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The FiDi Lunch Guide

The Financial District is home to many, many offices - and many, many mediocre lunch spots. But there’s still hope for a FiDi lunch 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.

the spots

Sababa

554 Commercial St
MAP

A good, quick stop for Israeli street food served assembly-line-style. The pita is freshly baked in-house, and the chicken is well-cooked and equally 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.

Uno Dos Tacos

Soma
595 Market St
6.8
MAP

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 rice ball 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 particularly 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.

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.

It’s best to come here if you’re getting lunch with someone you actually need to talk to for work, because there’s a good chance you’ll be waiting in line for a little while (the space inside is pretty small). The chicken ramen is absolutely worth it, though.

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 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.

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).

7.8
MAP

Time to get fancy. Or pull a DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street and start throwing money around in a yacht-like venue. You will be doing both at Leo’s, as it’s not cheap, but you will also be consuming some crazy good seafood in a fun, fancy space. The lunch menu has the same lobster roll and oysters we love at dinner, as well as some excellent salad and sandwich options.

The Plant Cafe Organic

101 California St
MAP

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.

Photo: Liar Silberstein

Eatsa

Embarcadero
1 California St

Getting a quinoa bowl from Eatsa involves no human interaction - we’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a good or bad thing. You roll up to the iPads, swipe a credit card, and choose a bowl (or build your own). Then head over to a little alcove of locker-type things and wait for your name to appear on the screens above. When your bowl’s ready, you’ll see a number and head into the appropriate locker. Tap twice on the glass and like magic, your lunch is sitting waiting for you. After all that, it tastes pretty good, too. Welcome to the (kind of creepy) future.

8.7
MAP

Need to impress a client or have a serious talk with your boss or stuff your face with carbs after a particularly painful meeting? Time for a sit-down, professional, and kick*ss 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 on your radar 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. The guys in the open kitchen make 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.

7.4
MAP

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.

Señor Sisig

300 Pine St
MAP

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, Senor has a burrito that has french fries inside. 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 tasty. You can get anything from a Cubano to a sandwich stuffed with mac and cheese, but we particularly like the mushroom and reuben options, as well as the tomato soup. (There’s a gluten-free grilled cheese on the menu as well, if that’s what you’re looking for.)

PABU

Financial District
101 California St
7.2
MAP

Very much in the “on the corporate card” category, Pabu is in the bottom of an office building (maybe yours) and brings serious small plates to the table. Stick to non-sushi dishes like the spinach, the black cod, and the fried chicken. You’ll be happy, your boss will be happy, and your accounting department will continue to be grumpy. All in a day’s work.

The premise of this place is that each month they pay homage (see what they did there?) to a Bay Area farm, bringing in most of their produce from that one grower. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect tasty lunch options like salads and tartines.

Well-done, basic Mediterranean takes on chicken, beef, and lamb that are a step up from what you’d get from a food truck. There are plenty of options, too - try a wrap, plate, or bowl. We’re pretty into the falafel, and all the meats are good, too. There will probably be a line, but it’ll move quickly.

Delarosa

Financial District
37 Yerba Buena Ln
7.6
MAP

If 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 FiDi and Market Street. All the food is good to share - so get some pizzas, meatballs, salads, and most importantly, the burrata bruschetta.

7.3
MAP

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.

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