San Francisco is — without doubt — a foodie mecca. From Michelin starred and James Beard Award-winning restaurants to plentiful farmers’ markets, the city’s thriving food scene as we know it today has been a long time in the making. In fact, the oldest restaurant in San Francisco (and all of California!), Tadich Grill, opened in 1849 and is still going strong as a local favorite. Tip: If you plan to visit for dinner, expect a wait and enjoy the full bar until your table is ready. Boudin Bakery, opened the same year, struck culinary gold with its famous sourdough now synonymous with San Francisco. (The 10 Oldest Businesses in San Francisco)
If sourdough isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other San Francisco originals to experience. Cioppino has its roots in the early days of the city when Genovese fishermen would create this hodgepodge stew with leftover fish and shellfish at the end of the day. Tadich Grill is said to be the first restaurant to offer the dish and makes some of the best cioppino around. (Sotto Mare in North Beach and Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro makes good ones, too!) Moving from surf to turf, the roasted chicken for two — cooked for an hour in a brick oven — at the celebrated Zuni Cafe is legendary. Other San Francisco originals include the famous Mission-style burrito and local Dungeness crab. And you can wash it all down with an Irish Coffee, poured at Buena Vista since 1952… or an Anchor Steam to celebrate Drink Steam Week!
Why not venture out to one of the city’s more than two dozen farmers’ markets (full list) and cook up an original of your own? The Ferry Building Farmers’ Market is renowned throughout the country, visited by 25,000 shoppers each week, including some of San Francisco’s best known chefs and most famous farmers. Starting select Sundays this September, look for new pop-up markets in the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood at The Yard at Mission Rock. With fresh produce in hand, you don’t have to look far for culinary inspiration– Check out these recipes from our very own AL’s Place and Rintaro, just named to Bon Appétit‘s Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America.
Home cooking? How about some hometown favorites? One of the many great examples of diversity in this city of transplants is the availability of iconic food from around the United States (and world!). Whether you’re craving a Philadelphia-style cheesesteak, NoLa-style po-boys, or Baja-style fish tacos, you can find them right here in San Francisco. With a generous 4.44 restaurants or grocery stores per 1,000 residents (the highest in the country), there’s something for all paletes here.
My current favorite San Francisco treat is a relative newcomer: State Bird Provisions. Four years, two James Beard Awards and a Michelin Star since SBP opened, there’s a line out its door every night of the week. Reservations are made 60 days in advance, and your best chance at getting in for the 5:30pm first seating is to arrive at least an hour early to hold your place. Believe me, it’s worth it! Tip: If you’re a party of one or two, try for a seat at the chef’s counter to enjoy first pick at all the delectable small plates.