently changed ownership and the exterior is now completely different, as well as tweaks to the menu. we are excited to go back soon and see the changes!

one market restaurant 4.2 stars 
     i really love the location and the feel of this place. it's classy and great for lunch or dinner right off the embarcadero by the ferry building. the long tables and open kitchen are so elegant and it feels like a fun night out when you eat here. try the slider appetizers!

cafe de la presse 4.1 stars
     DARLING french restaurant right of union square at the edge of chinatown. it truly looks like it belongs right in paris. i am in love with the french onion soup here, and the basic roasted chicken dish. mmm mmm!

sears fine food 4 stars
     this may not be the very best food, but it's comfort food and it's a classic in union square. go in for the famous 18 swedish pancakes stacked on a plate...even for dinner! it's old school and fun right in union square.

cafe de la presse 4 stars
     this place gets points for ambience and decor. it truly looks like a paris cafe, and pulls you in immediately through that. the food is simple but cooked well, just like french food. the french onion soup wins, and the classic roasted chicken is done to perfection.

campton place 4 stars
     really lovely restaurant inside of the taj hotel off union square. if you like indian food, this is a perfect "cal-indian fusion" where the spices and flavors are done just right. be sure to get the appam and the mango tart.

la taqueria 4 stars 
     this taco joint in the mission is crazy popular, but the two times we've been it didn't knock our socks off. maybe it's all the hype. still good, and the owner hands ladies roses as they pick up their loved that! get carne asada with sour cream.

lemongrass thai 4 stars
     we like lemongrass-- their yellow curry is definitely one of my favorites. pad thai is solid but not the very best we've had. it's a fun location on polk street and we love the feel of lemongrass.

memphis minnie's bbq 4 stars
     if you're in the mood for some good southern bbq, this is your place. lots of good sides, fun feel, and the ribs + bbq of course. everything is made in-house, including sauces. get the sweet potato pie + banana puddin'!

street restaurant 3.5 stars
     street is right on polk and is good for a quiet dinner -- nothing was outstanding, but it 's a good place to meet up and get some appetizers.

chabaa thai cuisine 3.5 stars
     as our search for the best pad thai continues, i have to include all of the places we try. chabaa is really close to us, so we end up stopping in a lot because it's so cheap for huge portions. the pad thai is decent, the yellow curry is great. all in all, it's one of the best values for the amount of food! 

blueprint 3.5 stars
     good simple salads and burgers if you have an event in the neighborhood, but a bit overpriced for what you get.

trattoria contadina 3 stars
     this little italy restaurant is darling with the little upstairs seating, but didn't impress us as much as we had hoped. still on the search for our favorite italian in little italy!

tommy's joynt 3 stars
     we had to try this after seeing it on diner's, drive-ins and dives. it is really fun and unique, definitely worth a stop in...but i couldn't eat there more than once. so much meat! if you LOVE meat and potatoes, this is your place. go for the dinner plate with sides, and take cash.

house of thai 3 stars
     we did not have the best experience here despite seeing good reviews! portions are small, pad thai is subpar.

twirl & dip 5 stars
     soft serve ice cream, perfected. track this ice cream truck down in golden gate park if it's the last thing you do. think: organic vanilla bean soft serve, dipped in dark chocolate with sea salt sprinkles in a hand rolled sugar cone. it's everything. it's completely 5 stars, knock-your-socks-off goodness.

tartine bakery 4.9 stars
     this is a famous sf bakery that must be stopped into if you love sweets...which you hopefully do. get an eclair or a banana cream tart..or anything, really!

cream 4.9 stars
     you really should do your best to stop in here for their amazing, warm, fresh baked cookies filled in with any ice cream flavor you'd like. that's right, heaven. worth the line!

chile pies & ice cream 4.8 stars
     another unique and YUMMY treat in the city. they have the best homemade pies and ice cream, but the best part is..they blend them together into pie shakes! sounds weird, but it's genius and you need one.

bob's donut shop 4.7 stars
     donut lovers, come here. donuts are so trendy right now, but this place is really classic and just simple. it's open 24 hours a day and if you go late at night you can get lucky and catch a fresh hot batch.

creme brulee cart 4.7 stars
     if you do one thing, TRACK THIS CART DOWN. they are usually at fort mason off the grid on friday nights, and one bite = heaven. i am not kidding, it's absolutely melt-in-your-mouth incredible creme brulee. i love all the different seasonal flavors!

miette patisserie 4.6 stars

     you have to stop in here for a macaron, and to take in the darling darling shop. in love!

golden gate bakery 4.6 stars
     a chinatown gem! there is usually a big line, and everyone is getting the same thing--freshly baked chinese egg custard tarts. yummiest treats ever. i always bring people here...and throw in a boba smoothie too! :)

bi-rite ice cream 4.6 stars
     go here on a sunny day in the mission, wait in a long line (!!!!) and eat it at dolores park. i have a hard time with the line, but those flavors are so unique. if it's too long, walk down the street to the darling birite market and pick up a pint there.

johnny doughnuts 4.6 stars
     these are life-changing! find this doughnut truck {the shop is across the bridge in marin} but you have to track it down. they are beautiful, really different and seasonal flavors, and so well-made. yum!

beard papa 4.5 stars
     i completely heart this place...all different flavors of cream puffs! we have decided that the best kind is the cocoa cream puff with vanilla filling. YUMM-o.

tcho 4.5 stars

     our favorite local chocolate -- you will see tcho being used in so many restaurants through the city, and we love going to the factory (down on the embarcadero with the gorgeous huge wooden doors) and doing some sampling.

smitten ice cream 4.5 stars

     this is a tiny little place with made-t0-order ice cream. literally, they make it when you order it. there are only a few flavors, and you can see exactly which ingredients go into them. ice cream in it's purest form!

batter bakery 4.5 stars

     this is the CUTEST bakery on polk with unique, yummy treats. it feels very personal. go here to pick up cookies for a holiday--they always have the most festive things!

dandelion chocolates 4.4 stars

     this chocolate factory and shop in the mission is really unique with all different types from countries all over the world. some are crazy! go sample some and get a frozen hot chocolate.

over the moon 4.3 stars
     another cookie-ice cream sandwich shop with unique flavor pairings. the location on chestnut street is ideal after a yummy lunch or dinner nearby!

mission pie 4 stars
     fun little pie shop if you're in the mission. the flavors change seasonally, so get a special!

the loving cup 4 stars
     all different flavors of rice pudding, plus some really good homemade frozen yogurt. cute shop!

fiona's sweetshoppe 4 stars
     cutest candy shop...but whether you like candy or not, this place is a feast for the eyes. tiny, magical place!

schulzie's bread pudding 3.9 stars
     we love bread pudding and this place is good, very unique. the cold flavors aren't as good as the warm in my opinion, but fun to sample them all! get the classic warm...mmm!

american cupcake 3.5 stars
     this is like san francisco's version of the willy wonka factory -- seriously, it's not just cupcakes, but dinner items too. for example: red velvet fried chicken, candy apple ribs, pink popcorn shrimp, and every flavor of cupcake you can imagine. i couldn't eat there very often, but fun to check out because when else can you eat those things?!

// to try //

linea caffe
perry's embarcadero

flour + water
house of prime rib
state bird provisions (dim sum)
RN74 french restaurant
tosca cafe
sourdough classes at la victoria's
town hall sf
waterfront restaurant
lucca ravioli
stinking rose
cafe des amis
parallel 37
bang san thai
sons & daughters
the square
jackson fillmore
la mar
yoshi's japanese
red's java house
taverna aventine
hillstone restaurant
tres agaves
postrio restaurant
cafe divine
seven hills
sandwich spot
boxing room
chez maman
bistro SF grill
la movida (tapas)
naked lunch
park tavern
jordan's kitchen
la ciccia
stock in trade

little bee bakery
boba guys
specialties cafe
libby jane cafe
trish's mini donuts
frjtz waffles
crepes on coal
frozen khusterd
bonbini baking school
crepes a go go
garden creamery


  1. You need to add Red's Java House to your list of places to try. Best hot dogs and hamburgers served on sour dough bread... right next to Pier 30. They are only open for breakfast and lunch. Best "hole in the wall" type place in the Bay Area.

    1. thanks! you know i trust your food recommendations after all the places you showed me in DC...sweetgreen, still miss it! we will check it out! XO

  2. I'm definitely checking this list before I head to SF! This will be the first place I check for suggestions. YUM!


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