The Best Dumpling Spots In SF guide image


The Best Dumpling Spots In SF

Where to go when you really want dumplings.

Every hour on the hour, our stomach sends a signal to our brain requesting a dumpling. And lucky for us, San Francisco has a lot of fantastic spots to get some. So whether you’re in the mood for momos, pelmeni, or really just feel like popping seven or more soup dumplings into your mouth, this guide has you covered. It has the best spots to try right now—or, at least, add to your Very Official SF dumpling checklist.


Dumpling Home

If there’s one thing we look for in a dumpling spot, it’s incredible xiao long bao—and this Hayes Valley spot delivers. Theirs are juicy, with a tender pork filling and delicate, chewy skin that's practically translucent. We also love the pan-fried, soup-filled shengjianbao, which are golden-brown and crispy on the bottom, and the green-dyed vegetable dumplings, too.

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and the line at Dumpling Home. So when you’d rather not wait (or brave the Friday night Hayes Valley chaos), go to Dumpling Zone instead. The Forest Hill restaurant has a near-identical menu of steamed, boiled, and pan-fried dumplings (even down to the green, hedgehog-like vegetable dumplings), and is much easier to walk into. Go for the pan-fried pork bao, which are like puffy balloons full of savory soup and tender pork, or the crab and pork xiao long bao highlighting delicate, chewy wrappers. The non-dumpling department of the menu includes a solid selection of noodles and a garlicky cucumber salad that must be on your table.  

Dumpling House in the Castro serves dumplings, buns, turnip cakes, potstickers, wontons, and Hong Kong-style wonton soup. If your dinner brain tends to want everything when dumplings are involved, you’ll probably welcome their shorter menu. The xiao long bao are extra soupy, the shrimp and pork dumplings are flavorful and meaty, and the wrinkly wontons are delicately wrapped and bathed in slightly spicy chili oil.

You’ll want to order everything from this Richmond District spot, as they serve some of the best dim sum in the city. Dragon Beaux’s extensive menu features everything from an impressive egg yolk lava bao to a jumbo scallop siu mai. And whenever we stop by (which is basically weekly), we always get the sea bass dumplings, and the “Five Guys” xiao long bao—they’re juicy, colorful, and taste as good as they look.

If you want to make sure to do one thing right today, grab lunch at Bini’s Kitchen. This Nepali restaurant in SoMa makes some of our favorite momos in the city. We love everything about them—from the well-spiced turkey, lamb, or veggie fillings inside delicate flour wrappers to the tasty roasted tomato and cilantro sauce that comes on the side. Get the combo meal if you’re really craving momos but still want to enjoy Bini’s other great dishes, like their sautéed cauliflower with peas, green onions, and spices.

Dumpling Specialist in Parkside serves excellent pan-fried potstickers and steamed dumplings with pork and cabbage. But it’s one of our favorite spots for xiao long bao, which come with chewy wrappers and a well-seasoned pork filling. And while soup dumplings are best eaten hot, theirs hold up pretty well on the journey home. You can call ahead or walk up to place an order.

The dumplings with handmade, perfectly chewy wrappers at Yuanbao Jiaozi were voted “Dumplings Most Likely To Succeed” in high school. Okay, we made that up, but they are fantastic. The shrimp with three delicacies (shrimp, leek, and egg), and the fish and shiitake dumplings are standouts, and everything is best enjoyed doused in their chili oil.

There are many reasons we love this Parkside spot: the siu mai overflowing with pork and shrimp, and the xiao long bao, which is one of the best versions in the city. But the very big reason is Dumpling Kitchen’s pan-fried pork buns. They’re wrapped in a thick, chewy dough before being steamed, pan-fried, and then sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions. Think of these dumplings as beautiful perfection.

For xiao long bao so good you’ll want to slide them into your mouth with an ice luge, order from this dim sum restaurant in the Inner Richmond. They’re filled with a solid amount of soup, and the wrappers are delicate, yet sturdy enough that they don’t rip when you take them out of their little tin cups. Hong Kong Lounge also has great steamed dumplings, which we especially like with pork and chives.

Yummy Dumpling isn’t a restaurant, but a shop in the Sunset that’s been selling frozen dumplings for years. They have everything from wontons to pork dumplings to xiao long bao, all of which you can boil, steam, or pan fry at home. Each pack comes with 12-20 dumplings, and prices range from $7-12. You really can’t go wrong with anything here, but whatever you do, grab more than one bag of the pork and Napa cabbage dumplings—they’re excellent, and you’ll probably finish them all in less than 24 hours. You've been warned.

We really like this Ghirardelli Square dim sum spot from the people behind Dragon Beaux. And, like Dragon Beaux, Palette Tea House also serves the colorful xiao long bao with five different flavors, including a tasty crab roe with a turmeric wrapper. Also, ordering the har gow, which come with a small pipette of lobster butter, is never a bad idea. Palette now offers frozen pork, chicken, and seafood dumplings (15 pieces for $18), so you can fulfill your many dumpling cravings at home, too.

Whenever we want a plate of homemade pelmeni, we book it straight to Cinderella Bakery in the Inner Richmond. Their pork-filled Russian dumplings are meaty, doughy, and taste even better when dipped in the side of thick sour cream. And on those frequent, foggy-misty days in the city, order the pelmeni in broth.

On any given morning, you’ll most likely find us at this bakery in the Inner Richmond—that’s because their har gow is one of our favorites in the city. But everything else, from the pork potstickers to sesame balls to turnip cakes, is excellent, and why we always end up ordering almost the entire menu. You should note that Good Luck Dim Sum is cash only, and also be prepared to wait in line.

It’s been scientifically proven that eating Dancing Yak’s momos will raise your serotonin levels—at least for the next hour. The momos are juicy and packed with flavor, but they’re even better dipped in their spicy tomato and roasted soybean sauce. Order some immediately if you need a guaranteed pick-me-up in edible form.

Yank Sing is a San Francisco institution, and for good reason: they make a lot of really great dim sum. But their xiao long bao is what keeps this spot in our dumpling rotation. The kurobuta pork-filled dumplings are phenomenal, and always on the table whenever we come here. Stop by either their Stevenson Street and Spear Street locations to get your fix.

This spot in the Outer Sunset has 20 different kinds of dumplings, from chives with pork to zucchini with lamb (they’re boiled, but you can also ask for them pan-fried). You should absolutely order one of each, if you want to familiarize yourself with the full range of China North’s extensive menu—or if you woke up with an extremely urgent craving for dumplings today. If not, don’t leave without at least one order of their xiao long bao—they’re on the bigger side, and plenty juicy.

Mama Ji’s is a very solid option if you’re craving dumplings and are near the Castro. They make har gow, xiao long bao, pork and chive dumplings, and more (make sure to check their separate dim sum menu). Whatever you get, make sure the pan-fried potstickers, with their crispy-chewy skin, is part of your order. Mama Ji’s has more dumpling options on the menu for lunch, but both the Shanghai dumplings and potstickers are available for dinner.

We love stopping by this takeout-only Chinatown bakery for their massive baked BBQ pork buns. But it’s never a proper trip without a few orders of har gow, siu mai, and other great dumplings from their large dim sum selection. You can call ahead or walk up to order, and be prepared to wait in line, especially during the lunch rush.

Like the name suggests, the Parkside dim sum spot has plenty of dumpling options—like pork, chicken, and shrimp, all of which you can get with Napa cabbage, corn, spinach, and more. But if you need some help deciding, you can’t go wrong with their juicy, brothy Shanghai dumplings.

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