It felt like a dream visiting San Francisco last week, showing the kids around our old stomping grounds and eating to max capacity every day. We plan our trips around food, then plan activities in between meals so we can work up an appetite again ????
Chase and I lived in SF for three years while he finished school, and spent an absurd amount of money eating out during that time (you don’t want to know the numbers). So.. we’ve done the research for you. Sharing a list of my favorite spots to eat and things to do in the city by the Bay!
Best Places to Eat in San Francisco
Not a definitive list, honestly there are too many places to name them all. But here are my very favorites! I’ve added everything to a collection on Yelp here so you can see them all on the map. Makes it easier to plan activities/eats that are near eachother!
- Plow – You cannot go wrong. The lemon ricotta pancakes, custard french toast, crispy potatoes and house made biscuits are all to die for. Expect a wait on the weekend (pictured above).
- Sweet Maple – another solid brunch spot. Try the millionaire’s bacon, thick cut and cooked for hours with brown sugar and spice. I love the south of the border egg scramble with chorizo and the french toast. They have two sister restaurants that are both great for brunch too – Blackwood and Kitchen Story.
- Brenda’s French Soul Food – not in the best part of town, but worth the trek for the biscuits and beignets. Brenda’s Meat and Three is in a slightly better part of town and is just as good. Try the stuffed johnnycakes with shrimp, bacon, scallion, jalapeño, cheddar, corn and three-pepper butter.
- Zazie – go for the miracle pancakes and eggs benedict.
- Palmetto Superfoods – I just tried this acai bowl/smoothie joint for the first time and was blown away! The Bay Blend with almond butter, chia pudding, pitaya and a coconut base is my new fave acai bowl.
- Basik Acai Cafe – another great acai bowl spot.
- Devil’s Teeth Baking Company – killer breakfast sandwiches!
Pastries (deserving of their own category)
- Arsicault – hands down, the best croissants in the city. Madly in love with the almond croissant and the ham & cheese.
- B. Patisserie – biased because I lived a block away, but this a must stop! They are known for their kougin-amanns, and once you try one of theirs, no others will every compete. They are so buttery and crispy and crackly and SO messy (but worth it)! I love the seasonal varieties (they always have one seasonal flavor), the fruity or pumpkin ones are so good! Also love their chocolate chip cookie, banana chocolate almond croissant and passionfruit bostock (pictured above).
- Tartine – it’s just so famous, you have to go. They have three locations in the city now, but the original on Guerrero St. is still my fave because of the selection. I love the lemon bar and banana cream tart.
- Bob’s Donuts – maybe these don’t technically classify as pastries, but if you want donuts in SF, Bob’s is your best bet. Heard their newer location on Baker St. is great too.
- Souvla – a must. Fast casual Greek food made with rotisseried chicken, lamb and pork (or veggies). The chicken and veg salad are both insane. Try the greek fries with granch and the frozen greek yogurt with baklava and honey (pictured below).
- Lucca Deli – on Chestnust St., my favorite place to grab a sandwich to-go. I swear by my order: make your own sandwich on Acme salted focaccia, with fresh mozzarella, avocado, tomato, pesto, mayo, dijon, mixed greens and mild italian peppers. It’s soooo good (pictured above)
- Blue Barn – fast, fresh salads and sandwiches for pick up. The tostada salad and sheep grilled cheese are great. As are the french fries.
- Super Duper – casual burger joint with a few locations around the city. Love the garlic fries and house made dips.
- Roam – another solid burger spot with great sides. Share the fry-fecta!
- Gott’s Roadside – if you’re looking for lunch at the Ferry Building, Gott’s burgers are also yummy!
- 4505 Burgers & BBQ – good burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and ribs with BBQ sides.
- Pizzeria Delfina – thin crust, try the cherry pie and the prosciutto pie! Also, we never say no to burrata.
- Italian Homemade – no pizza here, but the best pasta ever! Pick your pasta, pick your sauce, and watch the pasta being rolled fresh while you order. We go for the pesto gnocchi and the lasagna.
- Zero Zero – a little nicer sit down restaurant. Not in the best part of town but the pizzas (and everything we’ve tried) is amazing!
- Little Star – our fave deep dish spot.
- Golden Boy – grab and go detroit style pizza that’s amaze.
- La Taqueria – classic casual Mexican spot in the Mission with giant burritos, street tacos and the best quesadillas. Cash only.
- Nopalito – a little more upscale. I’m obsessed with the totopos con chile, or dipped chips (pictured above).
- Tacko – we go for the baja fish tacos, Nick’s way. Also for the chips, guac and pico (sister restaurant with Nick’s Crispy Tacos).
- Tacolicious – fun spot for date night or a sit-down lunch on Chestnut St. Love the salsa selection and all of the tacos are good. They’re little tacos so it’s fun to order a bunch of flavors!
- Burma Superstart/B. Star – never tried Burmese food until we moved to SF, but I was missing out. These two are down the street from each other, sister restaurants with very similar menus. Burma Superstar is the OG and usually more of a wait. Love the platha with coconut curry dip, pumpkin pork stew, tea leaf salad and rainbow salad (DON’T SLEEP ON THE SALADS!)
- Blackwood – beautifully plated Thai food! Obsessed with the panang curry with avocado.
- Mamahuhu – a newer Chinese spot on Clement St. (pictured above). We tried the sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls and jade fried rice and loved all of it (pictured above).
(Disclaimer: We were poor students when we lived in the city and didn’t go to many upscale restaurants! I need to plan a trip sans kids to try all the places we haven’t yet! Let me know if you have any faves!)
- Foreign Cinema – I looooove this place! Outdoor dining with a big projector screen playing old movies in the background. The dreamiest ambiance and the food is delicious!
- Liholiho Yacht Club – a Hawaiian inspired, seriously beautiful and creative menu.
- Hog Island Oyster Co. – the place to go if you love seafood and oysters. Pretty setting on the water in the back of the Ferry Building. They have my favorite clam chowder! Not too thick and with loads of fresh clams.
Probably the longest list on here, for good reason.
- Bi-Rite Creamery – the OG! So creamy with some really fun flavors. You can never go wrong with salted caramel and coffee toffee (pictured above).
- Salt & Straw – does this need an explanation? Salted malted cookie dough is always a winner, and peach crisp if you can catch it in the summer!
- Twirl & Dip – the BEST vanilla bean soft serve dipped in dark TCHO chocolate, sprinkled with maldon sea salt. HELLO! They keep weird hours and are closed half the week, so def check to make sure they’re open first.
- Philmore Creamery – just tried this small batch gelato shop for the first time and loved it! Incredibly creamy and new flavors every day.
- Smitten – fun for the kids to watch the ice cream being made in front of them, and they make the best waffle cones!
- Loving Cup – choose your mix-ins and they’ll blend it into vanilla or chocolate frozen yogurt for you. Like a grown-up Dairy Queen blizzard. I love the fresh raspberries blended with vanilla.
- Souvla – already mentioned above, but worth stopping just for the frozen greek yogurt with baklava and honey (pictured below).
- Ice Cream Bar – old school ice cream shop with the cutest atmosphere! Grab a sundae or a milkshake.
- Dandelion Chocolate – not ice cream, but a fun stop nonetheless. Sample chocolate made from beans from around the world and grab a toasted s’more with homemade marshmallow or a drinking chocolate.
Things to Do (in between eating)
- Ferry Building – if you can swing it on a Saturday morning, hit up the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market! By far the best Farmer’s Market I’ve ever been to. It does get really crowded and parking can be madness if you are driving. Maybe a little wild with kids. If you can’t make the farmers market, you can visit the Ferry Building anytime to walk through and grab lunch or snacks from the shops inside! Gott’s, Dandelion Chocolate, Hog Island Oyster Co., Humphrey Slocombe and Craftsmans and Wolves are all great (so sad that The Slanted Door is currently closed though!)
- Off the Grid – meeting of the food trucks! Check their website to find events. We used to go religiously every Friday night at Fort Mason.
- Ride bikes to Golden Gate Bridge – grab bikes near Fisherman’s Wharf and ride along the Marina Green to the Golden Gate Bridge (or across the bridge if you’re feeling ambitious). Don’t be like us, spring for the e-bikes. We rented from San Francisco Bicycle Rentals this trip and they were great. They also let us attach our own bike trailer.
- Palace of Fine Arts – a peaceful spot to eat a picnic lunch and look for ducks, swans and turtles in the water. We like to bring chalk and bubbles for the kids to play.
- Sutro Baths/Lands End – the prettiest hiking along the coast! You can park at the Sutro Baths, explore the ruins and then hike up the trail above the baths.
- Golden Gate Park – rent bikes and ride through the park! The Koret Children’s Quarter playground (bring cardboard for the slides!), the Conservatory of Flowers, Stow Lake (you can take a paddleboat out on the water) and the Japanese Tea Gardens are all great stops! Also home to the de Young Art Museum and the California Academy of Sciences museums.
- Walk the Lyon Street Steps – I wouldn’t bring my kids, but they tend to complain while walking even short distances. It’s a beautiful view from the steps and a great workout!
- Discovery Bay Museum – such a fun museum for littles! It’s in Sausalito, just on the other side of the GG bridge. Best for ages 0-8.
- Exploratorium – a science and technology museum with dozens of little “experiments” for the kids to play with and learn from. Better for older kids, ages 4+.
- Fort Point – a picturesque spot underneath the Golden Gate bridge, and Chase’s fave surf spot in the city when it breaks! It’s fun to walk around the old military fort and stand on the roof (it gets crazy windy up there!) but the fort was closed when we just visited since it is a National Park.
- Playgrounds – Koret Children’s Quarter and Dolores Park are two of our favorites! Alta Plaza Park, Joe DiMaggio Park, Presidio Heights Park, Lafayette Park are also all great. The key is to plan your park outings by where you are eating next ????
- Drive down Lombard & Filbert Streets – of course Lombard is touristy but it’s also freaking adorable! And Filbert St. nearby, between Hyde and Leavenworth, is the steepest street in all of SF (an impressive title).
- Ride in a cable car or streetcar – again, you kind of have to.
- Alcatraz – it really is worth hopping on a ferry and checking it out! I’m still dying to go on a haunted night tour.
- Pier 39 – at the bottom of the list, because IMO Pier 39 is all of the worst things about San Francisco. But again.. you kind of have to. Hear the sea lions barking, peek in the windows at Boudin to see what cute animal-shaped bread they are currently baking, watch some street performers break dance if you’re lucky.. maybe even end with a sundae at Ghiradelli Square. (PS – It’s ridiculous but I actually enjoy doing Magowan’s Mirror Maze at Pier 39. It takes about 5 min and costs around $7 if I recall correctly. Silly but fun.)
Okay, tell me what I missed! Already planning our next trip back! xo