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You will go to Ferry Plaza—no need for us to tell you that. Try to go on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, which are farmers market days. The weekday ones are smaller but also less crowded. Saturday tends to be a complete stunningly bountiful zoo, but also more like a farmers market and less like a food hall.
With that mega-food destination checked off your list, what next? Since the excellent food choices in San Francisco—even within the city proper—are seemingly endless, we’ve concentrated on those places with food we’d cross town for. Scroll down for drink suggestions, as well as a few of our favorite non-food spots.
These croissants are perfect in every sense of the word, shatteringly crisp exterior and buttery delicately layered interior. Look for the 1907 photograph of the owner’s great-grandparents with a horse and buggy carrying baked goods outside their boulangerie outside of Paris.
Bi-Rite Market (and Creamery!)
3639 18th St
The markets feature the best of local produce, plus fine groceries of all sorts, and an impressive wine selection. The Creamery is a San Francisco institution, enjoy your cup or cone in Dolores Park, across the street.
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The Savory + Sweet one-two punch breakfast with the sweet Kaya toast with coconut pandan jam (above) and a savory gyeran bbang (Korean egg bread) is ridiculously delicious. Here they use cornbread laced with gochugaru (chili powder) and thinly sliced scallions, then layer with a jammy boiled egg and sharp cheddar cheese.
Buena Vista Café
On the chilly night of November 10, a journalist with a thick glasses, a weasel’s face and a Pulitzer Prize (also a San Francisco Chronicle travel columnist) did something that would make the Buena Vista into something greater than merely an old-fashioned saloon on a dead corner. That night, Stanton Delaplane nailed down the recipe for Irish coffee.
Hook Fish Co.
Fish tacos or fish and chips? Both are stellar at this seafood hangout a couple of blocks from Ocean Beach. And it’s also the only place in the Outer Sunset to get fish fresh off the boat. The fish counter menu lists the fisherman, the boat, and the fishing method so you know your seafood is coming from.
Although Nichole Accetola’s Danish sprouted rye bread is undoubtedly the backbone of the menu at Kantine, the Scandinavian-inspired savory/sweet porridges and the popular build-your-own brunch board are our favorites. Not to mention fresh Danish and Swedish pastries every morning until they run out.
Liholiho Yacht Club
Modern, suave, delicious takes inspired by Hawaiian food such as tuna poke and beef tongue bun. We also try not to miss the octopus, halibut tail, or short rib. Can’t miss cocktails, too.
Our favorite baguette in the city. The wood-burning oven makes this a cozy spot for lunch or dinner when the fog rolls in.
Home of the infamous $4 toast but also Josey Baker’s infamous gluten-free Adventure Bread. Order it with the nut butter and an espresso from Four Barrel Coffee and then make your own loaf at home with Josey’s version popularized by David Lebovitz
28 Waverly Place
Get the prawn toast and as much of the rest of the menu as you think you can handle. Consider pushing your limit—the Chinatown dining room is as lovely a spot to enjoy yourself as any in the city.
Come for the flatbread and burger—not to mention wood-fired everything and simple seasonal sides—but stay for the extraordinary wine list.
The first fine-dining restaurant to stake a claim in the fog, it’s still our favorite spot for a weekday lunch which features their signature house-baked bread. Sitting at the bar for dinner is a good option if you can skip the always-present line out the door.
Quintessential San Francisco Italian-inspired cuisine featuring a seasonal menu that reflects the best of the Bay Area’s produce in a lively bustling atmosphere. They have a stellar wine list (pick up bottles to go next door at DIG), and while the salads are the star of the menu, the thin-crust pizzas, especially the Bianco, are what keeps us coming back.
You can’t go wrong with the famous roast chicken for two, but then the daily pasta always hits home, too. Then there’s the house-cured anchovies and the Caesar salad, the shoestring fries and the Bloody Mary…. Honestly, you can’ go wrong at this decades-old San Francisco favorite. The sky-high ceilings, windows onto Market Street, and open kitchen mean there’s always something to watch.
Wine bars and retailers
Although we’re right next door to the world-class Northern California wine country, it’s just as easy to enjoy the bounty of Sonoma and Napa counties at San Francisco’s many wine bars and wine shops. If the 100-point scale is your guide, then retailers like BevMo and K&L Wine Merchants are your best bet stalking the cabernets and chardonnays of Napa and Sonoma. We prefer smaller and more curated lists that focus on smaller producers.
Wayne Garcia’s exquisitely curated store of mostly natural French and Italian wines trending towards low alcohol and food-friendly bottles, which makes them just the kind of wine to bring to a dinner party or crack at home to enjoy yourself.
1419 18th St
Intimate wine bar and retailer in the bustling stretch of Portrero Hill’s 18th Street, focusing on small production, biodynamic, native yeast, additive-free, unsulphured, and unfiltered wines.
Gemini Bottle Company
2801 22nd St
100% natural wine list featuring an eclectic assortment of West Coast and European bottles at reasonable prices, plus a stellar selection of microbrews and booze from artisan distilleries.
Fig and Thistle
691 14th St
Besides the adventurous assortment of natural and biodynamic wines, Fig and Thistle is the best place to get your orange wine fix as they usually have at least 7-9 bottles on hand.
Noe Valley Wine and Spirits
3821 24th St
Besides a nice list of California bottles, they also have one of the largest selections of cold champagne in the city, as well as offering a deep dive into aperitifs and digestifs.
SF’s only champagne bar with a chambong (that’s a bong with bubbles) that can also accommodate the beer drinker in your crowd by offering the champagne of beers. Don’t miss out on the tater tot waffles.
Lively wine bar and retail store featuring a worldly wine list as well as stellar eats. That Boursin omelet may not be local, but it sure is good with a glass of wine.
Beyond food and wine
Since, after all, at some point, you need to walk off a few of those bites, these are some of the best spots to see the glory of San Francisco, move around a bit, and take in the city’s famed views.
Get a grand view at the Pacific Ocean as it pours into (or out of, depending on the tides) the Golden Gate from this landmark walking trail at the far northwest corner of the city.
Known as DP in Millenial lingo. Get there early to claim your picnic blanket spot on this big swatch of grass in the Mission District with downtown views that attracts a crowd of all ages, especially on weekends.
Although the SFMOMA and DeYoung should be on your list as must-sees for art enthusiasts, these installations by sculptor Andy Goldsworthy are set on public land and free to walk up to, around, and on.
On a clear day, you can see forever, beyond San Francisco, into the Berkeley Hills, up to the North Bay, and out to the Pacific. When the fog rolls in though, it’ll be hard enough just to find your car.
The 3.5-mile stretch of beach at the city’s far western edge is a prime location for gathering a few sand dollars to take home with you, watching the local surfers take on one of the toughest breaks on the west coast, and on sunny days when the wind dies down, the best spot in San Francisco for catching glorious sunsets.
While you’re out here, stop in at the White Cap Bar (3608 Taraval; whitecapsf.com) for craft cocktails and slushies served in the last stretch of Taraval before it dead-ends into Ocean Beach. Tunnel Records (3614A Taraval; tunnelrecordssf.com) is next door and across the street is the home of the infamous Snowy Plover drink at Andytown Coffee Roasters (3655 Lawton; andytownsf.com).