Get ready for a foodie tour of San Francisco! I was so excited to experience my mama’s hometown for the first time as an adult and eat my way through the Bay Area. My dear friend Eric lives in San Francisco and curated the perfect foodie tour of the city for me. Here’s the scoop on some of the best places to eat and visit in San Francisco!
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I honest to goodness worried that I was not cool enough to eat at Takoba. Located upstairs at a club, this tiny sushi spot can barely fit two dozen people. You’ll likely sit at a communal table – a tight squeeze – but the rewards are great. Takoba serves up the freshest sushi and fun cocktails.
The Pog Punch is beautifully adorned with an orchid and tastes like a tropical vacation. Our favorite rolls were the Midori and the Minna, but it would be hard to go wrong at Takoba.
Sutro’s at The Cliff House
I cannot say enough wonderful things about Sutro’s Cliff House. This is on my list of top five favorite dinners. Ever! The view is jaw-dropping and while the entire dining room is lovely, I really feel like we had the best table. In between our appetizer and main course, we ran downstairs to the balcony for epic sunset photos. These photos are entirely unedited. Can you believe it?
The food at Cliff House doesn’t have to be as good as is with views like that but I was spectacularly impressed. We ordered the crab cakes to start, served on individual plates with a fennel and apple salad. We also ordered the bread service to soak up the sauce. If you love bourbon like me, be sure to try the Bourbon Renewal cocktail. It’s divine!
For dinner, I ordered the bouillabaisse. I’ve never ordered this dish before and now I fear I’ll be ruined for life. Sutro’s thai coconut milk sauce was out of this world. Thank goodness they provide two large grilled bread slices to slop it all up. The fish is a mixture of shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, and seasonal fish. Decades from now, I’ll remember eating this dish, watching the sunset, and listening to Sutro’s live jazz band. It’s an experience every traveler should have.
Save room for dessert because the frozen lemon souffle is light enough for even the fullest of diners to enjoy. It’s like a lemon cloud with a side of blueberries. Shoutout to our awesome waitress Tiffany who not only has the exact same taste in food as me and never steered us wrong, but also took great video footage for my video without hesitating. Thanks, Tiffany!
Please note: I am told that these views are atypical and that you should expect foggier days so that you can be pleasantly surprised if you are fortunate enough to experience a sunset like this one.
We had the pleasure of walking through Dolores Park on our way to Foreign Cinema. The expansive park has sweeping views of San Francisco and lots of happy dogs retrieving frisbee’s. Several people had picnic blankets, some were throwing footballs, some were just taking a moment to enjoy the view. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the bay area!
This is a funky spot in the Mission district of San Francisco. You walk down a long, dark corridor before reaching bright and cheery Foreign Cinema, where they project movies on a wall in the evening. We went instead for Saturday brunch.
We need to talk about this cinnamon roll. We got one to split as an appetizer and wow, I kind of wish we had ordered two! This fluffy, tender, hot-from-the-oven roll is topped off with a mountain of orange cream cheese icing. It’s the stuff of pastry dreams.
For breakfast, I ordered the truffle omelet, which came with fried potatoes and an attractive salad adorned with edible flowers. How very Rose Table! The omelet was generous in size and very strong in truffle flavor, which was just fine by me. I adore truffle. If you’re on the fence though, note that this is a punch of truffle flavor. Eric’s balsamic fried eggs also packed a punch of flavor. I’ve read that Foreign Cinema has wonderful desserts but alas, we were on our way to Ghirardelli next so for once, we actually waved off the dessert menu.
I’ve wanted to visit Ghirardelli Square ever since I can remember. My mom, being Californian, is very loyal to Ghirardelli. I don’t think I knew other chocolate chips existed until I was a teenager! The Square has the original Ghirardelli, a larger Marketplace with all things Ghirardelli (souvenirs, chocolate squares, fudge), a Fairmont (what a fabulous location for a hotel!), and a variety of shops with water views peaking around every building.
I ordered the Ocean Breeze Sundae: vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate hot fudge, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and a chocolate caramel square on top. It’s honestly not a very Me order, since I always opt for dark chocolate. What can I say? It had all of my mom’s favorite things and I just felt like it. My one complaint is that the sundaes only come in one size and it was way more than I could eat but, when in Rome, right?
Beach (Aquatic Park Historic District)
Walk straight towards the water from Ghirardelli Square before heading east to Fisherman’s Wharf and you’ll find a fairly large beach with a view of the Golden Gate bridge. I know, right? I was shocked to find people swimming, considering the bay is absolutely freezing for Texas standards. I could barely dip a toe in but still, it’s fun to walk the beach and enjoy the views.
This summer, the subject of all-time favorite dishes came up and my dad said, “Crab cocktail at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.” So of course, I had to have some. Having just polished off a sundae, I wasn’t the slightest bit hungry when we reached Fisherman’s Wharf but Eric shrugged and said, “You don’t need to be hungry to eat crab!” Words to live by.
The Wharf is at the northern tip of the peninsula right by the seaside and boasts plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars. You can watch the ships come and go, as many of the joints have water views. I picked up some souvenirs on the Wharf and sampled some chowder on our hunt for crab cocktail.
Please, oh please, let this not be the last time I have crab cocktail. For $10, you get a bowl full of dungeness crab with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce. Eric was right, you don’t even need to be hungry to squeeze in a little crab! I love dishes like this because you kind of have to be there to eat that and that makes it taste that much sweeter. This exact bowl can be found at Fisherman’s Grotto at the far east side of the Wharf.
JCB Tasting Lounge
Located inside Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, the setting is just part of the fun at this intimate tasting lounge. JCB is part of the Boisset Collection of wines, of which I am a fan. You can choose several different tasting options to experience JCB brand wines.
One of my favorites was No 65, a super crisp and refreshing champagne with strong pear notes that would be fantastic with Brie cheese. I also like No 6, a 2016 vintage from Russian River Valley. This Pinot tastes more like a Cab. It’s very smooth and tastes like a California cherry.
My favorite though was No 11, named after Boisset’s lucky number. He was 11 when he visited Buena Vista Winery and decided he wanted to make wine, he bought Buena Vista in 2011, and he spent $11M renovating it. No 11 smells so fruity and full of ripe plums. I want this in a candle. It’s so smooth and juicy, I suspect non-wine drinkers might still like this wine.
This tiny raw bar has a small selection of oysters, crudo, and chowder. It’s right across the street from Nopa, making it a great street for bar hopping or pre-dinner oysters, which is what we did. Be warned though, our waitress was less than thrilled that we only popped in for half a dozen oysters and she made her dissatisfaction known. Still, this would be a romantic date restaurant. It feels quite French inside.
We ordered kumamoto, beausoleil, and shogoku oysters. Of these, the latter was the only new type of oyster to me and it was actually my favorite! The deep-shelled oysters were meaty without being too salty. I highly recommend trying this Washington oyster.
Nopa is having a moment in San Francisco and boasts quite the crowd. The vaguely craftsman-style restaurant has an upstairs dining room that looks quite fun. The kitchen is open so you can watch the chefs prepare your dinner. My only complaint was how crowded it was; we had a table right next to the bar and there were rows and rows of people standing right next to our table, hovering over us. A bit crowded for my taste, so perhaps consider trying Nopa earlier in the evening before the bar gets too crowded.
We ordered the halibut crudo to start, an extremely light appetizer for raw fisher lovers.
For dinner I ordered the rotisserie chicken, which appears to be a bit of a fan favorite at Nopa. It’s served with a fig and feta bread salad and could honestly serve two people but I did my best!
Kitchen Story is an absolute must! I delighted in this California cool brunch spot and savored every bite of our memorable brunch. It gets quite crowded for brunch later in the morning, but at 8:45 am, we didn’t have to wait for a table. The playlist was one I might have curated myself with Disney tunes like Let It Go and Part of Your World and pop such as Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars. The lighting is bright and the restaurant feels trendy without trying to be.
The millionaire’s bacon alone is worth a plane ticket to San Francisco. It’s thick and chewy and meaty with maple syrup and a bit of heat. It’s an absolute must. The cinnamon latte didn’t need any extra sugar; it was the perfect amount of sweet, adorned with latte art that puts a smile on your face.
The brunch portions are generous, even by my Texas standards! Though interested in the marscapone-stuffed french toast, I went for a safer bet for my stomach and ordered the Pacific Eggs Benedict, poached eggs, smoked salmon, and tomatoes on ciabatta bread, smothered in a rich hollandaise sauce. As if that wasn’t enough, the dish comes with rainbow potatoes and a few bites of fruit. You won’t leave Kitchen Story hungry or anything less than completely satisfied.
I hope you enjoyed this foodie tour of San Francisco! Tell me: where do you love to eat in the Bay Area? I’d love to know for my next trip.