Besides the Victorian houses and rainbow flags and occasional naked person, the Castro used to be populated with a whole lot of no-name dives and a handful of classic restaurants. But these days, there’s a whole lot more in the way of food. From excellent tapas to a place that serves an entire chicken baked inside a massive brioche loaf, we’ll go out of our way to eat in the Castro. Even with surge pricing.
Eiji is a very welcome change from all the other sushi places around that seem to be required to only offer an $150 omakase. It’s an extremely low-key, authentic sushi spot that has high-quality fish, friendly service, and a comfortable space. Keep it on your radar for a quick dinner with someone who cares about sushi but doesn’t care about telling all their coworkers that they dropped $300+ on dinner.
With great coffee comes great responsibility. The responsibility to not serve sh*tty Saran-wrapped muffins along with your beautiful lattes. Reveille is a coffee shop that takes this responsibility seriously and has excellent food along with their beverages. The yogurt and granola is delicious, as is the avocado toast involving an entire avocado artfully displayed on some bread. Come here over all the other coffee places charging you $2 to add one slice of avocado to a sandwich.
In the existential debate surrounding the best burritos in the city, we are always the voice whispering ‘EL CASTILLITO’ at a level along the lines of a quiet shout. The secret to El Castillito is that they melt the cheese inside the burrito, which is a revelation of biblical proportions. We’re partial to the pastor, but the chorizo and chicken options are tasty too.
Japanese-inspired risotto and a bird inside the bread thing? Not a fever dream - both are delicious here. It’s a fun place for a group, not only because the menu is good for sharing, but also because the sake list is long, the energy is high, and prices are reasonable. Definitely start with the laminated brioche, and don’t ask questions about the logistics of laminating rolls.
Upscale comfort food is generally overplayed - we’re a hard pass on $22 mac and cheese. But Finn Town manages to do a fancier take on pub food the right way. The lamb meatloaf is fantastic and the weekly ‘Friendsgiving’ special allows you to eat turkey and stuffing every Thursday between now and November. The space on Market Street feels very local, with regulars at the bar and people running into people they know. It’s a nice feel that’s kind of hard to come by in the area, and we love it. Brunch is also worth checking out - the french toast, salmon benedict, and burger are all great.
Spanish tapas that are unusual without being fussy and excellent drinks are the main draws of Aatxe. Located on Market in a bit of a dead zone, the place still manages to be fun and interesting despite the random area. Maybe because of this, it’s pretty easy to get reservations or even just roll up to the bar and grab a seat. You must order the paella.
Ah, Frances. The classic neighborhood restaurant that’s so good you can never get a table. If you’re a long-term planner, mark your calendar and make a reservation. If you’re not, be prepared to fight it out for one or two of the ten seats at the bar. The steak is phenomenal and our favorite thing on the menu. It’s definitely one of the nicest restaurants in the neighborhood - and great for date night or dinner with the parents.
Ignore the horrible name and we promise you will be rewarded. The food (especially the sopes and tacos) is very inexpensive and very good. Order at the counter, stock up on an unreasonable amount of the salsa in little cups, and get ready to have a meal that’s way better than you’d expect from a restaurant whose name references sex.
The odds that you’ve had a group dinner at Starbelly are high. If you haven’t, time to get it on your radar. The big back outdoor-ish patio is ideal for getting a crew together, or if you’re doing an impromptu catch-up dinner it’s easy to snag seats at the bar as well. We like the cocktails and the simple but satisfying Californian menu (plus pizza) has something for everyone.
Right on the edge of where the Castro meets the Mission, Thorough Bread & Pastry is phenomenal. You can stuff your face with croissants (specifically almond ones) on the very pleasant back patio, or get one to go, walk to Dolores Park, and eat it while saying something like “I earned this!” when clearly you did not.
L’Ardoise is of the better French restaurants in San Francisco. Full stop. It’s a place people tend to not know about if they don’t live in the neighborhood, so apologies to Castro-ites for publicizing the glory of L’Ardoise. This spot has a homey feel, especially because the staff are so nice, and the food is fantastic - from the filet to the coq au vin. It’s a good spot for date nights, birthdays, or parental dinners. We’d recommend getting a reservation a while out just to be safe.