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Ice cream with hot fudge at Double Rainbow Double Rainbow

Where to Eat and Drink in and Around the Castro

There’s so much more than bottomless mimosas

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Originally a part of the larger working-class neighborhood of Eureka Valley, the Castro transformed into a haven for the LGBTQ community in the 1960s and 70s. With rainbow flags wafting in the sunshine and a loud and proud club scene pounding at night during non-pandemic times, the area hasn’t historically been known for its dining scene — apart from the bottomless mimosas.While these days, the clubs have gone quiet, the Castro is still home to plenty of good food: reliable spots for weekend brunch and date night wine and tapas, family-run dumpling and noodle spots, and an old standby for SF classic ice cream.

Here are our picks for the best places to eat in the Castro, with a few nods to nearby Duboce Triangle. (And whenever they finally reopen, the thirsty can also check out the city’s LGTBQ bars for more drinking options.)

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. El Castillito

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136 Church St #1111
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-3428

Home to “the best burrito in America,” at least according to chef David Chang, the original El Castillito is on Mission — but the location on Church is owned by the same family, and within walking distance of the Castro. This taqueria is rolling classic Mission-style burritos, pumped with just the right balance of salty meat, rice, and beans. As an added bonus, it’s also home to one of the city’s tastiest breakfast burritos.

2. Beit Rima

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138 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 703-0270
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Samir Mogannam took over Burgermeister from his father in 2019, and flipped it into Beit Rima, finally serving his family’s own Arabic comfort food. It was an instant hit, offering fresh and affordable grilled skewers, perfectly dolloped dips, pillowy spiced flatbreads, and herb-laced salads.

Beit Rima Beit Rima

3. L'Ardoise

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151 Noe St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 437-2600
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Technically tucked away in Duboce Triangle, this intimate bistro is worth crossing Market for — especially if you’re in the mood for duck confit. The name “L’Ardoise” refers to the telltale chalkboard that sits on the sidewalk outside. Chef-owner Thierry Clement is originally from the French Alps, and he’s been quietly serving steak frites, coq au vin, and tiger-prawn ravioli to the neighborhood for a decade.

Exterior of L’Ardoise L’Ardoise

4. Canela Bistro & Wine Bar

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2272 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 552-3000
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This sweet neighborhood Spanish-slash-California restaurant has been serving paella, tapas, and wine for a decade. Chef Mat Schuster has gotten especially creative during the pandemic, offering paella kits, picnic baskets, and a deli selection of Iberian hams, cheeses, and wines, in addition to a full takeout menu and fun specials.

5. La Mediterranee

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288 Noe St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 431-7210
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La Med has been holding it down as a neighborhood favorite at this location since 1981, serving Armenian and Lebanese family recipes at affordable prices. Whenever they reopen, the sidewalk tables are a sunny brunch spot, and in the meantime, the shawarma, kafta, and kebabs are good to go.

6. Dinosaurs

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2275 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 503-1421
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This mini-chain of Vietnamese sandwich shops offers lunch options with banh mi and fresh spring rolls, along with Vietnamese iced coffee and avocado milkshakes. Eight dollars will buy a good-sized sandwich stuffed with shaking beef, lemongrass pork, or spicy tuna.

Banh mi from Dinosaurs Dinosaurs

7. Kitchen Story

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3499 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 525-4905
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On the corner of 16th and Sanchez, Kitchen Story is a family-run restaurant and wildly popular brunch spot, mixing classic eggs and pancakes with Thai flavors. Fans order the pork belly rancheros, ribeye omurice (marinated steak, scrambled eggs, jasmine rice), and sweet-and-salty “millionaire’s bacon,” which is now available for takeout by the pack.

Brunch item at Kitchen Story Kitchen Story

8. Starbelly

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3583 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 252-7500
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Beretta’s sister restaurant, from the ubiquitous Back of the House group, is usually easier to get into, has a breezy back patio, and, most importantly, serves excellent chicken liver paté with grilled sourdough and onion marmalade. It’s a chill Californian menu for brunch, happy hour, or dinner, whether you need a reasonable bottle of wine with artisan cheese and housemade salumi, or want to swing into a big dinner of wild mushroom pizza and spicy bacon spaghetti.

Chicken liver paté at Starbelly Starbelly

9. Orphan Andy's

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3991 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 864-9795
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Any night of drinking and revelry invariably ends at Orphan Andy’s. The diner, which is open 24/7 in non-pandemic times, only has one counter and a few red booths, but it slings burgers, fries, eggs, and pancakes far into the night, thanks to the husband-and-husband team who have been feeding the neighborhood for more than 40 years.

10. Double Rainbow Ice Cream

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415 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 757-0657
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Double Rainbow is an ice cream company that was originally founded by two best friends in the Castro in the 70s. It’s come full circle with a new scoop shop, just a couple of doors down from their original location, at the top of the historic neighborhood. Longtime fans stop by for old-school scoops of malt chocolate and mint chip, and colorful pints to carry home.

Ice cream with hot fudge at Double Rainbow Double Rainbow

11. Réveille Coffee Co.

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4076 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 789-6258
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Third-wave coffee hit the Castro when Réveille, the truck turned mini-chain, opened a cafe on 18th Street. The indoor-outdoor space offers oat milk lattes, avocado toast, shakshuka, and sweet treats. And when outdoor dining returns, spin class survivors and cute dogs usually accumulate on the benches out front. 

Latte at Cafe Réveille Cafe Réveille

12. BodegaSF

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4039 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 212-8929
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Matthew Ho started out bussing tables at Bodega Bistro, his family’s Vietnamese restaurant in the Tenderloin. The Bistro closed in 2017, but it’s been reincarnated as BodegaSF in the Castro, a semi-permanent pop-up sharing the Rooster & Rice space, and now serving shaking beef, garlic noodles, pho, and banh cuon (rice rolls).

13. Mama Ji's

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4416 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 626-4416
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This small family-run restaurant is a good resource if you don’t want to trek to the Richmond for dumplings. Sichuan native Lily Ji, aka Mama Ji, serves dim sum during the day and fires up the wok for dinner. The BBQ pork buns, pork shumai, har gow, and soup dumplings are all served with a hot chile paste that’s made in house.

Dumplings from Mama Ji’s Mama Ji’s

14. Fable

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558 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 590-2404
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Fable is a comfy and casual spot on Castro, with a cozy dining room for candlelit dates in the front, winding back to a garden patio for good brunch in the back. At the moment, the pork chops and French toast are available for pickup, until the patio can return to its full brunch glory. 

Dinner on the Fable patio Fable

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1. El Castillito

136 Church St #1111, San Francisco, CA 94114

Home to “the best burrito in America,” at least according to chef David Chang, the original El Castillito is on Mission — but the location on Church is owned by the same family, and within walking distance of the Castro. This taqueria is rolling classic Mission-style burritos, pumped with just the right balance of salty meat, rice, and beans. As an added bonus, it’s also home to one of the city’s tastiest breakfast burritos.

136 Church St #1111
San Francisco, CA 94114

2. Beit Rima

138 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Beit Rima Beit Rima

Samir Mogannam took over Burgermeister from his father in 2019, and flipped it into Beit Rima, finally serving his family’s own Arabic comfort food. It was an instant hit, offering fresh and affordable grilled skewers, perfectly dolloped dips, pillowy spiced flatbreads, and herb-laced salads.

138 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114

3. L'Ardoise

151 Noe St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Exterior of L’Ardoise L’Ardoise

Technically tucked away in Duboce Triangle, this intimate bistro is worth crossing Market for — especially if you’re in the mood for duck confit. The name “L’Ardoise” refers to the telltale chalkboard that sits on the sidewalk outside. Chef-owner Thierry Clement is originally from the French Alps, and he’s been quietly serving steak frites, coq au vin, and tiger-prawn ravioli to the neighborhood for a decade.

151 Noe St
San Francisco, CA 94114

4. Canela Bistro & Wine Bar

2272 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

This sweet neighborhood Spanish-slash-California restaurant has been serving paella, tapas, and wine for a decade. Chef Mat Schuster has gotten especially creative during the pandemic, offering paella kits, picnic baskets, and a deli selection of Iberian hams, cheeses, and wines, in addition to a full takeout menu and fun specials.

2272 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

5. La Mediterranee

288 Noe St, San Francisco, CA 94114

La Med has been holding it down as a neighborhood favorite at this location since 1981, serving Armenian and Lebanese family recipes at affordable prices. Whenever they reopen, the sidewalk tables are a sunny brunch spot, and in the meantime, the shawarma, kafta, and kebabs are good to go.

288 Noe St
San Francisco, CA 94114

6. Dinosaurs

2275 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Banh mi from Dinosaurs Dinosaurs

This mini-chain of Vietnamese sandwich shops offers lunch options with banh mi and fresh spring rolls, along with Vietnamese iced coffee and avocado milkshakes. Eight dollars will buy a good-sized sandwich stuffed with shaking beef, lemongrass pork, or spicy tuna.

2275 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

7. Kitchen Story

3499 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Brunch item at Kitchen Story Kitchen Story

On the corner of 16th and Sanchez, Kitchen Story is a family-run restaurant and wildly popular brunch spot, mixing classic eggs and pancakes with Thai flavors. Fans order the pork belly rancheros, ribeye omurice (marinated steak, scrambled eggs, jasmine rice), and sweet-and-salty “millionaire’s bacon,” which is now available for takeout by the pack.

3499 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

8. Starbelly

3583 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Chicken liver paté at Starbelly Starbelly

Beretta’s sister restaurant, from the ubiquitous Back of the House group, is usually easier to get into, has a breezy back patio, and, most importantly, serves excellent chicken liver paté with grilled sourdough and onion marmalade. It’s a chill Californian menu for brunch, happy hour, or dinner, whether you need a reasonable bottle of wine with artisan cheese and housemade salumi, or want to swing into a big dinner of wild mushroom pizza and spicy bacon spaghetti.

3583 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

9. Orphan Andy's

3991 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Any night of drinking and revelry invariably ends at Orphan Andy’s. The diner, which is open 24/7 in non-pandemic times, only has one counter and a few red booths, but it slings burgers, fries, eggs, and pancakes far into the night, thanks to the husband-and-husband team who have been feeding the neighborhood for more than 40 years.

3991 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

10. Double Rainbow Ice Cream

415 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Ice cream with hot fudge at Double Rainbow Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow is an ice cream company that was originally founded by two best friends in the Castro in the 70s. It’s come full circle with a new scoop shop, just a couple of doors down from their original location, at the top of the historic neighborhood. Longtime fans stop by for old-school scoops of malt chocolate and mint chip, and colorful pints to carry home.

415 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114

11. Réveille Coffee Co.

4076 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Latte at Cafe Réveille Cafe Réveille

Third-wave coffee hit the Castro when Réveille, the truck turned mini-chain, opened a cafe on 18th Street. The indoor-outdoor space offers oat milk lattes, avocado toast, shakshuka, and sweet treats. And when outdoor dining returns, spin class survivors and cute dogs usually accumulate on the benches out front. 

4076 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

12. BodegaSF

4039 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Matthew Ho started out bussing tables at Bodega Bistro, his family’s Vietnamese restaurant in the Tenderloin. The Bistro closed in 2017, but it’s been reincarnated as BodegaSF in the Castro, a semi-permanent pop-up sharing the Rooster & Rice space, and now serving shaking beef, garlic noodles, pho, and banh cuon (rice rolls).

4039 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

13. Mama Ji's

4416 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Dumplings from Mama Ji’s Mama Ji’s

This small family-run restaurant is a good resource if you don’t want to trek to the Richmond for dumplings. Sichuan native Lily Ji, aka Mama Ji, serves dim sum during the day and fires up the wok for dinner. The BBQ pork buns, pork shumai, har gow, and soup dumplings are all served with a hot chile paste that’s made in house.

4416 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

14. Fable

558 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Dinner on the Fable patio Fable

Fable is a comfy and casual spot on Castro, with a cozy dining room for candlelit dates in the front, winding back to a garden patio for good brunch in the back. At the moment, the pork chops and French toast are available for pickup, until the patio can return to its full brunch glory. 

558 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114

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