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Where to Eat and Drink on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco

Roll south for drive-in burgers, karaoke sushi, boxed dumplings, and other affordable eats

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Some diners seem to think that San Francisco ends at the bowl rim of Twin Peaks and Glen Canyon, but they’re missing out on the quietly delicious and affordable restaurant scene in the city’s southernmost neighborhoods. Real San Franciscans know that Ocean Avenue is the main drag that rolls from Stonestown Galleria down to Balboa Park, and in recent years it’s increasingly been lined with cute restaurants, bakeries, and shops. We’re not talking flashy fine dining, but low-key neighborhood favorites frequented by hungry families and students from neighboring City College. From drive-in burgers to karaoke sushi, boxes of buns to sweet cakes, here’s where the locals hit the brakes for good eats on Ocean Ave.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Lucho’s

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Taking it from the top, meaning that short strip of Ocean Avenue between 19th and Junipero Serra, Lucho’s serves big Yucatecan and Cali flavors. It’s a satisfying breakfast and brunch spot, starring hefty breakfast burritos, saucy chilaquiles, succulent cochinita pibil, and bunuelos dusted with cinnamon sugar and dunked in chocolate.

Ambrosia Bakery

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Zanze left a cheesecake-sized hole in everyone’s heart when its storefront shuttered on Ocean Avenue, but it’s far from the only bakery on this side of town. Ambrosia has kept the ovens warm since 1988, and it’s where locals head for a breakfast croissant or birthday cake. The Truong family has that not-too-sweet sensibility and specializes in Princess Cake decked in marzipan and Fantasia Cake layered with airy fruit and cream.

Shabu House

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Shabu House has multiple locations around the city, but its Ocean Avenue spot is a particularly quiet and cozy destination for the comforts of Japanese shabu-shabu. Diners gather around a simmering pot of broth and dip in thinly sliced and bundled beef and an array of veggies.

Dinosaurs

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Sure, you can grab a banh mi for less than 10 bucks from the Dinosaur’s in the Castro, but sandwich insiders are here to say that the Ocean Avenue location is the cutest — tucked away in its own little sandwich cottage with a Dutch door that swings open. Step right up for sandwiches stuffed with roasted pork, pate, grilled chicken, or even meatballs, and wash it down with Vietnamese iced coffee.

Kaisen Don

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Okay, so you’ve crossed Junipero Serra and rolled down to the main drag of Ocean Ave. Here, there are two dueling sushi spots, but you don’t have to choose one to try — they’re both good. Those who prefer Kaisen Don are into big chirashi bowl action, with sliced fish arrayed over rice and dolloped with roe. 

Champa Garden Restaurant

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Champa Garden is an Oakland favorite for Thai and Laotian dishes, and the owners added a second location on Ocean Avenue in 2013. There’s more to the menu than the usual curry and noodle takeout dishes, and the kitchen is not holding back on heat levels. The Champa Sampler is a particular delight, tucking Lao sausages, fried rice balls, and fried spring rolls into a container shaped like a boat. 

Cherry Blossom Bakery

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Somewhere between the pharmacy and hardware store, Cherry Blossom Bakery is a cute shop with locations both on Ocean Avenue and Clement Street for double the bun street cred. The case is filled with an array of Hong Kong–style pork buns, pineapple buns, egg tarts, strawberry cake, and even milk tea. Of course, it’s cash-only, but you can walk out with a pink bakery box filled with treats for a reasonable price.

Sakesan Sushi & Robata

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The other sushi destination on Ocean Ave is no less than a karaoke sushi bar, which also boasts locations on both Ocean Ave and Clement Street. But Sakesan isn’t just a party scene for students, it has legit good sushi and yaki. In addition to a long list of rolls, handrolls, and sashimi, there are grilled dishes off the robata and comforting bowls of udon, available either for dining in or taking out. 

Salmon sushi roll Sakesan Sushi & Robata

Ocean Ale House

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Ocean Ale House is a friendly neighborhood pub opened by a trio of local guys in 2016. There are bar-friendly smash burgers and fried chicken sandwiches, but also a mushroom Reuben featuring local funghi and rye, and craft beer selected by a certified cicerone (beer somm). Enjoy the fresh avenue air in the blue parklet out front and check out the calendar for live music and trivia nights.

Short rib sliders and dark beer Ocean Ale House

Pakwan Restaurant

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Pakwan is arguably San Francisco’s favorite mini-chain for affordable Pakistani and Indian eats, and some say the Ocean Avenue location is the best in the city (but let’s not upset the Mission). Suffice it to say, all the hits are here, too, including those buttery tikka masalas and biryani that are bigger than your face — both good for dinner, great for takeout, and even better leftover the next day.

Beep's Burgers

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A historic drive-in institution, Beep’s Burgers opened in 1962, and the name is a space-age throwback — think Sputnik (beep beep boop). The retro neon sign still glows through the fog on Ocean Avenue, but a new owner took over in 2014 to give the menu a refresh. Pull up for a $7 cheeseburger stacked with American cheese and special sauce, as well as mini corndogs, jalapeno poppers, curly fries, and Twinkie and Oreo milkshakes.

Lucho’s

Taking it from the top, meaning that short strip of Ocean Avenue between 19th and Junipero Serra, Lucho’s serves big Yucatecan and Cali flavors. It’s a satisfying breakfast and brunch spot, starring hefty breakfast burritos, saucy chilaquiles, succulent cochinita pibil, and bunuelos dusted with cinnamon sugar and dunked in chocolate.

Ambrosia Bakery

Zanze left a cheesecake-sized hole in everyone’s heart when its storefront shuttered on Ocean Avenue, but it’s far from the only bakery on this side of town. Ambrosia has kept the ovens warm since 1988, and it’s where locals head for a breakfast croissant or birthday cake. The Truong family has that not-too-sweet sensibility and specializes in Princess Cake decked in marzipan and Fantasia Cake layered with airy fruit and cream.

Shabu House

Shabu House has multiple locations around the city, but its Ocean Avenue spot is a particularly quiet and cozy destination for the comforts of Japanese shabu-shabu. Diners gather around a simmering pot of broth and dip in thinly sliced and bundled beef and an array of veggies.

Dinosaurs

Sure, you can grab a banh mi for less than 10 bucks from the Dinosaur’s in the Castro, but sandwich insiders are here to say that the Ocean Avenue location is the cutest — tucked away in its own little sandwich cottage with a Dutch door that swings open. Step right up for sandwiches stuffed with roasted pork, pate, grilled chicken, or even meatballs, and wash it down with Vietnamese iced coffee.

Kaisen Don

Okay, so you’ve crossed Junipero Serra and rolled down to the main drag of Ocean Ave. Here, there are two dueling sushi spots, but you don’t have to choose one to try — they’re both good. Those who prefer Kaisen Don are into big chirashi bowl action, with sliced fish arrayed over rice and dolloped with roe. 

Champa Garden Restaurant

Champa Garden is an Oakland favorite for Thai and Laotian dishes, and the owners added a second location on Ocean Avenue in 2013. There’s more to the menu than the usual curry and noodle takeout dishes, and the kitchen is not holding back on heat levels. The Champa Sampler is a particular delight, tucking Lao sausages, fried rice balls, and fried spring rolls into a container shaped like a boat. 

Cherry Blossom Bakery

Somewhere between the pharmacy and hardware store, Cherry Blossom Bakery is a cute shop with locations both on Ocean Avenue and Clement Street for double the bun street cred. The case is filled with an array of Hong Kong–style pork buns, pineapple buns, egg tarts, strawberry cake, and even milk tea. Of course, it’s cash-only, but you can walk out with a pink bakery box filled with treats for a reasonable price.

Sakesan Sushi & Robata

Salmon sushi roll Sakesan Sushi & Robata

The other sushi destination on Ocean Ave is no less than a karaoke sushi bar, which also boasts locations on both Ocean Ave and Clement Street. But Sakesan isn’t just a party scene for students, it has legit good sushi and yaki. In addition to a long list of rolls, handrolls, and sashimi, there are grilled dishes off the robata and comforting bowls of udon, available either for dining in or taking out. 

Salmon sushi roll Sakesan Sushi & Robata

Ocean Ale House

Short rib sliders and dark beer Ocean Ale House

Ocean Ale House is a friendly neighborhood pub opened by a trio of local guys in 2016. There are bar-friendly smash burgers and fried chicken sandwiches, but also a mushroom Reuben featuring local funghi and rye, and craft beer selected by a certified cicerone (beer somm). Enjoy the fresh avenue air in the blue parklet out front and check out the calendar for live music and trivia nights.

Short rib sliders and dark beer Ocean Ale House

Pakwan Restaurant

Pakwan is arguably San Francisco’s favorite mini-chain for affordable Pakistani and Indian eats, and some say the Ocean Avenue location is the best in the city (but let’s not upset the Mission). Suffice it to say, all the hits are here, too, including those buttery tikka masalas and biryani that are bigger than your face — both good for dinner, great for takeout, and even better leftover the next day.

Beep's Burgers

A historic drive-in institution, Beep’s Burgers opened in 1962, and the name is a space-age throwback — think Sputnik (beep beep boop). The retro neon sign still glows through the fog on Ocean Avenue, but a new owner took over in 2014 to give the menu a refresh. Pull up for a $7 cheeseburger stacked with American cheese and special sauce, as well as mini corndogs, jalapeno poppers, curly fries, and Twinkie and Oreo milkshakes.

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