The Healthy Lunch Guide

Where to have a healthy lunch in San Francisco, organized by neighborhood.
The Healthy Lunch Guide image

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

Lunch can be like quicksand. You dip your toe in and all of a sudden you’re recreating a scene from Jumanji, trying to find the healthiest option before you finally succumb to too many slices of pizza during a lunch-and-learn. Before you know it, you’re comatose at your desk while Jim is kicking off the goals review meeting without you.

Don’t let this happen. There are places for a healthy lunch all over the city, and by ‘healthy’ we don’t mean sad salad bars with mix-in options ranging from croutons to herbed croutons. We’ve rounded up the best options for healthy midday eating whether you want an actually-good salad, a sandwich, or grain bowl. No food coma naps for you today.

The Spots

Fidi / Embarcadero


Financial District

$$$$Perfect For:Coffee & A Light BiteKeeping It Kind Of HealthyLunchQuick EatsSerious Take-Out Operation
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The best deal in FiDi might be Heyday’s $11 lunch special - you can choose two from a soup, salad, and half sandwich options. Everything is healthy, changes regularly, and there isn’t a single sad plastic-wrapped sandwich in sight. The kale salad is something you will actually enjoy, and it doesn’t even have bacon in it.

Sababa is another assembly line situation, but in this case they’re serving Middle Eastern food. The salads - especially the carrots and roasted cauliflower - are phenomenal, and the hummus and eggplant are excellent too. We’d like this place to sweep the nation.


There are a million make-your-own salad joints, but in a sea of dime-a-dozen soulless places, Sweetgreen is on its own level. The quality is high, the portions are hearty, and the dressings you can put on your bowl of health are excellent. It’s a national chain that will probably take over the world soon, and they’ve officially set up their first outpost in SoMa.

From the outside, this looks like a Disneyland Ye Olde Shoppe that serves fresh eggs and hay. Inside, it also looks like this. Luckily, they actually serve amazing salads - either ordered off the menu or choose your own adventure. Blue Barn’s take-out operation is excellent, but they also have plenty of seats inside if you want to take your time. The only catch is that you will easily spend $20 on lunch, especially if you want to add any sort of protein to your pile of lettuce. The Marina location has also recently doubled in size, so keep that in mind for when you’re struttin’ the ’Nut.

Hayes Valley / Nopa / the Castro

The Souvla empire is slowly expanding and we are all better for it. The Nopa location has a stellar outdoor area with a big communal table, and the usual menu of delicious Greek salads and wraps. Since this is a healthy lunch guide, we’ll advise you go with a salad. And Greek frozen yogurt to go. Not technically part of lunch.

It wouldn’t be a healthy lunch guide without some raw fish in the mix. I’a Poke is one of our favorites in the city because the fish is very fresh, the people are nice, and the tamago (egg) topping makes everything better. You can pick from pre-set options or make your own - you can’t go wrong either way.

Cow Hollow / Marina / Pac Heights

When all you want for lunch is something easy, plain, and kind of good for you, Rooster & Rice is your spot. The thing here is rice bowls topped with chicken (or tofu), and you can add broccoli, some delicious sauces, and even a poached egg if you feel the need. And in case you don’t think you want to eat like a dog with an upset stomach, know this is actually a super satisfying and healthy meal. There are no real seats except a few sidewalk tables though, so plan accordingly.

photo credit: Virginia Mae Rollison

Jane is a mecca for moms, working from home people, and children auditioning for Baby Gap commercials. The salads are massive and delicious, the sandwiches are awesome, and the wifi is strong and steady. Given the great natural light and pretty tiles, this place is also catnip for influencers in their fancy Tevas.

Richmond / Sunset

Judahlicious is the real deal - raw, vegan, and very concerned with your well-being. Over-the-top healthy people are unsurprisingly obsessed with this place, but it’s worth noting for the rest of us that Judahlicious is actually good. Provided you don’t have a nut allergy, because cashew cream sauce flows like water here. The food is generally hearty, but if you’re in the market for acai bowls, they do those right too.

In case you needed clarification, Nourish Cafe is here to provide nutrients. The all-vegetable menu is long, with salads that are actually satisfying and a lot of nut-cheese toasts. The place has a great local feel and just a few tables inside where you can watch the vegan sausage being made in the open kitchen. The food, from the breakfast acai bowls to the hearty lunch salads, is fantastic and fresh - we love this place.

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Suggested Reading

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Blue Barn

Blue Barn is a counter-service spot in Russian Hill that makes solid salads and sandwiches.

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Despite the hit-or-miss menu, Little Gem is an amazingly pleasant place to eat in Hayes Valley.

Where To Eat Before & After A Hike In San Francisco image

Whether you’re being forced to Marin Headlands or going willingly, here’s the food to prepare and recover with.

Where To Eat After A Bad Week image

16 places to grab a meal when sh*t hits the fan.

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