It’s a meme at this point: The west side of San Francisco is sleepy, gray, and boring. Of course, it’s a totally untrue and misguided narrative, one the cornucopia of restaurants, bars, cafes, and bakeries on this side of Arguello Street are happy to prove wrong. There are staggeringly long lines outside his Ariscault, a croissant destination so popular the bakery expanded to McAllister Street. Then there’s Al-Masri Egyptian Cuisine and the samak bil tamarhindi, baklava, and kushari it serves on Balboa Street, blocks from Ocean Beach. But the 16 restaurants featured on this list — many newcomers amongst them — prove that not only is the city’s Richmond District a dining and drinking powerhouse, but it’s also a fool’s errand to not spend at least one day exploring the Avenues, in all it’s foggy glory.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in the Richmond District
A vetted guide to dining in the neighborhood
There are several great Burmese spots in the Richmond but Mandalay did it first, opening in 1984, back when tea leaf salad was a novelty to most. Its known for homey standards like samusa soup, as well as specials like the Rangoon spicy fish along with fragrant noodle dishes and the best fermented tea leaf salad in town — a rendition of the classic without lettuce or cabbage.
This cozy neighborhood restaurant from alums of sister spot Pizzetta 211 has become a citywide favorite, serving bright crudos; gorgeous plates of seared scallops; and most importantly, some of the best handmade pasta dishes in town — rounded out by excellent cocktails and desserts. Can’t-miss specialties include the handkerchief pasta dish made with white bolognese and grana padano and the Pearl martini.
Chapeau is a proper neighborhood staple, opening in 1996 with dishes coming from executive chef Philippe Gardelle. French cuisine may not hold the allure it once did but Gardelle’s escargot, risotto, striped bass, and creme brulee point to a staying power that’s kept this restaurant afloat for 26 years.
Pasta Supply Co
Chef Anthony Strong is a Richmond neighborhood devotee. The Delfina alum opened his new pasta shop in March 2023, but launching dinner service in July was when the magic happened. There’s maltagliata in basil pesto, corn raviolini, lobster butter spaghetti, and much, much more, and everything here is as affordable as can be.
Chef Robert Lam’s restaurant is much more than $72 fried rice. The Vietnamese restaurant is a top-brass eating destination with none of the stuffy ostentatiousness, where a duck egg crema-topped Vietnamese coffee and gold-dusted creme brulee arrive before and after enjoying masterfully fried catfish. That said, Lam has behaved poorly in the past, allegedly using racist language toward diners over a tipping disagreement.
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Sommeliers and civilians sidle up to this unpretentious Clement Street wine bar and restaurant reopened in 2013 by former busboy-now-owner Emrah Kilicoglu. For the uninitiated, it’s a cozy place to work through lamb loin kebab and whatever wine the house recommends. For those working in the industry, it can be a see-and-be-seen-type event, a moment to dash through a bottle of syrah with one of the Bar Habibi guys before tomorrow morning’s opening shift.
Toy Boat by Jane
There are few more eclectic and quirky ice cream and dessert shops in San Francisco than this Inner Richmond delight. Jane the Baker provides cookies and croissants, while Double Rainbow, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, and Hometown Creamery are all ice cream options. Respect to Joe’s Ice Cream on Geary Boulevard, by the way, but something about the parade of action figures and tchotchke make Toy Boat a new classic in the neighborhood.
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This James Beard Award-nominated Asian American bakery from a trio of San Francisco fine-dining chefs does everything well: its recognizable bright green kaya toast, Asian coffee drinks, an ever-changing lineup of cakes and pastries, yogurt drinks, and tidily cut sandwiches on soft milk bread. A second location of the life-changingly good bakery will open in the Dogpatch in 2024.
Lung Fung Bakery
The signboard menu at this old-school Cantonese bakery, with prices given in cents instead of dollars, is a throwback to a different era. You won’t find anything resembling an entree here, but the egg custard tarts are the flakiest in the neighborhood, and the meaty baked barbecue pork buns are probably tops in the entire city. Dragon Beaux is another favorite in the area for dim sum.
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PPQ Dungeness Island
Many would argue that PPQ Dungeness Island serves the best crab in the city: Since 2000, they’ve turned out Dungeness cooked fresh to order in a variety of preparations (but roasted is best). Vietnamese-inflected dishes, including rich garlic noodles and crab fried rice, round out the menu. The venue moved from its longtime Clement Street location to Geary Boulevard in February 2023.
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This Inner Richmond spot is much more than a pizza joint, though its pies are beyond reproach. Stop by the cozy, stylish restaurant for dinner or brunch, and feast through the menu of pastas, pizzas, and antipasti. Sister restaurant and bar Violet’s is just down the block, and restaurant sprouted up in the Inner Sunset, too.
Chef Mourad Lahlou’s serves Moroccan comforts out in the Richmond at Aziza, a restaurant that became even more important to the neighborhood during the pandemic. Regulars dig into the chicken basteeya wrapped in pastry, centerpiece braised lamb shank, and hand-rolled couscous. Slide into a banquette for dinner or weekend brunch, when the light-as-air Moroccan pancakes should absolutely not be missed.
Tommy's Mexican Restaurant
This is the hallowed home of the Tommy’s Margarita. It’s made with just tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar, which makes for a citrusy marg that lacks the syrupy-sweet notes of its siblings infused with orange liqueur. This family-owned Outer Richmond restaurant also has one of the best tequila selections in the city, and a menu that skews toward Mexican American classics like burritos, chile rellenos, and enchiladas, along with some specialties from the family’s Yucatan heritage. Taqueria Los Mayas in the neighborhood is worth a visit, too.
Cinderella Bakery & Café
The Outer Richmond’s Russian community constantly filters through this cheerful Geary Boulevard bakery and cafe, which peddles everything from freshly baked rye loaves and Ritual Coffee to entrees like borscht and chicken kiev. Don’t sleep on the pelmeni (Russian boiled meat dumplings in broth) or the blinchiki (rolled crepes filled with sweet cheese, mushrooms, ground beef, caviar, or Nutella). Cinderella is also one of the only places in the Bay Area to get housemade kvas, a sweet, vaguely alcoholic-tasting, bubbly concoction made from fermented rye bread.
The Coffee Movement
There’s few better coffee shops in San Francisco — maybe the West Coast — than the Coffee Movement. Strident hipsters will hike up Nob Hill until they die, but the new-ish outpost on Balboa Street has room to hang out, pastries from Juniper on Polk Street, and tremendous glass windows to capture any lingering San Francisco sun. Plus, the usual menu of innovative coffee drinks, such as the seasonal coffee cream soda, are available at this location, too.
The Laundromat SF
From the geniuses behind Santa Cruz’s Holey Roller Bagels and the team behind Balboa Theater just across the street comes this pizza, bagel, coffee trifecta in the Outer Richmond. The business opened in November 2022 and garnered attention for both its standard and zany pies, such as the cheese with red sauce; pepperoni; mushrooms with white sauce; and parsley and broccoli rabe with Calabrian chile sauce and shaved fennel respectively.
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