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16 Stellar Lunch Spots in San Francisco

Soup, salad, or smorrebrod?

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Don’t call it a comeback. Actually, that’s pretty much exactly what it is: lunching in the city is on the rebound. As summer is well underway, there are safe and comfortable ways to try that meatless lamb at Souvla or to trek out to Ocean Avenue for a Vietnamese iced coffee from Dinosaurs. Outdoor dining options are abound — bring your lunch to the new Presidio Tunnel Top park, if you’re feeling bold — and masking up for indoor meals will always be your prerogative. There are many delicious and (relatively) cheap lunch options across all 48 hills to try, whether you’re headed back to the office for work or just tired of mail ordering your soylent like a replicant. Give San Francisco your lunch money once more at these 16 restaurants.

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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Lucca Delicatessen

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Lucca is the old-school Italian-American deli of the Marina, family-owned since 1929. It’s a meaty sandwich destination, starring Italian combos with mortadella and salami, caprese with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto, and, needless to say, meatballs.

Salami hanging from the ceiling at Lucca Deli Lucca Deli

Molinari Delicatessen

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Molinari is a deli institution in North Beach, strung with sausages and lined with olive oil. Lunch fans pick out a roll, and pile on the cured meats and pepperoncini.

Molinari Delicatessan in North Beach.
Molinari Delicatessan in North Beach.
Photo: Flickr/Cody Simms

Marufuku Ramen

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Marufuku joined the many outstanding lunch and snack options in Japantown in 2017. The Hakata-style ramen comes in a rich and creamy tonkotsu broth sunk with pork belly, or there’s a lighter chicken paitan. 

Turtle Tower Restaurant

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Turtle Tower, the favorite Vietnamese restaurant of the Tenderloin, hits the spot for chicken pho. The northern-style broth is clear and bright, and brimming with tender rice noodles and chicken.

Pho ga from Turtle Tower Turtle Tower

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

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La Cocina’s long awaited food hall is open for weekday lunches only – but if you can work around the somewhat limited hours you can have your pick among options like smoked sausage and po-boys from Boug Cali, Estrellita’s Snack’s pupusas, guisados tacos courtesy Mi Morena, and more. There’s coffee from Fluid Cooperative Cafe for a post-lunch pick-me-up or cocktails over at La Paloma if your afternoon is headed the other way.

Lorena Masso

Couples have literally fallen in love over the salads and wraps from Souvla, the Greek fast-casual mini chain. Is it the spit-roasted lamb? The harissa yogurt? The garlicky fries? Who can say, but don’t forget the Greek frozen yogurt with baklava crumbles for dessert.

Devil's Teeth Baking Company

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Everyday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can swing by either of Devil’s Teeth’s locations, which sandwich the north and south sides of the park, for fresh baked cinnamon rolls and a sandwich. The breakfast sandwich served on a big, fluffy biscuit makes a respectable lunch but there are also more traditional lunch options like a BLT, tuna salad, or grilled cheese.

Lucinda's Deli & More

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A former Horsefeather chef opened this sandwich spot near Alamo Square, because he likes taking a mortadella sub to the park with his pitbull. The sandwiches are simple, but the chef touches come through with lots of different spreads and toppings, from flavored mayos and housemade barbecue sauce to pickled and crispy onions.

Roast beef at Lucinda’s Deli Patricia Chang

Kantine

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Kantine originally started as a smoked-trout-toast destination at the farmers’ market, before settling in as a beautiful Scandinavian-inspired bakery and cafe on Market Street. The savory porridges and salads are lovely, but you still can’t go wrong with an open-faced smorrebrod on sprouted rye.

Palm City

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Palm City calls itself the “premier westernmost hoagie destination in the country.” It’s an Outer Sunset cafe and wine shop where Dennis Cantwell and Monica Wong serve the Philly-style sandwich with mortadella, finocchiona, mozzarella, parmesan, arugula, and nduja mayo; traditional garlic roasted pork with broccoli raab, toma, and cherry pepper aioli; and a well-stuffed BLT. It’s open for seating at tables inside and out, first come, first served.

Hoagie from Palm City Patricia Chang

HOT JOHNNIE'S

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This casual pandemic-born shop is all about the pastrami, which is brined and cured in house in small batches. You can have it sliced and folded into several sandwiches; the Dutch Crunch feels particularly San Franciscan in that it’s served on the city’s favorite sandwich bread and smothered in muenster, pepperoncini spread, housemade pickles, and sprinkled with fresh dill. Take it to go or out back to enjoy on the restaurant’s hidden patio.

Pastrami sandwiches from Hot Johnnie’s Hot Johnnie’s

Sanguchon Eatery

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Peruvian chef Carlos Altamirano brought marinated meats and flaky empanadas to Valencia with this brightly decorated counter shop. The menu is built around beef, pork, and chicken served in sandwiches and on skewers, technically anticuchos, so be warned, this isn’t the light seafood fare you might be expecting.

Lomo saltado sandwich from Sanguchon Sanguchon Eatery

Village Rotisserie

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Australian-style chicken arrived in Noe Valley thanks to Village Rotisserie, a quaint little shop with a glass case stuffed with golden roasted birds and fresh vegetable sides. Order a half or quarter chicken plate and round out the meal with kung pao brussels, roasted beets, or duck fat potatoes. There’s a sunny back patio through the narrow dining room if you want to dine on site. 

Soba noodle salad at Village Rotisserie Patricia Chang

La Taqueria

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The Mission is rich in excellent tacos and burritos, and La Taq is an institution. Of course, the best super burrito is a hotly contested matter of personal opinion, but this one skips the rice, so it’s slightly less nap-inducing. Ask for dorado, so it’s griddled until golden.

Auntie April's Chicken, Waffles, & Soul Food Restaurant

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April Spears serves the Bayview soul-satisfying fried chicken and waffles, as well as braised oxtails, red beans and rice, and shrimp po’boys.

Dinosaurs

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The Ocean Avenue location of mini-chain Dinosaurs makes for a great grab-and-go lunch option, with Vietnamese iced coffee, avocado milkshakes, spring rolls, and a good-sized banh mi stuffed with shaking beef, lemongrass pork, or spicy tuna.

Dinosaurs

Lucca Delicatessen

Lucca is the old-school Italian-American deli of the Marina, family-owned since 1929. It’s a meaty sandwich destination, starring Italian combos with mortadella and salami, caprese with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto, and, needless to say, meatballs.

Salami hanging from the ceiling at Lucca Deli Lucca Deli

Molinari Delicatessen

Molinari is a deli institution in North Beach, strung with sausages and lined with olive oil. Lunch fans pick out a roll, and pile on the cured meats and pepperoncini.

Molinari Delicatessan in North Beach.
Molinari Delicatessan in North Beach.
Photo: Flickr/Cody Simms

Marufuku Ramen

Marufuku joined the many outstanding lunch and snack options in Japantown in 2017. The Hakata-style ramen comes in a rich and creamy tonkotsu broth sunk with pork belly, or there’s a lighter chicken paitan. 

Turtle Tower Restaurant

Turtle Tower, the favorite Vietnamese restaurant of the Tenderloin, hits the spot for chicken pho. The northern-style broth is clear and bright, and brimming with tender rice noodles and chicken.

Pho ga from Turtle Tower Turtle Tower

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace

La Cocina’s long awaited food hall is open for weekday lunches only – but if you can work around the somewhat limited hours you can have your pick among options like smoked sausage and po-boys from Boug Cali, Estrellita’s Snack’s pupusas, guisados tacos courtesy Mi Morena, and more. There’s coffee from Fluid Cooperative Cafe for a post-lunch pick-me-up or cocktails over at La Paloma if your afternoon is headed the other way.

Lorena Masso

Souvla

Couples have literally fallen in love over the salads and wraps from Souvla, the Greek fast-casual mini chain. Is it the spit-roasted lamb? The harissa yogurt? The garlicky fries? Who can say, but don’t forget the Greek frozen yogurt with baklava crumbles for dessert.

Devil's Teeth Baking Company

Everyday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. you can swing by either of Devil’s Teeth’s locations, which sandwich the north and south sides of the park, for fresh baked cinnamon rolls and a sandwich. The breakfast sandwich served on a big, fluffy biscuit makes a respectable lunch but there are also more traditional lunch options like a BLT, tuna salad, or grilled cheese.

Lucinda's Deli & More

A former Horsefeather chef opened this sandwich spot near Alamo Square, because he likes taking a mortadella sub to the park with his pitbull. The sandwiches are simple, but the chef touches come through with lots of different spreads and toppings, from flavored mayos and housemade barbecue sauce to pickled and crispy onions.

Roast beef at Lucinda’s Deli Patricia Chang

Kantine

Kantine originally started as a smoked-trout-toast destination at the farmers’ market, before settling in as a beautiful Scandinavian-inspired bakery and cafe on Market Street. The savory porridges and salads are lovely, but you still can’t go wrong with an open-faced smorrebrod on sprouted rye.

Palm City

Palm City calls itself the “premier westernmost hoagie destination in the country.” It’s an Outer Sunset cafe and wine shop where Dennis Cantwell and Monica Wong serve the Philly-style sandwich with mortadella, finocchiona, mozzarella, parmesan, arugula, and nduja mayo; traditional garlic roasted pork with broccoli raab, toma, and cherry pepper aioli; and a well-stuffed BLT. It’s open for seating at tables inside and out, first come, first served.

Hoagie from Palm City Patricia Chang

HOT JOHNNIE'S

This casual pandemic-born shop is all about the pastrami, which is brined and cured in house in small batches. You can have it sliced and folded into several sandwiches; the Dutch Crunch feels particularly San Franciscan in that it’s served on the city’s favorite sandwich bread and smothered in muenster, pepperoncini spread, housemade pickles, and sprinkled with fresh dill. Take it to go or out back to enjoy on the restaurant’s hidden patio.

Pastrami sandwiches from Hot Johnnie’s Hot Johnnie’s

Sanguchon Eatery

Peruvian chef Carlos Altamirano brought marinated meats and flaky empanadas to Valencia with this brightly decorated counter shop. The menu is built around beef, pork, and chicken served in sandwiches and on skewers, technically anticuchos, so be warned, this isn’t the light seafood fare you might be expecting.

Lomo saltado sandwich from Sanguchon Sanguchon Eatery

Village Rotisserie

Australian-style chicken arrived in Noe Valley thanks to Village Rotisserie, a quaint little shop with a glass case stuffed with golden roasted birds and fresh vegetable sides. Order a half or quarter chicken plate and round out the meal with kung pao brussels, roasted beets, or duck fat potatoes. There’s a sunny back patio through the narrow dining room if you want to dine on site. 

Soba noodle salad at Village Rotisserie Patricia Chang

La Taqueria

The Mission is rich in excellent tacos and burritos, and La Taq is an institution. Of course, the best super burrito is a hotly contested matter of personal opinion, but this one skips the rice, so it’s slightly less nap-inducing. Ask for dorado, so it’s griddled until golden.

Auntie April's Chicken, Waffles, & Soul Food Restaurant

April Spears serves the Bayview soul-satisfying fried chicken and waffles, as well as braised oxtails, red beans and rice, and shrimp po’boys.

Related Maps

Dinosaurs

The Ocean Avenue location of mini-chain Dinosaurs makes for a great grab-and-go lunch option, with Vietnamese iced coffee, avocado milkshakes, spring rolls, and a good-sized banh mi stuffed with shaking beef, lemongrass pork, or spicy tuna.

Dinosaurs

Related Maps