San Francisco has some of the best restaurants in the country. Each time I am there, I explore a different neighborhood and try to find the best in town. My top finds include:
My favorite dim sum restaurant is Yank Sing at 101 Spear Street. I have been there at least three times. It recently received the Michelin Bib Gourmand designation. My local friends recommend City View Restaurant, as well, which specializes in dim sum at 662 Commercial St.
I found Samovar Tea Lounge, just by chance, for lunch. This is a tea house and restaurant that offers a good selection of sandwiches and salads in addition to its assortment of teas, both hot and cold. I had a great lunch in its attractive, brightly lit space. If you want tea and a snack, the coconut rice pudding is the best. Near Samovar is B Restaurant & Bar which also has great views from its terrace. It is at 720 Howard St., while Samovar is at 730.
Attached to the boutique Hotel Zetta, at 360 Jessie St. in the SOMA area, is The Cavalier restaurant. It opened in 2013 by restaurateurs Anna Weinberg, James Nicholas and Chef Jennifer Puccio, owners and creators of the critically acclaimed restaurants Marlow and Park Tavern. It has an exceptional traditional decor and an excellent English inspired menu. The smoked salmon and asparagus with a poached egg and green garlic creme fraiche was really good. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I feel everyone needs to experience Fisherman’s Wharf at least once. I like walking along the docks and grabbing a crab cocktail from one of the several sidewalk stands; it is so fresh!
Slanted Door: A San Francisco standard located in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. It is known for its great contemporary Vietnamese cuisine and great views of the Bay Bridge. Book early as it is always a mob scene. 1 Ferry Building #3. The shrimp and pork spring rolls and the wood oven roasted Florida grouper with green mango, cucumber, mint and a Thai-chile lime sauce were great choices.
In North Beach/Washington Square is the very good Park Tavern, that The San Francisco Chronicle named as one of the top 10 new restaurants in 2011 when it opened. Park Tavern was a James Beard Awards Semi-Finalist for “Best New Restaurant in America” in April 2012. Most recently, Anna Weinberg was named “Restaurateur of the Year” by San Francisco Magazine in August 2012. It is located at 1652 Stockton St.
I had been told I had to see the famous and historic Cliff House at 1090 Point Lobos Avenue. The views of the ocean, the rocks and Ocean Beach were great. The historic building was totally renovated in the early 2000’s. It offers great views with both casual and upscale dining. The first building was completed on the site in 1863.
I had a great lunch at Chow at 215 Church St. in the Castro, at the suggestion of a good friend. I liked the menu, food, neighborhood feel and service.
Zuni Cafe: At 1658 Market, this is one of the old standbys since 1979. I think it is the perfect spot for lunch. The chicken comes highly recommended. I enjoyed a great burger!
In the Mission District, you will find some really excellent restaurants. I enjoyed:
Linea Caffe, 3417 18th St.: Just featured in the NY Times, this is a small cafe serving coffee drinks, salads and waffles. It is more of a take-out place, as there is only outside seating.
Bar Tartine: Enjoyed their creative brunch menu and hip atmosphere. The eggs along with two smoked trout smörrebröd (Danish open faced sandwiches) on a sprouted rye bread had wonderful fresh ingredients. I also tasted the excellent beet soup and chicken. It can get crowded so book early. 561 Valencia St.
Tartine Bakery & Cafe: At 600 Guerrero, this small bakery and cafe, owned by the same people as Bar Tartine, always makes lists of top bakeries in the US. It has wonderful pastries and cakes, breakfast pastries, breads and sandwiches. The chocolate hazelnut tart was excellent and I hear the tres leches cake, made with coconut milk, is to die for. The line can be long, but it is well-worth the wait.
St. Vincent Tavern and Wine Merchant: Located at 1270 Valencia St., this is a great spot in the Mission that has received some great press recently. The menu is very creative. I enjoyed their Saturday brunch of buttery eggs with a harissa sauce on socca cakes or pancakes made out of chickpea flour. I also loved the pastel de nata or Pasteis de Belem which is sweet bread dough and egg custard. I had not had one since I was in Lisbon!! It has a contemporary decor as well.
The Abbott’s Cellar: At 742 Valencia St., I had an excellent meal with family. They do a wonderful job of paring wines, beers and ciders with the food. The spring lettuce salad with macerated strawberries, marcona almonds and goat cheese was excellent as was the swordfish entree. The duck and pasta dishes were also good. Save room for dessert next door at the Dandelion Chocolate shop at 740 Valencia where there is a retail store, tours, classes and a cafe with hot chocolates, mochas, and other chocolate treats.
In the Marina, I recommend Yuzu Sushi + Sake Bar at 3347 Fillmore between Chestnut and Lombard. It has good sushi with a French influence.
These are only a small number of wonderful restaurants in San Francisco. The ones that have been getting much of the recent buzz include Mission Chinese, Central Kitchen, Benu, Nombe, Saison, Plow for brunch, Tosca Cafe, AQ, State Bird Provisions, Rich Table, Boulettes Larder, Verbena, Quince, flour + water, Aziza, A16 and the Michelin two starred Atelier Crenn.