San Francisco has everything. From locally made soft French-style to pungent Italian-style cheese that sometimes tastes even better than their ancestors from Europe. This is due only to the immigrants who brought all their knowledge and recipes with them at the beginning of the 20th century, conquering the land of their dreams. And they have done an excellent job as San Francisco has become one of the greatest foodie places to visit. To be clear, a one- or two-week-long vacation will not be enough to taste the real San Francisco, but it will hook you into coming back for more. Every part of the city has its own charm, its own food scene, its own generosity to look for; there is no community like Mission, the same as both Richmonds, Cow Hollow, Financial District, and all the others. And it is different when travelling with kids. Few food spots to visit.
Text & photo: Signe Meirāne
Outerlands is no secret to local foodies. We experienced it from many angles - from a romantic breakfast to afternoon cocktails and Sunday lunch with kids. The produce is still local, ricotta is homemade, and bacon comes from a farm close by. Waiting for a table has never been as good as it is at Outerlands, where people chat while drinking their morning coffee or a Saturday glass of wine. The experience there is beyond magical, as every bite is how bites should be – respectful, local, and tasty.
Le Marais Bakery owner Patrick Ascaso opened this bakery in 2013 trying to feel closer to home recreating a boulangerie he remembered from Arpajon, France. Every viennoiserie is made with local and French butter, organic flour, and the best local ingredients as they firmly believe that the taste comes not only from the knowledge of making but the source itself. Breakfasts there are magical, but be prepared – very generous.
Arsicault Bakery. Croissant lovers in San Francisco look for their best criossants in the one and only Arsicault. Saturdays come with long lines (but they move fast). The croissant just melts in your mouth so fast that you don't even have time to appreciate all the thousand layers of dough. The same goes for every croissant they have – be it with cheese or meat or the best almond croissant I've ever eaten.
Hog Island Oyster (Ferry Building). Nothing has changed in years as people still line up to get into Hog Island Oyster for the freshest oysters possible, enhanced by a tiny bit of fresh sea or ocean aroma. Steamers (Manila clams and Calabrese sausage) and chowder are the foods you should have to start your journey, never forgetting about fries and a glass of local wine. This place is all about local, sustainable, and fresh. And you taste it every time you are there.
Tacolicous is one-of-a-kind Mexican experience in San Francisco. Their cocktails range from amazing non-alcoholic to glassfuls of jalapeño spiciness. The vibe is noisy and full of laughter, and, although forks and knives are provided, there is no better way to eat your tacos than with your hands, using cutlery only for salad. The sensation of enjoying it like street food, as it is meant to be, makes it taste even better. Sitting there, it was no wonder everyone loves it – local, fresh, Mexican, respectful, amazing — a place to blend in with the locals.
The Mill, a 20 minute walking distance from centre, close to the Painted Ladies, is a locals place for a sit-down breakfast with fantastic coffee, in-house cold tea, and slices of bread served with classics like avocado and sea salt or homemade hazelnut cream. For some, looking for more European taste - croissants and pain au chocolate are available too. Off the beaten track, this place is more local and that way even more special.
Tartine. There's no other place like Tartine. Thanks to Chad Robertson, the world started to look at sourdough bread in a different way – with appreciation and dignity. At Tartine, on the corner of Guererro and 18th, loacls order their bread, go there to have a morning croissant, lunch sandwich, afternoon tea, and all-day pastries and bread. The lemon tart is melting you along with it, chocolate cake is divine.
Tartine Manufactory, the heart and soul of Tartine nowadays. You can just run in for bread, but that would not be too smart as you have to sit down for a drink and food. Bread with local butter is a staple here. The menu is not extensive and might change daily, but it captures all of the season’s treats. You can order country bread with different kinds of creams, the smorgasbord is on the menu all the time, and then there are mains from salads to warm dishes, mixing the taste of SF with Asian, Mexican, and European. Every bite is (maybe a bit overpriced) pure pleasure and contributes to the well-being of the local growers, farmers, and community.
Bob’s Donuts. There' s only one Bob’s Donuts and that is the one you should visit to taste a real doughnut in SF. It is a story that started in 1960s and is still family-owned. Not much has changed: hundreds and thousands of yeast pastry puffs take a swim in hot oil to be reborn as doughnuts you will not forget. Lush, moist, airy, light, and so perfect that it is seems almost strange to say that. They are one of the last family-owned places that serve handmade doughnuts in SF.
Smitten Ice Cream is a very special place to visit – freshly made ice cream made in 90 seconds. The smoothest ice cream scoop in the city is possible due to new technology invented by the owner Robyn Sue Fisher in 2007.
Sightglass Coffee. "Hailing from 20-year-old Caturra trees on an 8-hectare farm near the Andes mountain range, Finca El Hospital is as stunning as it sounds. Sweet Luxardo cherry, bright kumquat, and rich toffee." This just one of the tasty coffees you get at Sightglass Coffee on Divisadero Street. They have many but not too much. A place for coffee connoisseurs.