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The 38 Essential Restaurants in San Francisco

A guide to the best restaurants in San Francisco for any dining occasion

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The Eater 38 is our attempt to answer any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” It’s a curated list that covers the entire city, spanning numerous cuisines, neighborhoods, and price points. It’s a list that tells the story of San Francisco through food, documenting the blend of taquerias, dumpling shops, and tasting menu destinations that make this city one of the most interesting places to eat in America. These are the places you don’t want to miss on your first trip to the Bay Area, and the ones worth venturing out to try even if you’ve lived here for decades.

And because we want to make sure this list reflects the ever-changing nature of San Francisco’s vibrant dining scene, we update the Eater 38 on a quarterly basis, adding restaurants that were previously overlooked, are newly eligible (Eater 38 restaurants must have been open for six months), or have stepped up their game. Sometimes a still great restaurant makes way for another one, in order to keep things new and fresh — and, importantly, to make sure that the Eater 38 is an inclusive and representative list.

To that end, we’ve added Breadbelly, Montesacro, Beit Rima, and Mourad in our October 2021 update; Swan Oyster Depot, Aziza, Lolo, and the Morris have been removed.

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. Lucca Delicatessen

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2120 Chestnut St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 921-7873
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San Francisco is a city that loves a serious sandwich, and this old-school Italian-American deli has been slicing and stacking since 1929. The salami hangs from the ceiling, the wheels of cheese weigh down the shelves, and everyone has a favorite special, from the #1 Italian Combo with salame, ham, mortadella, and provolone, to the Pat Burrell roast beef with pepper jack and peppers. The pro move is to grab a sandwich for lunch and a box of ravioli to take home for dinner.

Salami hanging from the ceiling at Lucca Deli Lucca Deli

2. Sotto Mare

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552 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-3181
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Locals and tourists swarm to Sotto Mare for an exemplary taste of San Francisco’s famous seafood creation: cioppino, an Italian-American stew likely adapted by Ligurian immigrants in North Beach. It’s on every table at this old-school, kitschy establishment, served in heaping silver bowls for two that brim with slightly spicy tomato broth, Dungeness crab, assorted Pacific shellfish, and some penne pasta thrown in for good measure. Other seafood staples like Louie salads round out the meal.

Ciopinno at Sotto Mare Caleb Pershan

3. Wildseed

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2000 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 872-7350
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Vegan restaurants have a long and storied legacy in San Francisco, but very few have landed with the kind of widespread mainstream buzz and acclaim that have greeted this Cow Hollow spot, of the Adriano Paganini restaurant empire — and the first with a 100 percent plant-based menu. If anyone can make vegan food trendy among San Francisco’s well-heeled, normally omnivorous masses, Paganini, with his magician’s touch, is the man for the job. It helps, of course, that dishes like the Impossible meat-based rigatoni Bolognese, “neatball” masala, and cheese-less cheesecake are straight-up delicious.

4. Cotogna

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490 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 775-8508
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For fresh pasta, Cotogna throws down like an Italian nonna, maintaining a reputation in a town that loves rustic Cal-Italian restaurants. It’s owned by Michael and Lindsay Tusk, in the same restaurant group as Michelin-starred Quince, but this Jackson Square restaurant is warmer and more casual. The woodfire oven and grill face out onto the open dining room, with communal wooden tables laden with spit-roasted pork, rabbit, and quail, fresh pasta, and market vegetables. Don’t miss the raviolo, the single oversized ravioli, that breaks open to reveal a buttery golden egg yolk. 

The giant raviolo pasta at Cotogna Cotogna

5. Kokkari Estiatorio

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200 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 981-0983
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A fire in the hearth and chickens twirling on the spit set the tone for this warm and rustic Greek tavern, which is a longstanding destination, right on the border of where the business lunches of the FiDi cross over into the date-night dinners of historic Jackson Square. The grilled whole fish of the day and lemon-oregano lamb riblets are always a treat, as are the crispy zucchini cakes and quintet of creamy and fishy dips.

Kokkari Estiatorio

6. Sam Wo Restaurant

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713 Clay St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 989-8898
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Out-of-town visitors might come pay their respects at Sam Wo out of historical interest, as the restaurant, newly reopened in 2015, is believed to be the oldest in San Francisco’s Chinatown — and, thus, one of the very oldest Chinese restaurants in America. Far from just some historical curiosity, however, Sam Wo remains one of Chinatown’s most delicious destinations, beloved by both tourists and locals for its simple, satisfying menu of Cantonese dishes like its fish jook and barbecue rice rolls.

7. Mister Jiu's

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28 Waverly Pl
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 857-9688
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It was a big deal for San Francisco when chef Brandon Jew took over the historic Four Seas banquet hall space and opened an ambitious Chinese-American restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. He stayed busy during the pandemic, opening Mamahuhu, a fast-casual spinoff on Clement, as well as putting out a cookbook, Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown. But Mister Jiu’s is back open for dine-in, serving the roast duck platter with peanut butter hoisin, sea urchin cheong fun, and squid ink wontons, along with cocktails, beer, and cider.

8. House of Prime Rib

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1906 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 885-4605
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This 70-year-old Nob Hill classic is a trip back to a time when plating with tweezers was not yet a thing. The name says it all: House of Prime Rib serves one thing and one thing only, and it does that roast prime rib very, very well. The only choices to make are: meat temperature, cut thickness, mashed or loaded baked potatoes, and martini or Manhattan. Each plate comes with a salad (prepared tableside), creamed spinach, Yorkshire pudding, and potatoes — and of course a hulking piece of beef cut from one of the wheeled meat carts.

9. Akiko's Restaurant

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431 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 397-3218
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In a city with many luxurious omakase counters, Akiko’s has always been a revelatory sushi experience. Tucked away in Union Square, just around the corner from the Dragon Gate to Chinatown, chef-owner Ray Lee and his family have been serving exquisite bites to intimate seats for more than 30 years. The toro, uni, caviar, and wagyu are worth the splurge.

Nigiri from Akiko’s Akiko’s

10. Mourad

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140 New Montgomery St #1
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 660-2500
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Chef Mourad Lahlou has two striking restaurants: Mourad offers a Michelin-starred fine dining experience downtown, while Aziza serves Moroccan comforts out in the Avenues. And if you’re looking for a flawless dinner, Mourad is more than worth the splurge. Swoon beneath the glittering chandeliers in the handsomely appointed dining room swathed in plants. Service is impeccable, from the warm and friendly hosts and service staff to the knowledgeable and enthusiastic wine director Jose Delgado. And everything on the menu delivers — starting with a simple bowl of warm and lemon scented olives or a buttery chicken basteeya to the large format la’acha plates and delicate desserts. 

11. Mensho Tokyo SF

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672 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 800-8345
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Of all the slurp-worthy bowls of ramen in our chilly and foggy city by the bay, Mensho Tokyo draws long lines down the block in the Tenderloin. This location was the first U.S. outpost for the acclaimed Japanese ramen shop, known for its ultra-creamy tonkotsu pork broth and bouncy noodles with bite.

12. Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup

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1620 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 563-1388

At this Korean hotspot in San Francisco’s Japantown, the wait for a table during peak dinner hours can stretch long as two hours, and almost every dish on the menu features some kind of preparation of beef: kalbitang (or beef rib soup); beef bibimbap; seolleongtang, the cloudy-white ox bone soup with its noted hangover-curing properties; and, if you think all that won’t be enough, boiled beef brisket that you can order as an appetizer. But the star of the show — and perhaps of the city’s entire Korean restaurant scene — is the kalbijjim, the slow-braised, spicy-sweet, fall-off-the-bone beef short rib stew that is Daeho’s claim to fame.

Braised short rib stew at Daeho Luke Tsai

13. Nari

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1625 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 868-6274
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Pim Techamuanvivit’s statement restaurant at Japantown’s Hotel Kabuki is unlike any other Thai spot in town — more upscale, sure, with the artful plating and (at least during pre-pandemic times) the gorgeous dining room to match. But Nari’s most meaningful impact lies in the way the restaurant is bringing bold, unapologetic Thai flavors to a grand stage in San Francisco — and doing it in a way that showcases local ingredients. There’s nothing timid about the lime-bright mushroom laab, or the earthy Monterey Bay squid tossed with cubes of sticky caramelized pork jowl.

14. Mandalay Restaurant

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4348 California St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 386-3896
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San Francisco is one of the great Burmese restaurant cities in the U.S., and, though it isn’t the flashiest or the most crowded, Mandalay might be best of the bunch — certainly it’s the one that makes the least compromises to accommodate Western palates, which in general means bigger, punchier flavors. Try the homey samusa soup or any of the fragrant noodle dishes, but whatever you do, don’t skip the best fermented tea leaf salad in town — a rendition of the classic that’s available without lettuce or cabbage to tamp down the deliciously pungent flavors or diminish the outrageous crunch of the nuts and seeds.

Lahpet thoke at Mandalay Omar Mamoon

15. Pearl 6101

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6101 California St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 592-9777
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Pearl 6101 has won the hearts of city diners far beyond its cozy, residential Richmond neighborhood setting. Chef-partners Mel Lopez and Joyce Conway (alums of sister spot Pizzetta 211) are still serving bright crudos; big, gorgeous plates of seared scallops; and some of the tastiest handmade pasta dishes in town — all complemented by drinks like the can’t-miss Pearl martini.

16. Breadbelly

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1408 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 349-0969
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There’s a growing number of Asian-American bakeries in and around San Francisco putting fresh twists on classic baked foods and infusing French pastries with sweet ube and meaty chashu. But if you’re only going to check out one, make it Breadbelly, where a team of fine-dining alums have truly perfected the art of marrying Asian flavors with modern California tastes. The signature lime-green kaya toast topped with coconut-pandan jam and big snowflakes of sea salt is a revelation; but savory sandwiches and daily pastries deserve attention, too. Still closed for dine-in, Breadbelly offers online ordering for pick-up starting at 10 a.m. — and click quick, items sell out fast.

17. PPQ Dungeness Island - San Francisco

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2332 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 386-8266
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Vietnamese-style roast crab, drenched in a metric ton of butter and garlic, is one of the signature dishes of the San Francisco dining experience, and no one does it better than this Richmond District institution, where any weeknight dinner can feel like a special celebration if you splurge on a couple of those crabs and a big plate of garlic noodles.

18. Montesacro San Francisco

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510 Stevenson St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 795-3040
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Worthwhile Italian fare isn’t hard to find in this city, but if you’re looking specifically for Roman cuisine things get slightly trickier. Fortunately for fans of pinsa, the fluffy pizza-like dish indigenous to Rome, Montesacro is hiding in plain sight. Venture down a gritty alleyway in the Tenderloin and step inside to be transported halfway around the world to a casual Italian restaurant. The stretchy, doughy flatbreads come layered with crispy guanciale and prosciutto di Parma or still-snappy broccolini and creamy rosemary potato puree. Pair your meal with a selection from the impressive list of Italian whites, reds, and bubbles by the glass or bottle. 

Ellen Fort

19. Dragon Beaux

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5700 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 333-8899
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A mix of classic and contemporary dim sum is on the menu at this always-crowded Richmond District restaurant from the team behind Bay Area stalwart Koi Palace. Everyone loves to Instagram the soup dumplings with colored skins, but those in the know fill their tables with the kind of creative, precisely executed dim sum specialties you’ll find at forward-thinking places in Hong Kong: blood-red rice rolls filled with fried fish, the city’s best sugar-crusted baked pork buns, and, for good measure, destination-worthy crackle-skinned roast pork belly.

20. Monsieur Benjamin

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451 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 403-2233
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Hayes Valley happens to have an exceptionally precise French restaurant, owned by star chef Corey Lee, and currently run by chef George Dingle, a Brit who knows his pastry crust. Monsieur Benjamin has black-and-white tile floors and a horseshoe bar, and deceptively simple and comforting bistro fare, from the duck confit and steak tartare to the chicken liver pate and butter lettuce salad.

Monsieur Benjamin

21. Rich Table

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199 Gough St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 355-9085
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Evan and Sarah Rich's Hayes Valley favorite has long been a challenging reservation to land thanks to their wildly inventive, consistently delicious food and a smart wine selection and cocktail program. Don't miss the sardine chips, the porcini doughnuts with raclette fondue, the seasonal salads and pastas, and one of Sarah Rich’s excellent desserts.

22. Zuni Cafe

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1658 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 552-2522
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Besides "the" chicken, Zuni's burger, Caesar salad, and Bloody Mary have all been called the best in the city at various points in the restaurant’s illustrious, 40-plus-year career. Sitting on the edge of Hayes Valley, it’s the utility belt of San Francisco restaurants: good for brunch, for late-night dining, for oysters and a cocktail at the bar, or for a lovely sit-down meal with a date. The chicken, meanwhile, deserves every last bit of praise. For the first time in the restaurant’s storied history, Zuni started serving takeout during the pandemic — and is the first restaurant in the city to switch over to all reusable takeout containers.

Zuni’s famous chicken with bread salad Bill Addison

23. Rintaro

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82 14th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 589-7022
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Rintaro feels like a secret hideout in the Mission, with a lovely front patio guarded from the street by a bamboo fence. Enter, and find an inviting, wood-clad izakaya from Chez Panisse alum Sylvan Mishima Brackett, whose menu has long drawn a bustling, stylish crowd that lines up before the restaurant even opens for business. Gyoza, yakitori of all kinds, pristine sashimi, and the platonic ideal of fried tori katsu (fried chicken stuffed with Cowgirl Creamery cheese) are all on order.

24. Beit Rima

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86 Carl St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 566-1274
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On a sunny afternoon or a cool San Francisco evening, there’s perhaps no better place to find comfort than on Biet Rima’s flower-lined patio or inside the cozy dining room with a generous mezze spread before you and a cold Arabic beer in hand. Owner Samir Mogannam turns seasonal produce into simple yet stunning vegetarian-friendly dishes like delicata squash grounded in brown butter with tangy lebna and pine nut dukkah, while the meatier entrees including tender beef kabob and yogurt marinated chicken lend the menu some weight.

Delicata squash with brown butter lebneh from Beit Rima Lauren Saria

25. Um.ma

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1220 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 566-5777
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This Inner Sunset neighborhood favorite brings “LA-style” Korean food to San Francisco. Mostly, that means a hip vibe and a contemporary approach to the greatest-hits menu, which for the most part sticks to the usual crowdpleasers: a big seafood pancake, a kimchi fried rice, and a sticky-sweet take on Korean fried chicken. Take-home Korean barbecue kits — which started as something to tide customers over until outdoor grill-it-yourself Korean tabletop barbecue started up again — are available, though you can now make a reservation to dine on Um.ma’s string light–bedecked patio.

A spread of dishes at Um.ma Um.ma

26. Poc-Chuc

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2886 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 558-1583
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This family-run Mission District regional Mexican mainstay specializes in Yucatecan and Mayan-inspired cuisine, which means lots of smoky, citrus-marinated pork, deeply flavorful turkey mole (served, in the Yucatecan style, as an ink-black soup), and wonderful handmade tortillas. Service could scarcely be more attentive and kind.

Caleb Pershan

27. Liholiho Yacht Club

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3560 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 589-7266
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This sleek, sophisticated, and avant-garde restaurant blends chef Ravi Kapur’s heritage with his Prospect pedigree. The menu is uniquely Kapur’s but draws inspiration from familiar local grindz. The restaurant has relocated to the Mission for the moment, while its usual home on Nob Hill undergoes renovations. But the team is still putting out an appealing, ever-evolving menu for indoor and outdoor dining, including Liholiho favorites like its poke and crispy rice onigiri.

Whole fried fish from Liholiho Yacht Club Liholiho Yacht Club [Official Photo]

28. Prubechu

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2224 Mission St #A
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 853-0671
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Reborn at its location in the Mission last year, San Francisco’s only Guamanian restaurant continues to provide newcomers to the cuisine with a delicious education into Chamorro cuisine: stroganoff-like tinaktak with egg noodles, pork ribs over red rice, and an assortment of the Guamanian-style ceviches known as kelaguen — served here on flatbreads, like a taco.

29. Lazy Bear

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3416 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 874-9921
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Lazy Bear was a very exclusive supper club before it landed a permanent home in the Mission, and garnered two Michelin stars for its irreverent fine-dining fare. There are lots of luxury ingredients and flashy tools, but it’s a laid-back and fun experience, usually centered on big communal tables, although the pandemic temporarily pulled those apart.

30. Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine

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710 Florida St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 814-2920
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The wildly popular Farmhouse Kitchen dominated the takeout scene during the pandemic, with the Little Lao platter that became a social media sensation (sorry fans and followers, that special was retired on June 15). But regardless, this colorful Thai restaurant has always been a party, and now it’s back with hat yai fried chicken, caveman-sized braised ribs, blue rice, saucy curries, and more. It’s still great for delivery, but now open for indoor, and they’re very into birthdays.

Farmhouse Kitchen [official photo]

31. Besharam

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1275 Minnesota St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 580-7662
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Fully revamped since the spring of 2019, Heena Patel’s Dogpatch restaurant shifted away from her initial “California Gujarati” cuisine concept, leaning heavily into the regional Gujarati dishes she grew up eating and launching a family-style vegetarian tasting menu option. The result? One of the most fantastic — and now, meat-free — Indian restaurants in the city. Customers may have never previously tried the smoky, spicy eggplant stew known as ringan no oro. But they’ll happily dig into those bold flavors here.

32. La Taqueria

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2889 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 285-7117
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It wouldn’t be San Francisco without the Mission’s squadron of high-quality taquerias, none better or more famous than this one. Known, in part, for long lines at all times of day, even during the pandemic, La Taq built up an unwaveringly loyal fan base even before it landed its America's Best Burrito title. The carnitas and carne asada are some of the best around; the tacos come wonderfully overloaded; and those burritos, famously, are served without rice so there’s no carb overload to distract from the quality of the meats.

33. Reem's California Mission

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2901 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 780-1953
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Open just one week before the shelter-in-place order, the highly anticipated Mission outpost of Reem Assil’s Arab bakery and restaurant — the only one in the city — faced the tall task of having to adapt and reinvent itself from its earliest days. By now its settled into the kind of all-day neighborhood staple that Assil always wanted it to be, with its menu of mana’eesh (topped flatbreads) and ka’ik sesame bread sandwiches (including the decadent, pastry-stuffed Jiddo’s Breakfast), and its brand of warm Arab hospitality.

34. Tacos El Patron

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1500 S Van Ness Ave #100
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 829-7315
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El Patrón had the good fortune to be the first taqueria in SF proper to open with quesabirria on the menu, right at the moment when interest in the cheesy, red-tinged tacos reached its peak here in the Bay Area — but owners Alberto Pineda and Mariana Reza never saw the restaurant as a one-trick pony. If you’re going to order a single taco here, let it be that quesabirria, the Tijuana-style beef birria tacos that are served with a side of consomé for convenient dipping. Really, though, any taco is a good choice, with the other standout being the namesake Taco Patrón, which comes loaded with grilled shrimp and melted cheese.

35. La Ciccia

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291 30th St
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 550-8114
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Not so much San Francisco Italian as pure unadulterated regional Italian (Sardinian, to be specific), this family-run sparkler is free of pretension. It’s an intimate dining experience found on the edge of Noe Valley with a seafood-focused menu unlike any other Italian restaurant in town. Don’t miss the spicy octopus stew, the sea urchin and shaved tuna heart pasta, and the unusual wine selection at this cozy Noe Valley spot.

36. El Buen Comer

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3435 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 817-1542
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Mexico City native Isabel Caudillo is serving family recipes at this Bernal Heights neighborhood restaurant, with a menu focused on guisados — slow-cooked meat and vegetable stews, like the wonderful, velvety pork mole verde, all served with big heap of rice and beans. Tacos are also excellent here, thanks to the restaurant’s well-blistered handmade tortillas made with organic masa.

37. Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant

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3132 Vicente St
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 564-3481
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On cold nights, many of the regulars who’d crowd the small, scruffy dining room at Old Mandarin Islamic would order one of the spicy Beijing-style hot pots — a warming antidote to the chilly Outer Sunset fog. In general, this SF institution, one of the only places in the city that specializes in Chinese Muslim cuisine, is a great place to feast on lamb — stir-fried with cumin, braised, stuffed inside of dumplings, or boiled in a claypot. Chili-heads will want to test their endurance against the side dish/condiment known as la si ni, or “spice you to death.” 

38. Auntie April's Chicken, Waffles, & Soul Food Restaurant

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4618 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 643-4983

Don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t destination-worthy soul food in San Francisco — not when Auntie April’s has been dishing out a whole lot more than her restaurant’s (very good) namesake dish of fried chicken and waffles. Brunchtime customers will want to snag an order of those, but they’d also be foolish to pass on the city’s best version of shrimp and grits — lush, oozy grits topped with rich, savory, chile-tinged gravy. The restaurant also serves not one but two superior versions of cornbread, including a hard-to-find hot-water variety.

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1. Lucca Delicatessen

2120 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Salami hanging from the ceiling at Lucca Deli Lucca Deli

San Francisco is a city that loves a serious sandwich, and this old-school Italian-American deli has been slicing and stacking since 1929. The salami hangs from the ceiling, the wheels of cheese weigh down the shelves, and everyone has a favorite special, from the #1 Italian Combo with salame, ham, mortadella, and provolone, to the Pat Burrell roast beef with pepper jack and peppers. The pro move is to grab a sandwich for lunch and a box of ravioli to take home for dinner.

2120 Chestnut St
San Francisco, CA 94123

2. Sotto Mare

552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Ciopinno at Sotto Mare Caleb Pershan

Locals and tourists swarm to Sotto Mare for an exemplary taste of San Francisco’s famous seafood creation: cioppino, an Italian-American stew likely adapted by Ligurian immigrants in North Beach. It’s on every table at this old-school, kitschy establishment, served in heaping silver bowls for two that brim with slightly spicy tomato broth, Dungeness crab, assorted Pacific shellfish, and some penne pasta thrown in for good measure. Other seafood staples like Louie salads round out the meal.

552 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133

3. Wildseed

2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

Vegan restaurants have a long and storied legacy in San Francisco, but very few have landed with the kind of widespread mainstream buzz and acclaim that have greeted this Cow Hollow spot, of the Adriano Paganini restaurant empire — and the first with a 100 percent plant-based menu. If anyone can make vegan food trendy among San Francisco’s well-heeled, normally omnivorous masses, Paganini, with his magician’s touch, is the man for the job. It helps, of course, that dishes like the Impossible meat-based rigatoni Bolognese, “neatball” masala, and cheese-less cheesecake are straight-up delicious.

2000 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123

4. Cotogna

490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
The giant raviolo pasta at Cotogna Cotogna

For fresh pasta, Cotogna throws down like an Italian nonna, maintaining a reputation in a town that loves rustic Cal-Italian restaurants. It’s owned by Michael and Lindsay Tusk, in the same restaurant group as Michelin-starred Quince, but this Jackson Square restaurant is warmer and more casual. The woodfire oven and grill face out onto the open dining room, with communal wooden tables laden with spit-roasted pork, rabbit, and quail, fresh pasta, and market vegetables. Don’t miss the raviolo, the single oversized ravioli, that breaks open to reveal a buttery golden egg yolk. 

490 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

5. Kokkari Estiatorio

200 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Kokkari Estiatorio

A fire in the hearth and chickens twirling on the spit set the tone for this warm and rustic Greek tavern, which is a longstanding destination, right on the border of where the business lunches of the FiDi cross over into the date-night dinners of historic Jackson Square. The grilled whole fish of the day and lemon-oregano lamb riblets are always a treat, as are the crispy zucchini cakes and quintet of creamy and fishy dips.

200 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94111

6. Sam Wo Restaurant

713 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Out-of-town visitors might come pay their respects at Sam Wo out of historical interest, as the restaurant, newly reopened in 2015, is believed to be the oldest in San Francisco’s Chinatown — and, thus, one of the very oldest Chinese restaurants in America. Far from just some historical curiosity, however, Sam Wo remains one of Chinatown’s most delicious destinations, beloved by both tourists and locals for its simple, satisfying menu of Cantonese dishes like its fish jook and barbecue rice rolls.

713 Clay St
San Francisco, CA 94108

7. Mister Jiu's

28 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

It was a big deal for San Francisco when chef Brandon Jew took over the historic Four Seas banquet hall space and opened an ambitious Chinese-American restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. He stayed busy during the pandemic, opening Mamahuhu, a fast-casual spinoff on Clement, as well as putting out a cookbook, Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown. But Mister Jiu’s is back open for dine-in, serving the roast duck platter with peanut butter hoisin, sea urchin cheong fun, and squid ink wontons, along with cocktails, beer, and cider.

28 Waverly Pl
San Francisco, CA 94108

8. House of Prime Rib

1906 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109