We’re willing to bet you’ll end up spending a sunny afternoon in Dolores Park at some point this summer. Hanging out there and people watching while you dodge flying footballs and try to find the truffle man is as much a part of life in SF as having a light jacket with you at all times, or hills. But unless you packed a full-on picnic spread complete with napkins and a cutting board (respect), you’ll probably need to find something to eat. That’s where we come in. These 19 excellent spots are where to head to before, after, or during your day at Dolores Park. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
If you’re the first to the park because your chronically late friends are, well, late, consider waiting it out in line at Tartine. The iconic bakery is home to some of the best pastries in SF, from flawless morning buns to cheesy gougères, plus bread we’d wake up at 6am on a Sunday for. Fill a box with everything that looks good, and head back with your treasures.
Walking into Bi-Rite Market always feels like a picnic basket exploded and became a store. It’s a reliable, one-stop shop that has everything you need for a day at Dolores - from chocolate bars and cold deli salads to Cowgirl Creamery brie and fresh fruit. For something more substantial, they also make great sandwiches - like the Vegan Hippy with avocado and crispy sweet potato, or the prosciutto and mozzarella on an Acme baguette. If you’re in the mood for dessert, walk across the street to Bi-Rite Creamery for thick soft serve or a cone of rincanelas ice cream.
When lunchtime rolls around and the closest thing you have to a proper meal is half a box of Wheat Thins, you’re going to need a backup plan. Luckily, Stonemill Matcha - and their incredible chicken katsu curry, which we could write endless love letters about - is pretty close by. Walk over and grab an iced matcha latte and something with their perfectly golden-brown katsu, whether it’s the curry plate with rice or the pork katsu sandwich.
Our love for Prubechu knows no bounds - and it’s the perfect spot to hit up for all of your Dolores-adjacent needs. Not only does the Guamanian restaurant serve fantastic food with friendly service and great vibes, it’s also half a mile from the park. Come here and share crispy, tender ko’ko’ wings, sweet rolls with tuba butter, Chamorro BBQ plates, and fluffy banana donuts for dessert.
This fast-casual Cuban spot is a great place to order from, especially once you look up from your intense game of Picolo, and realize it’s 3pm and no one has eaten lunch. They do great cubanos and rice bowls with things like roasted pork shoulder, kabocha squash, or beef, and solid empanadas. Grab a cold brew or agua fresca to wash it all down.
All of the fillings at this pupuseria are fantastic - and we usually have a hard time narrowing down which one to get. But when in doubt, go with the three for $11 deal (which will definitely leave you full) and get the loroco, revuelta, and a plain cheese.
If you need something portable and handheld to bring to your all-day setup on the grass, get a burrito from Señor Sisig. The Filipino spot, originally a food truck, has a brick-and-mortar in the Mission, where you can get their excellent sisig burritos stuffed with french fries and guacamole, or loaded nachos with a fried egg on top.
Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Restaurant
Maybe you spent the entire afternoon grazing on chips and crackers, and now you’re looking for a place to eat where you can fulfill your federally recommended daily vegetable intake. Cha-Ya is here for you. It’s a Japanese vegetarian (and vegan-friendly) restaurant with a bunch of small plates, like agedashi tofu and soba salad, plus a selection of colorful sushi rolls.
Yamo is a tiny, cash-only Burmese spot about a ten-minute walk from the park, and it’s where you should go for fantastic wok-tossed noodle dishes. We‘re especially big fans of the tea leaf salad and the Yamo house noodles with garlic and pork. Not only are both delicious, but they cost under $6.50 each - you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal in the city.
At Nopalito’s new-ish to-go window across the street from Dolores, you can get totopos topped with tender, crispy carnitas, sour cream, and onions and cilantro, or colorful rice bowls with your choice of protein. Take it all back to the park and sip on a horchata or agua fresca while you dog watch or pretend to read a book.
Pizzeria Delfina is located about a block away from the park, so stop by if you’re heading home after a long day in the grass and want to eat your body weight in pizza crust. Sit down on their parklet and people watch with a glass of wine while you dig into some meatballs and a margherita pizza, or the panna with cream instead of mozzarella.
You spent a day at Dolores and are now left with the sound of box drums reverberating in your ears. Also, your face had several near misses with a frisbee, so it’s safe to say you might need a place to unwind. Go to Santería in the Castro, a margarita bar/restaurant with an extensive list of great cocktails, agave-based spirits, sangria, and small-ish plates. Their colorful parklet is a great spot to debrief the day and relax over drinks and charred octopus tacos.
Leaving the park with a big group but aren’t quite ready to head home and watch TV alone? Find a table at Lers Ros. The Thai restaurant has a huge menu with plenty of noodle dishes, curries, soups, and more (plus lots of vegetarian options). It’s all served family-style, so we like to share a few things before calling it a night. If you’re too indecisive in narrowing down your choices, you can’t go wrong with the stir-fried pork belly or coconut and lemongrass soup with prawns.
Fable is one of the best and most romantic spots in the city, and you’ll see why once you step into their lush back patio. It reminds us of a secret Mediterranean garden, with tons of palms and string lights - and once you’re sitting down, you’ll want to take your time sipping on a glass of wine. They have a great menu of things like pork chops and burgers, plus a happy hour from Monday to Friday, 3-5pm.
If your stomach is grumbling louder than the couple down the hill who won’t stop talking about bird-related conspiracy theories, then it might be a good time to walk over to Taqueria Cancún. It’s our old standard for whenever we want a delicious burrito - get anything with carnitas. Or, if you’re especially hungry, their massive burrito mojado.
Sitting inside Loló’s colorful space decorated with car and bike parts is one guaranteed way to make your night a little more fun. The Mexican restaurant has perfect spicy margaritas, shareable plates like guacamole and carnitas, and a panko-crusted shrimp taco with chipotle aioli that occupies our thoughts for days after we’ve eaten it.
When you’ve been sitting in the sun for so long that your nose is starting to peel and you regret not packing one of those mini misting fans, let a cold mangonada revive you. The Mexican ice cream shop piles theirs high with mango sorbet, tangy chamoy sauce, and juicy chunks of mango. They also have other fresh fruit sorbets, milkshakes, agua frescas, and other generally refreshing treats.
An afternoon of trying to finally even out your sock tan can be tiring - and before you know it, the sun has gone down, and you’re starving. Walk up Church St. to Beit Rima and order a massive spread of their incredible Arabic comfort food. You really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu, but the za’atar and sumac-dusted bread, mezze sampler, and the crispy whole-fried branzino should absolutely be on the table.
When all you want is a damn good burger and fries, this casual neighborhood tavern can help you with that. Sit on the parklet with a pint from their extensive beer list and enjoy the burger, which comes with onion jam and gruyere, and hop salt fries - or get their well-seasoned fried chicken sandwich with apple slaw and two fluffy buns. Dogs are welcome.