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Food & Drink

  • Best Reason Never to Talk Shit About the Marina Again


    belgasf.comTo prove how awesome Belga's beer selection is, let's subject its menu to a quick close reading. The categories here include "funky," "malty," "fruity," "sour," "contemporary," and "celebratory." The full list is lengthy but only mildly dizzying, and the well-trained front-of-house staff will guide you through the process. (If you can't decide, there's always the Kopstoot, a genever-and-beer boilermaker.) Being a Belgian restaurant, it has a sausage- and mussels-heavy menu that's organized around the dictates of an educated palate, and... More >>

  • Coolest Foodie Nonprofit


    The conscience of the Ferry Building, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) has been getting urbanites to know where their food comes from since 1994. As the movers and shakers behind some of the city's best farmers markets, they've been shepherding the seasonal-produce revolution, convening highbrow panel discussions, showing city kids around farmyards, and, of course, bringing baby goats to town for the last two Goatchellas. A 501(c)(3) with a strong hedonism streak, CUESA is the place... More >>

  • Best New Reason Not to Lose Hope for Valencia

    Brasserie Saint James

    Valencia Street between Duboce and 25th streets, once home to the buzziest restaurants in San Francisco, has cooled noticeably in the last year. The Divisadero corridor has stolen its thunder, and more than a few high-profile places have sputtered out. But love it or loathe it, the Mission is still the Mission, and it's good to have something to celebrate about Valencia. Earlier this year, Reno, Nev., transplant Brasserie St. James landed, bringing nose-to-tail pub fare and a serious selection... More >>

  • Best Way to Experience Russia Without Crossing the Pacific

    Cinderella Bakery

    Although the view from the western edge of the city on a crisp, clear day is truly without parallel, you can't quite see all the way to Russia. (This is California, not Alaska, after all.) Instead, to catch a glimpse of our Far-East neighbors, their warm culture, and their wonderful cuisine, simply head to the Richmond — specifically, Sixth Avenue and Balboa Street, where you'll find Cinderella Bakery, a cozy 65-year-old café serving delicious Russian food. Borscht, refreshing and tart,... More >>

  • Best Source of Snacks You've Never Tried (And May Not Know What They Are)

    99 Ranch

    If you like cooking Asian food at home, you've surely heard of 99 Ranch, the Taiwanese-American supermarket chain. Located just off Hwy. 280 in Daly City, 99 Ranch is home to all manner of Asian eats — spices, oils, chili pastes, frozen food, seafood, produce, and snacks galore. Americans are the kings of snack food, right? Nope — leave that to the pan-Asian packaged food producers whose tasty goods fill 99 Ranch's shelves. Some will be familiar to even the... More >>

  • Best Place to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth Without Going Over Your Daily Calorie Limit

    Mission Minis

    Most people have a sweet tooth. And a budget. And a desired waist size. Which is where Mission Minis comes in. For $1, you can choose among 11 flavors of mini cupcakes that'll only set you back 80 to 100 calories. In addition to classic flavors, like vanilla and double chocolate, this desserterie, which competed in the seventh season of Food Network's Cupcake Wars, offers unique concoctions, such as banana maple glaze, almond coconut, and blueberries and cream.... More >>

  • Best Place to Test Your Lactose Intolerance

    Cheesemonger Invitational

    You may think you like cheese, but enter the Cheesemonger Invitational at your own risk. An event that describes itself as a "Fight Club meets Wrestlemania of cheese," the Cheesemonger Invitational features the country's best duking it out while you bask in dairy decadence. Not only will you get to sample some of the competing mongers' fine work, you'll also have the chance to taste offerings from the best cheese vendors in the world. If that doesn't sell you, there... More >>

  • Best Pizza Place on the Edge of the Universe

    The Pizza Place

    For someone who lives in the downtown corridor — all right, the Tenderloin — the idea of going to Ocean Beach for pizza is rife with potential pratfalls: high Uber fares, lengthy Muni trips, ever-present fog, jet lag. That said, The Pizza Place on Noriega and 46th Ave. is well worth those travails. Specializing in East Coast fare, The Pizza Place serves slices that are thin, greasy and full-flavored — patrons can fold those huge portions and shove them right... More >>

  • Best Place to Cook Your Own Beef

    ANZU in Hotel Nikko

    Located on the second floor of Hotel Nikko, ANZU's contemporary dining room is home to both simple elegance and novel experience. Case in point, "The Rock." Order this signature starter and you'll be presented with a steaming white plate containing a sizzling black Japanese river stone heated to 200 degrees and sitting in a pool of salt. The rock is for cooking, not consuming, and comes with a plate of paper-thin sheets of wagyu beef coulette and a trio of... More >>

  • Best Way to Eat Broccoli

    Delarosa's Brocco-Bruschetta

    Though Adriano Paganini's restaurant specializes in Roman-style wood-fired pizzas, you'd be remiss to skip out on its appetizers, in particular the broccolini bruschetta, a dish that may very well become your new favorite way to eat these tiny trees of the produce world. Tender baby broccoli is sautéed in garlic and butter and served over oozing crescenza cheese on thick crunchy slices of toasted baguette. With two slices per serving, it's hardly a meal, but still warrants sharing. Getting in... More >>

  • Best No-BS Banh Mi

    Latte Express

    We're happy that the best thing to come out of colonialism in Southeast Asia has gone from a cheap comfort food into a high-end culinary attraction top chefs tinker with and put on their menus. But like a pile of noodles from a well-used wok, sometimes simpler and easier is better than sophisticated or overwrought. Very little is needed to make a banh mi: french bread, meat or tofu, pickled vegetables, and jalapeños — and Latte Express keeps those simple... More >>

  • Best Brick-and-Mortar Turned Pop-Up


    Making the less-traditional transition from brick-and-mortar to mobile pop-up, A16 is finally offering its hearty Monday meatballs and signature wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas without the inconvenience of needing to book a table. The new concept can be found at Off the Grid, Friday nights at Fort Mason, which is the only place you can get A16's Off the Grid Testa, a wood-fired pizza topped with house-cured soppressata di Testa, roasted spring onions, fior di latte, and calabrian chili. You may still... More >>

  • Best Izakaya/Second-Tier Resto from a Michelin-Starred Chef


    Because not everyone can shell out a week's worth of rent on the edible art of a hand-tweezed tasting menu, veteran restaurateur Kash Feng (owner of Michelin-starred Omakase) and consulting chef Shin Aoki (formally of Michelin-starred Kaigetsu) bring you Okane — legit Japanese fare for epicures of the 99 percent. The offerings are exquisite (with certain ingredients flown in from Tokyo), but Okane exhibits the style of a true izakaya, which is more of a gastropub than a shrine of... More >>

  • Best Independent Coffee

    Saint Frank Coffee

    In an industry where pretense and perfection often take precedence over people, it's refreshing to find a coffee shop that cares about relationships as much as it does roasting. Opened by a middle-school art teacher turned coffee aficionado, Saint Frank's was affectionately christened after S.F.'s namesake Saint Francis. The oak-paneled space in Russian Hill has a minimalist aesthetic, with clean white walls and airy natural light. Covert espresso machines live by the back wall, allowing the tiled J-shaped bar to... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Food Prepared by an Ex-Con


    When culinary powerhouse and 12-time restaurateur Gabriela Cámara opened her first restaurant in Mexico City, it revolutionized the country's concept of quality seafood. This same spirit inspired Cámara when she opened Cala, her first U.S. eatery, last October. The precision in the execution of Cala's dishes is remarkable, especially considering that much of the staff had no prior restaurant experience and more than half of them were formerly incarcerated, coming from Delancey Street and other rehab centers. General manager Emma... More >>

  • Best Cocktails with No Liquor License


    Liquor ain't cheap, and that's true on both sides of the bar. For some eateries, getting a full liquor license just isn't feasible. Hence the introduction of cocktails made with vermouth, port, and other fortified wines. The restriction of sticking to spirits under 15 percent ABV inspires Kris Esqueda, mixologist and owner of the Tenderloin's Huxley. He mixes a mean Cappalletti Spritz, a refreshing Pimm's Cup, and curious concoctions like the Hibiscus Royale (Hibiscus organic liqueur, sparkling wine, and soda).... More >>

  • Best Neapolitan-Style Pizza

    Tony's Pizza Napoletana

    Of all the pizzas made in North Beach, perhaps none are made as fondly (or with as much flair) as those of pizza maestro Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony's Pizza Napoletana and recent top dog of the World Pizza Championships in Italy. Gemignani spins pizza with the finesse of a concert pianist, and his freshly baked products are damn good. Inspired by a pizzeria in Naples, the 16-year-old corner restaurant does its best to pose as Italian, with an elegant... More >>

  • Best New Hybrid Restaurant


    Mashing up different world cuisines is usually a popular conceit for new quick-service eateries and food trucks to make a quick buck and gain Instagram fame, but Volta has shown how well global cross-pollination works on a refined plate without stretching for novelty or pretense in the process. Staffan Terje, the charming Swedish chef behind the popular Financial District Italian restaurants Perbacco and Barbacco, has elegantly paired a number of dishes from his homeland (amped up from a bounty of... More >>

  • Best New Boba Trend

    Mitsu Teahouse

    The hottest current thing in the world of tapioca drinks, a.k.a. boba tea (or, as Hillary Clinton recently called them when she tried one in New York, "chewy tea") isn't a crazy new flavor or new way to marinate the root starch balls — it's cotton candy! Yes, just like the kind you get at the fair, only more delicate and with more exotic flavors than those indeterminate blue and pink ones you're used to scarfing down with guilt-ridden haste.... More >>

  • Best New Thai

    Farmhouse Kitchen

    Thai chef Kasem "Pop" Saengsawang owns several solid restaurants in San Francisco, including the breakfast-centric Sweet Maple and the Asian fusion spot Kitchen Story, but his newest project Farmhouse Kitchen is the one to miss at your peril. Kitchen may be a common name at Saengsawang's restaurants, but the truth is that he really does make you feel at home with his cooking, especially here as he makes dishes from his homeland. The menu is intimidatingly large and has several... More >>

  • Best New Sushi


    There are a few unusual notions about Omakase, the high-end SoMa prix fixe sushi bar. The first is the restaurant's name, which can confuse diners because omakase is the word that Japanese restaurants of its ilk use to denote their chef's choice tasting-menu options. And then there's the fact that proprietor Jackson Yu is actually Chinese, and uncharacteristically funny, outgoing, and bubbly for a pricey sushi chef, making a meal here a lot less buttoned up than at similar places... More >>

  • Best First-Wave Cup of Coffee

    All-Star Donuts

    For generations, coffee was not a phenomenon of terroir, where the knowledge of the farmers' methods and the backstory behind each hand-selected bean was worth the $15 price of admission. The current pour-over wave, while admirable for the care for the process as well as the producer, is a definite step away from coffee's original identity as a distinctly utilitarian and functional beverage, a cup of working-class American can-do, where cream and sugar were not adulteraters of the flavor but... More >>

  • Rawest New Food Trend


    The island trend of Hawaiian-style poke, or raw fish/seafood dressed with a variety of sauces and fresh toppings, has been kicking around the West Coast mainland for a while, particularly in Los Angeles, where its lean protein-rich nature is a big hit with the diet and camera conscious. It has been available in San Francisco for a long time at places like Blue Hawaii in Embarcadero Center, a cafe that also was an early local adopter of serving acai bowls,... More >>

  • Best Edible Russian Roulette

    The Gambler Roll at Sakesan Bistro

    If you're the sort who cannot eat eggs unless they're drenched in Tapatío, you may be of the mind that nothing is too hot to handle. That's where Sakesan Bistro's "Gambler Roll" comes into play. The roll — a tasty assortment of spicy white tuna topped with salmon, pineapple, spicy mayo, and house-special spicy sauce — comes with a dangerous twist: One of the pieces is insanely spicy. We're talking ruin-your-meal-and go-home-to-soak-your-tongue-in-a-glass-of-milk brutal. All the pieces look identical on the... More >>

  • The Chain We Wouldn't Object to If It Conquered the World

    Smitten Ice Cream

    San Francisco's formula-retail law bans companies with more than 11 locations worldwide from setting up shop in certain neighborhoods. Sooner or later, a homegrown chain is going to bump against this ordinance from the other side on its way to global domination, and we wouldn't be the least bit upset if that chain were Smitten Ice Cream. (It's already close: By summer, there will be 10 in all, of which four will be in S.F. proper.) Apart from the appealing... More >>

  • Best Pop-Up That Became a Brick-and-Mortar

    Del Popolo Pizza

    Considering which pop-ups make the leap to a full-time restaurant, this was probably inevitable. But when Del Popolo — the mobile wood-fired oven in the gunmetal-gray shipping container truck — opened up on Nob Hill, it greatly expanded the menu into antipasti, with a well-put-together wine list on top of it. Now, along with margheritas, biancas, and house-made sausage pizzas, you can tear into vegetable ragus, burrata, and house-cured coppa. Greater varieties notwithstanding, the pizza — now blasted in an... More >>

  • Best Boozy Festival

    Cider Summit

    Even though we have to pour out a little something for the canceled Street Food Festival — it'll be back in 2017 — there's no shortage of foodie festivals around here. But we're still a little scarred by the three-hour lines at Japantown's Ramen Festival in 2014, so we have to show the love to a comparatively small (if well-organized) one. Cider Summit, held every April at the Presidio's Civil War Parade Ground, goes light-years beyond the sugary, un-sessionable ciders... More >>

  • Best New Burger Joint

    WesBurger 'N' More

    While technically one of several pop-ups that became a brick-and-mortar this year, WesBurger 'N' More stands out for one thing above all else: The Hot Wes. It's a six-ounce, all-brisket slab of beef with onion rings, queso, and pickled jalapeños that won proprietor Wes Rowe top honors at the San Francisco Burger Brawl a few years back and propelled him to a long-running Wednesday night residency at Mojo Bicycle Cafe on Divis. Now, along with a neon burger sign, the... More >>

  • Best Insanely Expensive Cup of Coffee


    Coffee loyalty runs deep in San Francisco, and if asked to come up with a choice between Sightglass, Four Barrel, Ritual, or Blue Bottle, we might hiss and run away, flaring our frilled neck like a frightened Aussie lizard. But when it comes to that ultimate indulgence — a singularly delicious cup of coffee made from an experimental lot of beans harvested from lovingly tended trees by well-paid workers — there is one obvious choice. Equator Coffees & Teas' Finca... More >>

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