Eating is a valid pastime in San Francisco, which boasts more restaurants per capita than any other North American city. The cuisine is varied and authentic, and the atmosphere ranges from upper-class bistros through to lively gastro pubs that spill out on to the street. Wandering in search of a good restaurant can be quite a workout amongst ‘Frisco’s hilly topography, so here are a few suggested dining districts to minimise your legwork.
The most famous and commonly mentioned foodie district in San Fran was once the property of the church, but now the crowds throng to worship an excellent collection of eateries. Located east-central, this neighbourhood is bursting with taquerias, Mexican bakeries and burrito shops – not surprising as it is the birthplace of the Mission Burrito, a jumbo version of the original, packed with extra fillings.
Lower Nob Hill/ Upper Tenderloin
Also known as the TenderNob, this tiny district is a fusion of affluent Nob Hill and Tenderloin, its grittier neighbour. An intersection with Little Saigon means the area is filled with delicious Asian restaurants, as well as funky gastro pubs and trendy cafes. It’s a down-to-earth bite of reality for those looking for food with a side of atmosphere.
It’s the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, and the oldest in North America. Although many of the restaurants are aimed at tourists, there are quite a few places on Jackson that will give you an authentic experience in an iconic location. Be sure to finish your meal with an egg custard tart from the world-famous Golden Gate Bakery.
A location close to the theatre district gives Hayes Valley its arty ambience, and as well as a variety of top-notch eateries it offers hip boutiques and funky art galleries for some post-meal browsing. Dining options range from upmarket bistros through to brilliant burger joints.
From tacos to yum cha, Richmond offers a gratifying range of cuisine. It’s a big district that has a wide choice to match, and it’s a great place to head if you’re not quite sure what you feel like. Look out for the Burmese restaurants – a unique speciality of the area.
A cute neighbourhood complete with a five-tiered pagoda, San Francisco’s Japantown has a range of original restaurants that go beyond sushi. Ramen bars, mochi shops and hot pots are also on offer, and there are plenty of bakeries and crepe shops to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Across the Bay Bridge lies Oakland, and while it falls outside of the ‘district’ requirement it should still be mentioned for foodies who don’t mind venturing farther afield. It’s one of the most culturally diverse cities in North America, and the cuisine is wonderfully varied and easier on the pocket than its San Francisco counterparts. Donut-stuffed crepes, Indian street food and African coffee shops are just some of the range on offer.
*All Photos courtesy of Getty Images