{sf} 10 Things To Eat in San Francisco Before You Die

I am one of those rare San Francisco natives – that’s right, I popped out at UCSF hospital and grew up in Cole Valley. After a stint in San Diego for college, and a few formative years in Brooklyn, I moved back to the city for good. I tried out the Tenderloin, the Mission, and even (gasp) Oakland before settling into the Castro. So believe me when I tell you that I know my San Francisco treats. Here are 10 things to eat in San Francisco before you die, in no particular order.

Carnitas Burrito “Dorado Style” at La Taqueria

What if you took a perfect, rice-free burrito and then grilled it on a flat-top to give it an extra crunch? That’s what they have been doing at La Taqueria for decades. This is the best burrito out there. I love it so much I constructed an epic gingerbread La Taqueria last Christmas. It’s that good. It was also recently voted best burrito in the U.S. Don’t listen to those carpetbaggers who claim allegiance to Taqueria Cancun or El Farolito. I theorize that those people only eat burritos when they are drunk so their burrito judgment is impaired.

Brutti Ma Buoni Cookies at Dianda’s 

You’re in luck because Dianda’s is right next door to La Taqueria, so post-burrito, you can grab a box of these nutty, pillowy Brutti ma Buoni–which in Italian means “ugly but good.” They’re not too far removed from a macaron, but oh-so-much better. Maybe because Dianda’s has had a lot of practice making them; they’ve been doing it for over 50 years. (I have a soft spot for their chocolate eclairs, too.)

Kouign Amman at B Patisserie

What sorcery is this pastry product? I can’t figure it out despite the fact that I dream of it almost daily. It’s crunchy and flaky and then the middle has something kind of wet and pudding-y inside, and I mean that in the best way possible. They always have plain (vanilla) and usually a seasonal specialty flavor. You’d be remiss not to get (at least) one of each. Pro tip: despite the odd spelling, it’s pronounced “Queen Amman.”

Ham and Cheese Croissant at Tartine Bakery

Speaking of flaky pastry sorcery, the ham and cheese croissants from Tartine will completely ruin your life, because you will never be able to enjoy another croissant, ever. If you happen to go when they are pulling warm ones out of the oven, you have won life.

Crab and Garlic Noodles at Thanh Long

This is the classic San Francisco way to enjoy crab season: in a big steaming heap of claws and shells with garlic noodles to spare. Thanh Long is not fancy but you’ve never had crab like this before. Get yourself to the Outer Sunset for this San Francisco treat.

Diana’s Meat Pie at Henry’s Hunan

Is this an authentic Chinese dish? I don’t know and I really don’t care. All of the food at Hunan (as we call it) is terrific, and we never skip the meat pie. It is a delicious combination of spicy ground meat, crispy lettuce shreds, and a crispy tortilla-like wafer. Messy and marvelous. I think the food at the original Sansome Street location is the best.

Sloppy Bun at Bun Mee 

What could be so great about a Vietnamese version of a Sloppy Joe? Well, pretty much everything. I could eat this for lunch every other day.

Crawfish Beignets at Brenda’s French Soul Food 

Brenda, where have you been all my life? I guess you were learning to cook all that time, and thank goodness for that. Brenda’s is one of my favorite brunch places in the city and the beignets are out of this world. If you don’t like crawfish, the Ghirardelli chocolate beignets are also worth the thousands of calories they probably contain.

Onion Focaccia at Liguria Bakery

This legit Northern Italian bakery has been turning its signature focaccia out since 1911. The old Italian ladies are strictly no-nonsense and take their focaccia very seriously! Sure, it’s open weird hours, but if you can get your hands on that onion focaccia, you won’t care what time of day it is.

Chicken Hash at Bix

I know what you’re thinking – chicken hash? Like, for dinner? But trust me on this one – it’s a classic and excellently crafted dishn from old-school institution Bix. Plus, most nights they have live jazz.

What did I miss? What are your must-eat San Francisco foods?


Photo credits from flickr’ creative commons: Jeremy Brooks, garythefoodie, stumptownpanda

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4 Responses

  1. Rammy M says:

    There are many good spots in SF, but most of all I miss the focaccia from the Liguria bakery. That would be #1 on my list.

  2. Robin says:

    A San Francisco native? You’re like a unicorn!

    We live in Napa, and like to eat things, so we’ll get started on this list right away!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hello to you! I’m a transplant in the Bay Area from Orlando, Florida, so as you can imagine, the food scene was a big change for me, and I’m now a huge foodie. I’ve actually done a few walking food tours of the Mission and North Beach, which introduced me to some of these delicacies you mention above. The best thing I’ve ever had? Probably the steak/beef tartare prepared table-side at Cafe Claude or Bix. I LOVE tartare. 🙂 Great list you’ve got here. Happy eating!!

    • Karen says:

      @Ashley YES I love both of those tartares! Try also the one at Le Central Bistro on Bush St… another great one.