If You’re Going to San Francisco…..

If you're going to San Francisco let Tracy of Shutterbean be your tour guide!

There are sooooo many good places to eat in San Francisco. I feel so lucky to be so close to the action and to have grown up in such a great food mecca!  Taste Buds, brought to you by Ford, is a cool new show (with two adorable hosts!) on You Tube, and to celebrate the launch, I am working with Ford and Taste Buds to share my favorite spots in San Francisco. Finally! A post I can direct everyone to when they email me for my San Francisco recommendations!

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I loved watching the latest episode of Taste Buds with Erica from Honestly WTF.  Casey and I have been looking for some cool pieces for our house and I think we’re going to check Stuff Vintage VERY soon! You can check it out here:

And onto….

My Favorite Places to Eat

 (in alphabetical order because my brain works that way)

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

A16- We LOVE this place because their pizza never disappoints. We always go there for family dinners with my parents. We’re Italian so we usually crave Italian when we’re hanging out.  The burrata is amazing– like butter! I wrote a post about A16 many many moons ago. Be sure to check out SPQR too as it’s a fabulous place to get brunch- and right near the Jonathan Adler store (my favorite!).

Bi-Rite Creamery–  EXCEPTIONAL  ice cream. The salted caramel & the honey lavender are my favorites. But! I don’t love waiting in long lines..so sometimes we just go to Mitchell’s instead. They still have a line but it’s not as bad. Their ice cream is bonkers too so it’s a win-win!

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Burma Superstar A MUST!  I had no idea what Burmese food was all about until I went to Burma Superstar.  I’m a total convert.  Get the Tea Leaf Salad and the Rainbow Salad when you’re there. They’re drinks are really fun too.

Connecticut Yankee Bar– Casey is quite partial to this place. He used to call it his “Cheers.” We used to live right down the street before we got married and we’d go every week or so. He’d watch the Red Sox/Patriots games on a weekend and I’d people watch and drink til I was pickled. If you’re from New England and you’re missing home, this is the place to go. Everything on the menu has a New England reference; it’s quite novel.  We miss living near the Yankee so much.

Cotagna- Another place I go to with my family. My brother and dad LOVE this place and I can see why. Their pasta and pizza is phenomenonal. My brother says everything is so perfectly executed and I couldn’t agree more. It’s kinda hard to snag a table so make sure you leave time in advance to make your reservation.

Delarosa-  Aaaaaaaand another family favorite. I told you we love Italian food… I wrote about this restaurant awhile back. You can check that out here. Get the meatballs, the kale caesar, the burrata with honey & hazelnuts and for the love of God….GET PIZZA. Oh yeah…and bambolini for dessert.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Dynamo DoughnutsSo many fun flavors here.  I love stopping by when I’m in the Mission.  I’ve always loved the Chocolate Star Anise doughnut as well as their Chocolate Rose. Pick up a few for me while you’re there, would ya?

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Hakkasan- I’ve eaten here a few times and loved everything I had. The ambiance is something else!  You almost feel like you’re transported into another world when you get off the elevator and into the restaurant. Their dim sum is super special and they’re cocktails are brilliant! Fancypants dim sum!

Hillstone- I used to work right across the street from Hillstone (waaaaay back when it was Houston’s) which was such a dangerous thing. I think my whole paycheck went to that place!  It’s kind of on the pricey side but the portions are HUGE. It’s really fancy comfort food. I highly recommend their farmer’s market plate (they took it off the menu but you can still order it-thank God!), their burgers are fabulous, RIBS are bonkers, grilled artichokes and their artichoke dip with chips can’t be beat. My brother and husband love the French Dip sandwich and I’m quite partial to the kale salad. I even recreated it on my blog. I went through a period of getting the kale salad and then shoving it into one of their baked potatoes. Don’t ask…The point is that it was pretty dang good. My drink of choice (at lunch) there is usually an Arnold Palmer with a splash of club soda.

Kokkari– Love this place! The best feta & tzatziki EVER. Love the moussaka and the fried smelts. A must if you’re in the mood for really REALLY great Greek food. The bar is pretty great too.

Liguria Bakery-  TWO words: FRESH FOCACCIA. Seriously some epic stuff. My coworker occasionally brings some raisin focaccia in the morning at work and I love/hate him for it. If you want the raisin one, get there early or make this recipe from my blog.  It’s kind of soup nazi scene there…..they’re good and they know it. BUT Seriously—GO!

NopaI’ve never been disappointed with this place. I always have a hard time deciding what I want because it ALL looks great. There are some fabulous options if you love vegetables. I get so many good food ideas to add to my repetoire while eating here.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Outerlands– A great place for breakfast/brunch. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted when I went….which is a really good sign, don’t ya think? Look at that Chemex at our table. NICE!  Outerlands is right near the General Store which is a lovely place to buy a gift. They have such a pretty greenhouse in back.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Seed + Salt  If you’re looking for lighter fare (ahem, maybe you indulged too much?!) I recommend checking out Seed + Salt. I had lunch there a few months ago and have been plotting a trip back. They have several options if you’re vegan/gluten free as well as an assortment of juices and smoothies. It’s a great place to go if you need a reset. Lord knows I should be eating there at least once a week 😉

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Slanted Door Can be kind of a scene, but if you go- get some of my favorites: fresh spring rolls, green papaya salad, shaking beef, clay-pot chicken and the crab noodles. Some of the BEST Vietnamese food around! There’s Out the Door (their To-Go place) in the Ferry Building. Works out well during lunch time.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Swan Oyster Depot An institution! I always get fresh crab salad when I’m there and a dozen oysters. I also load up on sourdough bread because that’s what you do in San Francisco. Be sure to get there super early because there’s always a big line. They don’t have a ton of spots (no tables, just a bar!), so people are always fighting for one. Also CASH ONLY!

Tartine Bakery— THE BREAD!! The pastries! The everything! Be prepared to wait in a line…because it’s a popular place. While you’re there snag some cookies for the road. If the lines are too long, check out The Mill for some great bread, good coffee & fancy $4 toast.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana I know that everyone is going to tell you to go to Delfina (which is good btw!) but I really like Tony’s pizza in North Beach because there are so many good options. They have a few different ovens…and several pizza styles to choose from.  The only problem is that I always forget which type of pizza is my favorite. I suppose that means we have to order one of each when we go…and that’s fine by me.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Trick Dog Bar- If specialty cocktails are your thing, you should definitely check out this place. I like to go before the sun goes down because the light is so pretty in the bar. If you’re going for a drink & a snack, make sure you get their fries. I believe they are TRIPLE fried in duck fat so they are supremely crispy. They change the menu out every now and then. The first time I went the menus were all records, then they were Zodiac themed. I hear it’s currently a Chinese restaurant menu! Very clever…and such a good conversation starter if you ask me.

Yank Sing– Who doesn’t like dim sum??! Yank Sing has such a diverse menu and we keep coming back for more. We go BIG when my brother comes into town for a family visit.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Wayfare Tavern– They give you hot POPOVERS instead of bread!!! Fried chicken is pretty bonkers and so is the mac & cheese. Tyler Florence really knows how to make good food. Ahhh! T-FLO!  I had the doughnuts there on my birthday and they were HUGE. DO IT.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Zuni Café My favorite place for Brunch. I always start with a Bloody Mary at the bar while we’re waiting for our table to be set. We get a Caesar salad to split, a dozen oysters, a roasted chicken (with bread salad!!!) and an order of shoestring fries. My mom loves their burgers…but I just cannot deviate from our favorite Zuni staples. Their desserts are simple and elegant. AND THE BREAD. OMG THE BREAD.



For the foodie in you, you must venture out to the  SF Ferry Building- I love this place, but I don’t love crowds so I try to stay away during weekends (Farmer’s Market is a ZOO!) and lunch time during the week…..which is kinda hard to do! My favorite shops include Heath Ceramics, Cowgirl Creamery, Acme Bakery, Miette, Blue Bottle Coffee, Hog Island Oysters, Slanted Door (you can get food to go at Out the Door), Boulettes Larder, Recchiuti and Mijita.  The breakfast sandwich at the Golden Gate Meat Company is really good too. It’s a great place to pick up stuff for a picnic or a fancy home cooked meal.

Off the Grid in Fort Mason is super fun if you have time on a Friday night and you LOVE the food truck scene.

Also PLEASE get yourself to Rainbow Market because it is MY FAVORITE MARKET EVER. The biggest/best bulk section in the city.

For some art & culture check out the:

MOMA  (currently under construction!) Academy of Sciences,  The De Young Museum  & The Legion of Honor

Who doesn’t love a good art museum?

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Musee Mecanique A super fun place to go to go on a date or to take the kids. A whole warehouse FILLED with antique arcade games. I love getting my fortune there during lunch breaks at work.

Flax Art- Such a great art supply store. I could literally spend HOURS there (and I have!). If you want to get into the city before a dinner reservation, I highly suggest blocking out a few hours and checking it out. Be prepared to drop a small fortune though… the pen selection did me in last time.

For fun tourist attractions, be sure to head to:

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Alcatraz We visited last month when family was in town and had a blast. So much history and such a fascinating place! We went on a week day to avoid crowds and it wasn’t that bad. The view of the city is pretty incredible from the rock.  Make sure to get tickets ahead of time.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Chrissy Field is a perfect place to get a good picture of you, the beach & the Golden Gate Bridge. If you love dogs, you’ll love this area because there are TONS.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

Chinatown-  So many cool things to look at and it provides a really great landscape for photo taking. Look what we found the other day! We went to R & G Lounge for dinner last month and will definitely be going back soon.

SCRAP– This place is a kick! If you’re looking for buried treasures (old frames, random photos, thread, art supplies etc.) to repurpose in your home/add to your art supply collection, you gotta check this place out. Last time I went I got a TON of buttons (still don’t know what I’m going to do with them), old office supplies and thread.

Out & About: Flora Grubb Gardens

Flora Grubb Gardens– If you love plants, YOU MUST GO HERE. I wrote a post about it awhile back. Get some Ritual Coffee while you’re there and be prepared to be INSPIRED. If you have any place to add to the list, leave a comment!

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

And of course, no trip to San Francisco would be complete without a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. I love the view from the Marin Headlands. When the weather is right, I stop on the way to work and watch the bridge from above. It’s breathtaking.

SF Eating Guide // Shutterbean

If you’re traveling to San Francisco, be sure to dress in layers as you never know what the weather will bring. Summer is the coldest time of year (go figure) and September through November is absolutely MAGICAL!

This post was sponsored by Ford.  As always, all opinions are my own.

  • Rachel

    I adore San Fran!!! Thanks so much for sharing your favourite places. I visited 8 years ago and think this post is the perfect excuse for another visit to confirm all your recommendations!!

    Rachel x


  • Julie

    Thank you so much for this round-up. My sis lives in SF and without question, every time I visit we sit around and twiddle our thumbs and get Thai takeaway once again. I also try and keep notes of the places you go that look especially tasty so now I can just bookmark this and refer back when I’m in town again next month! Cheers!

  • Millie | Add A Little

    These look amazing Tracy! I love that you put them in alphabetical order #simplepleasures! Also, there’s a Hakkasan here in London which is SO GOOD. The dumplings are amazing and so is the tofu aubergine claypot woah!

  • Kimiko

    So many amazing suggestions!! Thanks for sharing – just makes me want to get to San Fran ASAP.

  • Paula

    WOO for this post! My husband and I are going to SF in July for a conference; and since neither of us has to present, we are planning on spending lots of time roaming. I couldn’t ask for a better source of restaurant reccs than you!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This was such a fantastic guide! Definitely saving this for later. Thank you for all your hard work!

  • Nicole

    It’s great to have all of your SF recs! Marc just went there for business and he said he had expensive/ok food and I was crushed for him because I know it’s such a great food city. I wish I had this perfect guide to send him and share with his co-workers. Next time!

  • Leslie Rossi

    I love San Francisco! One of my favourite cities to visit. We love walking around and exploring, biking to the beach and eating a lot of great food! Italian is one of my favs, partially because I am Italian too!

    Leslie Rossi

  • Katie @ Mom's Kitchen Handbook

    Great list. I live in SF and you’ve uncovered some gems I don’t know about. Love that Taste Buds Travel … they had some great nuggets too.

  • LORI

    Because I needed something else to occupy my internet time… I love the Taste Buds!

  • Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life

    San Francisco is my favourite place in the world. It’s only a short 13 hour plane ride away! I seriously cannot wait to introduce my boyfriend to the most beautiful city in the world. We are only doing the east coast this year, but hopefully in two years time we will head back to the west coast.
    I always feel a calling in my bones to return to San Francisco.
    And now I have the perfect list of places to check off when we do make it back! Thanks Tracy 🙂

  • DessertForTwo

    Ahhhh, my favorite city. You just made me incredibly homesick. Last time I was back in town, I totally loved Trick Dog! SO good! I had some cocktail with celery soda and was like WOW.
    Thanks for a great round up:)

  • Abby

    Ooh, I love, love this, Tracy! San Fran is a favorite city of mine… I’ll have to check some of these places out next time I’m there. <3

  • Kasey

    Great picks! Also, you eat WELL!!

  • Melissa

    I love Burma Super Star! I just discovered it this year, but I’ve only been to the location in Alameda. Love living in the Bay Are! Thanks for the great post. I have a lot of new places to check out 🙂

  • aida mollenkamp

    Such a great list! And, I mean, how have we never eaten at any of these places together!

  • kayla

    I really need to get to San Fransisco… Thanks for a great list!

  • Marilyn

    Great post! Thanks a ton!

  • erinlucy

    Ooh I’m totally bookmarking this for our one-day trip to San Francisco! Everything looks so good but my question is, will you meet me for a drink when I come?! 😉

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  • Lauren

    I just returned from an amazing week in SF, and I toted a print-out of this list with me. I was able to hit up a few of these spots, including Bi-Rite, Dynamo, Liguria, Tartine, Tony’s and the Ferry Building. I’d like to share my thoughts on these places, and add a few suggestions of my own. Forgive me for writing a book.

    Dynamo was such an excellent recommendation: I really loved the maple bacon doughnut, and the experience of chilling on their patio garden surrounded by hipsters and their many dogs. (SF is crazy for dogs!). At Tartine, I tried a few things, all awesome, but the morning bun was my fav. Totally worth the wait and snooty service. Liguria truly does make the best focaccia ever (better than my own, I concede). While sharing an Uber ride, I met a guy who lives in an apartment right above Liguria, and I was quite jealous. He said his place smells like garlic, always. North Beach in general was a foodie paradise, and Tony’s does rock. I ordered a slice of pizza from his take-out joint and it was enormous — equal to about 3 normal pieces. Have you been to Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Shop? Got a breaded eggplant focaccia sandwich on a recommendation from a North Beach native, and it was very yummy. I really wished I could have eaten at Rose Pistola, Molinari’s and Cafe Sport … Next time.

    Let’s talk ice cream! I was sooo psyched to try Bi-Rite, and I even told the guy who served me how far I had traveled and how long I had waited to get there. But I was actually pretty disappointed. I tried a few flavors, and they were all just good. Didn’t blow me away. I was much more impressed by Humphrey Slocumb (in the Mission; they also have a booth in the Ferry Building), which had crazy-cool flavors and a supremely smooth, creamy texture. Smitten (in Hayes Valley) is another good pick for ice cream. Although I gotta say, every ice cream shop in SF that I came across is wicked overpriced. Like $4 to $5 for a small/single scoop. Yikes.

    I took a few food tours while in SF, plus did my own sleuthing, and here are some of my other top picks:
    – Chantal Guillon (Hayes Valley) for macarons (the French cookies, not the coconut ones)
    – La Taqueria (Mission) for tacos
    – Tacqeria los Coyotes (Mission) for burritos, and for the best salsa bar
    – Dragon Eats (Hayes Valley) for bahn mi sandwiches
    – Brenda’s French Soul Food (Tenderloin) for brunch/lunch
    – J Shack (food truck) for crepes
    – Good Mong Kok Bakery (Chinatown) for steamed pork buns

    Tracy, thanks so much for putting your list together. It was such a great jumping off point for my trip. I can’t wait to go back to SF and hit some more of your recommendations. I would love if, in the future, you put together another list of your fav cheap eats/quick bites. Thanks!

  • Terri

    Love this roundup of SF places (I’m a Bay Area native)! You named some of my favs and gave me ideas for new places to visit! Have you tried Troya? It Awesome! The dips and bread (oh,the bread) are delicious and the baklava is great!
    Can’t wait to try some of your suggestions!

  • Victor

    Cotagna and Wayfare Tavern look and sound awesome. Can’t wait til the next time I’m back in the Bay Area so I can give some of these places a shot.

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  • valentina | sweet kabocha

    I’ll be there soon, I can’t wait!

  • Alana

    You should check out Brenda’s Meat and Three for Breakfast…. AMAZING. Love their Watermelon Sweet Tea!

  • Libby

    very timely to see this list – I’m headed to SF this weekend and looking forward to going to some of these spots (Italian…yes please)!

  • Christine

    Question. Muir woods: worth the trip? I have three full days in SF at the end of the month!

    • Tracy

      It’s gorgeous. However, it’s starting to get really crowded so I suggest going on a weekday morning!

  • Sara

    My husband and I are going to be in San Fran for our honeymoon in May! I can’t wait to try your recommendations! One question: do you recommend a particular neighborhood to stay in? We’re both pretty laid back, foodies, and like to try relaxed activities (nothing crazy touristy if we can help it). I was looking at The Marina, but not sure if there are good places to stay. I don’t think I want to stay near Union Square or anything like that. Thanks Tracy!

    • Tracy

      Try to stay near the Ferry building. It’s pretty central, you can get on trains/BART easily and walk over to get something to snack on if you’d like! Plus there are great views of the Bay bridge.

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  • Rohan Gillett

    San Franciso seems like a great place to go! I’ve never been to America, but it is on my list. And when I do, SF will be first. I want to see that bridge and some of the places where many TV I watched were filmed. And I definitely want to try the pizza at A16!!

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