A foodie's guide to San Francisco

July 05, 2017
A foodie's guide to San Francisco

The Bay Area boasts some of the United States' most diverse and Instagramable dining destinations.

San Francisco has long-reigned as the cultural and culinary melting pot of California.

The city by the bay has lured in the creative crowds for decades – think hippies, techies, foodies and fashion folk – so it comes as little surprise then to learn that SF also boasts some of the most varied cuisine in The Golden State.

Here, we sample the best of the inner-city, the burbs and everywhere in between, while still barely scratching the surface of this colourful and creatively culinary place. Consider the following 10 edible activities something to bear in mind when next in Fog City. Note: comfortable walking shoes and an appetite are essential.

1. Walk to brunch in Potrero Hill
Tipped as the best brunch in the city, Plow offers an award-winning array of classic breakfast and brunch options. From American hash to hearty bacon and eggs, the menu here is refreshingly simple and made to order. The offerings are plentiful, so no need to upsize.

2. Graze on flaky French delights in the Marina District
Wake up bright and early and take a leisurely stroll around the Palace of Fine Arts. This architecturally ornate structure will make you feel microscopically small (in a good way) and the California sun before breakfast truly is something to behold. Consider a coffee to-go and be sure to grab a fresh croissant at Le Marais in Cow Hollow – flaky, buttery and baked fresh daily, you can thank us later for this one.

3. Devour a Bi-Rite ice-cream in Dolores Park
The history of Dolores Park is something many local San Franciscans could wax lyrical about for hours. The creamy goodness on offer down the street at Bi-Rite – a community initiative that are doing as much good for locals in need as they are for hungry tourists – is another of the city's favourite scoops. This hole-in-the-wall ice creamery could lay claim to creating the original salted caramel, while using locally-sourced, organic ingredients. Here you'll find flavour combinations like ricanelas, balsamic strawberry and lavender with sonoma honey, no trip to the Mission is complete without a trip to Bi-Rite.

4. Buy a baguette and a whole lot of cheese from Lucca Deli
When you think of the States' best bodegas, naturally, New York City is first to spring to mind. Turns out, Californians can do the meatball sub just as good as the next guy. Take a wander down Chestnut Street and you'll find one of San Francisco's best. The sandwich menu here is deliciously authentic, with a deli and charcuterie selection that will make your mouth water. Lucca is old school Italian fare, so don't expect to see any smashed avocadoes or bearded hipsters. Our suggestion? Pick a sunny spot in Golden Gate Park and savour the flavour.

5. Go for a gourmet burger in Lower Haight
One of the city's most progressive suburbs is Lower Haight. The colourful community has become a drawcard for young artists and budding tech entrepreneurs alike, while maintaining its authenticity. While the neighbourhood is now home to a handful of swanky new eateries, one of the best is Maven, where you'll find the juiciest beef burger south of market, plus a selection of innovative flavour combinations designed to match a truly creative cocktail list. 

6. Do late afternoon tapas in The Mission
It's no secret that the Mission is the place to be for seriously good Mexican and a killer quesadilla. For those seeking a world-class cocktail and a good-looking charcuterie board, you will find it here. Our pick of the bunch? Beretta on Valencia, the infamous cocktail list on offer here needs no hype.


#nationaleatyourveggiesday idea: piquillo peppers goat cheese & balsamico 🤗 #sfeats

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7. Enjoy a shared dinner at Liholiho Yacht Club
Boasting an eclectic range of Pacific Rim delights, Liholiho Yacht Club is one of downtown's favourite new dining destinations. From smoky meat to fresh and fruity shared plates, you'll be spoiled for choice with inspired Hawaiian-fusion cuisine. The relaxed atmosphere and mouth-wateringly good cocktail list is also an absolute drawcard.

8. Sip on cocktails at Dirty Habit
Located on a rooftop high above the Zelos Hotel, prepare to be enamoured with this inner-city craft cocktail bar. The lengthy libations list and small bites are best enjoyed under the stars, surrounded by open fires and chic rooftop furniture that you'd expect to see in an episode of Mad Men. Be bold and opt for a creative combination like the "Cloud 9" – Kikori Whiskey, rice, miso, white sesame, lemon and amaretto – need we say more?


Did someone say Thirsty Thursday? 😁

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9. Enjoy dinner and a movie at Foreign Cinema
Anyone for dinner and a show? Foreign Cinema is single-handedly putting the old school back in date night. This gorgeous restaurant has been tipped as one of the "21 one most romantic in the United States" and boasts a reel of cult classic films. What's more, the Mediterranean-Californian cuisine is among the best in the city.

10. Hitch a ride to Sonoma Valley with Vantigo
If you're itching to get out of the city, consider a day trip to Sonoma. While Napa has long lured wine folk by the thousands, its lesser-known little sister Sonoma is a vetted slice of pinot paradise. Consider travelling in style and book a small scale, boutique wine tour with Vantigo.

The helpful guides will ensure you travel like a local – in one of two restored Volkswagen combi vans, while keeping you entertained all afternoon. The morning starts with a well-earned Mimosa for the road and wraps up with a pre-organised deli lunch. Tour groups rarely exceed 12 people, so you're bound to make a handful of new travel buddies over a glass of Californian wine by close of business.

If you've got the time: Do a doughnut run to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, and try dinner on Filmore Street – our pick? State Bird Provisions or the delights on offer at their sister restaurant, The Progress.