Where to eat in San Francisco?
March 24, 2010 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Where should my family eat in San Francisco?

My family is staying at the Grand Hyatt on Stockton Street next week for spring break. We're looking for fantastic places to eat (within walking distance from the hotel is good, but not a requirement).

We'd love some recommendations for:
Dim Sum (and Chinese in general)
Coffee Shops
Breakfast Places
Bakeries (Chinese?)
Places to get fast and cheap (but delicious!) lunches (soups, salads, sandwiches etc.)
Any other places that you love (my family loves pretty much all types of food, so if I'm missing a category on my list please don't let that stop you from sharing!)

posted by kylej to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Is this really not answerable by the archives / general tourism sites and books? You're staying in a touristy section of town.

For sushi, I personally love Sanraku - Nob Hill and Metreon locations are both close to you, depending on how you define walking distance. Service has been great at both locations and happy hour specials run from 3 to 7 pm.
posted by tantivy at 8:44 PM on March 24, 2010

Yelp is a great resource for stuff like this, here's a search for restaurants near your hotel.
posted by deansfurniture5 at 8:53 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tommaso Ristorante Italiano is amazing and really something special (I'm not normally someone who goes to Italian restaurants.) It's popular, though, so there can be a wait. It's a 15 minute walk from your hotel.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:01 PM on March 24, 2010

Best answer: Hey kylej. I hope you and your family have a great trip to San Francisco.

Check out the metafilter travel wiki food section for San Francisco. There are a lot of great ideas in there.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:28 PM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

For oysters, I would recommend Acme Oyster Bar at the Ferry Building. They are really worth heading over for.
posted by Carillon at 9:50 PM on March 24, 2010

Best answer: I have never had anything from Miette that wasn't heaven in a bakery box.
posted by corey flood at 10:14 PM on March 24, 2010

The Zuni Cafe, on Market Street. Seriously, get the roasted chicken with bread salad; this recommendation will make you the star of your family forevermore.
posted by cirripede at 10:15 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

For sushi you have to go to Sushi Zone, but only go when you think you might get hungry at some point in time. The wait is ruthless and they do not take reservations and it's the size of about 2 shoeboxes, but it's hands-down the best (and most reasonably priced) sushi in the city. But be forewarned: cash only. Orbit across the street makes a mean Mojito while you're waiting...
posted by ohyouknow at 10:20 PM on March 24, 2010

I can't go to San Francisco and not get Indian Pizza, which I've never seen anywhere else and which, as the name suggests, is a pizza loaded up with Indian food. Zante's is very good, they claim to be the originator of the dish and are conveniently located in the Mission, but my favorite is still the first place I had it, Golden Gate way out in the Outer Sunset (so near Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park, if you're planning to visit those.) Either of these places would make a great stop for cheap, delicious, memorable lunch.
posted by contraption at 10:47 PM on March 24, 2010

Best answer: There's a starbucks right across the street from the hotel for an easy breakfast.

If you go one block east (right on sutter) and one block north (left on grant) and you are at a good intersection. To your right will be a wonderful cafe called cafe de la press... great fro breakfast lunch and dinner! In front of you will be the gate to chinatown! walk through it and north along grant and you're headed through the heart of chinatown. Keep walking for a while and you will eventually hit a huge diagonal street (columbus). Turn slight left and keep walking north-ish on columbus, and you're essentially walking through the heart of North Beach (SF's little italy).

Ok, so back to your hotel. Now, from the main door make a right and go south on stockton one block and TA DA... you are staring at the biggest Macy's you'll probably ever see on the other side of union square. Wander around this general area and its surrounding blocks for all of the designer stores you can think of (like... the ferragamo store, the louis vuitton store, etc).

The ferry building and embarcadero are also within walking distance but a bit of a haul. The concierge can point you there. The powell st cable car is one block west (behind) your hotel. Japantown, koreatown, the mission district, the wharf, golden gate park etc etc etc are all great as well but will not be accessible on foot. Have fun!

(The sushi place across the street from cafe de la press is pretty good. But, it's SF... most of the sushi places are above the "national average.")
posted by muscat at 11:30 PM on March 24, 2010

If you're down around 2nd/Market during the day, B&M Mei Sing is a great Chinese restaurant not in Chinatown. Skip the steam table and order from the right-hand menu (at the right-hand cash registers) to-go or to eat there on the second floor. Several interesting dishes there, their Yang Chow fried rice is great, as is the soft-egg shrimp.
posted by rhizome at 11:51 PM on March 24, 2010

Best answer: You gotta stop by Blue Bottle behind the Mint for coffee.

Or head over to SFMOMA and visit the Rooftop Coffee Bar and eat art-inspired pastries and drink your fill of Blue Bottle coffee there.

Up a block from MOMA is A.G. Ferrari deli on Mission at 3rd Street. They make the best sandwiches.

You also might want to eat Imperial Rolls at Tu Lan (Vietnamese food) at 6th and Market.

There's a good breakfast/luch place called Kubala's Kitchen, which is actually in a bar called The Tempest on Mary at Natoma Street (it's on the Blue Bottle map). They make excellent cheeseburgers and stop serving food at 2pm.

Then there's the obligatory trip to the Mission for burritos. Hop on BART and get off at 16th or 24th Street and you're there. Or if you wanna stick closer to the hotel, a couple doors up from Tu Lan on Market at 6th Street there's a hole-in-the-wall taqueria called Taqueria Cancun.

You shouldn't pass up the chance to eat at Tad's Steakhouse on Powell Street (though it's just not the same since they got rid of the gaudy wallpaper and decor).

Whatever you do, don't get suckered into eating at the food court in the basement of the SF Centre (AKA Nordstrom/Bloomingdale's Shopping Center) unless you want Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom. A whole kingdom of sausage! (I've never eaten there, I just love saying "a whole kingdom of sausage!") The rest of the stuff down there is WAY overpriced and not very good.

If you get a chance, take the N-Judah line out to Ocean Beach and hang at Java Beach Cafe before venturing to the beach across the street.

There's nothing fancy about any of the places I've listed, but they're well known to the locals and mostly cheap and filling and walking distance or a short BART/MUNI ride away from Stockton Street. That's all I got. Have fun!
posted by wherever, whatever at 11:53 PM on March 24, 2010

Best answer: Take a look at Chow.com's SF Board for a bazillion recommendations by crazy foodies. Yelp suffers from a lot of grade inflation.

Personally, I hate Taqueria CanCun. Check out Burrito Eater for many better recommendations.
posted by benzenedream at 1:31 AM on March 25, 2010

The Eastern Bakery in Chinatown is not far and has awesome moon cakes (I vote for the lotus root ones). It's on the walk north to North Beach & Fisherman's wharf (which is touristy and meh, but a good place to catch a ferry to Alcatraz or Sausolito or wherever)

I also love Dojima-Ann for udon for lunch. Their sushi is nothing special - get the udon or donburi,
posted by aubilenon at 2:05 AM on March 25, 2010

Nthing the Java Beach Cafe! (I'm still kicking myself that I didn't get a hoodie from them.)

For seafood, go to the Anchor and Hope on Minna. (The Flash intro is a bit long...) I've posted about this place before -- yum!
posted by jgirl at 5:26 AM on March 25, 2010

Empress of China.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 6:30 AM on March 25, 2010

Seconding the Chowhound board. I got some excellent answers there (start here). I thought the dim sum at Great Eastern was awesome, and they have a picture menu if you're unfamiliar with it. Other things we liked:

Burritos at El Farolito
Ice cream at Bi-Rite
Hog Island for oysters (especially if you can get in on the Monday happy hour deal)
Dotties for breakfast (get there right at 7:30 and there won't be a line...otherwise I'm not sure any breakfast is worth an hour wait on vacation)

Everything baked in the whole city was outstanding. I'd suggest getting Chinese buns or just some bread and butter for breakfast, and save your appetite for the rest of the day. We loved our trip, hope you love yours as well!
posted by JoanArkham at 6:57 AM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: All the places I would recommend are in that Chowhound thread that JoanArkham linked.

The only thing I'd add is for a good sandwich lunch, Sentinel. For a relaxing afternoon tea, Samovar Tea Lounge.
posted by vacapinta at 7:11 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

You didn't ask about the "splurge" category, but you'd long remember: Restaurant Gary Danko. Great food and truly extraordinary service. My wife and I ate there for an anniversary a few years ago, and though we've gone to some fine places in many cities, we still talk about this one. For dim sum, we loved Yank Sing. Not exactly your traditional dim sum, and a bit pricey, but excellent.
posted by dust of the stars at 8:48 AM on March 25, 2010

Best answer: Dim Sum -- Yank Sing (mentioned above)
Coffee -- Blue Bottle (mentioned above), note that they have a stand at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market on Saturday
Mexican -- Primavera, which is only a stand at the farmer's market (man, I don't know why those folks haven't started a restaurant)
posted by madmethods at 10:48 AM on March 25, 2010

There's a starbucks right across the street from the hotel for an easy breakfast.

I have to disagree with this- with all the great food and coffee in SF, there's no reason to visit a national chain. Chowhound's a great source for breakfast places. Yelp is okay if read with a critical eye- it's weighted toward low price and portioning over food quality, to an extent.( there are also plenty of just straight up uninformed people on it. I just read a review from a person who ordered two chais at an Indian restaurant and was incensed that they were milky. WTF?)

Empress of China.

Great for MaiTai's, lame for food. Well worth having a drink in the 6th floor bar, though. Spectacular view.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:39 PM on March 25, 2010

I agree with vacapinta on going to the Sentinel for lunch, but would add that they also make really, really good muffins (and coffee) in the mornings.

I also agree with placing more weight on what Chowhound has to say than Yelp.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:16 PM on March 25, 2010

Can't believe no one's mentioned Sear's for breakfast. A San Francisco institution for over 70 years. I still remember my parents taking me there twenty years ago. Fabulous silver dollar pancakes with lingonberry sauce.
posted by halfguard at 6:22 PM on March 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, the trip was great! I didn't get to eat at all of the places listed here, but I marked as best all of the ones I did make it too as well as the ones I really wanted to but didn't. While preparing for this trip I organized the different restaurants recommended here into a categories, thought it might be helpful if people look at this thread in the future.

• Sentinel (see below, great muffins)
• Sear’s (439 Powell Street)
• Mama’s (only during midweek, line’s super long)
• Brenda’s
• Café de la Press (Also Breakfast and Dinner, one block right on sutter and one block left on grant)
• A.G. Ferrari deli (on Mission at 3rd Street, up one block from Moma)
• Kubala’s Kitchen, great cheeseburgers (in “the Tempest on Mary”, Natoma Street
• Taquieria Cancun (Market at 6th Street)
• Dojima-Ann (for udon, sushi nothing special on O’Farrell Street)
• Sentinel (really great sandwhiches 37 New Montgomery Street)
• Jai Yun
• Ferry Plaza Farmers Merket (Tuesday and Thursday, but Thursday more street food 10-2)
• Swan Oyster Depot (1517 Polk st)

• Tommaso Ristorante Italiano (15 Minute Walk from Hotel)
• Acme Oyster Bar (Oysters, at the Ferry Building)
• Zuni Café (Market Street)
• Sushi Place across the street from Café de la Press (see above)
• Tu Lan (Vietnamese, at 6th and Market)
• Tad’s Steakhouse (on Powell)
• Anchor and Hope (Seafood, on Minna)
• Hog Island (oysters)
• Yank Sing (Dim Sum)
• Tadich Grill (240 California Street)
• Miette
• Easter Bakery (Chinatown)
• Liguria (across from Mama’s, FANTASTIC focaccia)
• Tartine Bakery

• Coffee bar on top of MOMA
• Java Beach Café (by Ocean Beach)
• Ice Cream at Bi-Rite
posted by kylej at 9:27 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

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