Noe Valley may be rolling deep in strollers and puppies, but it isn’t particularly known as a dining destination. Of course, there are reliable options for kid-friendly pizza and burgers, but for snazzier dinner and drinks, many locals hike over the hill to Mission Dolores. Still, there are a few underrated neighborhood gems, as well as fresh openings at the crossroads of 24th and Church. Here’s where to eat, drink, and get cozy in Noe.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in Noe Valley
From kid-friendly chicken fingers to date-night sushi and pasta
1. Firefly Restaurant
Still glittering after 25 years on the dark edges of the city, Firefly is a magical spot where you can actually reserve a table and hear your date speak (whenever indoor dining reopens). The menu is farm-to-table hippie in the best way possible: sourdough comes with a garlicky bean spread, starters often include scallop dumplings or daikon cakes, and the thick-cut pork chop and fried chicken—with a “damn good biscuit”—rarely disappoint.
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2. The Little Chihuahua
Not to compete with the Mission, but if a craving hits closer to home, Little Chihuahua rolls a mean burrito. The fried plantain and black bean special has a fan following, and if you’re not too ravenous, make it a baby portion. Of the three locations, this one has a heated back patio, where you can literally bring your chihuahua, when outdoor dining allows.
Mahila opened in 2019, when the Malaysian restaurant brought some much-needed sweet, sour, and fresh flavors to the neighborhood. Chef Azalina Eusope is a graduate of La Cocina and a fifth-generation street food vendor, and she’s ladling big bowls of turmeric noodles and duck curry.
4. Hamano Sushi
Hamano has been a reliable neighborhood sushi spot for years, but a former Saison chef took the keys in 2016, and quietly and meticulously, everything only got better. The neighborhood loves the takeout rolls, including a Castro roll with salmon and white tuna, deep-fried and drizzled in a sweet sauce; and a Mission roll with yellowtail and jalapeno. But chef Jiro Lin’s pride is the omakase experience, served at the front counter, whenever it safely reopens.
5. Noe Valley Bakery
Noe residents are invariably running late to a birthday party, and someone’s got to make the cake. This old-school bakery has a line out the door, and they really know their audience: The littlest patrons adore the electric trains in the window display, while feasting on mini cookies and cupcakes. Parents grab lattes and orange-currant scones for playground survival.
6. Vive la Tarte
There are several reasonable croissants on 24th Street, but this bakery boasts the most precise layers. One of the owners is from Belgium, but the vibe is all Cali, with white marble counters and lush plants. Dig into the breakfast and lunch menu, complete with kale salad, avocado toast, and eggs Benedict, washed down with turmeric lattes, kombucha, and natural wine.
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This Greek restaurant has been in the neighborhood since the 70s, and it’s back in the family, now run by the granddaughters. Diners usually grab a glass of wine at the tall tables or out on the sidewalk, but for now, Novy is still open for takeout, with lemony soup, cucumber-tomato salad, chicken wraps, lamb burgers, and eggplant moussaka to go.
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Starbucks might be right across the street, but locals go straight to Bernie’s. It’s hard to explain how much Bernadette “Bernie” Melvin and her coffee shop mean to the neighborhood. She’s been pouring Spinelli’s coffee and putting out empanadas and love for more than a decade, from the ground level of a gray Victorian, complete with a coveted bay window and sunny bench in front. Noe old timers, toddlers, professionals, and even the occasional cat all wander through, and enjoy the free wifi, as well as life advice.
9. Noe Cafe
For a decade, barista Maricar Lagura served good coffee out of a corner of an old laundromat. She finally partnered with roaster Christian Ritter, and the two took over the coin-op and completely transformed it into a sleek cafe, which now serves third-wave coffee to the under-caffeinated crowd that strolls Sanchez Street. Scones are from Kahnfections, doughnuts are from Dynamo, and bagels are from Poppy Bagels, and the puppies love that chill front parklet.
10. Saru Sushi Bar
Unfortunately, this tiny sushi spot isn’t a well-kept secret, and usually its snug counter and few tables fill up quickly. But these days, you don’t even have to huddle under a heat lamp. During the pandemic, Saru has been doing brisk business in takeout and delivery, offering sashimi, rolls, and even an omakase experience, all boxed up.
Billingsgate is a fresh new fish counter from Four Star Seafood, a local wholesaler that supplies many leading restaurants, including Benu, Scoma’s, and Waterbar. Billingsgate is primarily a market, with ice cases stocked with king salmon and oysters, and live tanks filled with live Dungeness crab during the local season. But it’s also a deli with a casual takeout menu, serving buttery brioche toast topped with crab salad, along with crudo and ceviche.
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12. Hi-Way Burger & Fry
The tech millionaires and toddlers of Noe Valley demand their burgers and fries, and Hi-Way is the strongest contender in a neighborhood teeming with kiddie menus. They settled in nicely into a corner space that previously flipped a couple of times, and keep slinging grass-fed beef, flat-top franks, and thick milkshakes.
13. Uma Casa
Chef Telmo Faria, who folded plenty of tacos at Tropisueño and Tacolicious, is finally celebrating his own heritage in one of the few Portuguese restaurants in the city. Usually, the blue-tiled dining room welcomes groups of friends who can share small plates of salt cod fritters and sardines, and big platters of clam stew and piri-piri chicken. At the moment, the chicken is available for pickup from the front window. And don’t miss the egg tarts, which aren’t usually on the takeout menu, but are worth snagging when they pop up.
14. Lovejoy's Tea Room
In a world full of posh hotel teas, Lovejoy’s is fabulously shabby chic, and one of the best afternoon tea services in town. Usually, tea drinkers settle into an antique sofa, sip from mismatched china, and tuck into finger sandwiches and scones, topped with clotted cream and lemon curd. But these days, the shop is still offering the queen’s tea boxed up as a lovely takeout experience at home.
15. La Ciccia
Venture to the bottom of Church Street, draw back the curtain, and step into one of the most intimate and regional Italian restaurants in San Francisco. La Ciccia sweeps you to the island of Sardinia, with salty and briny seafood and cheeses, from white anchovies to baby octopus, and pastas sunk in squid ink or topped with tuna heart. While the tableclothes are folded up for the moment, they are still open for takeout.
Pizza pro Sharon Ardiana owns not one, not two, but three neighborhood gems, with Gialina in Glen Park, Ragazza on Divisadero, and now Ardiana in Noe. True to form, the pies are pillowy, from the spicy amatriciana with pancetta and egg to the wild mushrooms with truffles.
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