A Hidden Izakaya, Indian Food with a California Twist, and More
I’m so excited to announce a new series for Part-Time Traveler (per your requests!) Each month I’ll highlight five spots — the best places to eat in San Francisco that I’m truly loving in this moment.
They’ll be a combination of what’s new and exciting in the SF restaurant scene (because let’s face it, I probably went there to try it and I probably have some opinions,) as well as some classics that I either went back to for the hundredth time or finally got around to.
My hope is that they will be a regular answer to the question “Where should I eat in San Francisco right now?”
Where to Eat in San Francisco
Written August 2018 | Updated July 2021
New American Restaurant // Outer Richmond
2301 Clement Street
This being my fourth year in San Francisco, it’s about time I explored more of the “far away” neighborhoods I used to limit myself from going to. Case in point for why: this brand new spot in a part of the (central?) Richmond I wouldn’t typically otherwise venture to.
The space is beautiful but it’s the menu that’s worth coming for — whether from next door or from across the city. Violet’s comes to us from the team behind Fiorella, another tasty Richmond spot that’s very worth seeking out. The menu favors seafood so that is a good bet for ordering, but a few other items really shine. Service was still a little rusty when I went (perhaps due to just opening,) but the food more than makes up for it. Reservations recommended.
Menu Highlights: The seafood platters I saw come out looked divine, but I opted for the bar classics such as the wings (recommended,) house chips and dip (a must,) the Tavern burger, and the Shrimp Louie roll. All were excellent (especially the burger.) Get the Violet Skies cocktail if you like mezcal!
Japanese Restaurant // Mission
82 14th St (at Folsom St)
This izakaya has been on my list for ages, and it took an actual upcoming trip to Japan for me to finally go.
The second we walked in I wondered what had taken so long! The interior is striking and authentic, and you can tell the place draws the majority of its inspiration from Japanese culture. Still, it infuses a bit of that California vibe that I love…so for me it was like the best of both worlds!
Items are served family-style, so it’s a great place to go with a small group so you can taste more (and believe me, you’re going to have trouble choosing from the menu.) Sit in the lovely patio if you’ve got a jacket on — or at the cedar bar and chef’s counter to watch all the magic happen (though I’ll warn you, the seats are not the comfiest.) It’s an amazing dinner spot, but note that they also serve lunch Fri-Sun.
Menu Highlights: Yakitori, yellowtail sashimi, udon carbonara, house-made silken tofu, pork katsu or fried chicken (it’s filled with Cowgirl Creamery cheese. You’ve been warned.)
Coffee Shop // Outer Sunset
3655 Lawton Street (at 43rd)
You may recall a time I wrote about the Best Coffeeshops in San Francisco. You may also then recall that I omitted some of the city’s best coffee spots out of sheer laziness/inability to leave a certain radius (especially when working.)
Well folks, I’m proud to share that I’ve mostly remedied this problem — and I’ve done so in large part by finally making it to Andytown. The claim that they serve some of the best — and arguably most unique (read: they make their own whipped cream and you should get it on everything) — coffee drinks in the city is not unfounded. Their baked goods are also fresh and divine.
Unless you live near or are visiting Ocean Beach, you can almost bet this place will be out of your way. And there will be a line. But I can guarantee you…it’s worth it.
Menu Highlights: The Snowy Plover (coffee,) espresso con panna, any Irish soda bread, any breakfast sandwich or special.
Indian Restaurant // Dogpatch
1275 Minnesota Street (at 24th)
Had Gujarati cuisine lately? Me neither.
Now is your time.
With a slogan like “Bollywood dreams, California living” it’s amazing this place kept me away for so long (I went there pretty much right when it opened, but still.) Sharing a space with the Minnesota Art Project — which you should save some time to check out if it’s open when you go — Besharam is the product of a La Cocina graduate, a culinary incubator providing resources to immigrant women in San Francisco.
It’s no surprise that the owner’s delightful menu is a blend of flavors from her childhood in India and her life in California. Having lived in (and loved) both places, I may be biased when I say how much I love this place…but the reviews suggest that anyone will have an exciting (and tasty) meal here.
Menu Highlights: Blue cheese naan (just trust me,) maru bhajias, malai kofta, turmeric lemonade, mango ice cream. Next time I’m getting the uttapam.
Spanish Restaurant // Embarcadero
Pier 5 – The Embarcadero (at Broadway)
Disclaimer: I’m a total sucker for great Spanish food. And it took me way too long to get back to this place, so when a friend I met in Barcelona was in town I made sure to stop in and re-taste everything!
With a charming (though busy) waterfront location and divine eats, Coqueta isn’t the easiest place to get in. But if you do as the Spanish do and opt to eat late, you will be in for a fantastic culinary ride (without the wait time.)
I recommend starting with a gin and tonic (if you drink) — they make mighty ones, and bonus points: they come in authentic Catalan drinking vessels (I’m blanking on the name…bad former Barcelona student!) that you can pour with ease right into your mouth.
Ok, so Coqueta is a bit classier than I just made it seem. But the name does translate to “flirt,” so you can see why it’s easy to fall in love with the place.
Menu Highlights: albondigas (duck and pork meatballs,) patatas ‘xhips,’ boquerones, ‘mar y montaña’ montadito, grilled octopus, paella.
Honorable Mention (aka outside SF:) Jordan Winery is offering an amazing estate tour and tasting (they don’t have a tasting room) that includes a stop in their stunning event space (with 360 views of the Alexander Valley!) You also get to visit the Bordeaux-inspired wine chateau and see the vines, lakes, farmhouses, and chef’s gardens. You’ll then get to taste their wine paired with bento-box inspired food, al fresco. If you’re not into the full experience, book a tasting in their beautiful library. 10/10 for a wine country visit!
What are your best places to eat in San Francisco? What SF dining questions do you have for me? Bring them on!
Save for later:
If you like Spanish food, try Barcino in hayes valley. Also, Picaro in the mission is less expensive and authentic…just watch out for the sauce (delicious, but very garlicky).
Ah, I love Spanish food! (I’m actually in Spain right now!) Have yet to try Barcino but have glanced lovingly at the menu. Thanks for the tip! Happy eating 🙂