San Francisco’s largest convention center complex, Moscone Center, draws over a million attendees per year to its North, South, and West wings. Visitors in town for conferences from Dreamforce to TechCrunch Disrupt are always looking to explore the city, and while ideally a jaunt to unique SF neighborhoods like North Beach would be in order, there are plenty of fun, convenient, and delicious options within the SoMa radius of the center itself. Here’s how to eat like a local even if you’re a tourist (step one: take off that lanyard).Read More
Where to Eat and Drink Around Moscone Center
From reliable lunch to after work/conference drinks
Underground cocktail den Local Edition has a newspaper theme (vintage typewriters and the like adorn the space) in a nod to its home in the Hearst Building. Their cocktails are reliable, they’ve occasionally got live music, and they take reservations for tables. Remember: Write drunk, edit sober.
Contemporary in feel and literary in ambition (cocktails are named for characters in novels like Leopold Bloom and Jay Gatsby) Novela has drinks and small bites for after work get-togethers or weekend jaunts downtown. For your best bet, get the punch on tap by the bowl.
Hummus bowls, pita sandwiches, shakshuka, and more Middle Eastern cuisine are the focus of Oren’s, a small local chain of Isreali-style restaurants. Delivery is popular, but dine in to experience the giant chandelier they have for some reason.
Reliable thin-crust pizza from San Francisco Italian stalwart Delfina is now available downtown: The third SF location of the pizzeria, founded on 18th Street to complement next door restaurant Delfina, opened in late 2018. The new Mission Street space is modern and light, and the cuisine is more of what put Delfina on the map in the first place: Rotating pizzas and favorites like margherita DOP, plus pastas like orecchiette and Delfina’s spaghetti pomodoro. Expect good values on Italian and Californian wines and s creamy soft serve for dessert.
Chef Mourad Lahlou serves elegant, contemporary Moroccan-inspired cuisine in an upscale setting. The restaurant has tasting and a la carte menus, with several large dishes on the a la carte menu perfect for sharing among a big group.
A 2008-opened wine destination, Press Club is a large, modern bar with a substantial selection of wines by the glass and bottle. Using the Coravin system— they were an early adopter — they’ve got lots of rare magnums poured by the glass, plus a food menu of snacks like popcorn, charcuterie, salads, and sliders.
Grass-fed steak frites, wedge salads, roast duck, and more brasserie-style fare are the focus at couple Adam and Stacy Jed’s contemporary downtown eatery. Don’t miss distinctive cocktails and sweets from pastry chef Lori Baker. For a more casual option, try the separate bar menu.
Ippudo San Francisco
Ultra popular ramen chain Ippudo finally opened a San Francisco location in Spring 2018, and whether or not the lines it generates are worth the typical wait provides a central, post-dinner topic of conversation. Many agree the 18-hour tonkotsu is worth it, and it’s definitely the best ramen bet in the area.
Fresh pasta, Dungeness crab arancini, and a variety of pizzas keep diners coming back to this FiDi offshoot of the 2010-opened Marina restaurant. It’s from the same folks as Hayes Valley’s a Mano and the Mission’s Beretta: Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group.
In Situ at SFMOMA
A living culinary museum inside SFMOMA, chef Corey Lee (Benu, Monsieur Benjamin) recreates dishes from the world’s best restaurants at In Situ. Travel by menu to Berlin’s Restaurant Tim Raue, with a wasabi lobster dish created there in 2013, and to New York’s Dominque Ansel Kitchen for a 2015 sage smoked dark chocolate brownie dessert. It’s one of the most intellectually interesting restaurants in town — and perhaps well beyond.
Tropisueno’s chips and margs have the power to bring together downtown coworkers who might not otherwise hang out beyond the office. It’s a quick service taco spot for lunch, bustling bar at happy hour, and a full-service restaurant for dinner. The prices are good across the board.
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Super Duper Burgers
Super Duper has dependably tasty burgers, breakfast sandwiches, and soft serve, and for convenience and flavor it’s tough to beat. Out-of-towners, especially those partial to competitors like Shake Shack, should seek out a taste of this homegrown Bay Area burger chain.
ALX by Alexander’s Steakhouse
A more approachable restaurant from the folks behind high-end Alexander’s Steakhouse, ALX is spacious and contemporary in atmosphere. Chef Jessie Lugo’s menu takes comfort food staples like mac and cheese and tater tots and kicks them into find-dining gear, and of late, her menu emphasizes a list of American wagyu beef. If you’ve got the scratch for it ($34), don’t miss the wagyu burger — a total, deluxe feast with a medley of mushrooms on brioche that help deliver an umami bomb.
The Marlowe/Park Tavern restaurateurs went British with this downtown spot that’s a hit from brunch to happy hour and dinner. The scotched duck egg is a popular appetizer, and the beloved Marlowe burger graces the menu as well. For something more intimate, head in to Marianne’s, the swanky lounge within the Cavalier.
Commons Club is a newly opened bar and restaurant in Virgin Hotels second location (the first, with its own Commons Club, has made a name for itself in Chicago). The very suave space seats 140, with a kitchen led by Adrian Garcia(Quince, Benu) featuring a menu of all-day fare from grain bowls and toasts by day to elegant, house made pasta by evening. Cocktails from bar director Tommy Quimby make the bar a destination in its own right.
Consistently one of SF’s best pizzerias and a Michelin bib gourmand pick for value, Zero Zero is your spot for a tower of pizzas with perfectly charred crusts. Don’t leave without ordering the ricotta doughnuts for dessert.