Why yes, yes it is that time again, when the last gasp of San Francisco late summer finally chills out, and the days get a little darker and more mystical. This means it’s time to write what’s not-so-secretly my favorite seasonal guide of the year, which I like to think of as the not-so-basic guide to PSL, a pumpkin spice lifestyle. This guide covers all of the important fall food groups: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice cocktails, and pumpkin pie. Oh, and apple fritters.
So put on that grandma-chic sweater, fire up Labyrinth on Netflix, and let’s get cozy, shall we? Here are the sweetest and spiciest new drinks and desserts this fall in San Francisco.
Candied Yam Latte from Red Bay
Far more soulful than any basic pumpkin spice latte, the candied yam latte from Red Bay is a belly warmer, brimming with slow-simmered African yams, ginger, and cinnamon. Pick one up at the new Ferry Building location or the gorgeous new flagship in Oakland.
Cosecha y Pepita Latte from Abanico Coffee Roasters
Abanico always brews cafecito comfort and has a new specialty drink for harvest season: The Cosecha y Pepita Latte is steeped in Salvadoran traditions and rich with pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and piloncillo, with toasted and ground pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.
Halloween Cocktails at Rye Bar
Whiskey-centric Rye bar in the Tenderloin is rolling out a full Halloween cocktail list for the most magical time of the year, promising dramatic decor and lighting. Try the Old Fashioned Halloween with cinnamon, cloves, and citrus. (And never forget, Bandit is just next door, should you require a wagyu burger.)
Hot Apple Cider at Casements
Modern Irish bar Casements serves a toe-tingling Irish coffee and hot toddy. This year, they’re adding a hot apple cider spiked with calvados and port, alongside a new menu of stews, soups, and chowders.
Black-Bottom Pumpkin Pie from Pie Society
There’s plenty of good pumpkin pie in San Francisco, but leave it to award-winning pastry chef Angela Pinkerton of Pie Society to take it over the top. She roasts local red kuri and kabocha squashes, blends them with a little brown sugar and a lot of spice, and pours them into a dark chocolate crust with a surprise layer of espresso chocolate ganache.
10-Hour Apple Tart at B. Patisserie
B. Patisserie may be known best for kouign amann, but never forget the apple tart. They cook down the apples into a confiture for 10 hours, before adding in more tart green apples for a contrast in textures. Then all that goes into a flaky pastry crust with crunchy streusel topping.
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake Dougnuts at Johnny Doughnuts
If you specifically crave apple cider doughnuts, drive out to Apple Hill, the big grower’s festival which is happening again this fall. But for a taste in the city, fine apple fritters are to be had at Johnny’s Doughnuts, as well as a special pumpkin cake doughnut smothered in a brown butter glaze.
Butterbeer and Popcorn Seasonal Ice Creams at Sunday Social
Continuing the festive legacy of Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, the new team at Sunday Social is breaking out fun seasonal ice cream flavors for fall, including Butterbeer and Popcorn. Ideal for feasting while watching the entire Harry Potter series for the second time this pandemic, not that that describes anyone writing this story.