Mini tabletop bbq with meat and veggies, surrounded by small plates
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The SF Winter 25

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The SF Winter 25

Winter in San Francisco is the best. It’s crisp and clear out, and you get to brag to your East Coast friends that you don’t own an ice scraper. The only thing that could make these next few months better is this guide. It’s got hacks for making the most of winter 2024, like getting to the Crosstown Trail, or eating outside under a blanket—this is still SF, after all.

Winter in San Francisco is the best. It’s crisp and clear out, and you get to brag to your East Coast friends that you don’t own an ice scraper. The only thing that could make these next few months better is this guide. It’s got hacks for making the most of winter 2024, like getting to the Crosstown Trail, or eating outside under a blanket—this is still SF, after all.

photo credit: Sarah Felker

#1

You did enough white elephant parties, cookie exchanges, and ugly sweater crawls to send an ENFJ into hibernation. Have a night to yourself at the cozy French bistro Chez Maman in Hayes Valley. The lighting is low, ideal for avoiding eye contact with anyone while you eat cheesy french onion soup.

7.8
Crock filled with soup topped with melted cheese

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#2

The New Year, New You Hike

#3

Who needs Tahoe or the Alps when Bar Gemini in the Mission has redwood booths, warm lighting, and enough exposed wood to channel a luxury sauna? Plus, there’s natural wine, creamy deviled eggs, and decadent grilled cheese from the team at Ernest.

Wood paneled restaurant interior
Wood paneled bar with wine fridges and glassware on display
Small plates with tinned fish, cheese, deviled eggs, and olives.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

#4

Aaha Indian Cuisine is fast, cheap, delicious, and you’ll have leftovers in case it rains for days. Their South Indian dishes, like tandoori pomfret and tangy uthappams, will radically improve your mood, and the arm-length dosas are warm bliss.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

#5

Funky Elephant’s papaya salad puts anyone’s sweat glands to work. Drenched in lime, fish sauce, and thai chilies, it'll make you feel like the sun is finally touching your skin again.

#6

While others ski-bum in Tahoe, you've got bigger plans closer to home: Dad’s Luncheonette in Half Moon Bay. The roadside train caboose serves Americana in burger form: beef, egg, lettuce, and cheese on white bread. It's the pit stop before exploring the tide pools. Just get there early since they can sell out.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

#7

If eating mounds of grilled pork with your favorite people sounds like a good time, go to Muukata6395. At the DIY Thai charcoal barbecue spot in the Richmond, you flip, grill, and char your way through multiple meat platters. Get enveloped in the smoky haze of sizzling pork.

#8

The Chowder Crawl

photo credit: Brit Finnegan

#9

It’s raining for what feels like the 100th day, and you just fried your laptop with hot coffee—you could use the Fukuoka-style udon at Katsuo + Kombu in NoPa. We can’t promise it’ll provide all the answers to life’s problems, but we do know that you'll be thinking about the chewy noodles and broth for days.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

#10

San Francisco isn't a gumbo town, but Gumbo Social in Bayview is changing that. Their gumbos are revelatory—each bowl is buttery, nutty, and just a touch spicy. Prepare to plan a weekly visit for the smoky chicken and sausage gumbo alone.

photo credit: Bar Iris

#11

If you're doing Dry January or just not drinking, Bar Iris in Russian Hill has your back. Half of the Asian-influenced cocktails on the menu at Nisei’s bar can be non-alcoholic—but don’t expect a glass of watery, bland afterthoughts. Li hing mui, pandan, and local seaweed are some of the ingredients punching up each shaken and stirred drink.

tall drink with dried fruit garnish

photo credit: Melissa Zink

#12

San Francisco runs on dumplings. We’re not complaining, especially when Georgian Cheese Boat’s khinkali are involved. The ones at this North Beach Georgian spot are sacks with thick knotted tops, filled with broth, and are so large that they could double as an ice bag from the ‘50s. Go for lamb or beef to guarantee juiciness overload.

#13

If you’re looking to tackle the day on just one meal, visit El Mil Amores in the Mission. The huge breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and drenched burritos at this cafe-like Mexican brunch spot will take you more time to finish than a Martin Scorsese movie.

#14

There's nothing like a weathered wood interior in the dead of winter. And Outerlands has exactly that, but we prefer to eat our fluffy dutch pancake out on the patio under a massive blanket—it'll retain your body heat while you count the Birkenstocks on the Judah Street crowd.

#15

Time slows at Day Moon. The Outer Sunset bakery with calming green walls is the place to unwind until you become one with a minimalist wooden bench. Greet the dogs that trot by, and strike up a conversation with a neighbor about which scone to order (all of them).

photo credit: Susie Lacocque

#16

New year, new spending habits. Stay on track with the most cost-effective lunch in town: the bánh mì from Saigon Sandwich. They run $5 apiece and are overflowing with perfectly roasted chicken and pork.

photo credit: Melissa Zink

#17

When the gargantuan hot stone bowl of kalbijjim at Daeho in Japantown arrives, your server will take about 53 seconds to blowtorch the shredded cheese until it resembles melted marshmallow. After capturing it on video, dig into the spicy braised beef for maximum comfort.

#18

Casements is an Irish tavern in the Mission with an excellent whiskey selection. Naturally, that means there’s a great hot toddy (this version is spiced with tons of cinnamon and clove). Grabbing a glass mug and enjoying throat-soothing sips on the back patio is an ideal way to spend a non-rainy late afternoon.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

#19

A museum day then lunch beats moping in bed. Swing by the Legion of Honor, which is down the road from Pagan (one of the best Burmese restaurants in town). Tea leaf salad, caramelized crispy pork, and stretchy roti will fuel you after all that mind enrichment.

#20

High-up views are probably better than the ones from your couch, so book it to The Rotunda in Union Square for afternoon tea. The department store restaurant is where you’ll feel like a socialite with a stained glass fetish and munch on mini reubens and quarter-sized macarons.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

#21

We love the pies at Flour + Water Pizzeria in North Beach, but we've been reverse engineering the mozzarella sticks. They’re intensely crispy, produce a cheese pull the length of a human wingspan, and are served with marinara and ranch. What’s not to like?

#22

Velvet curtains, red carpets, wood paneling, and a red glow—welcome to your winter den. This late-night Cow Hollow steakhouse is where you’ll drink strong Manhattans, hear nostalgic tales that begin with, “Back in the day…," and eat perfectly charred New York pepper steak with french onion soup.

photo credit: Erin Ng

#23

You’re at Zuni Cafe, the Civic Center institution for oysters and comfort dishes, with a glass of rosé in hand. Roast chicken is on the way. And what’s that sound? The logs in the big wood-fired oven crackling, dutifully warming everything. Life is good.

#24

Pasta. Pinot noir. Lights so dim they might as well be off. Itria has nailed the whole romantic pasta place thing. Spoon-feed your lover paccheri and saucy cabbage, braised duck over pappardelle, and scallops with preserved lemon as you brush knees under the table.

photo credit: Melissa Zink

#25

There’s nothing worse than having your time cut short at a cafe because your ass went numb thanks to a hard, wooden chair. You deserve something more cushy. Enter Blue Danube, the living room-like Richmond coffee shop with not one, but two well-worn leather couches that’ll inspire you to bring a book and linger.

The Coffee Shop Couch image