San Francisco Wine and Dine

Friends visiting San Francisco always ask me for a list of great places to go. Problem is… there are so many! I’ve put together this list and will build upon it as I find the time to include photos, categories and more information. Meanwhile, enjoy!

  1. I recently discovered a fabulous French restaurant called Bouche in Nob Hill. It is so delicious and adorable. Definitely not a place most visitors go to. $$$-$$$$
  2. If you want amazing seafood (get the cioppino!!!) go to Sotto Mare in North Beach. $$$
  3. Awesome burger? Roam Artisan Burgers is the place to go. Famous for their quality ingredients and unique flavor combinations. Oh and the fry-fecta… onion rings & zucchini fries, french fries and sweet potato fries. Their milk shakes are quite popular and they have a great beer selection. Over in The Marina. $$
  4. Even better burger? Yeah, it’s true. Umami Burger across the street from Roam (well down the block a bit) is the best fancy burger in town. Japanese inspired and (being from San Francisco) funded by venture capitalists. This place is killer. By far the best veggie burger I’ve ever had. Get the potatoes, I can’t really explain them but they’re awesome. $$
  5. One of the best brunches in town, debit card or cash only, in the heart of Little Italy (aka North Beach) is Mama’s On Washington Square. Be prepared to wait 1-2 hours for brunch (unless you get there really early) but it’s worth it. Out of this world delicious.
  6. Great down to earth food/creole is at Brenda’s French Soul Food. Fabulous place for a breakfast/brunch. You’ve gotta try one of their beignets! It’s in the Tenderloin so a sketchy area for sure but some of the best food is in that area. $$
  7. Another great cajun-style restaurant is Boxing Room. They have a solid wine list and some really great high-end cajun. This is not the cajun I grew up with, this is cajun served up in the classic white tablecloth Hayes Valley style. $$
  8. Awesome (seriously awesome) breakfasts can be had at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. Best pancakes I’ve ever had, and the best frittatas. Technically Tenderloin but also sort of SOMA. Super close to Twitter and not far from the convention $$
  9. Yamo has awesome, CHEAP and almost too authentic Burmese food. So far off the beaten path that even many locals have never been. I bring everyone that visits here. It’s fun, TINY and tasty. $
  10. If you want a great sushi joint, the one I always go to is Warakabune, it’s just a block from my apartment in the Castro. It is boat style sushi so you can try four or five different rolls without breaking the bank. Eiji around the other corner is also good. $$
  11. Want brunch in Little Italy? Look no further than Mama’s on Washington. The line goes down the block and they don’t take credit (cash or debit only) but their food is killer. The Crab Benedict is lovely but everything on the menu make you go, “Ooooh I want that!” $$-$$$
  12. Ikes Sandwiches is an SF staple. Seriously good sandwiches and also just a block from my apartment. Takes about an hour to get your sandwich so order ahead of time but it is worth the wait. Also worth the calories, these things are HUGE. $
  13. Like Bánh mì? Super tasty Vietnamese sandwiches (Tenderloin again, wow, quite the theme). Cheap as all get out and the place only holds MAYBE three people. No tourist has ever been here haha. $
  14. Frances is awesome, in the Castro but you probably can’t get a table with such short notice. $$$$
  15. I have a soft spot for almond croissants and hands down, bar none, the best almond croissant outside of France is found at Thorough Bread & Pastry in the Castro. Every trip back I sit down with a cappuccino and one of their warm almond croissants. This normally means I spend the next fifteen minutes asking myself why I ever left this amazing city! $
  16. Canela is a tapas restaurant near my apartment. It’s awesome, owned by a gay couple who gets their recipes from the mom of one of the guy’s from Spain. Awesome wine list too. $$-$$$
  17. In Hayes Valley there is Absinthe Brasserie and Bar, a French-ish restaurant with the best French Onion soup I’ve ever had and a wine list that makes just about any other restaurant in San Francisco jealous. It’s attached to my favorite café (Arlequin Cafe) and wine shop (Arlequin Wine Merchants). $$-$$$
  18. Marnee Thai is probably the best Thai food in San Francisco. Well, it’s at least one of the best! It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s delicious and it’s not anywhere a tourist would go. Great place to get dinner after an afternoon in Golden Gate Park or after one of the many museums in the Park area. Plan on getting an appetizer with dinner because they’re delicious. It’s basically the “fancy” Thai version of Yamo up above. $$
  19. Hear me out. Vegan doesn’t mean gross. Love N Haight (in the Haight which is a MUST VISIT neighborhood of San Francisco) has an incredible selection of sandwiches, many of which are vegan but not all. Their Duck sandwich is killer and it’s… well it’s not duck. $$
  20. Speaking of wine, my friend owns Barrique in the Financial District. Great place for wine in the evening. It’s poured from barrels (really kegs behind the barrels) instead of the bottle so you get a better deal. Plus my friend owns it! $$
  21. Another bad ass (seriously, bad ass) wine bar is called The Barrel Room. It’s not easy to find (totally hidden actually and the address is wrong on purpose!). They have a massive wine list but mostly I love it because it is run by two (bad ass) girls, each sommeliers who have traveled the world to pick out the wines they serve. Their appetizers are delicious as well. $$
  22. Gary Danko is famously delicious, and expensive. It’s not a place that you go in and go out. This place makes food an event. Highly recommend if you have the time and the company’s AMEX handy! It’s in Russian Hill, a nice old neighborhood on the north bay-side coast of San Francisco near Fisherman’s wharf. $$$$$
  23. If Greek food is what you want, look no further than Kokkari Estiatorio in the Financial District. Authentic Greek food but more upscale than most. Another awesome wine list and everyone on the menu is delicious! $$$
  24. If you make it out to Noe Valley (adorable little neighborhood) you must go to Firefly. It’s an American restaurant run by the former chef from French Laundry (6 month to 1 year waiting list) that you can actually go to! I bring my parents here every time they visit, it is their favorite spot. $$$
  25. If you’re in the mood for vegetarian food, Greens Restaurant is the best. Probably the best I’ve ever had, period. For being vegetarian though, it isn’t cheap. Of course you’re paying for magic (seriously, it looks like and tastes like meat…) so it’s worth it. $$$
  26. Back in the Mission, if you want Italian I recommend Delfina. Awesome thin-crust pizza at a good price. $$
  27. While we’re on Italian, my new favorite Italian place is just down the street from me in the Castro and it’s called Poesia. Super delicious, albeit slightly diminutive, food. Definitely not the “family style” Italian we got used to in Missouri. $$$
  28. I did my birthday a few years ago at Ame, an American-Japanese fusion restaurant. It’s pretty big yet somehow fills up every night. It’s quite good, very unique food served almost as tapas. $$$
  29. Ok, now here is a great one but READ HIS INSTRUCTIONS! A feisty guy owns a place called Red Door Cafe. He does not allow tables of more than 2. He has rules for entry and your attitude at the door is what gets you in, or keeps you out. The food is awesome and the environment is like nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s in the neighborhood we call “Western Addition.” $$

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