I’ve been to San Francisco twice this year but I’m in no danger of running out of great restaurants and cafes to eat at. This city is a foodie mecca and even in the couple of months since I last visited there have been some great new openings along with some classic San Francisco dining experiences that I really wanted to try. So here’s the latest on what you should be eating when you hit San Francisco.
Liholiho Yacht Club
Aloha Hawaiian food. I’ve never tried you before but I’m an instant convert. The Liholiho Yacht Club is winning fans all over San Francisco and helping transform the seedy Tenderloin district. It’s hard to get a booking here but you it’s first come first served at the bar where you eat below a big portrait of a shiny haired Hawaiian girl. The beef tongue buns ($12.50) are fabulous but the must order dish here is the Baked Hawaii ($10) which is Liholiho’s take on a Baked Alaska. Currently the most instagrammed dish in San Francisco this dome of sticky meringue is super sweet with an icy pineapple centre.
Essentials: Liholio Yacht Club, 871 Sutter St, San Francisco, California, United States (Ph +1 415-440-5446)
What’s not to love about a place called Bacon Bacon? What started off as a food truck now has its own permanent residence in the Haight Ashbury. There are bacon burgers, bacon toasties, bacon “bouquets” and even a ride on mechanical pig. If you can go on Taco Tuesdays I recommend the triple bacon taco made from pork belly, pork butt and bacon with a slick of guacamole just to add one other food group in. It tastes just as good as it sounds.
Essentials: Bacon Bacon, 205 Frederick St, San Francisco, United States (Ph +1 415-218-4347)
Mr Holmes Bakehouse
There are queues out the door every morning for the pastry wonders from Mr Holmes Bakehouse in the Tenderloin. It’s home of the “cruffin” created by Melbourne born and Parisian trained wonder baker Ry Stephen. He’s moved on but the lines haven’t stopped. The cruffins were all sold out by the time I got there at 10am but I snaffled a bread pudding and the Mr Holme’s cult California croissant which is filled with nori and pickled ginger and comes served with soya sauce on the side. Pretty much the most San Francisco thing I ate on my trip.
Essentials: Mr Holmes Bakehouse, 1042 Larkin St, San Francisco, United States (Ph +1 415-829-7700)
A new breed of fancy taco places like Tacolicious are taking over the Mission but if you want classic, no frills Mexican then Pancho Villa is the place to go. I was taken there by some friends who live in San Francisco and recommend it as their go to place. You line up at the counter to order fish tacos for ($3) or a burrito the size of a small child’s head for ($7). Dining is under the glare of strip lighting but they do serve beers so there’s a bit of a party atmosphere rather than just being a purely takeaway joint.
Essentials: Pancho Villa, 3071 16th St, San Francisco, 94103, United States (Ph+1 415-864-8840)
One of San Francisco’s best bars Alembic is known for creating cocktails featuring indie spirits and using produce from its own huge herb garden out the back. Try the Southern Exposure made with gin, mint, lime and celery ($14) it almost tastes like it might be good for you. The food here is also great. I loved the duck bao ($6) which comes served in a springy bun and teamed with a squirt of sweet hoisin sauce and some tart apples.
Essentials: Alembic, 1725 Haight St, San Francisco, United States (Ph +1 415-666-0822)
If you want old school San Francisco go to Tadich Grill. It’s been open for 166 years and sitting at the long counter sipping on a martini you feel like you could have easily just arrived by horse and carriage. Not much has changed here with the white coated waiters delivering smooth service and the Cioppino still the must order dish. It’s a huge jumble of mussels, clams and crab meat served in a rich tomato sauce. I love that they give you a bib to eat it and the dish comes topped with crusty garlic bread.
Essentials: Tadich Grill, 240 California St, San Francisco, United States (Ph +1 415-391-1849)
The Ice Cream Bar
Shock horror – one of my favourite drinks in San Francisco is non alcoholic. The Ice Cream Bar is an old fashioned soda fountain in the Haight Ashbury, like something you would see in the movies. I can recommend the root beer float ($8) which is like what we used to call a “spider” growing up in Australia. It’s made with cold brewed Sassafras with a scoop of homemade ice-cream and a toasted marshmallow. This would be a great place to take kids to but if you are feeling like a more adult drink you can get alcohol floats as well.
Essentials: The Ice Cream Bar, 815 Cole St, San Francisco, United States (Ph +1 415-742-4932)
Gourmet Travel Tips
- I flew to San Francisco with Qantas via Los Angeles. Tickets are about $1,600 return.
- I stayed at Nob Hill Inn ($2oo a night) and the Marriott ($500 a night) on this trip.
- Must dos include travelling on the cable cars, riding a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and heading to Alcatraz. I’ve also done a hiking yoga tour and Avital food walking tours which were both great.
More Gourmet Chick San Francisco tips and reviews