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How to Spend 24 Food-Filled Hours in San Francisco’s Avenues Like a Local

All the must-hits in a single day, from coffee to croissants to crab

People ride their bikes on Great Highway on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The westside of San Francisco is one of those storied, mythologized, and misunderstood parts of the city that people often hear about when they first come to the Bay Area. There are so many neighborhoods in just a few miles, it’s sort of wild: Lake Merced, Parkside, West Portal, Forest Hill, Twin Peaks, the Inner and Outer Sunset, then across Golden Gate Park to the Inner and Outer Richmond neighborhoods — and that’s not even all of them. Even for some who grew up in the Outer Sunset, for example, there are plenty of unexplored parts of the city west of Divisadero. “Surfing? I would never. What’s a Breadbelly?”

For the sake of spending a day hitting the highlights, this guide sticks to just the Avenues, which has a ton of wonders not on this brief list. Excellent restaurants abound through the Sunset and Parkside, and there are dozens of delectable destinations in the Richmond District, too. This guide is perhaps best pulled off with a car, but can be done on foot with a hop on the N-Line Muni train or easily by bike.

So do yourself a personal favor and put the Avenues at the top of your to-visit list this fall, the season when sunsets over Ocean Beach, perhaps looking out from above a glass of wine at Land’s End, glimmer pink and orange.


8 a.m. coffee at Java Beach Cafe after a morning surf session

1396 La Playa Street, San Francisco

Java Beach Cafe

Look, you don’t have to venture into the rough waters at Ocean Beach to need a morning zip of caffeine. Maybe you’re a “jog on the sand in the morning” person or fancy a long bike ride around Lake Merced in the early fog. In any case, the Lady Falcon Coffee served at this no-frills cafe is roasted by Sunset-raised Buffy Maguire and well worth the trip.

10 a.m. breakfast at Eats and walk around Clement Street farmer’s market

50 Clement Street, San Francisco

Next, head across the park to the Richmond District, where parking is pretty easy and free on Sundays. If it does happen to be a Sunday, however, expect long, long lines at Eats. That’s in part because this restaurant is a well-loved fixture of Clement Street, but also because Sunday is for the Clement Street Farmers Market. There’s a veggie breakfast sandwich of scrambled egg and avocado for $13, strawberry french toast with goat cheese for $9.50, and the mimosas are just $7. Walk off the feasting through one of the city’s most popular farmers markets.

11 a.m. croissants at Arsicault

397 Arguello Boulevard, San Francisco

Now that you have the strength the wait in line for a thousand years, head to this hit bakery. Hopefully, there’s a bit of stomach capacity left as one of the most-hyped bakeries in America is waiting to blow your mind just around the corner. A chocolate croissant goes for $5.25 and, according to one fans’ self-made croissant index (his riff on the Big Mac index) he feels it’s totally worth it. If this endorsement doesn’t do the trick, the shop was also named best bakery in the country in 2016 by Bon Apetit. Prepare for a much longer line than at Eats, but with a quicker turnaround.

1 p.m. sesame balls and turnip cake at Irving Street’s Happy Bakery

2253 Irving Street, San Francisco

Take your flaky fuel through Golden Gate Park, where you can soak up all of the splendor of the city’s greatest green space, which is notably one square kilometer bigger than Central Park — and designed as such just to spite New Yorkers. After a trip around Stow Lake and through the music concourse, now home to an enormous Ferris wheel, exit at 19th Avenue and walk a few blocks along Irving Street to Happy Bakery. It’s cash only, but there’s an ATM kitty corner to this absolute juggernaut of siu mai and hum bao.

3 p.m. grab a beer at Woods Outbound

4045 Judah Street, San Francisco

Woods Outbound

From Happy Bakery it’s just a block to the Sunset’s favorite (and at times most despised) train, the N-Judah, which will take you all the way to the Outer Sunset and Woods Outbound. Grab a seat at the expansive parklet or on the back patio — complete with fire pit — at this craft beer haven to balance all those caffeine jitters. Natural wine, La Croix, and even empanadas are on the menu, too.

5 p.m. dinner at Thanh Long

4101 Judah Street, San Francisco

The final course, the big boy, the main attraction. All the Bay’s love for Dungeness crab cannot be constrained to just one restaurant, but if the Avenues has a contender for the belt, it could be Thahn Long and its secret garlic sauce. The Vietnamese restaurant dishes up garlic noodles worth a slurp, and seafood dumplings of cod and minced prawns.

8 p.m. head to Geary for a night of vibey lowkey bars

Properly buzzing on the remnants of croissant, coffee, and crab, shake it off a la Taylor Swift with a few of the neighborhood’s favorite low-key bars. An idea crawl starts at English bar Pig and Whistle, routing through IRA-loving Ireland’s 32, and ending with the heavy-handed poured rum drinks at Trad’r Sam. (If Wednesday happens to be your 24 hours, Ireland’s 32 sports a fantastic karaoke open mic.)

Woods Outbound

4045 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122

Eats

50 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118 Visit Website

Happy Bakery

2253 Irving Street, , CA 94122 (415) 661-1386

Breadbelly

1408 Clement Street, , CA 94118 (415) 349-0969 Visit Website

Haven

44 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 663-4440 Visit Website

Portal

1 Sankt Eriksplan, Norrmalm, Stockholms län 113 20 08-30 11 01 Visit Website
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