Restaurant recommendations in San Francisco

#random 2019-06-15

I was recently asked for restaurant recommendations in SF - here's a handful of thoughts!

An easy answer would be to glance at the recommendations by various magazines and blogs, the reviews of super-successful restaurants, or to follow the lead of social media trends of the foodie communities. Those can lead to fun experiences - both Brenda's Meat and Three as well as Kitchen Story were worth visting.

Here's a couple of slightly different tips.

Kitava: delicious vegetable-based bowls, in which you'll find e.g. plantains, cumin beans and kale slaw. Why the recommendation? In addition to fresh food, the location is fantastic, right next corner from Yoga To The People studio. Kitava is a treat after exercise. In addition, the area - Mission - is peculiar and has character. It might surprise you - San Francisco is a lot more than just a red bridge and skyscrapers. You'll definitely want to walk around here and take a look at e.g. Valencia Street's offerings. Oh, and during your trip, you'll have to eat at least one burrito in Mission. Non-negotiable.

Deli Board: in case the previous recommendation sounded like "too hippy" to your taste, this place has something different. This small cozy place in SOMA will craft you a sandwich from their list or customize one to your wishes, stuffed chock full with ingredients, often including meat. Why the recommendation? In addition to big, juicy sandos, they make small batches of hot sauce nearly weekly. Friend of spices and chili peppers can enjoy the variety from habaneros to ghost peppers all the way to the carolina reaper. The employees are wonderful and remember you by name.

Bakeries: a blanket recommendation to visit a bunch of local bakeries. One commonly present on the recommendation lists is Tartine Bakery, tomorrow morning I'll go visit Vive la Tarte again, some time ago I checked out Neighbor Bakehouse, and some day soon I should visit L'acajou again after a short hiatus. Why the recommendation? Bakeries often offer a better cafe experience than a lot of the cafes. Croissant, tart or even a bread is a wildly different experience fresh from the bakery. As an aside, good cafes seem to be a bit rare or "you have to know them". Instead of the green mermaid franchise, try helping your coffee cravings at e.g. Sightglass Coffee or Sextant Coffee, both have their own roasteries.

Serendipity: the concept, not a restaurant. Walk around, look what you see, and try things without prejudice. Surprisingly the age of digitalisation is not everywhere in an equal fashion. Map services might not show all the offerings near you - whether that's an effect of algorithm-optimized advertising business, restaurant entrepreneurs' lack of digital strategy, or something completely different. This kind of experimentation led to a couple of coworkers and I to check out e.g. 1601 Bar & Kitchen - modern Sri Lankan fine dining. Extraordinary and memorable experience.

San Francisco has an astounding amount of great restaurants - enjoy!