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 recommendations 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 and received the a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic Award in 2009. It was started in 1958 in San Francisco’s Chinatown by immigrants who focused on authentic Chinese cuisine.
My local friends recommend City View Restaurant, as well, which specializes in dim sum at 662 Commercial St. For high end Chinese, the 2 Michelin Starred Mister Jiu’s gets excellent reviews. 28 Waverly Place in Chinatown.
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 décor and an excellent English inspired menu. The smoked salmon and asparagus with a poached egg and green garlic crème 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.
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.
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.
Save room for dessert 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.
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, State Bird Provisions, Rich Table, Boulettes Larder, Quince, flour + water, Aziza, A16 and the Michelin two starred Atelier Crenn.