Travel Guide: San Francisco, Part I

Oh, San Francisco. I’ve thought of this city as my secondary spirit animal for quite some time, and have spent the better part of the past five years eating my way through it. There is so much to do and see here that it can be daunting to know where to start, so I am going to split my SF travel guide for food up into two parts. The first part, featured below, will cover where to eat in the “northern” part of the city (mind you, this designation is complete arbitrary). It includes all spots north of Market Street on the east, and north of the Panhandle. Read on for some of my favorite SF spots!

Check out my San Francisco photo diary at #caro_in_sf on my Instagram!

Verjus – Voted one of the best new restaurants in the country in 2019, Verjus has been on my SF hit list since that Eater article came into my life. While certainly not a bargain, the natural wine list is expertly curated and absolutely dreamy for organic lovers such as myself, and the food menu consistently rotates through what is fresh is seasonal. I noshed on chanterelles and favs beans with a plum egg yolk, the freshest chicory and beet salad, an autumn root veggie tart, and eclectic Portuguese cheeses for “dessert.”

Liholiho Yacht Club – One of the more challenging reservations to get in SF, I had my own reservations about a place that came with so much hype attached. However, dinner here more than lived up to great expectations. First off, get there early so you can get a drink at Louie’s Gen-Gen Room, the cocktail bar tucked away downstairs. Next, make sure the kimchi fried rice and beef ribs are on your table. The menu is extensive, so I look forward to going back again and trying an entirely new round of delicious Hawaiian-Asian options.

The Mill – The toast with the most (seriously). This bustling Divasadero spot is an all-day cafe that I prefer for a hearty slice of morning toast (their speciality). My favorite is the almond butter toast with a side homemade jam, but I also had a ricotta toast drizzled with olive oil and cracked black pepper that was divine. Grab a loaf to take home as well.

Nopa – One of my favorite dinner spots in SF, this farm to table mecca is perfect every time. From fresh pastas to delicious salads and desserts, everything here is a home run. Make a reservation, or go on the later side to snag a seat.

Arsicault – The best croissants in San Francisco, period. And possible the best croissants I’ve had outside of France. These croissants are made to order, so a wait is inevitable and people queue up early on the weekends. The plain croissant, pain au chocolate, chocolate almond, and ham and cheese are all to die for.

Jane on Fillmore – This little cafe has been my working remotely hub for many an occasion, and is also a great alternative for a healthy breakfast and lunch. Their avo toast is a classic, but I love the “super super healthy salad” for a hit of freshness while working.

Tacobar – This casual taco spot on the corner of California Street is a great place to stop in for a taco while shopping or window browsing. I prefer the fish tacos, but you can’t go wrong here.

Spruce – This incredible space is truly stunning for dinner, albeit a bit pricey. My preference is to go and sit at the bar and order their burger and a glass of red wine. You won’t regret it.

B Patisserie – Another wonderful SF patisserie, this light and airy spot is the home of a blueberry croissant that is absolutely crave-worthy. They also feature quite a few delectable tartines and salads for lunch on the go, so I recommend stopping here en route to your next picnic.

Atelier Crenn – The creme de la creme, so to speak. This tasting menu experience absolutely blew me away. It’s a tough reservation to get, and a special occasion meal to be sure, but it was worth every penny. Talk to me after you’ve had your 8th course served on a bed of fresh moss in a hand-thrown pot.

As Quoted – The tiny little coffee shop on Sacramento Street is light and bright and has a window seat that’s perfect for reading over a weekend cappuccino.

Chubby Noodle – In the thick of the Marina, there is a bit of a younger vibe here, but it is fun and the food is delicious. Go for a Sunday dim sum brunch and get all you can eat for 2 hours – don’t miss the salt and pepper shrimp and the wings.

Gary Danko – Another special occasion spot, but the complete opposite of Atelier Crenn. While Crenn is the height of elegance and restraint, Gary Danko is pure kitsch, camp, and opulence. The five course tasting menu could easily serve 2, and is pure decadence – think foie gras, lobster, and lots and lots of butter. I would recommend the three course tasting so that you can comfortably walk out of there at the end of the meal.

Out the Door – The sister restaurant to The Slanted Door, this more low-key spot is incredible for a Vietnamese dinner. Don’t miss the shaking beef, green papaya salad, and spring rolls.

Souvla – One of my favorite lunch places in SF, I come back this modern Greek spot for one delicious salad. It features free-range chicken, fennel, navel oranges, pickled onions, and pea shoots and is literally the perfect lunch. Snag a seat in the back garden.

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