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One of the decadent burgers at Garaje in SoMa.
One of the decadent burgers at Garaje in SoMa.
Garaje

14 Dynamite Eating and Drinking Destinations in SoMa

A vetted guide to dining and drinking in the neighborhood

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One of the decadent burgers at Garaje in SoMa.
| Garaje

The South of Market neighborhood is a many storied district. If there are any Rimbaud (or Dylan for that matter) fans out there, it could be said SoMa “contains multitudes.” It’s an area where both the San Francisco Giants slam baseballs into the sea, only to be scooped up by hovercrafts, and where queer folks spent decades dancing at the now-defunct Stud on 9th Street, sweating away their cares. The district is now supervised by Matt Dorsey, a mayor-appointed former member of the San Francisco police department, who’s public about his status as an HIV-positive gay man. Multitudes.

The food south of Market Street is no less varied and wonderful. World-famous restaurants helmed by elite chefs abut craft cocktail dives, which are next to semi-bizarre homages to colonial Britain that are next door to salivation-inducing Laotian food, and so on. In SoMa, it’s like walking through a loud funhouse where, by pulling a hidden lever, a garage becomes a sports bar. These 15 businesses make it an adventure worth having.

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.
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Californios

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Chef Val Cantu’s Mexican fine-dining restaurant with two Michelin stars packed up its cozy home in the Mission during the pandemic, and relocated to the former Bar Agricole space in SoMa. The the high ceilinged, black-and-white dining room diners indulge in a full tasting menu that spins through courses highlighting fresh masa or bold chocolate, including dishes such as a banana topped with caviar and other revelations.

Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

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With plenty of big industrial spaces and thirsty tech dudes, suffice it to say, SoMa is into craft beer. Cellarmaker is a rising star, a small independent brewery specializing in hopped-up IPAs, hazy pale ales, and coffee-spiced porters. The Howard Street location exclusively serves craft beer brewed in house. Yes, it’s also worth the trek to the second location in the Mission for Detroit-style pizza.

Beer at Cellarmaker Brewing Co. Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

Birdsong

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Chef Chris Bleidorn is a fine dining veteran coming from Atelier Crenn, Saison, Benu, and Alinea, but Birdsong is his first solo project. Even though he was raised in New England, he claims inspiration from the Pacific Northwest, scattering berries, mushrooms, pine needles, shellfish, and wild game across the tasting menu. The restaurant resembles an airy nest filled with warm woods, oceanic blues, and a big stack of firewood at the front.

The Cavalier

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The Cavalier is a London-inspired brasserie at the base of the Hotel Zetta, complete with clubby leather banquettes and taxidermied big game. The menu offers indulgent deviled eggs and lamb ribs, paired with a bracing Imperial gin and tonic and refreshing Pimm’s cup.

The blue bar at the Cavalier The Cavalier

Bellota

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This ambitious project from the Absinthe Group serves refined Spanish cuisine in one of the most gorgeous spaces in this city. Take advantage either at the airy bar or in the bustling dining room with paellas, tapas, pintxos, and wood-fired mains. Add a glass of cider, sherry, or a gin and tonic, and you'll be transported out of the city.

Paella at Bellota Bellota

Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen

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Conveniently located on the pedestrian lane that links Market to Yerba Buena Gardens, Tropisueño welcomes shoppers and tourists alike. It gets what the neighborhood needs, serving Mission-style burritos and tacos for quick work lunches, and transitioning to happy-hour margaritas and a full menu for dinner. Plus, there’s ample seating that spills outside, where diners enjoy the city and park views.

Entree at Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen

Kona's Street Market

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Pacific Cocktail Haven had to shut down when it suffered a fire in February 2021, but the talented cocktail team already had another bar in the works, and promptly crossed Market to open that new bar in SoMa. Kona’s Street Market, named after their resident bar pitbull, serves craft cocktails inspired by street markets around the world. And good news: Pacific Cocktail Haven has resumed shaking cocktails in a new, bigger space near Union Square.

Kona the dog of Kona’s Street Market Kona’s Street Market

Zero Zero

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Zero Zero jumped on the Californian slash Neapolitan pizza trend with gusto, but it does it well, throwing down pillowy pies with leopard spots from the blistering hot ovens. In addition to margherita with buffalo mozzarella, topping combinations include wild mushroom with four types of cheese, and pineapple with spicy sausage. Salads and pastas are also solid, and don’t miss the soft serve with olive oil and sea salt for dessert.

Pizza at Zero Zero Zero Zero

The Sentinel

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Every day, this tiny counter puts out a concise menu of cold and hot sandwiches and seasonal salads. Generous cuts of meat, like roast beef and corned beef, make frequent appearances. Some of the more unusual varieties can include a deviled egg salad or lamb and eggplant. A limited number of sandwiches are available, so beat the lunch crowd to ensure you get your pick.

Reuben at the Sentinel The Sentinel

The Bird

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The Bird offers fried chicken sandwiches with pickles and a brightly acidic slaw. Add a beer and curly fries to make it a happier meal. Since opening, the sandwich shop has been drawing lines and selling out regularly, but hopefully the pandemic at least made it a little easier to catch this bird.

At Mourad, the dramatic dining room practically sparkles under the large modern chandelier, and the menu, inspired by chef and owner Mourad Lahlou’s Moroccan heritage, features perfectly executed servings of raw oysters, kanpachi, duck basteeya, and hand-rolled couscous, often using thematic accents of preserved lemon, olives, and Moroccan spices. Not to be missed are the la’acha, or family-style dishes; diners can feast on generous portions of whole snapper, lamb shoulder, and chicken, served with four sides. The long L-shaped marble bar also serves delicate cocktails inspired by the Moroccan spices found in the food.

Entree at Mourad Mourad

For very special occasions, one of San Francisco’s three-Michelin-starred jewels is tucked away on the short tree-lined street of Hawthorne. The muted white dining room offers a tasting menu that takes you through a selection of chef Cory Lee’s French- and Asian-inspired cuisine, such as the well-loved lobster coral xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings).

Lao Table

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Osha Thai has been a reliable takeout option for noodles and curry for more than 20 years, with locations across SoMa and the Embarcadero. But with new sister restaurant Lao Table, owner Lalita Souksamlane goes deeper into her homeland of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. Fans are loving the fried pork belly with fish sauce caramel; Lao sausage with peanuts and chiles; and Lao fried rice with minced chicken, basil, and a fried egg.

Crispy rolls at Lao Table Lao Table

Garaje is an unexpected mashup of tacos and burgers with plenty of beer on tap. The “zapatos” are a flour tortilla filled with carnitas, carne asada, or mojo chicken, topped with refried beans, jack, salsa, and pressed until golden, kind of like a flattened burrito. The place doesn’t look like much from the outside and nearly every menu item is $15 or less.

Burgers at Garaje Garaje

El Porteño

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Before a Giants game on a hot day, those things that happen in San Francisco once every two million years, a cold brew is as important, to a coffee fanatic, as the ticket to the game itself. Just a block away from the ballpark is this Argentinian empanada and coffee shop. Alfajor de dulce de leche cookies for dunking in the shop’s Roast Co brew — which is sweet and well-bodied — might be the perfect accompaniment.  

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Californios

Chef Val Cantu’s Mexican fine-dining restaurant with two Michelin stars packed up its cozy home in the Mission during the pandemic, and relocated to the former Bar Agricole space in SoMa. The the high ceilinged, black-and-white dining room diners indulge in a full tasting menu that spins through courses highlighting fresh masa or bold chocolate, including dishes such as a banana topped with caviar and other revelations.

Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

Beer at Cellarmaker Brewing Co. Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

With plenty of big industrial spaces and thirsty tech dudes, suffice it to say, SoMa is into craft beer. Cellarmaker is a rising star, a small independent brewery specializing in hopped-up IPAs, hazy pale ales, and coffee-spiced porters. The Howard Street location exclusively serves craft beer brewed in house. Yes, it’s also worth the trek to the second location in the Mission for Detroit-style pizza.

Beer at Cellarmaker Brewing Co. Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

Birdsong

Chef Chris Bleidorn is a fine dining veteran coming from Atelier Crenn, Saison, Benu, and Alinea, but Birdsong is his first solo project. Even though he was raised in New England, he claims inspiration from the Pacific Northwest, scattering berries, mushrooms, pine needles, shellfish, and wild game across the tasting menu. The restaurant resembles an airy nest filled with warm woods, oceanic blues, and a big stack of firewood at the front.

The Cavalier

The blue bar at the Cavalier The Cavalier

The Cavalier is a London-inspired brasserie at the base of the Hotel Zetta, complete with clubby leather banquettes and taxidermied big game. The menu offers indulgent deviled eggs and lamb ribs, paired with a bracing Imperial gin and tonic and refreshing Pimm’s cup.

The blue bar at the Cavalier The Cavalier

Bellota

Paella at Bellota Bellota

This ambitious project from the Absinthe Group serves refined Spanish cuisine in one of the most gorgeous spaces in this city. Take advantage either at the airy bar or in the bustling dining room with paellas, tapas, pintxos, and wood-fired mains. Add a glass of cider, sherry, or a gin and tonic, and you'll be transported out of the city.

Paella at Bellota Bellota

Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen

Entree at Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen

Conveniently located on the pedestrian lane that links Market to Yerba Buena Gardens, Tropisueño welcomes shoppers and tourists alike. It gets what the neighborhood needs, serving Mission-style burritos and tacos for quick work lunches, and transitioning to happy-hour margaritas and a full menu for dinner. Plus, there’s ample seating that spills outside, where diners enjoy the city and park views.

Entree at Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen

Kona's Street Market

Kona the dog of Kona’s Street Market Kona’s Street Market

Pacific Cocktail Haven had to shut down when it suffered a fire in February 2021, but the talented cocktail team already had another bar in the works, and promptly crossed Market to open that new bar in SoMa. Kona’s Street Market, named after their resident bar pitbull, serves craft cocktails inspired by street markets around the world. And good news: Pacific Cocktail Haven has resumed shaking cocktails in a new, bigger space near Union Square.

Kona the dog of Kona’s Street Market Kona’s Street Market

Zero Zero

Pizza at Zero Zero Zero Zero

Zero Zero jumped on the Californian slash Neapolitan pizza trend with gusto, but it does it well, throwing down pillowy pies with leopard spots from the blistering hot ovens. In addition to margherita with buffalo mozzarella, topping combinations include wild mushroom with four types of cheese, and pineapple with spicy sausage. Salads and pastas are also solid, and don’t miss the soft serve with olive oil and sea salt for dessert.

Pizza at Zero Zero Zero Zero

The Sentinel

Reuben at the Sentinel The Sentinel

Every day, this tiny counter puts out a concise menu of cold and hot sandwiches and seasonal salads. Generous cuts of meat, like roast beef and corned beef, make frequent appearances. Some of the more unusual varieties can include a deviled egg salad or lamb and eggplant. A limited number of sandwiches are available, so beat the lunch crowd to ensure you get your pick.

Reuben at the Sentinel The Sentinel

The Bird

The Bird offers fried chicken sandwiches with pickles and a brightly acidic slaw. Add a beer and curly fries to make it a happier meal. Since opening, the sandwich shop has been drawing lines and selling out regularly, but hopefully the pandemic at least made it a little easier to catch this bird.

Mourad

Entree at Mourad Mourad

At Mourad, the dramatic dining room practically sparkles under the large modern chandelier, and the menu, inspired by chef and owner Mourad Lahlou’s Moroccan heritage, features perfectly executed servings of raw oysters, kanpachi, duck basteeya, and hand-rolled couscous, often using thematic accents of preserved lemon, olives, and Moroccan spices. Not to be missed are the la’acha, or family-style dishes; diners can feast on generous portions of whole snapper, lamb shoulder, and chicken, served with four sides. The long L-shaped marble bar also serves delicate cocktails inspired by the Moroccan spices found in the food.

Entree at Mourad Mourad

Benu

For very special occasions, one of San Francisco’s three-Michelin-starred jewels is tucked away on the short tree-lined street of Hawthorne. The muted white dining room offers a tasting menu that takes you through a selection of chef Cory Lee’s French- and Asian-inspired cuisine, such as the well-loved lobster coral xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings).

Lao Table

Crispy rolls at Lao Table Lao Table

Osha Thai has been a reliable takeout option for noodles and curry for more than 20 years, with locations across SoMa and the Embarcadero. But with new sister restaurant Lao Table, owner Lalita Souksamlane goes deeper into her homeland of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. Fans are loving the fried pork belly with fish sauce caramel; Lao sausage with peanuts and chiles; and Lao fried rice with minced chicken, basil, and a fried egg.