Eating great food is one of our favorite things to do when we travel. We have made several trips to San Francisco in the past but this one was dedicated to finding the best food and drinks the city has to offer. From super expensive Michelin star chefs to hole in the wall asian inspired dives San Francisco is known for having some of the best restaurants in America. Here’s the rundown of our favorite gourmet treats and libations.
We had always wanted to try a Mongolian hot pot restaurant and there was one near where we were staying in San Mateo. Oh Emm Gee. Phenomenal. We went in not knowing what to expect and left beyond satisfied. A combination of fondue and pho this savory, soupy dish will have you coming back for more! We didn’t know what to order so naturally we got a little bit of everything (assorted meat, veggie, and mushroom platters). Like most Asian soups the broth was the best part! The MO is simple; cook your own meat, veggies, and noodles in the savory broth and wait for pure deliciousness. Insider Tip: Get a broth divider for your hot pot so you can try both mild and spicy.
I had read about Dandelion Chocolate but we aren’t huge chocolate fans so we didn’t plan it in our trip. But while we were walking around the Mission District we ran right into it! We ordered the sampler platter so we got to try a chocolate milkshake, macaron, cake, and a s’more! Did I mention these are all miniature and adorable? The s’more was my favorite! Chocoholics and occasional indulgers are both in for a treat.
San Diego has a huge beer scene so we were eager to see what San Francisco had to offer. After walking around the city we were definitely getting thirsty so we headed to Berkeley and stopped in Triple Rock Brewing. Atmosphere and service were average but they had some yummy brews. Stop in for a flight if you’re thirsty in Berkley.
Located in Alameda, Faction is another great brewery! It has yummy beers and STUNNING views of the San Francisco Bay and city. It is a very laid-back atmosphere (babies and fur-babies welcome) Again we had flights (our go-to when at a brewery) and a slice of pizza from a local vendor. They were all pretty tasty!
Next door to Faction is a gin distillery we visited on a whim and we were so pleasantly surprised by how much we liked it. I was reluctant to go to a gin tasting because I thought I didn’t like gin but this was smooth and enjoyable. The overall experience was fantastic! The gin version of a sommelier (is this a thing?) was so knowledgeable and full of fun-facts. We also got to do a quick tour of the stills which was very cool!
After an afternoon of sips it was time for some grub so we headed over the bridge to Oakland. Although we did not have a place picked headed of time I was in the mood for Sushi so we took to Yelp to see what was nearby. After checking out a few spots we decided we liked the vibe at Yoshi’s and it was phenomenal! We LOVE sushi (see: Japan blog post) and this was top-notch. We shared some rolls and appetizers and they were all delish! The best part about this place is they have a jazz room where you can eat sushi while watching live jazz music! Unfortunately, the show was sold out so we ate on the restaurant side but I would love to come back if in the area!
We had reservations for Bourbon and Branch speakeasy later that night and it was so great! We had been to a couple of “speakeasies” before in San Diego and Atlanta but this one was by far the best! The building is over 100 years old so it is full of authentic charm but the best part is the exclusivity. Even with a reservation and password we were limited to only some areas. Our waitress was a gem and let us peek in some of the secret rooms. The cocktail list is about 10 pages thick but everything we tried was fantastic. Insider Tip: They don’t let you use phones so be prepared. (I snuck a photo!)
I just had to have a donut from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse while we were in San Francisco. We tried to go on Friday morning and despite getting there during their normal hours they had closed up early due to selling out of donuts! Talk about supply and demand. Being the persistent donut-taster that I am I made our crew go back for round 2 on Saturday morning and we were able to walk right in. I expected a restaurant but it was simply a counter and a bench. $30 will get you a box of donuts and pastries ranging from chocolate filled buns to cheesy tarts with thyme. And your picture in front of the “I Got Baked in San Francisco” sign, of course.
La Nebbia Winery in Half Moon Bay was SO great! We happened to be there on one of their “bottle filling” days and it was the best thing ever. Bring your empty wine bottles from home and they will fill them with wine, cork, and label them all for around $4 a bottle! You don’t get to chose the wine but we landed a petit sirah that was great! They also offer tastings in their tasting room/gift shop which was cute and fun! The outside area is lovely; complete with picnic tables and BYO food! It is also baby and fur baby friendly. What’s wine tasting without a snack? We grabbed some tasty yucca fries from Beyond the Border Food Truck that was parked on site.
Foreign Cinema is so perfect for a date night. Sit on the patio complete with twinkly lights strung overhead and watch a silent foreign film as you dine on divine dishes. The inside seating is still connected to the outside so no worries you’re still getting the ambiance and alfresco experience you crave. We had a fondue-like cheese board which was full of gooey goodness, followed by a Mediterranean version of fried chicken. So fabulous! I’ve heard they do a great brunch too.
This was our second experience with Korean BBQ, but our first great one! Ironically located in Japan Town, Yakiniq is no frills. Negative frills perhaps considering it has carpet, yuck! But the food was great. We went with a South Korean native so we got all of specialities. This place is sensory overload. You typically have to wait over an hour so it is packed with people, loud, and intensely aromatic. Not to mention the interactive experience Korean BBQ provides. The best part is it is all you can eat! Challenge accepted.
We went here for an Ice Cream Festival and while the ice cream and atmosphere were fabulous, the lines were insane! Apparently there is a whole group of people in SF who meet up just to wait in queues!? I don’t get it. Anyways, this food park is a great space with permanent food trucks and a variety of activities from rosé brunch for the girls to campfires and marshmallows for the fams. Check out their events next time you’re in the city.
We randomly went here when waking around Chestnut Street (great area for shops and restaurants by the way) and it was surprisingly good. It seems very unassuming but go to the back patio and you’ll find a little hidden oasis right inside the Marina District.
Warmup from the bay area breeze with a good ‘ol fashioned Irish coffee. Right by Fisherman’s Wharf this place is always packed (and has been since the 1950’s!) Snag a seat at the bar and sip one of these award winning boozy treats.
Another good date night option, Trestle is super tiny and intimate. It is a chef’s choice multi-course meal but at a much more reasonable price than most others in the city. We thought the menu was nothing remarkable but a good value for a dining experience. But don’t drink too much, they make up for their food prices with the wine list.
Did I mention we love ice cream? Salt and Straw has gourmet ice cream down to a science! Try a unique flavor from their farmer’s market collection. Think lavender, beets, and carrots.
The Elite Cafe is seriously my ideal brunch. Located in Pacific Heights, this cafe has a southern NOLA type menu with divine bloody marys and a classic atmosphere. From the marble bar to the prohibition style booths, The Elite Cafe is a class act. Plus anywhere I can get a quality biscuit in California is a plus in my book!
The grand finale of our cuisine adventure was Lazy Bear. Grant had always wanted to try a Michelin Star restaurant and after doing some research we decided Lazy Bear was the perfect place to start. It was top-notch without being the least bit pretentious. The food menu is ever changing and too extensive to detail here, but all 14 courses we tried were simply divine. My favorites: Sturgeon Caviar and Wagyu Beef. The atmosphere was perfect. With a slight boy scout cabin theme it was just the right amount of effortless charm.
We started upstairs with cocktails and appetizers and then went downstairs to the “dining room.” The chefs prepare the meals right in front of the guest who sit at long communal style tables. Insider Tip: You can go up to the chefs and take pictures or ask questions. As each course is served the very knowledgeable and passionate chefs present their creations and share how they forage for the wild mushrooms and don’t settle until finding spinach that sparkles (which it really does!).
We also did the drink pairing and they chose a variety of mostly wines to complement each dish. I recommend adding it on to get the full experience. One of the best personal touches was a notebook and golf pencil at each place setting so we could take notes on each course! It even had a section in the back to get contact info from your table neighbors. Adorable.
Lazy Bear was the grand finale but San Pedro Square Market is still worth a mention. We went here on the way to the airport since we flew out of San Jose. It was a trendy indoor market with lots of different restaurant counters ranging from poke to pizza. These types of indoor marketplaces have been popping up all across cities in the US and I love them! Such a good option when you have a group.
For more information on San Francisco grab this Lonely Planet guide book.
We’re expecting a food baby,
Inspired Recipe: Greyhound Cocktail by Garnish with Lemon
The fabulous food in San Francisco was too great to recreate but Grant did make us a yummy cocktail with St. George Spirit’s terroir gin. This greyhound cocktail is a super simple way to ease into the gin world. When feeling lazy we sub the fresh grapefruit juice for a can of La Croix Grapefruit sparkling water and call it a pamplemousse!
*Did you make one of our inspired recipes? We would love to see! Tag us in a photo of your yummy creation on twitter (@gypsysols) or Instagram (@gypsysols)