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San Francisco restaurants

One day if I go to heaven, I'll look around and say, "It ain't bad, but it ain't San Francisco."
– Herb Caen

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Photo courtesy of Beretta

Bar Agricole

  • SoMa, American, $$$$ $$$
  • 355 11th St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94103
  • +1-415-355-9400

Midweek, drop in for oysters and something bubbly at the bar. Mid-weekend, book a table outside for brunch and pile it high with lemon curd-layered crepe cake and gravlax on rye, with fruit cup cocktails and four-barrel coffee on the side.

Beretta

  • Mission District , Italian, $$$$ $$
  • 1199 Valencia St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94110
  • +1-415-695-1199

Carve out a spot at the communal table to comfortably consume heady cocktails and copious amounts of veg-heavy antipasti, rich risotto, and crispy pizzas. No reservations for parties under 6, but call ahead an hour before your preferred dining time, and they'll add your name to the list.

Brown Sugar Kitchen

  • Oakland, Creole, Southern, $$$$ $$
  • 2534 Mandela Pkwy.
  • Oakland, CA, 94607
  • +1-510-839-7685

Beignets, BBQ shrimp and grits, fried chicken and waffles slathered with brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup. It's breakfast that will put you to bed.

Chez Panisse

  • Berkeley, French, $$$$ $$$
  • 1517 Shattuck Ave.
  • Berkeley, CA, 94709
  • +1-510-548-5049

Alice Waters, the mother of farm-to-table movement, continues to draw crowds in her cozy yet sophisticated Berkeley spot. The prix-fixe menu changes weekly and is especially fun for adventureous eaters. For a more casual option and an equally impressive á la carte menu, opt for a seat at the cafe upstairs.

Five

  • Berkeley, American, $$$$ $$$
  • 2086 Allston Way
  • Berkeley, CA, 94704
  • +1-510-225-6034

Just outside the Gourmet Ghetto, hidden inside Hotel Shattuck, is a four-time Bib Gourmand Michelin award-winner. The cheddar buttermilk biscuits, the roasted duck breast, the craft cocktails — your stomach thanks you.

Flour + Water

  • Mission District, Italian, $$$$ $$$
  • 2401 Harrison St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94110
  • +1-415-826-7000

A seemingly simple concept gives way to seasonal salads, house-made pastas, and wood-fired pizzas likely to cause cravings at a much later date. A wine list of obscure Italian bottles is where the night gets rewardingly complex.

Gather

  • Berkeley, American, $$$$ $$
  • 2200 Oxford St.
  • Berkeley, CA, 94704
  • +1-510-809-0400

Everything you expect from a NorCal favorite; from the walls lined with jars of pickles to the scrumptious dishes heaped with the freshest local ingredients (many of which are meat-, dairy-, and gluten-free).

Hawker Fare

  • Mission District, Thai, $$$$ $$
  • 680 Valencia St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94110
  • +1-415-400-5699

Pull up a bright red folding chair to the equally colorful polyester-covered tables, add the passing whiff of beef short ribs in a coconut milk and turmeric marinade, and suddenly you're in a back alley in Bangkok waiting for dinner. It's all good vibes and better food by Michelin-starred chef James Syhabout. The cocktails are fantastic, too.

La Taqueria

  • Mission District, Mexican, $$$$ $
  • 2889 Mission St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94110
  • +1-415-285-7117

There are plenty of spots for Mission burritos (start with Popupla's burrito guide) and Mexicatessen pit stops, but this one tops the list. The staples are excellent and the servings are generous — don't forget to get your burrito dorado (grilled).

Little Skillet

  • SoMa, Southern, $$$$ $
  • 360 Ritch St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94107
  • +1-415-777-2777

Order at the window of this Southern grub-slinging hole-in-the-wall from the kind folks behind sustainable soul food spot . Take your basket of fried chicken and flakey buscuits to a strip of curb in the sun.

Mission Chinese Food

  • Mission District, Chinese, $$$$ $$
  • 2234 Mission St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94110
  • +1-415-863-2800

Make sure blood sugar levels are stable before your name goes on the list, because even when the wait is close to two hours, no snack comes close to being worth spoiling this Szechuan feast. One bite of ma po tofu and you won't even notice the greasy spoon decor.

Pizzaiolo

  • Oakland, Italian, $$$$ $$
  • 5008 Telegraph Ave.
  • Oakland, CA, 94609
  • +1-510-652-4888

Chez Panisse-alum Charlie Hallowell serves up some of the best wood-fired pizzas this side of the Bay. Get a pie to share so you can order more of the fantastic antipasti (think persimmon and pomegranate with shaved fennel and walnuts) and still have room for dessert.

SPQR

  • Pacific Heights, Italian, $$$$ $$$
  • 1911 Fillmore St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94115
  • +1-415-771-7779

The dishes are hearty, the wine list is long, the scene is bustling but cozy. No surprises why the Michelin-star Italian spot continues to draw crowds. 

Swan Oyster Depot

  • Nob Hill, Seafood, $$$$ $$
  • 1517 Polk St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94109
  • +1-415-673-2757

One of those magical places that tourists love and locals still frequent. Squeeze onto one of the tiny bar stools and be prepared for a memorable seafood lunchtime feast. Everything on the menu is good, but when in doubt, strike up a conversation with the very nice Sancimino brothers and their staff for secret menu items like a smørrebrød or uni.

Tartine Bakery

  • Mission District, Bakery, $$$$ $$
  • 600 Guerrero St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94110
  • +1-415-487-2600

Take a break from exploring the colorful Mission District with a treat (tres leches cake, banana cream tart, a freshly baked gougère) at the James Beard-award winning bakery. On warmer days, head down the block to to experiment with one of the many crazy (good!) flavors in store.

Zuni Café

  • Hayes Valley, American, $$$$ $$$
  • 1658 Market St.
  • San Francisco, CA, 94102
  • +1-415-552-2522
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Go for the roast chicken (totally worth the wait and the $58), stay for the burger and the seasonal salads. Fresh oysters and fun cocktails making waiting at the bar a real pleasure.

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