Table of Contents
Open Table of Contents
- Saap Ver: Country-style Thai street food that’s arguably my favorite restaurant in San Francisco and possibly the world. Their specialities include variants of papaya salad and extremely spicy sausage, but I’m personally fond of their crispy pork belly fried rice and duck curry - make sure to get the latter with some sticky rice.
- Kin Khao: Michelin-starred contemporary Thai in a tiny corner of a downtown Hilton by local-culinary-hero Chef Pim Techamuanvivit. For a Michelin-starred restaurant, it’s not too crowded (you can get 8pm reservations on two days notice), not too pricey (usually in the $40-60 per person range), and has a reasonable range of vegetarian plates (about a third of the menu). They’re famous for the rabbit green curry, where an entire rabbit leg is dipped in mild green curry, but the real standout is the mushroom hor mok, where you ladle mushroom-curry-in-a-jar over crispy rice cakes.
- Delah Coffee: Yemeni coffee shop that stays open until 10pm (in San Francisco!). Trying a pot of the spiced coffee is a must, but I go back for the wide variety of pastries, especially the hot pink rose-petal milk cake.
- Saigon Sandwich: Cash-only $4 banh mi in the Tenderloin, so you know it’s good.
- Boichik Bagels: Ten seconds after putting a Boichik bagel in my mouth, I declared it the best thing I had ever tasted - Boichik is the clear winner of the Bay Area bagel game, though Schlok’s is a close second. Unfortunately, they’re currently only open in Berkeley and Palo Alto, so I’ve only ever had it when someone brings it to the office.
- Schlok’s Bagels & Lox: Yes, the bagels are $3 a piece, but they’re worth it. I typically get the egg & cheese sandwich with ham on an untoasted plain bagel, alongside an everything bagel with cream cheese. It’s also convenient to bike to, sitting at one end of the Wiggle and a block away from the Panhandle.
- Señor Sisig: Some would say this Filipino fusion food truck is overrated - peak hype was in 2019 - but it’s still a solid only-in-San-Francisco experience and probably the restaurant I’ve been to the most, thanks to proximity. Most swear by the French-fry-filled California Sisig Burrito, but I prefer the Tosilog Burrito with its side of peppered vinegar.
- Daeho Kalbijjim: Likely the trendiest Bay Area restaurant of the 2020s - expect a 40-minute wait - but well worth it. $80 buys you the signature food-for-four (or more) kalbijjim, made up of braised barbecue beef rib mixed with veggies and rice cakes, all topped with a mountain of cheese that’s blowtorched at the table.
- Oren’s Hummus: The hummus here is lovely, but what keeps me coming back is the fluffy, soft-as-a-cloud white pita - sometimes I order extra to freeze for my own meals at home. Unfortunately, they’ve significantly cut portion sizes since the pandemic, so it’s not as good a deal as it once was, but I still often find myself bringing out-of-towners around.
- Reem’s: The flagship restaurant of local celebrity chef Reem Assil, I come here for the surprisingly cheap za’atar mana’eesh - 10” of flatbread topped with thyme and sumac - and the labneh, particularly the egg-and-chile-oil-topped Some Like It Harra. I also love the minty-fresh Damascus lemonade.
- Yarsa Nepalese Cuisine: Arguably the best value-for-money of any restaurant I’ve had in San Francisco. The spicy chili chicken momos are the speciality here, but they also boast some of the best mango lassi I’ve tried in the Bay Area, and $6 will get you a massive garlic-cheese naan.
- Raisu: My usual anniversary spot. They’re best known for their tonkatsu teishoku, where panko-breaded tonkatsu is served alongside a carefully-chosen set of sides. They also often have special set menus for holidays like Valentine’s.
- Ramen Danbo: A Japanese chain specializing in Fukuoka-style hakata ramen with a handful of locations in North America. They’re my favourite purveyors of my favourite style of ramen; I once patiently waited in line at Danbo over an hour in the snow wearing only a hoody and didn’t regret it for a moment.
- Miku: A waterfront restaurant specializing in blowtorched aburi sushi, making for a perfect date night location. They also have a sister restaurant, Minami, serving similar fare.