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The Biggest Food Festival in SF Is Mashing Up with Restaurant Week

Eat Drink SF and SF Restaurant Week are combining forces this year, and here are some of the most delicious deals 

Patricia Chang

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic may have unceremoniously shut down events around town, but the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) is still championing restaurants as owners work to reopen (and. in many cases, rebuild) their businesses. In a move unique to this year, the group is rolling together its two biggest annual events: Eat Drink SF and SF Restaurant Week.

Eat Drink SF, the big food festival, normally happens in August, filling a massive space with tables from hundreds of restaurants and bars so eaters can stagger around in weekend finery and taste everything from ceviche shooters to champagne cocktails. Separately, SF Restaurant Week usually happens in January, with a week of lunch and dinner specials running across more than 100 participating restaurants so eaters can dine around town and boost businesses’ revenue streams during a quiet time of the year.

Given the pandemic, all bets are off — this year, maybe Eat Drink SF came late or SF Restaurant Week came early. Either way, the GGRA is rolling out 10 days worth of outdoor dining, takeout, and virtual events for Bay Area diners. And it’s not that much smaller than in previous years, since there are still more than 100 restaurants getting in on the action. In short: The next week and a half are going to be rich in eating opportunities. Here’s the scoop on where to find the most delicious deals.

Wait, When Exactly Is This Happening

The monster mash of Eat Drink SF and SF Restaurant Week runs from Friday, October 23 through Sunday, November 1, meaning it fortuitously runs through Halloween. Hopefully, there are some spicy seasonal menu items on deck.

Outdoor dining at the Vault Patricia Chang

The Big Sit-Down Dinners

This blitz is bookended by two big-ticket dinners. For those who feel comfortable sitting down for a meal, grab tickets online.

  • The opening dinner is on Friday, October 23 at the Vault Garden. It includes four courses served by six chefs, such as Reem Assil from Reem’s and Angela Pinkerton of Pie Society, all for $175.
  • The closing dinner is on Sunday, November 1 at Epic Steak, which is partnering with Waterbar to serve up four courses of surf and turf for $127.

The Most Delicious Deals Around Town

In the days between, Restaurant Week will be running deals across town. The GGRA made a point of setting menu prices even lower this year, with lunches starting at $10 and dinners at $25, and for the first time, many of those are available for takeout and delivery. Click through to browse the full list of restaurants, but here are a few standouts.

All Good Pizza in the Bayview is participating for the first time this year, slinging Neapolitan-style pies. An arugula salad with persimmons and walnuts and a margherita pizza with fior di latte ring in at only $15 for lunch.

August (1) Five on Van Ness has an upscale Indian three-course feast, with choices including bison keema, turmeric salmon, and sticky toffee pudding for $40 for dinner.

Blue Plate at the top of Mission is serving up three comforting courses, with options such as smoked trout deviled eggs, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and its beloved key lime pie for $40 for dinner.

California Fish Market, that fresh new seafood spot in North Beach, is coming in with a $25 lunch and $65 dinners. Menus are still to be announced, but cross your fins for crudo, louie, and pasta.

Canela in the Castro is offering $25 lunches and $40 and $65 dinners. And they are getting to the spirit with a Halloween special that includes “go for the jugular” gazpacho, ink-black paella, mummified beef tenderloin, and “trick or treat” bread pudding (treat, please). There appear to be mini marshmallows involved.

El Techo in the Mission has a $40 dinner option, and while it has not shared its menus yet, let’s all dream high and hope that means margaritas, empanadas, and plantains on the rooftop.

Fiorella in the Richmond has a three-course dinner for $40, with options that include arancini, meatballs, funghi pizza, cacio e pepe, and hazelnut-chocolate budino. It’s also kicking in a glass of prosecco for extra fizz.

International Smoke in SoMa, the restaurant from sweet-and-spicy cookbook author Ayesha Curry, is offering a four-course dinner for $65, and the curry cornbread, smoked St. Louis ribs, barbecue mac and cheese, and ’nilla wafer pudding look serious.

Mahila, the Malaysian gem in Noe Valley, is offering three courses for $40 for dinner, starring chef Azalina Eusope’s tamarind makrut wings, mee mamak turmeric noodles and shrimp, and kaya pie filled with coconut jam.

Maison Danel, the sparkling new Parisian tea salon in the Tenderloin, has a petite lunch special for only $10 (repeat: $10) featuring a fresh market salad and tidy smoked salmon croissant sandwich. But come back for that $25 dinner, which features a brie-topped burger and sweet pudding.

Scoma’s, the seafood institution in Fisherman’s Wharf, has a three-course dinner for $65. The Caesar salad is an obvious choice, but good luck deciding between clam chowder versus oysters Rockefeller, or crab cakes versus cioppino.

Z&Y in Chinatown is offering several price points, starting with a $25 lunch of mapo tofu and cucumber salad, and reaching such heights as a $65 dinner of tea-smoked duck, hot chili oil fish, and dry-fried string beans. They’ve proudly served several presidents, so why not order some chiles for good luck on the eve of the election.

There’s Some Fun Online Entertainment, Too

And if all that wasn’t enticing enough, there’s also some online entertainment. So if you want to learn how to assemble a mezze platter with Samir Mogannam of Beit Rima, or to make a Nigerian combo plate with Simileoluwa Adebajo of Eko Kitchen, check out the virtual events lineup for more details on how to attend.