This Foodie’s Guide to San Francisco

So, where to eat in San Francisco, such a loaded question!  There are SO MANY delicious, local, wonderful places to eat in San Francisco!  Deciding where and what to eat were the hardest decisions we had to make in San Francisco!  Here are our picks, in no particular order!  Hope you enjoy them!

Swan Oyster Depot – Swan Oyster Depot, of Anthony Bourdain fame, is a seafood and oyster bar located in the Nob Hill are of San Francisco.  Swan Oyster Depot has been around for practically a century and is highly regarded by locals and tourists.  The restaurant is tiny, with only about 20 bar seats and no ability to make reservations – you simply line up outside and wait!  We went a little before 11:00 a.m. on a weekday and waited just under an hour.  I’ve heard it only gets longer as the day goes on…  Once we got in, we lunched on the freshest seafood, including crab back, seafood chowder, oysters and Anchor Steam beer!  Some notes: (1) while casual, Swan Oyster Depot is not cheap; (2) there is really nothing to eat except seafood; and (3) payment is cash only.

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The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar – The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar (also taken from Anthony Bourdain) was probably my favorite restaurant that we went to in San Francisco.  Caveat, it was more for the experience than the food!  The Tonga Room is located in the basement of the Fairmount Hotel; the restaurant used to just be an indoor pool, but was turned into a tiki bar in the 1950s, and its AMAZING!  There is still an actual pool in the middle of the restaurant, complete with a “ship” stage that moves out into the middle of the pool when the band is playing.  On the ship, a three man band that covers just the best songs!  It also rains, just like the Rainforest Café!  Here we are with our giant cocktail – the Scorpion Bowl – and the ship in the pool!

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For food, we started with edamame and Curried Crab Won Tacos.  The tacos were awesome.

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For mains, we ordered fish (left), beef and a side of rice.

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We finished the meal with a complimentary dessert and some more cocktails!  While we had a full meal, you can also come just for the bar, music and dancing (same room).  Note, there was a long line to get into the bar!

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Boulevard – Boulevard is one of San Francisco’s great, traditional restaurants.  It has received a Michelin Star and a James Beard Award.  So obviously, the food is good!  We went here one evening upon the recommendation of a friend (who has exquisite taste) and the restaurant did not disappoint!  From the service to the decor to the presentation, the experience was superb.  And the food was so, so delicious!  Below are pictures of Dan’s foie gras waffle and my tortellini for appetizers and then our entrees of lamb and steak!  If you want a nice meal in San Francisco, definitely check out this spot!

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Mission Chinese – Pop-up restaurants are sort of a San Francisco thing – it happens when a  chef takes over the kitchen of a normal restaurant for some period of time.  One of the first and most famous pop-ups is Mission Chinese in the Mission.  We went here based (again) on Bourdain’s review of the place, and he was correct, this place is delicious!  Set inside the Lung Shan Restaurant, Mission Chinese serves up a modern take on standard Chinese take-out fare.  Here is the outside and interior of the restaurant.

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For dinner, we started with a pork belly appetizer and then moved on to Stir Fried Squid Ink Noodles for Dan and Kung Pao Pastrami for me!  So good and so creative.

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If you come here, there is almost always a line outside.  You can now go online and make a reservation, which means the restaurant will try to hold a spot for you…  Prepare to wait.

Aster – Aster is a new restaurant in the Mission, which Dan and I decided to try based on reviews of “new restaurants in San Francisco.”  The food was delicious and creative.  This is a great place for a casual, “nice” dinner in the Mission.

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Four Barrel Coffee – Always ranked as one of the best coffee shops in San Francisco (and there are a lot of great coffee shops here!), Four Barrel has a location right in the Mission.  Dan and I stopped here for a coffee on a Saturday morning.  I had a cappuccino and Dan got a pour over coffee.  In addition to great coffee, this shop also had a delicious array of pastries.  I went with the below peach doughnut…YUM!  Chocolate from the famous Dandelion Chocolate is also sold here.

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Ritual Coffee Roasters – Another fancy coffee shop in the Mission, Ritual specializes solely in coffee. No food here.  Ritual makes several different types of coffee and sells beans at their store.  My cappuccino was excellent.  Be prepared for a line here.  I must have waited 20 minutes on a random Sunday afternoon.

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Cancun Taqueria – One of the cheapest and most delicious meals in San Francisco, Taqueria Cancun is a spot to put on your list!  Taqueria Cancun is a small, literal hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the Mission.  Nothing fancy.  Don’t let the facade fool you, this place is good!

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Since we squeezed this meal in (a second lunch of sorts), Dan and I split a beef tongue taco and the standard burrito (which was large enough for two!)  This meal was so good and one of my favorite stops on the trip!  Highly recommend stopping here if in the Mission District!

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Tongue Taco

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Burrito

STEAL OUR TRIP

Swan Oyster Depot – 1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109.  T: (415) 673-1101.  No reservations.  Cash only.  Open 10:30 – 5:30 Monday – Sunday.  Swan Oyster Depot also does take away without waiting in line but its mostly uncooked, meaning that you would have to prepare the food yourself.

The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar – 950 Mason St. San Francisco, CA 94108.  T: (415) 772-5278.  Reservations can be made online through Open Table.

Boulevard – 1 Mission Street, SF, CA. 94105.  T: (415) 543-6084. Reservations can be made online through Open Table.

Mission Chinese (AKA Lung Shan Restaurant) – 2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 94410  T: (415) 863-2800.  You can make “reservations” online…basically they will try to hold a spot for your.  Recommended.  You can also order take out and delivery online!

Aster – 1001 Guerrero Street, San Francisco CA 94110.  T: (415) 875-9810.  Reservations can be made online.

Four Barrel Coffee – 375 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.  This is the Mission location.  There are two other locations in San Francisco.

Ritual Coffee Roasters – 1026 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. T: (415) 641-1011.  This is the location in the Mission.  There are two other locations in San Francisco and one in Napa.

Cancun Tacqueria – 2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110.  T: (415) 252-9560.  No reservations.

On A Budget

If you are on a budget, stick to the Mission District.  There are lots of great restaurants there!  Of particular note, Mission Chinese and Tacqueria Cancun were excellent choices at low prices.  You can also experience the fun of the Tonga room without the cost of a full dinner by just going to the bar!  If you do this, get there early, as there is always a line to get into the bar!

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