Russian Hill: land of great views and hour-long hunts for parking spaces. And a lot of awesome spots to eat, drink, and carry on. While you aren’t going to find the hottest restaurants or the longest waits for spectacularly absurd pastries, you will find a lot of local spots with chill vibes, good friendly service, and most importantly: excellent food. Let’s get to it.
Elephant Sushi usually has a bit of wait, so try to head there on the early side (they open at 6). It’s entirely worth it for the super fresh fish, especially the White Out and Flaming Sea Bass rolls. Take note: it’s a small spot best for groups of four or less.
Pitching straight down the middle on all the things, Stones Throw brings an ideal California menu to the table. The squid ink pasta is wildly good and the rest of the inside-the-strike-zone menu is very solid. Everyone will be pleased. They also have a better than average brunch game, especially on the duck confit hash. Make sure the doughnuts are on your table to share.
The Sand Angel cookies at this bakery are actually gifted from heaven, and the chocolate chip cookies are top notch as well. If you hit Batter in the morning, don’t skip the scone. For an afternoon snack, the Carmelitas, a nutty, blondie sort of bar, are awesome. Batter shares a space with Square Meals, which does a pretty good selection of prepared entrees and sides which are a good move if you’re on the go.
Every neighborhood needs a local German spot on the corner to drink beer out of boots, right? Right. Leopold’s serves a pretty good jägerschnitzel, sausage, and general meat and cheese plate. But let’s be real, you’re here to challenge some random table to a boot chugging contest.
The best breakfast in the hood on one of the more picturesque corners, Nook does a pretty damn good granola and lox and bagel.
We harbor an unhealthy love for this wine bar that also happens to feature spectacular cheese and meats. Bring a date, bring yourself, bring your Lactaid, and run to this place. The duck liver mousse is awesome, and you can’t go wrong with any of the sandwiches.
Our favorite taqueria housed in a club, Nick’s is the perfect spot for tacos when you are moderately to ragingly drunk. It’s a place everyone should go at least once, and the guacamole and chips are legitimately excellent.
On the eighth day, the Lord decreed that there would be a fancy coffee shop in all the lands. And so it was. Lucky for Russian Hill, Saint Frank’s coffee and espresso lives up to it’s godly name and is excellent. The space is bright and airy and could be (and probably is) featured in a design magazine.
A perfect spot for date night with Italian small plates and good wines. The pizza is just alright – stick with the rest of the menu. Get the meatballs for sure.
Blue Barn on Polk is the go-to for anyone who owns even a single scrunchie from Lululemon. We are all about the fattoush salad. But fear not, bros. They also have shockingly good sandwiches and a pretty crafty beer selection. If you’re going for meat between bread, the Ragin’ Cajun and Kickin’ Chicken are spicy perfection. Also don’t sleep on the grilled cheeses.
At the bottom of Russian Hill (and we might argue actually in North Beach), Trattoria Contadina is one of our favorite traditional Italian spots in the city. Dark, romantic, and just straight up delicious. You will want to bring your loveliest lady or tramp here to share your spaghetti and meatballs.
The best place to watch sports in the neighborhood, with an abundance of TVs and a very solid beer list. No food, but they let you bring it in from anywhere, so just go ahead and call in an order to Nick’s Crispy at halftime.
Solidly strong cocktails, Fernet and Makers on tap, and the piece de resistance, tater tots galore. Nothing soaks up booze like potato nuggets, and we respect the innovation they’ve got going on with their “Totchos.” We may have to borrow for when we launch our dream franchise nacho specialty joint, Nacho Problem (TRADEMARKED DONT STEAL).
This tiny spot on Polk serves beer and extraordinarily satisfying empanadas. Surprisingly winning combination. The beers are weird and creative and one time we drank one described to be “as smooth as a reindeer’s coat.” Didn’t disagree.
Swensen’s has occupied their corner spot since 1948, and the old school spot has the signage and cash only policy to match. Ice cream is appropriately creamy and you should 100% get a scoop of turkish coffee and a scoop of sticky chewy chocolate. Terrible name, delicious ice cream.
A very San Francisco take on froyo, they dispense with the “add your own toppings” bacchanalia of most places and blend them right into the chocolate or vanilla yogurt for you. The other somewhat random option dessert option at Loving Cup is rice pudding in different flavors like cinnamon rum raisin and vanilla, and you can add toppings, too. Weirdly delicious.