You will need to build up an appetite to visit
San Francisco: it has more restaurants per capita than any other US city,
covering every possible option from taco food trucks to organic, sustainable
Daniel Patterson’s wild tasting menu, featuring foraged morels, wildflowers and
Pacific seafood, is like licking the Californian coastline. Coi has just one
11-course set menu, which includes dishes such as black and green noodles made
from clams and Pacific seaweed (373 Broadway; dinner
Tue–Sat; set menu £110 per person).
owner Melissa Perello earned a Michelin star for fine dining, then ditched
downtown to start the market-inspired neighbourhood bistro Frances in The Castro.
Daily menus showcase bright, seasonal flavours, such as cloud-like sheep’s milk
ricotta gnocchi with crunchy breadcrumbs and broccolini. Wine is served by the
ounce, direct from Wine Country (3870 17th St; dinner Tue–Sun;
mains from £12).
beach-shack-style Outerlands for organic comfort food: lunch could mean a £4
grilled artisan cheese sandwich combo with homemade soup or mixed green salad,
while dinner can bring slow-cooked pork shoulder slouching into green-garlic
risotto. Arrive early – no bookings taken – and sip wine outside until seats
open up indoors (4001 Judah St; Tue-Sat, Sun brunch 10am–
3pm; lunch dishes from £4).
Mourad Lahlou’s inspiration is Moroccan, his produce organic Californian and
his flavours worthy of their Michelin star. Aziza serves up Sonoma duck confit
that melts into caramelised onion in flaky pastry, and sour cherries rousing
slow-cooked local lamb shank from its barley bed (5800 Geary
Blvd; dinner Wed–Mon; mains from £13).
refined fusion cuisine over 150 years but no-one rocks it quite like
double-Michelin-starred chef Corey Lee, who remixes local fine-dining staples
and Pacific Rim flavours with finesse. Benu’s £120 tasting menu includes
flashes of inspiration such as a faux-shark’s fin soup – Dungeness crab, Jinhua
ham and black truffle custard – while the à la carte menu is only available
Tuesday to Thursday (22 Hawthorne St; dinner Tue–Sat; mains from
soul food is the basis of Namu Gaji in The Mission, which offers menus guided
by the weekly harvest from its own farm. For lunch there are American and Asian
street-cart- style dishes such as kimchee fried rice with hot dog, and
barbecued beef sandwiches; while dinner brings shiitake mushroom dumplings, and
vegetables, steak and egg served in a sizzling stone pot (499
Dolores St; lunch Wed–Sun, dinner Tue–Sun; lunch dishes from £4).
Swan Oyster Depot, a century-old fish store located in Nob’s Hill, has a
counter for just 18 stools. There’s always a long queue but if you order to go,
you can jump to the front, browse nearby shops, then pick up a superior picnic
of crab salad and oysters (00 1 415 673 2757; 1517 Polk St; 8am–5.30pm Mon–Sat;
dishes from £6.50; cash only, no reservations).
food trucks gather at Off the Grid, SF’s largest mobile-gourmet hootenanny in
the Marina (other locations attract fewer trucks – see the website). Dig into
Chairman Bao’s clamshell buns stuffed with duck and mango, roast duck taco from
Kung Fu Tacos or dessert from the Crème Brûlée Cart (Fort
Mason parking lot; 5pm–10pm Fri, Mar–Nov; pork bun £2.50; cash only).
a hurry to leave at the Ferry Building, the transport hub turned gourmet
emporium, with everything from bread and cheese shops, to Vietnamese take out
and Italian gelato. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and (largest of all) Saturdays the
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market sets out its stalls in front of the 1890s-era
building (The Embarcadero; open daily; cheese
salad from £3).
BA, United and Virgin Atlantic all fly direct to San Francisco from London
Heathrow, while many airlines fly from other major UK cities, with a change in
North America (from £550). The airport is 14 miles south of downtown
SF, and is connected to the city by BART train (30 minutes; £5.50 one way). A taxi to Downtown costs around £30. The city is famed for its
cable cars, which are run by MUNI, also responsible for SF’s network of bus and
streetcar lines. Single cable car tickets cost £4 – you can buy these from the
conductor or from ticket booths by the lines.
Where to stay
An unassuming brick-faced inn, The Edwardian has an ideal middle-of-the-city
location, with a tram stop right outside. Rooms are simply but smartly
decorated, and mostly on the small side (1668 Market St; from
upper-end Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf was built as a cannery in 1907.
Rooms sport a somewhat over-the-top nautical theme, with porthole-shaped
mirrors and deep-blue carpets (495 Jefferson St; from £220).
Hotel Vitale’s dull exterior are up-to-the-minute luxuries. Rooms are
decorated in muted shades, have spa-style limestone bathrooms and the best have
expansive views of San Francisco Bay (8 Mission St; from
The article 'Mini guide to eating in San Francisco' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.