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The SF Museum + Lunch Power Pairings

After looking at art, you’ll need some sustenance.
The SF Museum + Lunch Power Pairings image

photo credit: Nat And Cody

San Francisco is a museum town. We’ve got a four-story rainforest, fine art galleries inside a building that’s shaped like an upside-down triangle, and many more places to spend a few hours soaking in some culture. And since walking around and staring at ancient whale bones takes energy, you’ll need this guide to the best lunch options near SF’s museums.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Susie Lacocque

Russian

Richmond

$$$$Perfect For:Coffee & A Light BiteBreakfastBrunchDogsStrollers
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The Museums: The de Young & California Academy Of Sciences

Because you’re an efficient person, you made plans to check out the de Young and Cal Academy on the same day (they’re both in Golden Gate Park). After getting spit out of the earthquake simulator and vowing to never move to California, head to Cinderella Bakery & Cafe. The counter-service Russian spot in the Richmond will calm you down with plates of pelmeni, fresh-baked piroshki, and hearty soups. A slice of honey cake that’s stacked with layers of honey and condensed milk should always complete the meal.

The Museum: Exploratorium

This kid-friendly interactive science museum feels like stepping into a tornado—it’s loud, chaotic, and always filled with students on a field trip. Keep that energy going, and head a few doors down to the Ferry Building, a waterfront landmark full of strolling shoppers, ferry commuters, and locals grabbing quick lunches. The food stalls, restaurants, and cafes are endless, but we like to caffeinate at Red Bay Coffee, throw back excellent chowder at Hog Island Oyster Bar, and grab some soft serve at Gott’s.

The Museum: SFMOMA

Meandering through SFMOMA’s multiple floors of modern art exhibitions isn’t a bad way to get your appetite going (plus, you’ll enrich your mind, etc. etc.). Once you’re sufficiently hungry, head across the street to Joyride Pizza. The casual Detroit-style pizza joint has outdoor tables and lots of greenery in the middle of Yerba Buena Gardens. They specialize in pizzas with golden-brown focaccia crusts with crispy cheese walls, chunky marinara sauce, and a garden’s worth of fresh toppings. Enjoy the views while tearing into a fabulous pie.

The Museum: Asian Art Museum

You could spend days at this Civic Center museum and still not see their entire massive collection of Asian art. Since (we’re assuming) you don’t have time in your travel schedule for a multi-day museum rabbit hole, get in a few good hours, then head to lunch. Saigon Sandwich, just a five-minute walk away, is where you’ll find the best bánh mì in San Francisco. Fillings, like the roasted chicken and pork, are perfectly seasoned and so tender you could cut them with a plastic spoon, but are even better when stuffed between fresh yet crackly rolls.

The Museum: Legion Of Honor

The Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park has a grandiose courtyard, a replica of The Thinker, and views of the Golden Gate Bridge that’ll remind you you’re still in San Francisco, not Paris. Once you’ve finished aimlessly wandering around the roomfuls of Monets and ancient busts, head to Pagan Restaurant, a Burmese and Thai spot in the nearby Richmond. It’s pretty convenient to the museum, but even so, we’d cross six neighborhoods for their spicy basil pork belly, nutty tea leaf salad, and rich, warming curries.

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