Who’s hungry? It’s damn near impossible to round up the best restaurants in San Francisco, but thought we’d give it a shot by asking our followers: “If you could only eat at one San Francisco restaurant for the rest of your life, which one would it be?”
After receiving hundreds of impassioned responses, we’re a bit closer to knowing which restaurants locals absolutely swear by. We narrowed this list down (in no particular order) by choosing restaurants recommended multiple times or in comments with the most likes. But be sure to scroll through our original Facebook and Instagram posts for dozens more.
Did your favorite make the list?
You’d be hard pressed to find a San Franciscan that’s not a fan of Original Joe’s. Croatian immigrant Tony Rodin opened opened this Italian-American restaurant in 1937, and it’s grown into a local institution with an exhibition kitchen and iconic red leather booths. Try their prime rib, spaghetti and meatballs, and butter cake.
This old-school English restaurant is one of the most reviewed restaurants in the city, and for good reason. This is where you’ll find high-quality prime rib to enjoy alongside excellent wines and cocktails. The atmosphere is taken up a notch with jolly fireplaces and traditional decor.
3. El Farolito
This classic late-night favorite offers enormous portions and quality meat options for a burrito that will hit the spot. Be sure to try their chiles rellenos and quesadillas while you’re at it. Keep in mind that they are cash only!
Kokkari Estiatorio is an SF staple with fantastic Greek fare in a romantic dining atmosphere. Their menu offers a modern take on traditional Greek dishes, spotlighting essential ingredients such as lamb, fresh yogurt, and oregano.
This Pier 39 hotspot is one of Yelp’s top-rated restaurants in SF. You won’t be disappointed with waterside dining, fresh-baked sourdough, and the freshest sustainable seafood available. Try their famous clam chowder, crab cakes, and seafood penne.
Enjoy a Columbian and Venezuelan twist on Californian cuisine at MaMo, which amps up the tropical flavors in dishes like avocado burrata, tequeños, truffle yucca fries, arepas, ajiaco soup, and more.
Get your Korean barbecue fix at this popular spot known for their flavorful beef soup, or kalbijjim. These enormous portions of braised beef rib stew can be adorned with customizable toppings like chewy rice cakes and bubbling melted cheese.
8. Cafe de Casa
This lesser-known Brazilian cafe is the 10th-most-highly-rated restaurant in San Francisco out of over 2,000 others on Google Reviews. They’re known for serving delicious sweet and savory Brazilian pastries, fresh açaí bowls, gluten-free crepes, cheese bread sandwiches, and so much more.
9. Beit Rima
Enjoy a healthy serving of Arabic comfort food at Beit Rima. Favorites include their chicken shish tawook plate, beef kabob plate, lamb shank, and baba ghanoush.
This San Francisco staple is one of the city’s most famous pizza places, helmed by 13-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana features dozens of diverse pizzas in different styles, ranging from Sicilian to classic American to coal-fired.
This waterside seafood grill has a hopping oyster bar, and their $35 mimosa option gets you a bottle of prosecco with your choice of juices to serve it with. Popular brunch options include a Dungeness crab benedict, corned beef hash, huevos rancheros, and a well-rounded American breakfast combo with all the works.
12. Loló Restaurant
In addition to Loló’s margarita, which may be enjoyed with tequila or mezcal, you’ve got to go all in on their tacos. Favorites include the taco tropical with panko shrimp on jicama tortillas, as well as the classic fish tacos with tempura fried cod and habanero aioli.
These square sourdough pizzas have some of the most creative toppings ever and go amazingly with their extensive craft beer options. Popular menu items are the Mapo Tofu Pizza with Tokyo turnips and sichuan peppercorns, the clam chowder pizza, and the cheesy garlic monkey bread.
Ok, this isn’t exactly a restaurant, but it’s a must for everything from ice cream to groceries to café fare. Both of their markets have a deli menu where you can get absolutely fantastic sandwiches, soups and salads for takeaway. You also don’t want to miss out on their gourmet ice cream. Our favorite part about Bi-Rite is that they’re a Certified B Corporation, meaning they meet incredibly stringent parameters for sustainable business practices.
15. Puerto Alegre
Puerto Alegre has one of the most impressive margarita menus we’ve ever seen, not to mention plenty of delicious food! Locals have sworn by this family-owned Mission institution for over 50 years.
Shizen Sushi Bar & Izakaya is one of San Francisco’s most well-known and coveted vegan restaurants. They plate up absolutely exquisite vegan sushi using classic shojin and sushi techniques for a totally unique dining experience. Iconic ingredients include tapioca, mountain yam, konjac, bean curd, and more. Check out their specialty rolls such as the Open Invitation with pumpkin tempura and avocado crema, or the Surprise Ending with beets, kale, and spicy alioli.
17. La Taqueria
This no-frills taqueria is an SF icon when it comes to delicious, straight-up Mexican food. Meat options include beef, pork, sausage, chicken, beef tongue, and beef head. Ask for extra salsa verde or make it a super burrito with all 3 cheeses, guacamole and sour cream.
18. Tommy’s Joynt
Tommy’s Joynt is one of San Francisco’s most quintessential no-frills restaurants, if not for their brisket carved on the spot, then for their unbeatable prices. Think $3.50 beer, $5 well drinks, and $6 martinis.
19. Foreign Cinema
This magical outdoor patio is adorned with string lights and features a large screen to project films, making it perfect for a romantic date. Enjoy delicacies like oysters, creative salads and entrees made from sustainable ingredients. Pair with quality champagne, wine, and cocktail options.
20. Tadich Grill
You can’t get much more classic than Tadich Grill, which was founded in 1849! That makes it the oldest continuously-run restaurant in California and the 3rd oldest in the United States. This classic seafood restaurant astounds with colorful oyster platters, silky chowder, fresh-caught grilled fish dishes, and tasty crab cakes.
Featured image: Photo by Nan Palmero on Flickr