The best restaurants and must-try dining experiences in San Francisco

Patrons at San Francisco's California Fish Market sit in an outside patio area adorned in Italian flags while waiters serve them food.
Patrons grab a bite at California Fish Market in San Francisco’s Little Italy. Jason Henry for Insider

San Francisco’s food scene is incredibly diverse and ever-changing, offering diners inimitable culinary experiences. Whether you’re in the mood for a fancy tasting menu, the best burrito ever, or authentic soup dumplings, the city has your cravings ready for you. Keep reading for some delicious recommendations.

Cotogna

Cotogna is a cozy restaurant known for its seasonally updated menu featuring spit-roasted and grilled meats, wood-oven pizzas, house-made pastas, and local seafood, salumi, and cheeses.

Roxie Food Center

Roxie Food Center is a no-frills deli known for its hot pastrami sandwich on a fresh Dutch Crunch roll.

Kokkari Estiatorio

Kokkari Estiatorio, a rustic Greek taverna, offers diners a chic, warm Mediterranean dining experience in a space with a fireplace, handmade pottery, and more. You can’t go wrong with the whole grilled fish or the grilled lamb chops.

Mandalay Restaurant

Mandalay Restaurant was the first Burmese restaurant in the city. From the traditional tea-leaf and rainbow salads to noodle dishes and curries, each dish at this welcoming establishment is packed with Burmese flavors.

California Fish Market

For fresh seafood and Italian cuisine, head to California Fish Market, a lively North Beach restaurant in the heart of Little Italy.

An overhead shot of a food spread, featuring shrimp, crab, and dipping sauces, at San Francisco's California Fish Market
California Fish Market serves a delicious range of seafood dishes and dipping sauces. Jason Henry for Insider

Rich Table

Rich Table is a laid-back neighborhood restaurant that oozes charm and sophistication while serving up innovative, seasonal California cuisine in an unpretentious setting.

Panchitas Pupuseria

This hole-in-the-wall restaurant, which is open late, has the best pupusas around – and they’re inexpensive.

Happy Donuts

Happy Donuts is the go-to for hot, fresh classic donuts. There are multiple locations throughout the city, and the one on 24th Street is open 24 hours so you can enjoy a delicious treat at any time.

House of Prime Rib

House of Prime Rib serves prime rib carved tableside. It’s an old-school place that’s made its name carving thick slices of beef for over 70 years.

Liholiho Yacht Club

Good vibes and delectable flavors make Liholiho Yacht Club a great place to indulge on dishes such as whole fried fish and Korean-style short ribs, as well as strong libations like the Pink Flamingos (a mixture of potato vodka, hibiscus, pomegranate lychee, kumquat, and lime that’s clarified with coconut milk before served over crushed ice).

Side-by-side images of seafood dishes, including salmon, served at Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco.
Liholiho Yacht Club offers tasty cuisines such as the short rib steam bun, the Good Good Chicken Wing plate, the whole fried fish, and the Yuba salad. Jason Henry for Insider

Mitchell’s Ice Cream

Mitchell’s Ice Cream has been around since 1953. The family-owned ice-cream shop offers over 40 flavors daily, each made with local ingredients and love. It’s worth the wait in line.

Farmhouse Thai

For inspired Thai food that blends tradition with modernity, take a seat at this bright establishment that offers family-style dishes. Flavor, presentation, and flair set Farmhouse Thai apart from other local Thai spots.

United Dumplings

United Dumplings is a woman-owned, California-inspired Asian dumpling spot offering everything from traditional xiao long bao to cheesy Mission-style potstickers.

Mau Restaurant

An affordable, casual Vietnamese restaurant, Mau offers a variety of authentic noodle, claypot, and rice dishes. We recommend the bo kho with egg noodles.

La Taqueria

The famous La Taqueria in the Mission District has the best Mission-style burritos. Whatever burrito or taco you order, make it dorado style: placed on a hot oiled griddle and fried until crispy and golden on the outside.

One interior and one exterior shot of La Taqueria restaurant in San Francisco where customers eat food. A neon sign that says 'La Taqueria' illuminates the restaurant.
Diners stop by La Taqueria in San Francisco’s Mission District to enjoy a meal. Jason Henry for Insider

Tartine Bakery

The award-winning Tartine Bakery is known for making some of the best pastries, sweets, and breads in the country.

Hawker Fare

Hawker Fare is a vibrant Isaan Thai restaurant that offers family-style dishes packed with the flavors of Southeast Asia. Sauces, chilis, and spices make these shareable plates pop. Enjoy strong tiki drinks downstairs or head upstairs to Holy Mountain for local and craft spirits.

Tacos El Patron

Tacos El Patron has the best quesabirria (Tijuana-style beef birria tacos), served with a side of consommé for dipping or sipping.

Foreign Cinema

Foreign Cinema offers Californian-Mediterranean fare and an impressive brunch menu, along with projected films nightly.

Empress by Boon

Combining traditional cooking methods with local ingredients and Cantonese flavors, the upscale Empress by Boon offers an unrivaled dining experience along with stunning city views.

Curio SF

Curio SF offers nightly live music, spacious outdoor seating, and some of the best ribs in the Bay Area. Inspired cocktails and a lively atmosphere make it a great place to start your night out.

A plate of short ribs
Rib enthusiasts should grab a table at Curio SF. Chelsea Davis for Insider

Um.Ma

Um.Ma in the Inner Sunset offers modern Korean food in a sleek setting.

Rooh

For epic, upscale Indian cuisine, grab a table at Rooh. Its must-try menu items include the chili cheese kulcha, masala jackfruit tacos, and dahi puri.

PPQ Dungeness Island

PPQ Dungeness Island in the Richmond District is where you go for Vietnamese-style roast crab soaked in butter and garlic. Don’t forget to order a plate of garlic noodles.

Honorable mentions: Sorrel, Hog Island Oyster Co., Gibson, Capo’s by Tony Gemignani, Mister Jiu’s, Tín Vietnamese Cuisine, The Morris, Spruce, Balboa Cafe, Gozu, Lolinda, and Barrio.

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