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Oysters at Palette Palette

Where to Eat and Drink in SoMa

A vetted guide to dining and drinking in the neighborhood

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In the decade leading up to the pandemic, San Francisco residents saw the rise of South of Market (SoMa) as a restaurant destination. In the flush of the second dot-com boom it became home to startups that line its narrow alleys and lengthy city blocks, and commuters and tourists alike explored the gleaming urban jungle that is Salesforce Park. Of course, the neighborhood was hit hard during the pandemic, losing millions without its usual tech workers and big conferences, and it may also be one of the slowest neighborhoods to recover, as the tech giants are giving workers more flexibility than ever to work from home.

But plenty of peoplwe are easing back downtown, and of course, busy professionals demand artisan coffee, kale salads, meaty sandwiches, and after-work craft cocktails. But the neighborhood’s dining scene goes deeper than that, with several Michelin-starred restaurants, exceptional craft beer, and excellent bakeries. Here’s why SoMa’s food and drink scene is still going strong.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Californios

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355 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 757-0994
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The 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. It’s currently open for outdoor dining only on that spacious patio, with 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.

2. Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

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1150 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 863-3940
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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.

3. Birdsong

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1085 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 369-9161
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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.

4. Dottie's True Blue Café

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28 6th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 885-2767
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Dottie’s is a tried-and-true breakfast and brunch spot in SoMa, which usually has a long line out the door for diner plates loaded with scrambles and pancakes, still-warm muffins and scones, and mugs of strong coffee. It’s a satisfying weekend brunch, but also a treat for weekday breakfast or lunch, and without the usual crowds in SoMa, you might slide in without the wait.

Scones at Dottie’s Dottie’s True Blue Cafe

5. Deli Board

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1058 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 552-7687
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Eminently Instagrammable, East Coast–style sandwiches piled high with generous portions of meat reign supreme at this deli. Options often include several different kinds of meat in one slab (for instance, brisket, Romanian pastrami, and turkey) then stuffed additionally with other pleasantly crunchy ingredients to add acid punch, like pickles, coleslaw, and more. Take it to go or sit at one of the tables inside.

Website

6. The Cavalier

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360 Jessie St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 321-6000
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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

7. Bellota

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888 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 430-6580
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This ambitious project from the Absinthe Group serves chef Ryan McIlwraith's 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 SF.

Paella at Bellota Bellota

8. Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen

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75 Yerba Buena Ln
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 243-0299
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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

9. Les Gourmands Bakery

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280 5th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 872-9461
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One of the best croissants in the city is lurking an unexpected block of 5th Street. Sylvain Chaillout is a fifth-generation baker who brought his parents with him from France in order to work in this family-run shop. He’s using recipes from his grandfather and butter from Normandy to turn out croissants, brioche, and baguettes, along with a few savory sandwiches. Matching the urban surroundings, the shop is splashed with cool black and white graphics.

Interior of Les Gourmands Bakery Les Gourmands Bakery

10. Kona's Street Market

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32 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94103

Pacific Cocktail Haven had to shut down when it suffered a fire in February of 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.

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

11. Zero Zero

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826 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 348-8800
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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

12. Palette

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816 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 865-0529
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After more than a year in a temporary space, with ongoing renovations and pandemic interruptions, the splashy Palette finally debuted at its permanent location on 12th Street in Fall 2020. It’s an upscale restaurant slash art gallery, so the tech personalities of SoMa can feast on artfully arranged local oysters, squid, and halibut. The parklet is wild, too, with a black mural with sea foam bubbles undulating across and a fisherman’s net of lights overhead. 

Oysters at Palette Palette

13. The Sentinel

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37 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 284-9960
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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

14. The Bird

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115 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 872-9825
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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.

15. Mourad

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140 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 660-2500
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At Mourad, the dramatic dining room practically sparkles under the large modern chandelier, and the menu, inspired by chef/owner Mourad Lahlou’s Moroccan heritage, features perfectly executed servings of raw oysters, kanpachi, duck basteeya, hand-rolled couscous, and more, often using thematic accents of preserved lemon, olives, and Moroccan spices. Not to be missed is 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

16. Benu

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22 Hawthorne St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 685-4860
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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).

17. Lao Table

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149 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 278-9991
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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

18. Darwin Cafe

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212 Ritch St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 800-8668
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This small cafe in a back alley of the industrial part of SoMa features creamy cappuccinos, outstanding kale salads, simple baguettes smeared with cheese or layered with good ham, and fresh sandwiches stuffed with pastrami or turkey.

19. Garaje

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475 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 644-0838
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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, it’s definitely cash only, and nearly every menu item is $15 or less.

Burgers at Garaje Garaje

20. International Smoke San Francisco

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301 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 660-2656
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Cookbook author and media star Ayesha Curry partnered with chef Michael Mina to open the original location of her smoky, spicy, and sweet restaurant, which focuses on woodfire cooking. Fans love the sticky-sweet ribs with St Louis, Vietnamese, or Korean iterations, tri-tip- or lobster-loaded mac and cheese, and curried cornbread.

An array of dishes at International Smoke Michael Mina [Official Site]

21. Yank Sing

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101 Spear St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 957-9300
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This Cantonese restaurant has been recognized for its dim sum time and time again, and with good reason: The glistening dumplings achieve the highly-desirable glassy thin skins. Though spendier than most other dim sum restaurants, it excels at some of the genre’s most popular dishes: steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow), pork dumplings (siu mai), and barbecue pork buns (char siu bao). It also provides a worthy setting to first encounter the ever popular Shanghai soup dumping (xiao long bao), a thin-skinned purse of oily soup and pork, doused with red vinegar and ginger. Tables are available at the noisy Rincon Center location or at the smaller and quieter location in the narrow Stevenson Alley.

Dumplings at Yank Sing Yank Sing

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1. Californios

355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

The 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. It’s currently open for outdoor dining only on that spacious patio, with 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.

355 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

2. Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

1150 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103
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.

1150 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103

3. Birdsong

1085 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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.

1085 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103

4. Dottie's True Blue Café

28 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Scones at Dottie’s Dottie’s True Blue Cafe

Dottie’s is a tried-and-true breakfast and brunch spot in SoMa, which usually has a long line out the door for diner plates loaded with scrambles and pancakes, still-warm muffins and scones, and mugs of strong coffee. It’s a satisfying weekend brunch, but also a treat for weekday breakfast or lunch, and without the usual crowds in SoMa, you might slide in without the wait.

28 6th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

5. Deli Board

1058 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Website

Eminently Instagrammable, East Coast–style sandwiches piled high with generous portions of meat reign supreme at this deli. Options often include several different kinds of meat in one slab (for instance, brisket, Romanian pastrami, and turkey) then stuffed additionally with other pleasantly crunchy ingredients to add acid punch, like pickles, coleslaw, and more. Take it to go or sit at one of the tables inside.

1058 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103

6. The Cavalier

360 Jessie St, San Francisco, CA 94103
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.

360 Jessie St
San Francisco, CA 94103

7. Bellota

888 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Paella at Bellota Bellota

This ambitious project from the Absinthe Group serves chef Ryan McIlwraith's 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 SF.

888 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94103

8. Tropisueño Mexican Kitchen

75 Yerba Buena Ln, San Francisco, CA 94103
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.

75 Yerba Buena Ln
San Francisco, CA 94103

9. Les Gourmands Bakery

280 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Interior of Les Gourmands Bakery Les Gourmands Bakery

One of the best croissants in the city is lurking an unexpected block of 5th Street. Sylvain Chaillout is a fifth-generation baker who brought his parents with him from France in order to work in this family-run shop. He’s using recipes from his grandfather and butter from Normandy to turn out croissants, brioche, and baguettes, along with a few savory sandwiches. Matching the urban surroundings, the shop is splashed with cool black and white graphics.

280 5th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

10. Kona's Street Market

32 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103
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 of 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.

32 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94103

11. Zero Zero

826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107
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.

826 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94107

12. Palette

816 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Oysters at Palette Palette

After more than a year in a temporary space, with ongoing renovations and pandemic interruptions, the splashy Palette finally debuted at its permanent location on 12th Street in Fall 2020. It’s an upscale restaurant slash art gallery, so the tech personalities of SoMa can feast on artfully arranged local oysters, squid, and halibut. The parklet is wild, too, with a black mural with sea foam bubbles undulating across and a fisherman’s net of lights overhead. 

816 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94107

13. The Sentinel

37 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105
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.

37 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105

14. The Bird

115 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105

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.

115 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105

15. Mourad

140 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Entree at Mourad Mourad

At Mourad, the dramatic dining room practically sparkles under the large modern chandelier, and the menu, inspired by chef/owner Mourad Lahlou’s Moroccan heritage, features perfectly executed servings of raw oysters, kanpachi, duck basteeya, hand-rolled couscous, and more, often using thematic accents of preserved lemon, olives, and Moroccan spices. Not to be missed is 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.

140 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105

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16. Benu

22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105

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).

22 Hawthorne St
San Francisco, CA 94105

17. Lao Table

149 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94105
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.

149 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94105

18. Darwin Cafe

212 Ritch St, San Francisco, CA 94107

This small cafe in a back alley of the industrial part of SoMa features creamy cappuccinos, outstanding kale salads, simple baguettes smeared with cheese or layered with good ham, and fresh sandwiches stuffed with pastrami or turkey.

212 Ritch St
San Francisco, CA 94107

19. Garaje

475 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Burgers at Garaje Garaje

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, it’s definitely cash only, and nearly every menu item is $15 or less.

475 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107

20. International Smoke San Francisco

301 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105
An array of dishes at International Smoke Michael Mina [Official Site]

Cookbook author and media star Ayesha Curry partnered with chef Michael Mina to open the original location of her smoky, spicy, and sweet restaurant, which focuses on woodfire cooking. Fans love the sticky-sweet ribs with St Louis, Vietnamese, or Korean iterations, tri-tip- or lobster-loaded mac and cheese, and curried cornbread.

301 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105

21. Yank Sing

101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Dumplings at Yank Sing Yank Sing

This Cantonese restaurant has been recognized for its dim sum time and time again, and with good reason: The glistening dumplings achieve the highly-desirable glassy thin skins. Though spendier than most other dim sum restaurants, it excels at some of the genre’s most popular dishes: steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow), pork dumplings (siu mai), and barbecue pork buns (char siu bao). It also provides a worthy setting to first encounter the ever popular Shanghai soup dumping (xiao long bao), a thin-skinned purse of oily soup and pork, doused with red vinegar and ginger. Tables are available at the noisy Rincon Center location or at the smaller and quieter location in the narrow Stevenson Alley.

101 Spear St
San Francisco, CA 94105

Related Maps