SFGuide

Where To Eat Near Golden Gate Park

Where to pick up food for a picnic or sit down at a restaurant near Golden Gate Park.
Where To Eat Near Golden Gate Park image

photo credit: Brit Finnegan

San Francisco is full of excellent parks. But the shining star of them all is Golden Gate Park, with its expansive green areas, serene lakes, art and science museums, and even a gigantic Ferris wheel. So the next time you’re heading over for a picnic, a day of sightseeing, or if you just happen to be hungry and in the area, use this guide. It has fantastic restaurants serving everything from sandwiches to dim sum to everything in between.

QUICK EATS

photo credit: Brit Finnegan

Sandwiches

Sunset

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDrinking Good WineLunchSerious Take-Out Operation

This little wine shop in the Sunset has a dining room that looks like a modern, well-appointed kitchen, complete with big round tables and shelves stocked with bottles of wine. Palm City is also home to one of the best sandwiches in the city: the Italian American hoagie. The behemoth is stuffed with mortadella, onion, arugula, ’nduja aioli, and fresh shaved parmesan. Grab a seat at a table or at the bar, and enjoy your sandwich with some wine and spicy garlic cheese spread.

One of our favorite places in the Richmond's Little Russia is Cinderella Bakery and Cafe. This spot is always packed with folks waiting in line for house-made breads, baked and deep-fried piroshki, golubtsy, pelmeni in broth, and more. Don’t leave without a slice of the medovik, a layered honey cake with sour cream and condensed milk, which this spot nails every time.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

$$$$Perfect For:LunchWalk-InsQuick Eats

Sandy’s is San Francisco's muffuletta king. There are two muffuletta options at the counter-service sandwich joint in the Haight—a meaty original and a mushroom—and they’re both awe-inducing and full of (positive) surprises. Like the fact that even as juicy and melty as the original is, the vegetarian sandwich is actually better. But the true sleeper hit isn’t a muffuletta at all—it’s the fermented egg salad sandwich with chunky egg salad on pillowy sourdough bread that’s piled with enough Zapp’s potato chips to legally classify as a mountain.  Make sure to snag a brown butter chocolate chip cookie and soon your picnic (or hike) will be complete.

photo credit: Melissa Zink

Banh Mi Crunch is an Inner Sunset go-to for Vietnamese sandwich enthusiasts. They’ve got eight different bánh mi, each with umami-rich and well-seasoned fillings like the sliced grilled pork or the crispy lemongrass beef. Each sandwich is packed with the requisite pickled daikon, carrot, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapeño, all on a bread that’s crispy and crunchy on the outside while being delightfully soft on the inside. The sandwiches make for the easiest picnic option, but there’s also a big selection of rice and noodle plates (the garlic noodles are the way to go) that would make a great refueling meal after a long walk in the park.

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Stepping into this small fish market off of Clement is like transporting yourself back to an era when a burrito was $6 and your grocery bill didn't chew up half your paycheck. Hokkaido Sashimi Marketplace is the place to get a great sushi fix without the high price tag that normally comes with a fresh fish affair. The fridges on the right side of the shop are where you should focus your attention. Inside you’ll find otoro and kampachi sashimi, spicy tuna rolls, and chirashi, all for $10 to $15. Each bite of fish is soft, tender, and perfectly fatty—it makes the best companion for a Golden Gate Park picnic. There’s also a sizeable selection of Japanese snacks, drinks, and a couple of light bites like spam musubi and onigiri that fit nicely into a picnic basket.

The generous portions and cheaper lunch and dinner options keep us coming back to this casual, counter-service spot in the Richmond. The fact that the Japanese curry is excellent is simply an added plus. Each plate comes with a big serving of rice that’s slathered in the seasoned gravy, plus your choice of protein (pork katsu, fried oyster and shrimp, chicken karaage, and more). While the curry is the main event, don’t pass on the mini spam katsu sandwich, an adorable palm-sized flavor bomb that'll run you only $3.50.

photo credit: Sarah Felker

You’ll know you’ve arrived at this family-run Mexican restaurant in the Outer Richmond when you see the bright sky-blue storefront. Inside the counter-service spot, Cielito Lindo serves everything from breakfast burritos to Guanajuato-style enchiladas and fantastic milanesa and carne asada tortas the size of a tank. However, the one dish that keeps us coming back are the quesabirria tacos, which are extra stuffed with well-spiced meat.

If your day was filled with back-to-back meetings (and your t-shirt was inside-out the entire time), you might be in the market for comfort food. Abu Salim is here for you. The Haight spot has mood-boosting murals and cushy banquettes for you to sink into. Order the hummus topped with crispy beef and lamb shawarma, falafel stuffed with caramelized onions, sumac, and pine nuts—and pita to go with everything. By the end of the meal, you’ll hopefully have convinced yourself that no one actually noticed the t-shirt thing.

Much like a body-length heating pad, the pile of buttery, chewy garlic noodles from this Vietnamese restaurant in the Sunset brings us lots of comfort, especially after a bad week. Combine the noodles with their crispy-skinned, five-spice chicken doused in fish sauce, and there’s really no meal better. The best part about this Perilla plate is that it's $13.85, and you'll absolutely leave here full.

LONGER SIT-DOWN MEALS

You’ll smell the sizzling bulgogi and pork belly wafting down 9th Ave. like an air freshener before you even arrive at this Korean restaurant in the Inner Sunset. This spot does barbecue extremely well, so sit down on one of their picnic tables out back and get into some tabletop grilling (make sure the crispy seafood pancake is in front of you, too). Um.ma also has soju and beer towers, and an upbeat atmosphere that always equates to a great time.

photo credit: Erin Ng

The upscale Vietnamese restaurant in the Richmond works great for any special occasion, from date nights to birthday dinners with a small group. The food itself is worth celebrating—every dish on the menu is creative, beautiful and delicious. We always go for the colorful shaking beef salad with perfectly tender filet mignon, and the whole-fried fish that's perched atop some saucy pineapple rice cake stir fry.

Wood-fired pizzas with perfectly charred crust are the star of the show at this cool neighborhood spot in the Sunset. They come topped with things like mixed mushrooms and garlic butter, or purple potato, pancetta, and pesto. We especially love the pizzas that are drizzled with gooey hot honey, and you should always ask for ranch on the side.

Ask anyone in town where to go for dry-fried wings, and the answer will always be San Tung. These stunners covered in glossy garlic, ginger, and red pepper sauce with a caramel-like consistency have single-handedly transformed this casual Chinese restaurant into a beloved Sunset institution. Waiting hours in line for those wings, some crispy-bottomed potstickers, and satisfyingly thick black bean sauce noodles—is pretty much a citywide pastime (San Tung doesn’t take reservations). So just drop your name on the small whiteboard up front and build up anticipation outside on the sidewalk with everyone else. 

photo credit: Sarah Felker

It’s impossible to be in a bad mood at this Burmese spot, thanks to the bright yellow walls and colorful umbrellas hanging overhead. That, and the fact that their dishes—from nutty tea leaf salads and coconut chicken noodle soup to pumpkin pork stew—explode with funky, savory, and sweet flavor. Come with a group, order enough food to cover every square inch of your table, and wash it all down with beer, sake, and $10 glasses of house wine. 

Go to this Vietnamese spot in the Richmond for phenomenal roast crabs. They're covered in a secret blend of peppery spices, and are simply the reason why this place is now considered a citywide institution. The other is the butter-coated garlic noodles (invented at Thanh Long in the '70s). Their pastel-colored dining room is large and lively, making it a great setting for birthday dinners, group hangs, or any time you and your friends want to eat some of the best seafood and pose for photos in plastic bibs.

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner

This Japanese restaurant in the Sunset doesn’t take reservations, but the wait is never too long, which makes it an easy option for a last-minute date or a group dinner with a few friends. The sushi here is all great as well, and we also like to get the sashimi omakase (18 pieces) or some giant hand rolls. If you want something hot though, start with the miso-glazed eggplant topped with toasted sesame seeds.

Vinyl, retro graphic tees, and an Urban Outfitters home decor aesthetic are on full display at The Laundromat. Those fun little details enhance a meal at this destination for hefty pies and natural wine. Locals and friend groups flock here at night for excellent Sicilian pizzas, oozing over with gooey cheese and pretty classic toppings. This place also pulls double duty—in the mornings, it’s a to-go operation for plump, chewy bagels and tubs of thick cream cheese. They’re here if you need to pick up sustenance before an early, all-day situation at Hellman Hollow. 

BAKED GOODS & SNACKS

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

If croissant-making was an Olympic event, this Richmond bakery would never stop collecting gold medals. Everything from their short menu of pastries is great, including the kouign amann with their crunchy, caramelized bottoms, but leaving without one of their phenomenal croissants would be a terrible mistake. The flaky, buttery masterpieces are filled with gooey chocolate, ham and cheese, or almond—and they're straight-up some of the best in the city.

The next time you’re in need of the perfect park snack, stop by Pineapple King in the Sunset and fill up a pink pastry box with pineapple buns, hot dog buns, egg tarts, and more. The Chinese bakery usually has a line down the sidewalk, and for good reason—everything on the menu is baked daily, and if you’re lucky, the squishy pineapple bun will still be warm from the oven.

photo credit: Jeremy Chen

At this cash-only dim sum bakery in the Richmond, you’ll find everything from shrimp har gow to turnip cakes to sesame balls. It’s a great spot to swing by before heading into the park for the day, or if you’re in need of a breakfast or lunch that won’t cost over $10. You really can’t go wrong with anything here, but don't leave without the face-sized, slightly sweet baked BBQ pork buns.

One of the most photogenic dishes in the city is at Breadbelly, a Richmond bakery and cafe with Asian-inspired pastries and sandwiches. It’s the kaya toast, and it has squiggles of bright green coconut-pandan jam and sea salt. Definitely get one, along with something savory like the chicken karaage or their breakfast sandwich with ham, gruyere, and a fried egg. Their menu changes often, but thankfully, the kaya toast is a staple.

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