San Francisco: Places I Love

Many of you have written to me in the past requesting a list of my favorite “everyday” places to eat, drink, and shop in San Francisco. Here’s a stab at it. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the great places in this city – it’s more of a brainstorm of places I find myself often. Many I can walk to from where I live, others take more effort – a hop on a train, or a trip across town via car. It’s clear I know some neighborhoods better than others. I thought this list would be most useful if organized (very roughly) by neighborhood. This way, someone visiting from out of town will have a bit of a go-to guide they can print and slip in their pocket (or bring up on their phone). I started by focusing on food-centric destinations, but couldn’t help throw in a few other favorite non-food spots I love as well.

I’ll do my best to update this, and if you’re coming to San Francisco I hope you enjoy your stay here.updated 3/28/12.

View map: Heidi Swanson: San Francisco

Mission / Castro
  • Pizzeria Delfina: broccoli raab pizza is my preference.
  • Delfina: next door to the pizzeria, is also great – more formal, great wine list.
  • Bi-Rite Market: Take a sandwich from the deli to Dolores Park for a picnic.
  • Bi-Rite Creamery: kid’s scoop of toasted coconut ice cream (or salted caramel).
  • Mission Cheese: The perfect little place for good cheese, beer, wine, and a chat with a friend.
  • Tartine: The straight croissant is my favorite. If you’re there later in the day, see if you can grab a loaf of bread – sesame, country – it’s all amazing.
  • Dosa: a long-time favorite. Brunch is an option too.
  • Udupi Palace: has great paper doses as well. Not as fancy as Dosa, but they’re really friendly, and the dosas are beautiful. Cash only.
  • Cha-Ya: vegan Japanese. Cash only.
  • The Monk’s Kettle: always interesting beers on tap + nice bartenders to talk you through them.
  • La Palma Mexicatessan
  • Four Barrel Coffee: macchiato & chocolate spice doughnut. There are a number of cute shops/galleries right here too.
  • Rainbow Grocery: a whole foods playground. If you love to cook with whole foods – grains, flours, sweeteners, spices – you can’t pass up a visit here.
  • Kasa: Order at the counter Kati rolls. My fave: paneer kati roll (unda style!) & side of daal
  • Samovar Tea Lounge: super casual lunch spot, good for clean eating – simple rice bowls, tea, etc.
  • Union Made: much-loved. It skews male, but increasingly is stocking more women’s items. Good book/magazine selection too.
  • Healthy Spirits: one of the best beer shops in SF.
Hayes Valley
  • Blue Bottle Coffee: gibralter while sitting curbside on Linden Lane.
  • Miette: sweet treats. Amongst many other things, they have black M&M-shaped ‘lentil’ candies I like.
  • Biergarten: if it’s sunny, good luck getting in.
  • Suppenküche: Dinner / Brunch
  • a scoop from Smitten
  • M A C – Modern Appeal Clothing / 387 Grove Street.
Downtown / SOMA
  • Sunday and Tuesday farmers’ market at Ferry Building (info)
  • Boulette’s Larder: there’s no place like it. One of my favorite places to eat (or shop) in SF. (Ferry Building)
  • Il Cane Rosso (Ferry Building)
  • Out The Door: mung bean dumplings(!) / spring rolls / mushroom buns – all good. (Ferry Building)
  • Primavera: they have a stall during the farmers’ market on Saturdays, and the chilaquiles are ridiculous. (Ferry Building)
  • Blue Bottle Cafe – Mint Plaza, for light brunch/lunch
  • Terroir: Natural Wine Merchant
  • City Beer Store: it’s a great beer shop that typically has a few on tap.
  • Terroir: Natural Wine Merchant
  • Sightglass Coffee
  • SFMoMA: soup of the day (always veg-friendly), then pop upstairs to see the exhibits + have a coffee in the rooftop sculpture garden.
Golden Gate Park / NOPA / Avenues
Potrero Hill / Dogpatch
Noe Valley
North Beach/Marina/Russian Hill
Other Inspiring San Francisco Links
  • Tablehopper: Marcia’s tablehopper archive, and/or her newsletter are great resources / reference related to the San Francisco food scene. You can get to the archives directly by clicking here.
  • Remodelista: Guide to San Francisco Bay Area

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