Since we trust you’re a loyal and avid reader of our site, by this point, you’ve probably seen the list of our favorite takeout meals. Now that restaurants have reopened for dine-in, we wanted to start a new edition highlighting some pretty incredible sit-down meals we’ve had across the city. So meet The Best Things We Ate This Week. It’s filled with the dishes you need to have on your table, whether you’re at a new San Francisco hot spot or a tried-and-true gem. Go forth, scroll through, and use this as your guide when you’re deciding where to eat next.
Baby bok choy
There are lots of reasons to head to Mister Jiu’s. For starters, it’s perfect for a special occasion, or any time you feel like dropping some serious money on a whole roasted duck. And the Chinese American dishes are flat-out incredible. Case in point: the baby bok choy. It’s simply and perfectly stir-fried with garlic and oyster sauce, and each bite releases a flood of magical juices that feels like a shot of serotonin going directly into our brains. The dish unlocks the full potential of a vegetable in a way that’s hard to beat.
There are several guarantees to having dinner at this cozy Nepali restaurant in Bernal Heights: you will leave well-fed and happy, and possibly tipsy from all the free wine refills chef Prem Tamang may personally pour you, especially if it’s a slow night. One reason for the feel-good vibes you’ll get at Cuisine of Nepal comes courtesy of the steamed chicken and vegetable momos. They’re served plain with a side of chutney, or drenched in a creamy soup of blended tomatoes, chilis, and other spices that warm your tongue. Go with the latter, complement it with the sizzling lamb and the chicken cashew cream curry, and call it a night.
Brentwood corn lasagna
Peak corn season is almost over, but until then, I encourage you to do everything in your power to get your fill of excellent SF corn dishes before it’s too late. One I will not shut the f*ck up about is the gorgeous, show-stopping corn lasagna from Octavia in Lower Pac Heights. Sweet and juicy kernels and pecorino fonduta are stuffed between layers of pasta - it’s still cheesy and comforting in the way lasagna should be, but feels like a creative, light ode to summer. Get it while you can.
Five-spice chicken with garlic noodles
Much like rewatching seasons 1-7 of Grey’s Anatomy for the billionth time, the garlic noodles with five-spice chicken from this Vietnamese spot in the Sunset bring me comfort - and lots of it. Sitting in front of a pile of these chewy, buttery noodles and inhaling the garlicky scent is my preferred form of self-care. And when those noodles are combined with the tender pieces of crispy-skinned chicken doused in fish sauce, there’s really nothing better. Plus, the whole plate only runs you $12 ($13 if you add imperial rolls), and you’ll definitely leave full.
Mezze sampler and grilled corn
It’s physically impossible to come to Beit Rima and not order the mezze sampler, which is so beautiful I want to commission a still life painting of it for my bedroom. The plate is loaded with scoops of baba ganoush, hummus, lebna, and my favorite muhammara in the city - plus crispy falafel, tahini, and pickled veggies. On my most recent visit to the Castro spot, though, I was introduced to another incredible (and seasonal) dish: the grilled corn with pink tehina and mint. In a summer filled with many life-altering corn dishes, this one is a top contender. It’s got a slight kick to it, a generous amount of sauce, and perfectly juicy, sweet kernels. All this is to say, it’s hard to pick one best dish here. So just get everything - you truly can’t go wrong.
This new-ish Spanish restaurant in North Beach is home to excellent low-proof cocktails, a fun, lively atmosphere, and quite possibly my favorite potato dish in the city: the patatas bravas. They aren’t cubed like you might see at other tapas spots - instead, paper-thin layers of potato are stacked, fried, and served over drizzles of aioli and bravas sauce. You’ll probably put in another order before you’re even done with the first. Wash it all down with a glass of their great sangria.
Juicy pork bao
Despite opening up just last year, Dumpling Home in Hayes Valley is packed every night, both inside and on their parklet. That’s because everything that comes out of their kitchen is fantastic, from the delicate xiao long bao to the dry-fried chicken wings. But what keeps me coming back are the shengjianbao. The juicy pork buns have a thick, chewy skin, crispy pan-fried bottoms, and a burst of hot, flavorful soup inside - which you may or may not accidentally projectile spray across the table with your first bite. It’s walk-ins only, but even if there’s a line, it’ll move quickly, and your meal will be 100% worth the wait.
In my professional opinion, summer is the very best season. Mainly because tomatoes (and corn, duh) are at their peak. Cotogna, an Italian restaurant in the Financial District, takes full advantage with their tomato “bruschetta” dish: grilled bread slathered in aioli and loaded with perfectly ripe tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and romano beans. It’s a magical mix of super-fresh vegetables that I still fantasize about every time I eat a sad desk salad for lunch. If you want to know what a warm summer night on a breezy balcony tastes like, order this.