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20 Iconic Meat Dishes in San Francisco

Steaks, chops, and roast chickens galore

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San Francisco, for all its seafood and healthy living, is a meat-eating kind of town. From a serious devotion to roast chicken to steak worship, the love runs deep for anything and everything meaty. This list eschews burgers, and leaves seafood behind, though there are many great options to be found in those categories as well.

So without further adieu, here are 20 of San Francisco’s most iconic meat dishes, listed geographically from North to south. Some are old favorites, and some are new classics, but if you’re a carnivore, you must try them; if you’re a vegetarian on the fence, these are worthy places to get back in the (lamb) saddle.

Did your favorite dish go missing from this list? Let us know in the comments.

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49er Porterhouse at Boboquivari's

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The “49er” is a 49 ounce porterhouse steak for $149.99, served a la carte. Bobo’s (also known as Boboquivari’s), is known for both steak and crab, though the steaks are the true star. The 49er is served whole, and carved tableside; make sure to order some sides, like twice-baked potatoes, yams, and mod macaroni and cheese. And a martini, definitely get that.

Grilled Rack of lamb at Kokkari Estiatorio

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The staid atmosphere at Kokkari is a refreshing and civilized departure from SF’s many subway-tiled dining establishments. Relax upon a cozy banquette and enjoy a rack of lamb with Greek flavors of oregano and lemon, roasted over the wood fire.

Eater Archives

Shaking Beef at Slanted Door

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Throughout the years, Slanted Door has remained at the top of the list for both locals and tourists visiting the Ferry Building. Its signature shaking beef also remains a constant, featuring chunks of filet mignon sautéed with red onions, glistening with a vinegary fish sauce vinaigrette, and served atop watercress.

Chicken With Explosive Chili Peppers at Z & Y Restaurant

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An embarrassment of fried chicken parts are stacked on a pile of dried peppers at this popular Chinatown destination. The always-packed restaurant boasts typical lazy Susan-style service, an excellent pedestal upon which to view this spicy masterpiece (which isn’t actually all that spicy, considering).

Alfred’s Cut at Alfred's Steakhouse

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A classic that’s had a bit of a polish from Daniel Patterson, Alfred’s still trades in steaks, chops, and other classic steakhouse fare. The “Alfred’s Cut” is a 28 ounce bone-in Ribeye for $75 that can be served whole or sliced off the bone. The grass-feed beef comes from from beef master Bryan Flannery; it’s grain-finished, then dry-aged for maximum flavor.

Alfred’s Steakhouse

Lo Mei Gai at R&G Lounge

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Take a whole chicken, debone it, cook and chop the meat, mix it with glutinous rice, vegetables, and Chinese sausage, and stuff it all back inside the chicken. Then deep fry it, obviously. That’s lo mei gai, the order-head move at R & G, which also trades in salt-and-pepper crab, bird’s nest soup ($80 per bowl), and whole, garlic-steamed Maine lobster.

A post shared by Andrew Cheng (@theandrewcheng) on

Prime Rib at House of Prime Rib

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To know it is to love it: This old-school prime rib mecca is a bustling melee of stainless steel carving carts manned by chefs who slice it to order tableside. There’s not much choice here, beyond the cut (though there is a fish option); it’s all served with salad, mashed or baked potato, Yorkshire pudding, and creamed spinach. The dessert cart will eventually roll by, whether you like it or not. Grab a martini, and get to work.

The Epic Meal at Epic Steak

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Come hungry for the “Epic Meal for Two,” comprised of a 32 ounce tomahawk ribeye and a two pound Maine lobster. Share it with someone you love beneath the lights of the Bay Bridge, or even just someone you like. It’s too much for one person.

epic steak meal for two, lobster and steak Epic Steak

Beef Tongue Bao at Liholiho Yacht Club

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Liholiho has two meaty dishes that have risen to iconic status: The beef tongue bao, and the off-menu Spam musubi. The bao contain tender slices of beef tongue, topped with kimchi, and cucumber atop a poppy seed steam bun. It’s juicy, and a must-order at every visit.

Duck Basteeya at Mourad

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Originally a classic on the menu at chef Mourad Lahlou’s currently closed Aziza, the duck basteeya has made its way over to glossy Mouard as well. Duck confit is spiced with ras el hanout, then mixed with caramelized onions and raisins and encased in flakey phyllo dough, topped with cinnamon, ground almonds, and orange blossom water. It’s a delicate balance between sweet and savory; it’s also addictive.

Basteeya #mouradsf @dukeofgourmandy

A post shared by Mourad (@mourad_sf) on

Barbecue Beef Brisket at Tommy's Joynt

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At its core, the barbecue brisket at Tommy’s Joynt is a sloppy, gravy-covered pile of meaty comfort food, served with choice of mashed potatoes or vegetables, and bread and butter, or in sandwich form. Taking a spin through the cafeteria-like carving station yields many options, but the brisket is a classic at any hour of the day or night.

Roasted Pig’s Head at Cockscomb

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Since opening, the pig’s head has been a signature dish at Cockscomb. It comes with crispy skin, gold leaf on the snout, and a side of arugula and brainnaise (mixture of brains and mayonnaise). It’s a hefty dish ($69), so make sure the whole table is hungry for this one.

Galbi at Han Il Kwan

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Tender, high-quality short ribs are marinated, then grilled at the table at this Outer Sunset favorite. An excellent selection of banchan includes seasoned bean sprouts, three kinds of kimchi, baby anchovies, and more. Check out the Bay Area’s full array of Korean barbecue, ranked.

Han Il Kwan Stefanie Tuder

4505 Burgers & BBQ

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There are many meaty delights at 4505, so why not just eat them all? The Presidential platter ($115) comes with every single one of 4505’s meats, sides, and “fixns,” which include mac and cheese with hot dogs, spicy fries, and chicharrones. The decadent meat feast is said to feed six, but no one will judge if it’s less.

Country Pork chop at Nopa

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Bone-in, brined, and grilled to juicy pork perfection, the Nopa pork chop is a staple on the menu. Its accompaniments change seasonally, but include things like piquinto beans, purslane, honey figs, and hazlenuts. It’s big enough for two, though that could lead to an argument over who gets to gnaw on the bone.

Roast Chicken at Zuni Cafe

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Possibly the most iconic of all the meat dishes, Zuni’s legendary chicken is roasted in the wood oven, and served with panzanella. It’s worth the requisite 45-minute wait, especially when oysters and rosé are there to help bide the time. Here's more on how it's made.

A post shared by Affrioler (@affrioler) on

Wings at San Tung Chinese Restaurant

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These line-inducing chicken wings come two ways: battered and dry-fried with garlic, ginger, and peppers, or battered, fried, and tossed in a spicy sauce. No matter the order, plan to wait a bit at this popular Inner Sunset Chinese restaurant, where the volume is high and the seats are limited.

Eater Archives

Porchetta Breakfast Sandwich at Tartine Manufactory

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Since opening, the porchetta has been a draw for the Tartine Bakery offshoot in the Heath building. It’s especially fetching when sandwiched in a Tartine bun with salsa verde, and possibly a runny egg. Chef Sam Goinsalvos has a passion for the rolled pork, which shows in the crispy skin and juicy meat.

Kung Pao Pastrami at Mission Chinese Food

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Even though chef Danny Bowien has defected to the East Coast, the spirit remains strong at Mission Chinese, where Kung Pao pastrami has long been a favorite. Crispy pastrami, wok-fried with celery, potatoes, peanuts, and more go into the making of it.

Eater Archives

Carnitas Burrito at La Taqueria

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Composed of crispy pork wrapped lovingly with beans (no rice!) and griddled once more, the La Taq carnitas burrito is an act of kindness. It comes with carnitas, beans, cheese, and add-ons of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and the like. Ask for it dorado and the crew will make it crispy, rolling and browning both sides of the burrito. Read more about the mission-style burrito here.

49er Porterhouse at Boboquivari's

The “49er” is a 49 ounce porterhouse steak for $149.99, served a la carte. Bobo’s (also known as Boboquivari’s), is known for both steak and crab, though the steaks are the true star. The 49er is served whole, and carved tableside; make sure to order some sides, like twice-baked potatoes, yams, and mod macaroni and cheese. And a martini, definitely get that.

Grilled Rack of lamb at Kokkari Estiatorio

The staid atmosphere at Kokkari is a refreshing and civilized departure from SF’s many subway-tiled dining establishments. Relax upon a cozy banquette and enjoy a rack of lamb with Greek flavors of oregano and lemon, roasted over the wood fire.

Eater Archives

Shaking Beef at Slanted Door

Throughout the years, Slanted Door has remained at the top of the list for both locals and tourists visiting the Ferry Building. Its signature shaking beef also remains a constant, featuring chunks of filet mignon sautéed with red onions, glistening with a vinegary fish sauce vinaigrette, and served atop watercress.

Chicken With Explosive Chili Peppers at Z & Y Restaurant

An embarrassment of fried chicken parts are stacked on a pile of dried peppers at this popular Chinatown destination. The always-packed restaurant boasts typical lazy Susan-style service, an excellent pedestal upon which to view this spicy masterpiece (which isn’t actually all that spicy, considering).

Alfred’s Cut at Alfred's Steakhouse

A classic that’s had a bit of a polish from Daniel Patterson, Alfred’s still trades in steaks, chops, and other classic steakhouse fare. The “Alfred’s Cut” is a 28 ounce bone-in Ribeye for $75 that can be served whole or sliced off the bone. The grass-feed beef comes from from beef master Bryan Flannery; it’s grain-finished, then dry-aged for maximum flavor.

Alfred’s Steakhouse

Lo Mei Gai at R&G Lounge

Take a whole chicken, debone it, cook and chop the meat, mix it with glutinous rice, vegetables, and Chinese sausage, and stuff it all back inside the chicken. Then deep fry it, obviously. That’s lo mei gai, the order-head move at R & G, which also trades in salt-and-pepper crab, bird’s nest soup ($80 per bowl), and whole, garlic-steamed Maine lobster.

A post shared by Andrew Cheng (@theandrewcheng) on

Prime Rib at House of Prime Rib

To know it is to love it: This old-school prime rib mecca is a bustling melee of stainless steel carving carts manned by chefs who slice it to order tableside. There’s not much choice here, beyond the cut (though there is a fish option); it’s all served with salad, mashed or baked potato, Yorkshire pudding, and creamed spinach. The dessert cart will eventually roll by, whether you like it or not. Grab a martini, and get to work.

The Epic Meal at Epic Steak

Come hungry for the “Epic Meal for Two,” comprised of a 32 ounce tomahawk ribeye and a two pound Maine lobster. Share it with someone you love beneath the lights of the Bay Bridge, or even just someone you like. It’s too much for one person.

epic steak meal for two, lobster and steak Epic Steak

Beef Tongue Bao at Liholiho Yacht Club

Liholiho has two meaty dishes that have risen to iconic status: The beef tongue bao, and the off-menu Spam musubi. The bao contain tender slices of beef tongue, topped with kimchi, and cucumber atop a poppy seed steam bun. It’s juicy, and a must-order at every visit.

Duck Basteeya at Mourad

Originally a classic on the menu at chef Mourad Lahlou’s currently closed Aziza, the duck basteeya has made its way over to glossy Mouard as well. Duck confit is spiced with ras el hanout, then mixed with caramelized onions and raisins and encased in flakey phyllo dough, topped with cinnamon, ground almonds, and orange blossom water. It’s a delicate balance between sweet and savory; it’s also addictive.

Basteeya #mouradsf @dukeofgourmandy

A post shared by Mourad (@mourad_sf) on

Barbecue Beef Brisket at Tommy's Joynt

At its core, the barbecue brisket at Tommy’s Joynt is a sloppy, gravy-covered pile of meaty comfort food, served with choice of mashed potatoes or vegetables, and bread and butter, or in sandwich form. Taking a spin through the cafeteria-like carving station yields many options, but the brisket is a classic at any hour of the day or night.

Roasted Pig’s Head at Cockscomb

Since opening, the pig’s head has been a signature dish at Cockscomb. It comes with crispy skin, gold leaf on the snout, and a side of arugula and brainnaise (mixture of brains and mayonnaise). It’s a hefty dish ($69), so make sure the whole table is hungry for this one.

Galbi at Han Il Kwan

Tender, high-quality short ribs are marinated, then grilled at the table at this Outer Sunset favorite. An excellent selection of banchan includes seasoned bean sprouts, three kinds of kimchi, baby anchovies, and more. Check out the Bay Area’s full array of Korean barbecue, ranked.

Han Il Kwan Stefanie Tuder

4505 Burgers & BBQ

There are many meaty delights at 4505, so why not just eat them all? The Presidential platter ($115) comes with every single one of 4505’s meats, sides, and “fixns,” which include mac and cheese with hot dogs, spicy fries, and chicharrones. The decadent meat feast is said to feed six, but no one will judge if it’s less.

Country Pork chop at Nopa

Bone-in, brined, and grilled to juicy pork perfection, the Nopa pork chop is a staple on the menu. Its accompaniments change seasonally, but include things like piquinto beans, purslane, honey figs, and hazlenuts. It’s big enough for two, though that could lead to an argument over who gets to gnaw on the bone.

Related Maps

Roast Chicken at Zuni Cafe

Possibly the most iconic of all the meat dishes, Zuni’s legendary chicken is roasted in the wood oven, and served with panzanella. It’s worth the requisite 45-minute wait, especially when oysters and rosé are there to help bide the time. Here's more on how it's made.

A post shared by Affrioler (@affrioler) on

Wings at San Tung Chinese Restaurant

These line-inducing chicken wings come two ways: battered and dry-fried with garlic, ginger, and peppers, or battered, fried, and tossed in a spicy sauce. No matter the order, plan to wait a bit at this popular Inner Sunset Chinese restaurant, where the volume is high and the seats are limited.

Eater Archives

Porchetta Breakfast Sandwich at Tartine Manufactory

Since opening, the porchetta has been a draw for the Tartine Bakery offshoot in the Heath building. It’s especially fetching when sandwiched in a Tartine bun with salsa verde, and possibly a runny egg. Chef Sam Goinsalvos has a passion for the rolled pork, which shows in the crispy skin and juicy meat.

Kung Pao Pastrami at Mission Chinese Food

Even though chef Danny Bowien has defected to the East Coast, the spirit remains strong at Mission Chinese, where Kung Pao pastrami has long been a favorite. Crispy pastrami, wok-fried with celery, potatoes, peanuts, and more go into the making of it.

Eater Archives

Carnitas Burrito at La Taqueria

Composed of crispy pork wrapped lovingly with beans (no rice!) and griddled once more, the La Taq carnitas burrito is an act of kindness. It comes with carnitas, beans, cheese, and add-ons of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and the like. Ask for it dorado and the crew will make it crispy, rolling and browning both sides of the burrito. Read more about the mission-style burrito here.

Related Maps