Where To Eat After A Bad Week guide image

SFGuide

Where To Eat After A Bad Week

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

Maybe your landlord found a colony of extremely fertile rats in your basement, or you permanently stained the pants that you specifically bought to replace the original pair you permanently stained. Whatever the case, sometimes you just need to cope with a terrible dumpster fire of a week in the presence of an entire pepperoni pizza, or by crying into a bowl of steaming hot phở. Here are 15 spots that are guaranteed to turn your week around.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

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Donaji is a Oaxacan restaurant in the Mission that you should beeline to whenever you need serious emotional support in the form of mole-drenched chicken or sopes piled high with beef brisket. It’s also a literal bright spot, with papel picado hanging overhead, big hummingbirds painted on the walls, and a bike filled with hot sauce by the door. Come here to loosen up after realizing you accidentally sent a flirty text to your boss’s boss, who happens to have the same name as the person you just swiped right on. And make sure to keep the sangria coming. 

Many occasions call for a meal at Mandalay, like birthdays, group catch-ups, or end-of-the-week dinners after finding out you have multiple cavities and your dentist “strongly” recommends adult braces. The sunshine yellow space in the Richmond runs over with charm, with umbrellas and ornaments hanging from the ceiling and cut-out hearts all over the walls. And the homestyle Burmese dishes, like creamy ong no kaw soi and chicken sautéed with juicy chunks of mango, are exactly what you want to eat while trying to ignore how much you’re about to spend on orthodontics. 

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This ramen spot in Hayes Valley focuses on noodle soup with chicken-based broth, instead of pork-based versions you more commonly see around town. The broth is so creamy you’ll be tempted to shrink yourself and take a calming bath in the bowl. But fantastic soup isn’t the only reason to make this place a high priority. The noodles are thick and bouncy. The onion-packed chicken meatballs are stunners that soak up an impressive amount of soup. And there’s enough rich umami in every spoonful to almost forget about the fact that a friend spilled a small container of yogurt on your backseat and you can’t quite get the stain out. 

Your upstairs neighbor won’t stop blasting country music at an ungodly volume, no matter how many times you aggressively bang on the ceiling with a broom handle. Just take a breather, vacate the premises, and calm down with a trip to Dumpling Home. The Chinese spot in Hayes Valley serves some of our favorite shengjianbao in the city, plus soup dumplings with a delicate wrapper that’s practically translucent. Don’t leave without an order of their cucumber salad, which is heavy on the garlic and incredibly delicious.

So you spilled an entire green smoothie all over your keyboard and now nothing will turn on. It happens to the best of us. But if you want to drown your sorrows at a place that involves soup, hit up Turtle Tower. Their Hanoi-style phở with chewy noodles is one foolproof way to improve a terrible day, and the steamy, fragrant broth will momentarily distract you from thinking about your impending appointment at the Genius Bar.

At this casual Vietnamese spot in the Sunset, you can sit down, order, and have a big plate full of garlic noodles, crispy-skinned five-spice chicken, and imperial rolls in front of you in no time. The trio is precisely the comfort meal you’ll want after accidentally screen-sharing your most unhinged Spotify playlist at a company-wide all hands.

The Mexican restaurant in the Mission is the ultimate mood booster. There are oversized posters of palm trees and sunsets, bicycle tire sculptures, and a hodgepodge of different patterned wallpapers. After stepping into this lively spot, you’ll feel like you’ve swallowed the world’s largest happy pill. And eating everything from the refreshing taco tropical (with jicama tortillas) to the shrimp albondigas and portobello mushroom empanadas, while sipping a margarita, will also help to wash away any “I want to curl up in a corner” vibes.

The kouign amann from B. Patisserie in Pacific Heights can fix basically every sh*t show situation you might have found yourself in this week. Did your boss tell you they’re “not angry, just disappointed”? Or did your once-flourishing houseplant develop a fatal mealybug infestation? Listen carefully. Kouign. Amann. It cures all. The pastry is sugary, flaky, and buttery, and is a straight injection of dopamine. Plus, a boxful is cheaper than replacing that plant.

Eating breakfast from Plow is like getting a hug from a giant, freshly blow-dried Samoyed. One bite of their lemon ricotta pancakes or golden-brown biscuit and you’ll understand, too. The Potrero Hill spot works wonders at making you feel better—the coffee refills are endless, the pancakes are fluffy, and no one will judge you if you put your head down on the table to have a little cry.

Like a cleansing crystal, eating a meal at Volcano Curry is one direct way to set you on a positive path. This Richmond spot specializes in Japanese curries that are poured over different proteins and starches. The katsu chicken curry is comfort food at its finest, as is the mini fried Spam katsu sandwich—a crispy, creamy palm-sized flavor bomb you’ll easily inhale in three bites.

If it’s been one of those weeks where the dryer shrunk your favorite sweater, your fridge broke, and you were ghosted by your only promising Hinge match, make your way to El Farolito in the Mission. Because there’s no better way to hit the reset button than by diving into a fantastic, baby-sized super burrito. Get their carne asada, which is so tender it might make you burst into tears. Go ahead, let it out.

This casual Castro spot bills itself as a place for Arabic comfort food, and they do not disappoint. Swing by any time you need to complain about your work nemesis over a plateful of incredible dips and warm pita, or garlicky chicken shish tawook that comes with “mom’s rice,” which tastes like getting tucked into bed and kissed on the forehead.

For some reason, staring out at an expansive body of water while suffering through a weekly existential crisis just makes sense. So head to Hog Island Oyster Co. in the Ferry Building and order yourself as many oysters as you can physically consume, plus a bowl of their phenomenal clam chowder. Then eat it all while you sit at one of their waterfront tables and try not to think about the concept of age.

If the answer to “when’s the last time you had a pizza that brought you closer to complete philosophical enlightenment?” isn’t “today,” then order from Square Pie Guys. The Detroit-style pizza place in SoMa is churning out excellent rectangular pies topped with everything from pepperoni to mushrooms and garlic ricotta cream. Don’t forget to add their trio of creamy dipping sauces on the side. You might just have an epiphany about your life’s ultimate purpose mid-bite.

Sitting alone at the bar with a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine is one great pastime in general. But it’s an especially good one after a disastrous week where only copious amounts of carbs can help. Enter: Barzotto. The casual Italian place in the Mission makes an excellent bowl of spaghetti and meatballs—it’s simple, perfectly done, and soul-curing. Pair it with a $10 glass of red wine and some tiramisu and you’re all set.

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