San Francisco is not just about the amazing sights; it is also a paradise for foodies. It is almost impossible to get a bad meal here – whether you’re after yummy street food or the Michelin-starred fine-dining scene. In fact, San Franciscans pride themselves as being food obsessed – and rightfully so when there are dynamic cafes, restaurants and food trucks almost in every part of the city.
Word has it that the restaurant industry here is booming faster than other major cities in the US, so much so that it is hard to keep track of what’s new or good. Luckily, we have the essential foodie list on how to eat like a local when in San Fran – by a local. Emily Teachout from Pier 2020 Hotel shares her recommendations on the top five things you must eat in San Francisco.
Arguably the signature food of San Francisco. This popular Tex-Mex food is the perfect snack on the go while sightseeing in the city but makes a great meal to share as well. As any San Franciscan about the best burrito in town, and everyone will have their say.
If you only have one burrito while here, you have to go to The Mission District – a Mission burrito (also known as a San Francisco burrito) first became popular in the ’60s in this district and is unique from others because of its large size and the use of extra rice in it. Burrito fans here are divided into two groups – those who want rice in their burritos and those who don’t. I personally love both types!
There are plenty of taquerias to visit for your fill of burritos. My recommendations? Check out the three kingpins of burritos in the city – these three taquerias are only a few blocks away from each other so you can make an excursion out of it. They are El Farolito, which is known for its award-winning burritos as well as other Mexican foods like tacos; La Taqueria, a no-frills taqueria serving real-deal Mexican food and of course its burrito that has been voted best in town several times; and Taqueria Cancun where you absolutely must try the super burrito, which is a huge delicious mouthful.
2779 Mission Street, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 824 7877
2889 Mission Street, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 285 7117
2288 Mission Street, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 252 9560
San Franciscans love their sandwiches – and with what’s available here, what’s not to love! The best thing about the sandwiches here are of course the breads – many of them artisanal, thanks to the proliferation of bakers in the city – as well as the fresh ingredients courtesy of the many farmer’s markets taking place here.
It is impossible to pick just one sandwich joint but you definitely won’t go wrong with my favourites: Ike’s Place, Molinari Delicatessen and Deli Board (my personal favourite). At Ike’s Place, you have over 80 sandwiches to choose from, including vegan options. If you are after old-school Italian deli-type sandwiches, check out Molinari Delicatessen, which is known for its cheeses, breads and artisanal meats. As for Deli Board, you can’t go wrong with its stuffed sandwiches with awesome sauces and fresh vegetables.
3489 16th Street, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 621 8665
373, Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 421 2337
1058 Folsom Street, San Francisco
Tel: +415 552 7987
One thing unique about the ice cream scene in San Francisco is the concept of artisanal ice-cream parlours, where flavours are specially handcrafted with an emphasis on using local and even organic ingredients. In fact, it’s a normal sight to see perpetual lines outside of the popular parlours.
I recommend checking out Bi-Rite Creamery is known for its unique flavours like balsamic strawberry, roasted banana and black sesame with sonoma honey. Everything here is made fresh – including all the toppings that go on top. Make sure to ask for the homemade hot fudge topping.
Meanwhile, an ice-cream experience at Smitten is unlike any other. Here, ice-creams are made to order using liquid nitrogen. The process of it is really intriguing. Visit its original and flagship store in Hayes Valley located in an actual recycled shipping container. Three Twins Ice Cream is another one of my favourites – it also uses organic ingredients to churn some of the most amazing flavours. Plus, there is a branch close to the hotel so I can hop over whenever I get a craving.
3692, 18th Street, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 626 5600
432 Octavia Street, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 863 1518
Three Twins Ice Cream
79 Jefferson Street, San Francisco
4. Seafood chowder
You can’t come to San Francisco and not have a bowl of clam or seafood chowder – the city is completely flushed with them, thanks to the super fresh, local ingredients that are easily found here.
For the best chowders, my favourite place to go is the Hog Island Oyster Company. It is inside the Ferry Building, which is a 30-minutes walk from the hotel with the most amazing city sights. Also check out Swan Oyster Depot, a small, old-school San Fran establishment serving delicious bowls of chowder. Tip: It gets pretty busy where so be prepared to wait for a seat. Finally, don’t leave without going to Fog Harbor Fish House, especially if you are in Wharf area. You won’t regret it.
Hog Island Oyster Company
Ferry Building, 1 Ferry Building. San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 391 7117
Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk Street, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 673 1101
Fog Harbor Fish House
Pier 39, 39 Pier 39 Concourse, San Francisco
Tel: +1 415 421 2442
5. Food Trucks
Two words all foodies love to hear in San Fran: food truck. Here itself there are more than 100 permitted food trucks serving some of the most delicious street food like tacos, burgers and more. Food trucks are indeed a trend and it’s pretty clear that the trucks are not going anywhere soon.
Since the trucks are always on the move (literally!), my recommendation would be to stop by the SOMA StrEAT Food Park where there are always a dozen or so to choose from.
Soma StrEAT Food Park
428, 11th Street, San Francisco