San Francisco Food

By Damon Lewis

sanfranciscofoodFor the amount of people who live in San Francisco, there is an enormous amount of options when one seeks a good meal. The sheer number of great San Francisco restaurants is staggering, and the number of restaurants that are just good enough to mention are numerous as well. There are a huge percentage of people who visit and live in San Francisco strictly for this reason, and San Francisco Restaurants are widely accepted as some of the best in the World. Along with the stylish and haute cuisine establishments, there are also a great number of small ethnic restaurants and family diners. This is an attempt to not only highlight the pearls of the many San Francisco restaurants, but also some of my personal favorite hidden gems.

San Francisco Restaurants can be separated into a few different categories, aside from those that are good and those that are bad. There are the hotel restaurants, the freestanding restaurants and the so-called “mom and pop” restaurants. Since San Francisco is such a tourist and business travel oriented city, the San Francisco restaurants that are located in its many hotels are some of the finest that exist. One of the finest San Francisco restaurants that is located inside of a hotel is XYZ Restaurant which is in the W Hotel located at 181 Third Street across from the Moscone

Convention Center. Rising Star Chef Paul Piscapo heads one of the finest culinary teams in San Francisco, and his regional California fare is commonly listed as some of the finest in the city. Dishes such as his Applewood Smoked Chicken Liver Mousse, Baby Beet Salad with Poached Pear and Watercress and Mascarpone Semifredo with Poached Pear and Pomegranate Reduction reflect the focus of organic and sustainable ingredients XYZ is known for. Around the corner from The W hotel is the Five Star, Five Diamond St. Regis Hotel at the corner of Mission and Third Street where the California/Japanese themed Ame is another of the finest San Francisco restaurants available. Ame, which means “rain” in Japanese, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2008 and named one of Zagat’s Best New Restaurants in its 2007 edition. Executive Chef Hiro Sone gained fame for his award winning Napa Restaurant “Terra” and has been the driving force behind the many accolades Ame has earned since it’s opening in 2006. The daily changing Sashimi bar always offers premium cuts of fish, sometimes flown in from the famous Tsukiji Market in Japan, and dishes such as the Grilled Lamb Tongue with Braised Half Moon Bay Artichokes and customer favorite Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod with Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Sauce never disappoint. Between these two locations in San Francisco’s South of Market district, one would be hard pressed to frequent such other locations as Seasons Restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel of The Dining Room at The Ritz Carlton. Other phenomenal San Francisco restaurants of interest that are part of a hotel are Michael Mina’s in the luxurious Westin St. Francis located at 335 Powell Street in Union Square, Ducca Restaurant and Lounge located in the Westin Market Street Hotel at 50 Third Street, The Tonga Room at The Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill, and Scala’s located within The Sir Francis Drake Hotel. With all of these great San Francisco restaurants actually located inside the many great hotels, it is hard to imagine ever leaving the hotel districts to find food. However, that would be a culinary travesty as some of the World’s finest restaurants are just a cable car ride away.

Some of the finest San Francisco restaurants are also some of the World’s finest restaurants, as can be attested to by just a few bites from any of the city’s culinary destinations. From The Embarcadero all the way out to the breaking waves of Ocean Beach, there are great places to spend your dollar in almost every neighborhood in San Francisco. Of all San Francisco restaurants, the finest that exists is arguably Restaurant Gary Danko located at 800 North point Street in Fisherman’s Wharf. Gary Danko is a James Beards Award winning Chef whose 75-seat restaurant has come to epitomize the pinnacle of sophisticated cuisine in California. His San Francisco restaurant offers three, five and seven course menus as well as a la carte options of his award wining cuisine. From Foie Gras and Glazed Oysters to Squab Legs and Bison, his menu is always challenging and flavors consistently sharp. Their wine list is arguably one of the finest in the city and dessert options always mirror the intensity of the dinner’s flavors. If one is seeking to dine in one of the finest of San Francisco’s restaurants, Gary Danko’s should be top on your list of destination. Other top quality San Francisco restaurants are Jardinière at 300 Grove Street, Aqua at 252 California Street, Wolfgang Puck’s San Francisco restaurant Postrio located at 545 Post Street and of course the top-notch French cuisine influenced Fleur de Lis at 777 Sutter Street. The list of great San Francisco restaurants goes on and on, and there are far too many to list here in a reasonable amount of space. Luckily for anyone visiting or living in San Francisco, restaurants are a way of life and trying new food is another way of breathing.

Finally, the last group of San Francisco restaurants I want to touch on are the simpler and less in your face as the afore-mentioned. Just because the bill won’t cause your heart to flutter or the artwork on the walls didn’t cost more than your car does not mean that the food is any less tasty or inspired. I enjoy these restaurants as much as any with a Michelin star attached to their name, and the cuisine is typically honest and the ingredients close to naked, the way I believe they should be. One of my favorite San Francisco restaurants is Burma Superstar located at 309 Clement Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue. Dishes such as the 22 ingredient Rainbow Salad and the La Pat Dok are stripped down interpretations of Indian and Thai influenced cuisine that keeps this Inner Richmond restaurant on top of critic’s food lists. Another of my favorite eateries is Sears Fine Foods in Union Square, where the Swedish Pancake recipe is highly guarded and a seat at their tables almost as highly coveted. In Russian Hill, Nick’s Crispy Taco’s famous Two Dollar Taco Tuesdays provides not only a way to battle your hunger, but also your budget issues and their guacamole is some of the finest to be found in San Francisco. One my favorite of all San Francisco is the World-famous Tommy’s Joynt located at 1101 Geary Boulevard at the corner of Van Ness Avenue. Here you can score a Turkey Dinner with Stuffing and Gravy or a few slabs of Beef Brisket with Mashed Potatoes that even a Texan can be proud of. And the best part about it is that you can walk out with a full stomach all for less than ten dollars. Some other great San Francisco restaurants of note are The Lucky Penny Diner at 2670 Geary Boulevard, Swan Oyster Depot at 1517 Polk Street, The Fog City Diner at 1300 Battery Street and Absinthe at 398 Hayes Street. All of these San Francisco restaurants are sure to fill your stomach without emptying your wallet, and at the end of the day, that is something I think everyone can appreciate.