Welcome to San Francisco. We hope you're hungry. No matter where you wander in this world-class dining city, you're never far from your next great meal. Here are some of our favorite neighborhood spots.
Where to Eat in Union Square/Financial District/South of Market
Traditional Thai flavors take a farm-to-table turn on a menu that stars such locally sourced dishes as green rabbit curry, fried duck eggs with chili jam dressing, and house-made pork sausages steamed inside a banana leaf. kinkhao.com.
This counter service joint does just one dish, deliciously: a vibrantly seasoned fried chicken sandwich, on a fresh-baked bun, garnished with pickles and house-made apple slaw. OK, you can also get a salad or fries on the side. thebirdsf.com.
Where to Eat in the Mission/Potrero Hill
"Dinner and a show" takes on a new meaning at this Mission stalwart, where the kitchen turns out sharp Cal-Med dishes (think halibut ceviche with fried plantains and avocado, and house-cured pork chop with roasted apples) and classic movies screen in a courtyard in back. foreigncinema.com.
Don't let the crowds deter you. The line moves quickly, and the wait pays off in beautifully simple Mexican street-food staples such as carne asada tacos garnished with onions, cilantro, and house-made salsa, and carnitas burritos prepared without rice so that nothing takes away from the porky goodness of the slow-cooked meat inside. 2889 Mission St. (no website)
Where to Eat in North Beach
The 25-cent jukebox is still here, just as it was in the 1950s, when Jack Kerouac was drinking at the bar. But this former Beatnik hangout now also has a modern Cal-Med menu that spans from rigatoni with chicken livers and balsamic vinegar to a grilled dry-aged steak for two with sunchoke puree. toscacafesf.com.
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
Working with several kinds of ovens, 12-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani tosses many styles of pizza with many different toppings. They’re all terrific, whether its the quick-fired Neapolitan margherita, the thick-crusted Sicilian with sausage and mushrooms, or the dubious-sounding but delicious Californian pie topped with kale and muenster cheese. tonyspizzanapoletana.com.
Where to Eat in NOPA (North of the Panhandle)
This casual-chic spot stands out for the freshness of its seafood, from clams and oysters on the half shell to Dungeness crab and peel-and-eat prawns. There’s also a short list of stews and chowders, and local craft beers to wash everything down. barcrudo.com.
4505 Burgers & BBQ
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire—and some of the best barbecue in town, including lush pork shoulder, finger-licking spare ribs, and brisket that falls easily from the bone. It’s all cooked low and slow in a brick pit and offered with baked beans, potato salad, mac-n-cheese, and other irresistible, rib-sticking sides. 4505meats.com.
Where to Eat in Hayes Valley
Succulent meats roast on a rotating spit at this stylish souvlaki joint, ready to be wrapped in warm pita and embellished with fresh salad and yogurt sauces. Since launching in 2014, this counter-service concept has proved popular enough to spawn two other San Francisco locations (in NoPa and the Mission). One bite of the lamb souvlaki, with a side of roasted potatoes drizzled with pan drippings, and you understand what all the fuss is about. souvlasf.com.
The acclaimed chef Corey Lee is probably best known for his work at three-Michelin-starred Benu, his gastronomic temple in San Francisco’s South of Market district. But he also has a knack for more traditional bistro cooking. He shows it here in a sleek modern setting, which serves as a backdrop for steak frites, cassoulet, steamed mussels with saffron, and other sharp interpretations from the French canon. monsieurbenjamin.com.