SO. I’m leaving San Francisco in about a month. I’m devastated, because the past two-ish years in this city have been wonderful. I moved here in October of 2014, out of my parents house for the first time after graduating and that was the best decision for me at the time. My work was in San Francisco, I was finally making enough to afford a place to myself, and I had just met someone who was also in the city, and there was promise of a sparkling future, one in which I would be able to explore the world, learn more about myself, and find new love and friendships. So I moved out, even though I could save a ton living at home, but after this much time, I can tell you that it was worth every penny.
I think everyone should live in San Francisco at least once in their life because this place is magical (just take a look at the pictures in this blog post!). I’m going to miss it so much when I leave for grad school this fall. You’ll notice in this post, there aren’t any pictures of food; I’ve instead added pictures of some the amazing places I’ve been to in the city. You can read about the food and ogle at the pretty pictures 🙂
If you didn’t already know, living in San Francisco is pretty much every foodie’s dream. Each neighborhood in the city has its own style, vibe, and flavors. The Mission has the best Mexican food and award-winning salsas, establishments in North Beach serve up the softest gnocchi, while brunch places (my favorite) are scattered everywhere in the city.
As I bid adieu to San Francisco, I want to share some of my favorite places in the city with you. I hope you get to go try them! This by no means is a complete list. There are just way too many places in SF, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top picks.
This is my go-to brunch place because I live just a ten-minute walk away! Their eggs benedicts are almost always perfect, but I recently got a tip from my sister that it’s their chocolate chip pancakes that you have to try. They have lots of other options too, including a great avocado and tomato egg scramble. You’ll find that it’s quite easy for a vegetarian to find options at brunch places in the city. Plan to spend a good hour-hour and a half here; service tends to be super slow.
Mission Beach Cafe
Okay, hands down the best eggs benedicts I’ve had in the city. Better than Caffe DeLucchi’s benedicts (if anyone from DeLucchi is reading this, I’m sorry, but you need to head over to Mission Beach Cafe and try their florentine benedict). They also have this amaaaazing french toast that’s topped with some kind of brown sugar whipped cream. Downside to this place: the wait. Come as early as your hungover self will allow you to, put your name down, and take a short talk to 4 Barrel coffee (which I really really really recommend going to and getting a smooth cup of coffee and also trying their interesting selection of baked goods!!) while you wait.
Lunch (funny how both below start with “golden”– total coincidence!)
My absolute favorite lunch place. What you should order: The Deviled Egg Sandwich. Why it’s so perfect: The bread is super fresh, there’s homemade mayo slathered on the bread, and they use butter lettuce (which for some reason to me, is so fancy and it’s my favorite kind of lettuce). The egg salad that they make is super flavorful and they offer a really yummy pickle on the side. Just $10.25 and you’ve got yourself the best lunch you could have on a weekday in FiDi. Gosh, getting hungry just thinking about it.
They have other sandwiches on the menu too, like a Pear and Chutney sandwich (which I don’t recommend unless you like sweet stuff in your sandwiches), and recently I saw some kind of vegetarian BLT and a chickpea sandwich. I haven’t tried any of those because I would be really sad if I missed out on my deviled egg sandwich.
So this place used to be close to Market street, kind of in the Union Square area, but now it’s in Hayes/near Civic Center. It was my family’s favorite Asian place to eat at in the city because it’s 100% vegan and we don’t have to worry about anything funny being in the sauces. They’ve recently undergone some major re-branding, so the interiors are really clean and there’s a nice green theme going on in the walls and decor. All that beside, the food is delicious and fresh. I never get the same thing each time I’m there because the menu is huge.
Two words: vegetarian sushi. Sound like an oxymoron? You’d be surprised at how amazing vegetarian sushi is. There’s something crazy delicious and simple about just an avocado roll…but it doesn’t stop there at Shizen. They’ve come up with some very creative rolls and small plates. All vegan! Things that I didn’t even know could be rolled into sushi and flavor profiles that I didn’t even know existed– I found here at Shizen.
Located in the heart of Little Italy, this family run establishment is a true gem. I basically refuse to eat at any other Italian place anymore! Read their story online, and you’ll see how authentic this place is. Their bruschetta is the best I’ve had (it even beats what I ate back in Rome!), and I’ve gone back there with friends just for bruschetta and some wine. They don’t take any reservations, the place is super tiny, but you’re served by a group of three women who are in the same family. You can expect a very cozy dinner that will never disappoint!
Sangria! Guac! FRIED AVOCADO TACOS! More guac! Salsa! Should I keep going? Imma skip straight to the fried avocado tacos though, because DAMN. I don’t know what they put in them, nor would I ever try to replicate them exactly, so I’m just gonna point you to Lolo. The decor inside in place is very unusual (but in a good way) and colorful. They’ve used some interesting artifacts for lamps and wall decor, so it’s fun looking around as you’re eating. This place does take reservations but they fill up really fast, so plan in advance. The atmosphere is super fun and I love coming here because it’s in the Mission, on the vibrant Valencia street.
My favorite Indian restaurant in the city! I know, high praise. But this place combines rich Indian food and great service (most Indian places have only one of the two), so Amber wins! Their palak paneer is a must-try and their brunch (albeit $$) always has some interesting items to taste. It’s also located near Yerba Buena gardens, which is the perfect place for a stroll after you’ve eaten your weight in Indian food. Only downside is that it’s fairly expensive, so I only go here on special occasions.
I’m really not sure why this place isn’t open late! It’s right on Polk street, where all the bars are, and Kasa serves up Indian fast food. I think they would get a ton of business on Friday and Saturday nights. But maybe the owner’s aren’t too keen on serving that kind of crowd. Anyway, you should get their paneer kathi rolls (yea, I’ve tried making them before, and they were awesome); it’s basically Indian flatbread, called roti, layered with egg, stuffed with paneer and spices. They serve the kathi roll with a side of a tangy yogurt sauce- SO good. This is a great option if you want something that’s not as rich and heavy as Amber.
For those of you who know me, you know I am the biggest Philz addict ever! If you’re in San Francisco, especially in FiDi, there really isn’t any other kind of coffee you should be drinking (unless you like lattes, in which case, don’t go to Philz because they don’t do espresso). They have like 20 something different kind of roasted beans and they make each cup of coffee fresh. Your cup of coffee is also customized to your taste: you tell them how much cream (or milk) and sugar you want. They also have almond and soy milk on hand. It’s not your $2 cup of coffee, but $3.50 for a small and $4.50 for a large. It’s on the higher end, but so so worth it. Their signature and most popular drink is the mint mojito but I really don’t like mint, so I always get the Philtered Soul or Iced Ecstatic. Their menu tells you what flavor profiles are in each blend, so it’s fun to read and you should just pick one that sounds good to you, because I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love whatever you get. And if you don’t, they will GLADLY remake anything for you because when they hand you your cup, they tell you to taste it and make sure it’s actually good.
Smitten Ice Cream
Like Philz, this is another one of those places that makes your order fresh. This ice cream parlor is able to do so because they make ice cream from nitrogen gas in small batches! It’s pretty cool to watch. Their menu is limited, but they have interesting seasonal flavors they rotate out throughout the year; my favorite is their earl grey flavor which comes out during my birthday month, in February. I really like this place over the other ice cream places because again, each order is specially prepared, and their ingredients are fresh and wholesome and without any funny preservatives! They have a super cute outdoor location in Hayes Valley and newer location in Pacific Heights that has some indoor seating.
I’ve come here countless times- it’s my neighborhood cafe! I live just a 5 min walk away in Nobhill, and this is my go-to place for a huge slice of cake. The cake is called Brasiliana and it’s this suuuuper soft chocolate cake that’s layered with whipped cream and chocolate chunks. The lattes at Caffe Greco are decent, but you’d really only just go there for the cake and ambiance. It’s right on Columbus, in the heart of North Beach, and you can sit inside or outside and just people watch and eat your cake. More recently, their internet has become weird so be prepared to use your hotspot. The baristas are all very nice and if you get to know them, they’ll make real pleasant conversation with you. Oh and it’s cash only here.
Love wine? This one’s a no brainer. Super classy, good music, extensive collection of great wines AND good munchies to follow the wine in your belly.
Southern Pacific Brewery
Love beer? This one too is a no brainer. It’s a large space, so you’re never too crowded and there’s a lot of beer. Like a LOT. Perfect for large gatherings.
House of Shields
This bar is in FiDi and here you’ll find everyone here after work during the weekday. It’s different because the interiors are really beautiful- all wood that’s been nicely carved. Interesting cocktail list too.
Monk’s Kettle is a gastropub, which means the food is going to be just as good as the drinks. I came here on a date, and then again more recently after I developed a taste for dark beers. It’s a tiny place, but the beer menu has something for everyone and the food is rich and well portioned; the cuisine is American, I would say.
Again, I am heartbroken to be leaving San Francisco, the Bay Area, and California in general. I won’t get all sappy or dramatic on you here (see me in person for that), but let’s just say this move is very difficult, but something I know I have to do.
I’ll definitely be back California! Stay beautiful. xx.