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The First Timer's Guide to Eating in San Francisco

Now that most American job creation happens in San Francisco, you may be planning a trip here. Maybe it's just to eat, maybe it's for work, maybe it's to see the Full House houses.

Whatever your reason, there's a lot of good stuff to eat here. This list is your "teaser guide" to the city – perhaps not the be-all end-all, but the most representative of what we have to offer.

A warning upfront: we're gonna send you to some places that have lines. That's because they're good. You can choose to go in off-peak hours, or you can choose to do some reading on your iPhone, but these picks are still the best. Such is life.

We'll leave you with a few words of wisdom. The "hills" that people speak of here are pretty much mountains. Leave your heels at home. And also: call it SF, call it San Francisco, but keep "San Fran" and "Frisco" for your own time. Now eat up.


The Mill Perhaps the inventor of the $4 fancy toast trend. The bread is perfection, the coffee is good, and the granola ain’t bad either.

Read our full review.

736 Divisadero St.

Tartine Bakery Tartine Bakery CroissantFirst in a series of places that have huge lines if you don’t go early. But there’s something to the wisdom of crowds, in most cases, and Tartine is no exception. The pastries are good, but the bread is unstoppable. The country loaves that come out at 4:30 p.m. are bar-none the best bread in the country. At lunchtime, there are grilled cheeses and meats to be had between the heavenly slices.

Read our full review. 600 Guerrero St.

Plow Second in our series of huge lines. Get there early, ideally before opening, on a weekday, for the best shot at a not insane wait. It's worth it for one of the world’s great breakfast places. Pancakes and eggs for the people.

Read our full review.

1299 18th St.

Craftsman & Wolves craftsman wolves rebel withinSomehow the craftsmen of San Francisco taught wolves how to bake. It’s a Bay Area miracle. They can even use their wolf paws to put an egg inside a sausage and cheese muffin. You must go and eat this. Grab some Dandelion chocolate next door if you’re so inclined.

Read our full review.

746 Valencia St.


Souvla You know how everyone and their mother is trying to get rich on the fast casual “Chipotle” version of classic dishes? This is the best version of such a restaurant imaginable. The pita wraps are one-of-a-kind, and the fries are excellent. Grab that frozen Greek yogurt for dessert.

Read our full review.

517 Hayes St.

Swan Oyster Depot The crab is perfect, the scallops are spot on, and the namesake oysters are also great. It’s old-timey and classic and you can’t miss it.

Read our full review.

1517 Polk St.

Hog Island Oyster Bar Hog Island Oyster BarNeed to go somewhere with a Bay view, at or near the Ferry Building? Want some classy oysters with rosé? This is the only option.

Read our full review.

1 Ferry Building

El Castillito El Castilito BurritoYou have to get a burrito. There are a lot of options, so let us pick one for you: El Castillito. With cheese melted on the inside of the tortilla, it's a paragon of the form.

Read our full review.

136 Church St.


Flour + Water Show up at 4:45 or 10, and you might have a shot at the pasta tasting. If you think Italian food has nowhere new to go, rest assured, you’re wrong.

Read our full review.

2401 Harrison St.

Nopa A great restaurant, where the elements converge into an atmosphere that can’t help but be joyful. The burger and pork chop are classic. The everyday experience at Nopa is what makes it special. Be a planner, make reservations a month in advance, and you'll be golden.

Read our full review.

560 Divisadero St.

State Bird Provisions A bonkers restaurant that shuttles around “dim sum” style California creations on trays and in carts. The smartest tech minds in the world are still trying to figure out how to hack their reservation system, so best of luck getting in. The "analog" way is to show up at 4:30 p.m. (weekdays) or 3:45 (weekends).If you’ve ever wondered if your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you’ll find out here (they are). Almost incidentally, the food is tremendous.

Read our full review.

1529 Fillmore St.

Rich Table Rich TableSimply the best, most creative, most fun neighborhood-y restaurant out there. If that doesn’t sound like something you’re interested in, get out. The usual recommendation applies: get here early, and try to grab seats at the bar.

Read our full review.

199 Gough St.

Zuni Cafe In a word, legendary. We absolutely guarantee you will have a great time. Perfect for almost any occasion, especially if you have a hankering for roast chicken.

Read our full review.

1658 Market St.

Tosca Cafe On most nights, the coolest restaurant in SF. Smoke-stained ceilings, lowlight, and a history going back to the Beat era will do that for you. The food is very good as well. Wrap up the night with a coffee-free “house cappuccino” cocktail or two.

Read our full review.

242 Columbus Ave.

Liholiho Yacht Club LihoLihoIncredible Hawaiian-inspired dishes that look like actual food, not something that should be hanging on the wall of a fancy person’s pied-a-terre. The beef tongue buns, poke, and fried game hen are must-orders, and the Baked Hawaii dessert is a game changer. Not the easiest reservation to snag, but bar seats are first-come first-served and tend to open up.

Read our full review.

871 Sutter St.

Monsieur Benjamin Monsieur BenjaminWant to see what French food could be, if the French weren’t so stuck in their ways? We kid, we kid, Francophiles. But yeah, this place is pushing the bistro boundaries, in the best possible way.

Read our full review.

451 Gough St.

Foreign Cinema A great outdoor space, and great fried chicken. The rest of the food is the California cuisine that most new restaurants seem to be knocking off. It’s hard to imagine going here and not coming away happy. It's a big space, so you can usually get a reservation. Just make sure to request a table outside.

Read our full review.

2534 Mission St.

A 16 A margherita pizza that rivals that of anywhere else you’ve ever consumed pizza, plus you can actually get a reservation without selling a kidney to an online merchant in Albania. For one or two people, the seats at the back bar looking over the kitchen are the move.

Read our full review.

2355 Chestnut St.

Burma Love Burma LoveWhat's the cuisine you can't get in any other city? Burmese, of course. We like this offshoot of the mothership (Burma Superstar) more thanits ancestors. The food is better, the location is better, and the atmosphere is better. Get some tea leaf salad and chicken with mint.

Read our full review.

211 Valencia St.

Hawker Fare Thai-Singapore fusion in a kitschy drinking joint? So, so good.

Read our full review.

2300 Webster St.


Bi-Rite Creamery Right next to Dolores Park in the Mission, the lines can be long but the icecream is absolutely worth the wait. Rincanelas (snickerdoodles in ice cream form), Blue Bottle Coffee, Creme Brulee, and their most famous, Salted Caramel, are our favorites. Sleeper? Brown Sugar With Ginger Caramel.

3692 18th St.

Smitten The Blue Bottle of the dessert world, every ice cream is made to order out of an insane, frosty mist spewing machine. Peak San Francisco? Maybe. The mint is incredible, and the seasonal flavor will almost undoubtedly be amazing. The Hayes Valley one has benches for outdoor consumption, while the Pac Heights location is pretty cramped. Either way you get good ice cream.

432 Octavia St #1A & 2404 California St.

Humphry Slocombe
Humphry SlocombeLike to experiment? Like when things gets weird?It gets weird here, sometimes bad and sometimes good. Secret Breakfast and Vietnamese Coffee are unequivocal goods. Everything else? You’ll have to see for yourself.

2790 Harrison St.


Trou Normand Trou NormandSome classy cocktail action, with piles of cured meats on either side. Go here to feel swank.

Read our full review.

140 New Montgomery St.

Biergarten The best outdoor patio in town for drinking, on the rare days when the wind isn't bone-chilling. Unfortunately, everyone who lives here is also aware of that fact. Come early and have some sausages to kickoff your day-drinking.

424 Octavia St.

Bourbon & Branch Sure, the "secret password" speakeasy thing is kind of pretentious, but on the inside, this is an excellent cocktail bar. And spacious! You could easily kill your night here hopping from room to room and drink to drink. Make a reservation.

501 Jones St.

Zeitgeist Very "SF", in the sense that the beer is hoppy and potent, the place is run down, the piercings and ink are out in force, and it's a great time. Smoke fills the air, so stick your nose into your next beverage.

199 Valencia St.

Smugglers' Cove
YE OLDE TIKI DRINKING JOINT. Pretty sure each beverage here has three shots of rum and a pint of fresh fruit juice, but if you don't like that, this is not the city, or country, for you.

650 Gough St.

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