The Financial District is home to many, many offices - and many, many mediocre lunch spots. But there’s still hope for a lunch in the FiDi that you’ll actually enjoy - whether you want a leisurely outdoor break, a fancy meal you can put on your corporate card, or just a quick sandwich you can take back to the office. With this guide, the lunch hour is your oyster. Speaking of which, we have a place for those, too.
Homage LTD is a smaller off-shoot of the original Homage, not far away from the Financial District. Like the mothership, this spot serves a constantly changing menu of dishes that highlight local produce. Unlike the main restaurant in Union Square, though, this one is fast-casual. They have things like chicken tartines with baba ganoush and a caesar salad that tastes closer to something you’d pay twice as much for at a sit-down spot. This place also serves beer and wine for those especially casual Fridays and sells bottles in case you forgot it’s your boss’ birthday and you need a last-minute gift.
Even if you’re lucky enough to work in an office with an incredible view of the Bay, after a while all that really does is make you want to spend more time anywhere but your desk. When that happens, we like to go to Bini’s Kitchen, a tiny Nepali food stand in an alley near the corner of Market and Montgomery. The menu is small, but most things here - from the lamb momos with spicy tomato sauce to their version of a Nepali burrito with chicken curry - cost around $8. Everything here is served to-go, so if it’s a nice day out, you can find a good spot in the sun at Yerba Buena Park or One Montgomery Terrace to eat your food. Just make sure you grab enough napkins.
A good, quick stop for Israeli street food served assembly-line-style. The pita is freshly baked in-house, and the chicken is well-spiced. The best part is, when they make your sandwich, they’ll expertly layer all the ingredients so that you’ll never end up with a mouth full of toppings and no protein or vice versa. Whatever you do, don’t skip the skug hot sauce after you get out of line.
Braised + Bread is a Cambodian/Filipino place in the top-floor food court of the Crocker Center that serves a mixed menu of things like chicken wings, rice plates, and sandwiches that are all under $10. We like the pork sandwich with salty braised pork, cucumbers, and jalapenos on a soft roll and the Our Filipino Friends rice plate that’s a combo of wings and a fried egg served over rice with their sweet and salty master sauce. Whatever you get, take it up to the roof garden and enjoy it in the freshest air you can find in the city center.
As hard as your company tries to make your office habitable, you’re still surrounded by a bunch of glowing screens and people making water cooler conversation, even though the only water cooler around is on a Dilbert poster. So for lunch, it’s nice to go somewhere that actually feels like you’d want to hang out there. Mendocino Farms is a place on the corner of California and Montgomery that’s just that. Besides the big, open, blue and white space, the food here is mostly salads and sandwiches - all of which are light enough to keep you on your toes when you’re back in the office trying to dodge people talking about the weather. In particular, we like the pork belly banh mi.
Uno Dos Tacos
Yes, this place is where you go after work to get margarita pitchers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get lunch here, too. Tacos are $3.25-$4.50 each, and you’ll probably want two or three. Get the carnitas and the pescado, and keep in mind that it’s never too early to stake out your Happy Hour spot.
Onigilly specializes in Japanese rice balls with lots of different fillings. A single costs between $2.75 and $3.50, and for lunch, you’ll probably want three. (If you order an edamame set - three rice balls plus edamame - you can walk out with lunch for under $12, even if you get the most expensive fillings.) We like the teriyaki chicken, the salmon, and the tarako (pollock roe spread). You can also get your meal served to you in bowl form with mixed greens for under $13.
If we worked in one of the tall buildings close to Oren’s Hummus, we’d probably ask maintenance to install some sort of zip line system directly to this Israeli spot because the food here is great and it works for almost any lunch occasion. Between the chandeliers and table service, you could bring your boss, clients, or mentees here, but it’s also casual enough to swoop in and grab something from their to-go section, like some of the excellent hummus or chicken skewers. They also cater if you need to feed a lot of people during a lunch-and-learn and are sick of getting the same chopped salads delivered to the conference room.
Maybe you’re high up enough in a building to see when people are sailing in the Bay some days, and maybe those thoughts of sailing somehow made you want a lobster roll. Conveniently for you and your wandering mind, Luke’s Lobster is close by. This place does buttered, Maine-style lobster rolls with toasted, top-split buns. They also make clam chowder too, if you really want a bowl of soup for lunch, but know that eating it at your desk would look just a little bit sad.
Paying $6-10 for a taco may seem like a lot, but at Tlaloc, one (very good) taco is enough for lunch. You get free chips with your order, and and you should make full use of the salsa bar. If you have a larger appetite, spring for the carnitas plate. Sit outside on a nice day, or grab a table upstairs with some colleagues so you can discuss your game plan for getting the next offsite moved to Hawaii.
You spend so much time with your team that when you pulled your shower curtain back this morning, you half expected everyone to be in the tub talking about sales goals. So when lunchtime comes around and you want to get away from everyone for a while, go to Tadich Grill. It’s the oldest restaurant in the state and has been there for every step of the briefcase-to-branded backpack evolution. But now, the only chance you have of seeing someone from work here is if its a VP taking visiting clients to lunch before they board a plane back to Iowa. Tadich serves classics like cioppino and broiled seafood, and it’s probably the only place in the Financial District where it feels mandatory to order a martini with lunch.
The Grubbies is a window on Sacramento Street where you can buy sushi box lunches every day until they close or run out. It’s on the expensive side, but the mini chef’s choice ($15) comes with miso soup, five types of sashimi and salmon roe, a container of sushi rice, some pieces of nori, and a kale salad with citrus dressing. Get your food and find a sunny spot to sit down and eat. This is an especially good place to stop if you’re having a fashion emergency because your lunch will come wrapped in a colorful scarf. Yep, really.
Marengo on the Alley
Marengo On The Alley is a great place to stop after work for sliders and a few cocktails, but if you can’t wait that long for delicious, tiny burgers, you should go for lunch. (We like the Black and Blue, with bacon and blue cheese.) You can pretend for a minute that you don’t have to get back to fake paying attention to video conferences while actually doing online shopping. Heads up, if you wear glasses, the people on the other end of the video call can see the reflection of that 75%-off area rug in your lenses.
We love Verjus for after-work dates and catching up with friends, but during the day, this place also serves lunch. The Spanish and French food at this spot on the edge of the Financial District is a mix of French and Spanish and it’s all really good, if a little expensive, but you’re here on the company’s dime. If it’s a drinking lunch, they always have a good by-the-glass selection, but you can also buy a bottle of wine and have them open it at your table.
Leo's Oyster Bar
There are rare days when the entire executive team is OOO, whether it’s for work, vacation, or doing executive-level things that we don’t have clearance for. Maybe that means everyone dresses a little more casually or leaves the office an hour earlier, but we’d say that’s the right time to go to Leo’s Oyster Bar for a long lunch. The daytime menu features the same lobster rolls and oysters as dinner and some excellent sandwich options, but the real reason you go to Leo’s is to feel like you could be on a yacht somewhere.
Mazarine is a bit of a walk from the heart of the FiDi, but it’s worth the stroll. Bring a friend for a good work venting session, or come solo if you’ve had a rough day and need some you time. The coffee is excellent, and all the salads and sandwiches are good as well. There are outlets, too, if you want to bring your computer and power through some work while you eat (just keep in mind that there’s no wifi).
The Plant Cafe Organic
The walls of The Plant shout “health” at you as you enter. It’s pretty impressive that they learned to talk - must be all the brain food they’re consuming. This place is one of the most wholesome and probably best lunch options in the area, with very good salads, sandwiches, and grain bowls. You can order online to go, or order at the counter and sit for a more leisurely lunch. The Dino Kale or Full Belly salads are good choices, as is the chicken and avocado sandwich.
Need to impress a client or have a serious talk with your boss or stuff your face silently after a particularly painful meeting? Time for a sit-down, professional, and excellent lunch at Cotogna. The pasta and pizzas are superb, as are the starters. Definitely not an all-the-time spot to hit, but a place to keep in mind when you have time for a fancy lunch that also happens to be one of the best in the city.
Despite the long line, The Sentinel is a great grab-and-go option. This spot makes sandwiches seemingly at the speed of light, and unlike that bad prepackaged one you made the mistake of getting yesterday, these are genuinely tasty. There’s a range of hot and cold options, and a couple of specials happening every day.
In most parts of the country, or the planet, an $11 lunch “special” is more of a rip-off than a deal. But lucky us, we live in San Francisco and we have to pay all the money in exchange for the ability to see Alcatraz and 90 pairs of Allbirds on a daily basis. Heyday’s lunch deal is one of the best there is - mostly because you get a lot of very good food that’s also pretty healthy. The menu changes often, and there are always several things to choose from. Don’t pass on the kale salad.
Senor Sisig’s truck is waiting to sate your crippling hunger with their tacos, burritos, and - if you want to see how many napkins you can use in one meal - nachos. We usually stick with the pork tacos, but if you’re feeling really aggressive, there’s a burrito that has french fries inside too. It’s a wonderful thing to behold. And consume. Maybe don’t go here before a very important meeting.
Some days you just want to eat like a four-year-old who finally realized that crusts are OK and vegetables aren’t going to kill you. When you feel like this, consider a trip to The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. This place feels a little like a chain, but it’s efficient and the food is good. You can get anything from a Cubano to a sandwich stuffed with mac and cheese, but we like the mushroom and reuben options, as well as the tomato soup. (There’s a gluten-free grilled cheese on the menu too if that’s what you’re looking for.)
When you have time for a leisurely lunch and want to catch up with your coworkers, or an old boss, or a friend who works in the area, head to Delarosa. It’s modern and bright and feels worlds away from the rest of the FiDi and Market Street. All the food is good to share - so get some pizzas, meatballs, salads, and most importantly, the burrata bruschetta.
If you’re having a tough day and you just need a break, roll over to Schroeder’s. You can sit, zone out, eat a fantastic and massive turkey sandwich, and know that everything will be OK. Sports will be on TV and you could even have a beer if you really wanted to live on the edge. Or take a nap.