Where To Eat Near Alamo Square
Staring at the Painted Ladies make you hungry? Head to these spots.
Reasons you might find yourself in Alamo Square in the near future: A John Stamos-obsessed friend is in town. You’ve planned a park walk with someone you met on an app. Or you’re part of an invite-only puppy playtime group (which apparently is a thing?). After whatever activity brings you to the park, you might get hungry. Use this guide. It has spots for excellent sandwiches, espresso drinks and pastries, and special-occasion-worthy sushi, all within a short walking distance.
photo credit: Erin Ng
Lucinda’s Deli & More
Lucinda’s Deli & More is SF sandwich royalty. And you only have to look as far as Alamo Square for evidence—practically every other person is gazing lovingly at a tightly wrapped sandwich from the takeout-only spot, which is conveniently located right across from the park on Scott St. The baguette sandwiches are stuffed with so much filling that they look like burritos. You can’t really go wrong with any of them, but our go-to is the spicy tuna melt stacked with pickled jalapeños, cheddar, arugula, and tomato.
photo credit: Krescent Carasso
Nopa is an SF classic, and it’s still tough to get a reservation after all these years. But if you plan ahead or manage to snag one of the bar seats as a walk-in, you should come here for a nicer sit-down dinner in the area. Wine and cocktails flow all night. The space feels like a chic mountain lodge. And the regularly changing menu features American dishes like giant pork chops, flatbreads, bolognese, and one of our favorite burgers in the city. Basically, we have yet to find something Nopa doesn’t do well.
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At this Hayes Valley spot, you get the best of both worlds: an omakase option stacked with yuzu and garlic ponzu-topped nigiri, and creative baked rolls drowning in sauce. The sushi restaurant can be as casual as you want it to be, which is why we love it. Order the creamy baked domo roll, anything panko-crusted, a few nigiri, and you’re in for a lively night in a space that can sometimes get louder than a roaring jumbo jet. Just don’t bring an entourage. Domo is the size of four walk-in closets and almost exclusively bar seating.
photo credit: Erin Ng
Automat is an all-day bakery and restaurant in NoPa that we’ll make up any excuse to get to. Coffee date? We’re there. Lunch with coworkers? Count us in. Just took your visiting cousins to see the Painted Ladies and are now in need of a caffeine lifeline? You guessed it. Bring those cousins to Automat for freshly baked brioche donuts, cinnamon rolls, and decadent breakfast sandwiches dripping with pimento cheese—gotta fuel up before taking them to see the sea lions.
photo credit: Carly Hackbarth
Yes, we love Ju-Ni—the NoPa omakase staple—any time we want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on fish. But we prefer Ken, a six-seat omakase counter in Lower Haight, when we want to feel like we’re at an intimate dinner party. The nigiri is flawless, as are the soy-cured ikura in a rock sugar and ume broth, and velvety chawanmushi with cod milt. Come here for blowout fancy date nights—like after a romantic sunset walk around Alamo Square—or really, any special occasion that calls for phenomenal sushi.
photo credit: Jasmin Van T Photography
Linden & Laguna
When a picnic at Alamo Square transitions into, “Well…wanna grab wine somewhere?” all roads lead to Linden & Laguna. The Parisian-style wine bar in Hayes Valley is relaxed, intimate, and hidden away on a quiet stretch just off Hayes Street. Scooch into a couple of seats at the marble bar and talk about the Housewives season you’re watching over glasses of pinot noir or champagne. And if you get hungry, shareable plates like stuffed Medjool dates or salami flatbread pizzettas are there for you.
Need to get work done? This Lower Haight cafe with wifi and plenty of seating fits the bill. It’s also just an excellent place for a quick breakfast or lunch in the neighborhood—the menu covers morning-time things like pastries and smoked salmon toast, plus mountainous salads and paninis that are more filling and well worth your time. When in doubt, go for the pork belly bánh mì, which comes on a perfectly crusty baguette with a slathering of sambal aioli.
Horsefeather is one of the best bars to grab a cocktail and food that’s actually good. The NoPa spot serves great American-ish dishes, ranging from pulled pork tacos and tuna poke to a double cheeseburger with smoked onions and special sauce. Great food aside, another perk to coming here is their semi-outdoor atrium, a naturally lit space that’s just where you want to be to day drink or for a late afternoon date.
The Mexican restaurant in NoPa has one of our favorite heated, covered patios in the city, in case you need to warm up after a windy park hang that ended in a pair of sunglasses almost being blown away. The tables are great for groups, so you can bring a few friends and get caught up on their latest landlord horror stories over mezcal margaritas or a hibiscus-orange agua fresca. Definitely order the totopos drenched in crema and queso fresco, or the tender, juicy carnitas you can pull apart with a spoon.
photo credit: Erin Ng
Dumpling Home in Hayes Valley is a bit of a walk from the park, but it’s worth it for the steamed, pan-fried, and boiled dumplings that attract bigger crowds than a Heath Ceramics clearance sale. Like the xiao long bao with hand-rolled wrappers so thin you can see the soup through them, or the green-tinted vegetable dumplings that look like sleeping hedgehogs. The dumplings are the main attraction, but don't overlook the other hits: sticky dry-fried chicken wings, crispy green onion pancakes, and dan dan noodles that are an ideal balance of peanutty and creamy.