I love to indulge in delicious food and drink—who doesn’t right? Finding new places to eat is definitely one of my favorite ways to not only explore the city but also spend time with friends and family, because again, we’re eaters. With that said, living in San Francisco has spoiled me with a huge variety of restaurants that cover more cuisines that I can probably list.
And so I bring to you a new series of the best places to eat and drink in San Francisco! Whether it’s a new restaurant hitting the ever-changing San Francisco dining scene, or a place that I’ve been frequenting since before I can remember, they’re places that I’d enthusiastically recommend to anyone! I’m an adventurous eater, so get ready for a very non-discriminatory, cravings inducing list of five places each month.
Check out my previous Best of San Francisco & Bay Area Restaurant posts here!
My Top San Francisco Restaurant Picks!
New American | 111 Mason St
With its mural ceiling, gold accents, mirrors, tiled surfaces and turquoise booth seating, Gibson is by far one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city. You might miss it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But don’t let the fact that it’s inside the Hotel Bijou (I do my best to avoid hotel restaurants normally!) or that it’s in the Tenderloin area throw you off.
Dining here is an experience that leaves your stomach happy while broadening your culinary knowledge if you so choose to pick your server’s brain on the dishes presented. This glamorous art deco restaurant features an open kitchen (I personally love watching chefs cook and plate your food so effortlessly!) and full bar with a menu that showcases flavorful dishes cooked on the hearth. The cocktails are extremely unique too. I was served one that incorporated three types of Japanese shoyu making for a surprisingly savory delicious libation.
What to get: Don’t pass up the warm pull-apart rolls that are literally dipped in garlic herb butter. Great starters include the Hamachi sashimi with yuzu; the chopped salad that has all sorts of crunchy shaved veggies; and the fresh spaghetti with shrimp and caviar in a spicy tomato sauce. For mains, try the ridiculously tender chicken roulade with grilled cabbage and the pork ribeye with Brussels sprouts.
Peruvian Nikkei | 1838 Union St
Looking to try a new cuisine? How about Peruvian Nikkei? KAIYŌ is a trendy restaurant in Cow Hollow that offers a fusion of both Japanese and Peruvian cuisines in a lively atmosphere complete with a full bar, vibrant yellow booth seating and a living wall.
The menu features a variety of Japanese dishes with a Peruvian twist and includes tiradito dishes that utilize Peruvian flash marinade techniques; ceviches and crudos; and nigiri sushi and rolls. And if you’re in the mood to share, it also features a selection of anticuchos, similar to Peruvian street food. Pair your food with fabulous cocktails that incorporate unique ingredients like pink peppercorn and lucuma.
What to get: Start with the hamachi; otoro; karaage pollo; and the kakuni bao buns with braised pork belly. Meat eaters should go for a few skewers, especially the A5 wagyu kofta. Since it’s their specialty, order a tiradito or ceviche as well! The butterfish ceviche and Hokkaido scallop tiradito are excellent. For the mains, you can’t go wrong with the pollo a la brasa with Mary’s chicken or the lomo saltado with Niman ranch short-rib.
Californian-Mediterranean | 2534 Mission St
This popular Mission district dining destination offers one of the most unique culinary experiences in the city. Bringing together the best of both the film and culinary worlds, Foreign Cinema is like a cooler, more cultured version of your traditional dinner and a date movie format.
The food is globally-inspired Northern California cuisine that brings together fine dining, wine and cocktails, film and art under one roof. Well kind of—Foreign Cinema has a great outdoor space where they also throw events, project films and serve food al fresco. Catch a film at dusk each night and indulge your senses. Or swing by for brunch because it’s equally fire!
What to get: Honestly I haven’t had anything I didn’t like here but some of my favorite mains include the heritage brined pork chop with Tunisian spices, Umbrian farro and grilled kale; and the grilled kobe bistro steak with black trumpet mushrooms, flageolet beans, baby carrots and chard. Other tasty dishes include the pacific bigeye tuna poke and the salt spring mussels and Manila clams with a Thai curry broth. For sharing, you can’t go wrong with the oysters or one of their “urban picnic” dishes.
Mexican | 2889 Mission St
The best burrito in the Mission hails from the unassuming burrito heaven, also known as La Taqueria. Famous for their Mission-style burrito sans rice, the item to order—the one thing that packs this place day after day—is the el dorado burrito. The el dorado burrito is a masterpiece that tastes just as good as the first time you had it, even after you’ve devoured it dozens of times. I always go for the carnitas or carne asada with the works (guac, sour cream, salsa, pinto beans, cheese, hot sauce) and order it dorado style which, just means the burrito is seared to crispy perfection making the entire thing ridiculously yummy.
What to get: El dorado burrito
Dim Sum | 11 Division St
If you love dim sum you will love Dumpling Time! This hip Cal-Asian bistro serves a nice selection of all your favorite dumplings from siu mai to xiao long bao—made fresh, right in front of your eyes—along with easy-to-share small dishes like Beijing noodles, spring rolls, shrimp toast and more. It’s a super fun spot to chow down on a lot of food, especially for groups. Aside from all the tasty dumplings, my favorite thing about this place is the K-pop music videos they project on the back wall. I literally am mesmerized the whole time. So entertaining!
What to get: The garlicky green beans; BBQ pork bao with char-sin roasted pork belly; seafood gyoza with Spinach skin, crab, scallop, shrimp and chili butter sauce; wagyu gyoza; pork xiao long bao; shrimp & pork siu mai; xi’an dumplings; and for dessert the egg yolk buns!
What San Francisco spots are you loving right now? Let me know in the comments below!
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