I was fortunate enough to spend a week in San Francisco this spring and pretty much ate my way around the city. Here are my recommendations on places not to miss as well as spots to avoid.
Bread & Cocoa: Wholesome, delicious, fresh meals to eat in or take with you. I loved the oatmeal and toppings bar, not always an easy thing to find for breakfast out. Mike really dug the frittata and muffins.
Cafe Gratitude: This place just felt like home. The meal was so good and fulfilling (in many ways) and I’m still thinking about my cold-pressed espresso milkshake. Although everything is vegan, the restaurant didn’t rely on soy-based products for protein, which, while I like tofu and tempeh, I admired and appreciated. A very unique, special spot, worth the trek to the Mission.
Blue Barn: Incredible, huge salad beasts that rival the ones I make at home with suggestions from the restaurant and make-your-own options. Falafel was flavorful and filling. Worth jockeying for a sit at the tiny counter, but would be good to go as well.
Naked Lunch: Only a handful of options, but the grilled vegetable pressed sandwich really hit the spot on the rainy afternoon that I enjoyed it. Plenty of covered outdoor seating for street and people watching. The cinnamon iced tea was out of this world.
Loving Hut: A good, quick option for those seeking meat-free dining. Loved the sweet potato fries, but this place was definitely more generic (it’s a chain) than the others. Not necessarily a place to seek out, but a good option if you see one and are hungry.
Don Pisto’s: Delicious, fresh Mexican food that totally hit the spot on our first night. The sangria was fabulous and the staff was friendly. Lots of great seafood and you can get brunch all day on Sundays.
Bix: A really special place, great for a date or birthday dinner. Low lighting sets the mood, the waiters are pros and the drinks are top-notch. Live music rounds out the scene. Try the potato pillows, your life will never be the same again.
Millennium: An upscale vegetarian restaurant, we loved the four-course tasting menu with wine pairing, which was perfectly selected and portioned. Wish there were more places like this in Boston. The food was creative and delicious, we left happy and full.
Bar Crudo: Mike says this was his favorite dinner of 2012 so far, which is saying a lot because we’ve already been fortunate enough to have some great meals. The crudo was so fresh and the flavors were so inspired, the lobster beet salad was amazing, as was Mike’s trout. We had some incredible cheese and little truffles for dessert and the sparkling rose and moscato was so yummy, this place was the jam.
The Grove: We popped in here weary, starving and craving a cold beverage after a long day of working, sight-seeing and museum-going. The hummus and antipasto platters plus some Fat Tire were just what we needed (don’t bother with the quesadilla). Lots of different seating options and a fun, young atmosphere.
The Plant: This was our most-visited spot for breakfast, lunch and treats (the peanut butter cookies are to-die-for!). Lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options and something to please everyone. The protein smoothie has inspired me to duplicate the deliciousness at home. And the brunch was fantastic–do not miss this place!
Ferry Building: We made breakfast and lunch out of Ferry Building finds (Cowgirl Creamery cheese + yogurt, Acme Bread and Blue Bottle Coffee). Plus Mike hit up some of the farmer’s market stands for empanadas and tacos. Wish we could’ve tried everything in here, it was a great spot with options for everyone.
Tartine Bakery: I popped in here on a rainy afternoon for a coffee and a sweet. I wanted to love this place, but I could only like it because it was WAY overcrowded and the line felt SO rushed. I definitely enjoyed my coffee and brownie and would try it again for the quiche, which I heard was outstanding.
The View: This was a bar on the 39th floor of our hotel that made killer drinks and had a view to match. Definitely a great late-night perch for a cocktail and to take in the city from above.
Swan Oyster Depot: I got a lot of restaurant recommendations and suggestions from blogs I like and from Yelp, which turned out terrific in every instance … except one. This place is the type where you wait in a line to sit at a little counter when spots become available, which I was down with, having just done something similar in Savannah. However, the clam chowder was literally the worst I’ve ever had in my life (worse than canned) and thus I didn’t want to order anything else. The staff was sexist and after Bar Crudo, the seafood here just didn’t look very fresh or appealing. I would avoid this place at all costs.
Bourbon & Branch: This place seemed OK at first, if a little hokey, but our second drinks were straight-up bad. Anyone who is into the Boston cocktail scene will be severely disappointed in this place and happy to know that better beverages are waiting at home.
P.S. You can read all of my San Francisco re-caps here.