To paraphrase an oldie but goodie: if you are going to San Francisco, you’re going to eat a lot of great food there. The trick is deciding what, when and where. The city’s food scene is not concentrated in any one area, and there are so many excellent choices in just about every category and cuisine. The following five places are favorites from my recent trip.
Craftsman and Wolves
Beginning with breakfast — as it’s a very good place to start — Craftsman and Wolves is a standout bakery and coffee shop. There are several locations, including the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (a great place to spend a few hours) on Saturdays. The Mission District and Pacific Heights stores are open daily.
All of their pastries are amazing but the Rebel Within muffin is a standout and has the benefit of a little protein, too! They have an excellent array of candies, jams, and sauces that make good presents for those you have left behind or will be visiting.
Also in the Mission District, Namu Gaji serves the hard to describe (and the photo does not do it justice) okonomiyaki – a Japanese grilled pancake.
There are many possible toppings and a highlight for me was the “dancing” bonito flakes (since it is served sizzling hot in a cast-iron pan). Try it – you’ll love it!
If you are headed into the city from SFO or other points south, instead of languishing on the parking lot that is 101 north almost any time of day, take 280 over to Skyline Boulevard and the Great Highway and enjoy the scenery. Then, you can stop in at Outerlands in the Sunset District for a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Outerlands features delicious baked goods (made in house), organic produce and an excellent menu with a seasonal focus. As an added bonus, the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Park are both within very easy walking distance.
One of the best dinners I have enjoyed in recent memory was at Petit Crenn in the oh-so trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood. It has a wonderful neighborhood restaurant feel, and
is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday. There is a five-course seafood and vegetable menu and reservations are mandatory for one of the two seatings each evening. In addition, there are a limited number of seats at the bar with a la carte options. Hayes Street has excellent shopping and a vibrant bar scene, so I recommend spending some time there. The San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, Louise Davies Symphony Hall and the SFJAZZ center are conveniently located in this area, too.
Smitten Ice Cream
Last but certainly not least, save room and make time for at least one visit to Smitten Ice Cream. I confess I was a skeptic but OMG, this may be the best ice cream I have ever eaten, or at least in the top three. There are locations throughout the Bay Area, including one around the corner from Petit Crenn, one in Pacific Heights and one in the Marina.
Of course, coffee is key (especially to combat a food coma). For where to go for that elixir, check out San Francisco | On a Mission to Find the Best Coffee.