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  • Best Farmers Market Stand

    El Huarache Loco

    The first thing you notice about El Huarache Loco is the depth of the menu. Beyond the huaraches — "sandals" of fried masa filled with beans and topped with a variety of (mostly meat) choices — you can get sopes, gorditas, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Try the Alambre topping/filling, a Mexico City-style mixture of bacon, chorizo, carne asada, peppers, onions and mozzarella. We like to shop early at the farmers' market and start the day with huevos enchiladas topped with slightly... More >>

  • Best Food that Makes You Feel Like a Bold Foodie


    Few foods or restaurants can pull off creative capitalization and punctuation without seeming desperate, but the STiNKY! Tofu at the original Spices! earns the gimmick. A staple of night markets in Asia, STiNKY! Tofu is exactly what the name suggests: fermented tofu with an odor that many find repugnant at best. It's similar to the legendarily odoriferous durian fruit in that regard, but at least durian fruit was born that way, while someone did this to the poor, defenseless tofu.... More >>

  • Best Movie/Dumpling Combination

    Balboa Theatre

    Here's something purportedly fun: going to the movies. Here's something that's actually fun: skipping the exhausting, soul-sucking multiplex, and heading for the Balboa, an independent theater that's been around since 1926. At the Balboa, recent offerings have included the award-winning six-hour Italian family drama Best of Youth, a Bengali Film Festival, and the opening of The Hunger Games. They also put on special events, such as a screening of Romeo and Juliet from London's Royal Ballet, or Rigoletto from London's... More >>

  • Best Old-School Milkshake

    Whiz Burgers Drive-In

    Did you know this place used to have roller-skating waitresses? Truth. They'd come up to your car in the parking lot around back. These days, you get scattershot pricing and not-too-clean-looking picnic tables, and the wait is usually 90 percent of forever. But the milkshakes are worth it. Dense, slow to melt, these are not-too-sweet foil for ideally salted fries. Get the banana, with extra banana. Maybe they charge for that upgrade, and maybe they don't. Whatever. Plus, just say... More >>

  • Best Vietnamese Sandwich

    Irving Cafe & Deli

    People could argue about the best Vietnamese sandwich for at least as long as the Vietnam War itself. And if they ever stop, this homey cubicle will still be our favorite, beating out places that are less consistent and more crowded. A chief draw here is the bread: It's sweet, tender, chewy, and riddled with holes for hiding that funky mayonnaise, and, for 50 cents extra, a light and complex paté. The ratio of fillings varies a little based on... More >>

  • Best Cupcake Replacement

    Just for You Cafe

    Cupcakes peaked years ago, and without nostalgia or bacon, doughnuts are a little ordinary — a dime a dozen. Instead, it's the doughnut's French-ish counterpart that is well on its way to being the sugary sweet of the moment: the beignet. A softened, simplified, and more polished pastry, the best beignet you can get right now is at Just For You in the Dogpatch. Just For You's are tender, airy, golden puffs worth a pilgrimage to the neighborhood for the... More >>

  • Best Homemade Kimchi

    Park's Farmers Market 2

    It's not the only produce market on that block, nor even the only Park's Farmers Market in the neighborhood. There's nothing particularly special about the selection of fruits and vegetables, though some locals won't shop anywhere else. But the store does sell delicious, homemade kimchi for less than $7 per quart jar. It's made by a friend of the owners, who's been using the same recipe for three decades. The kimchi is fermented to perfection, so pressure will have built... More >>

  • Best No-Frills Dinner

    Il Pollaio

    Bay Area chefs are renowned for their creativity and innovation, but sometimes we crave simplicity and freshness above all else. That's when we head to Il Pollaio, the unassuming North Beach trattoria with the abridged, perfectly executed menu. The restaurant's raison d'etre is savory grilled chicken and Italian sausage (hot and mild); chewy bread and unpretentious wine complete the deeply satisfying picture. To be completely truthful, our favorite course is the combination salad, with generous portions of green and three-bean... More >>

  • Best Bakery

    Black Jet Baking Co.

    There is something decidedly nostalgic about the high-end Pop-Tarts, ham and cheese bostocks, and other treats whipped up by founder Gillian Sara Shaw and baker Max Newman. Here you won't find desserts brimming over with complexity, as in so many other San Francisco bakeries. Instead, you'll discover idealized classics: a lemon meringue pie that tastes exactly as you wished the one in every deli's spinning pie case always would. You'll find Nutella and salty hazelnuts sandwiched within the flaky dough... More >>

  • Best California Cuisine


    Twenty years ago, Benu would have been described as an Asian fusion restaurant. A dish like chef Corey Lee's signature faux-shark-fin soup with Dungeness crab is filtered through multiple lenses: formal French technique, Cantonese haute cuisine, even the avant-garde cuisine advanced by Ferran Adrià and Grant Achatz. But a more proper name for the dishes on Lee's 18-course tasting menu — foie gras soup dumplings, monkfish liver with sour cherry and pistachio — is California cuisine. Sure, it doesn't look... More >>

  • Best Celebrity Chef

    Traci Des Jardins

    As the chef and mastermind behind San Francisco restaurants Jardinière, Mijita, and Public House — as well as Manzanita at the Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe — Traci Des Jardins could easily keep busy in the kitchen of her choice and never see daylight. Instead, she's a tireless fundraiser for the local community and beyond, and an ardent supporter of hunger-relief organizations like Share Our Strength. In 2011, she was the runner-up on the Bravo TV series Top Chef Masters, winning... More >>

  • Best Central American Cuisine

    San Miguel Restaurant

    You may have passed its grubby exterior a million times, but until you pull open the sliding door of Juana and Justiniano Gomez's 18-year-old restaurant, you'd never realize how charming it is. Kaleidoscopic colors, walls smothered in paintings and masks, strings of gourds and tiny straw hats hanging from the ceiling, tables packed with Guatemalan families. Mrs. Gomez cooks fat little chuchitos (tamales) with the texture of whipped butter and tender pieces of chicken braised in tomato sauce; enchiladas guatemaltecas... More >>

  • Best Chicken Wings

    Hot Sauce and Panko

    It doesn't look like much from the outside, but then you're hit by the aromas wafting out — a powerful melody of fried chicken, with sweet and spicy harmonizing. Inside, you'll be treated to fried chicken, waffles, and hot sauce, but that's just the beginning. Hot Sauce and Panko's creative riffs on chicken wings keep fans coming back again and again for flavors like KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), featuring chili paste and garlic, bulgogi wings with savory, garlicky sauce and... More >>

  • Best Coffee

    Sightglass Coffee

    Throw a rock in almost any neighborhood these days, and you're likely to hit a café with exceptionally skilled baristas serving locally roasted coffee sourced from conscientious farmers in some tropical part of Central America. (Then you'll be arrested for rock-throwing. What's wrong with you?) Most serve up fantastic coffee but rarely with the consistency and aplomb of Sightglass. There the baristas have mastered the ratio, consistency, and temperature of their cappuccinos. We can't gush enough about their selection of... More >>

  • Best Dim Sum

    Hong Kong Lounge Restaurant

    As much as this city loves its lines, there are few waits in San Francisco worth it. Mama's: worth it. Flour + Water: worth it. Hong Kong Lounge: worth it, too. This Outer Richmond dim sum place has seen its ups and downs over the years, but it's definitely on a high upswing, hitting a peak when it comes to both variety and quality. Giant dragon boat packets of sticky rice studded with meats. Rice-noodle rolls with the consistency of... More >>

  • Best Food Truck

    3-Sum Eats

    While a preponderance of meals on wheels available in the city take the shape of a taco, this mobile eatery is serving up fried chicken sandwiches crusted in cornflakes, BLTs with black pepper and brown sugar-bombed bacon, and homemade potato chips treated with "dirty ranch." Desserts aren't demure, and often include a radical Twinkies remix (look for Jameson, root beer, or carrot cake varieties) and the Kitchen Sink Cookie, a delight the size of three average cookies and loaded with... More >>

  • Best French Restaurant

    Cafe Jacqueline

    In 2012, it's hard to imagine the effect that dishes like boeuf bourguignon and ratatouille first had on Americans. How foreign it all seemed! How sophisticated the flavors! Now French cuisine has assimilated so thoroughly into American bistro fare that we barely remember the vinaigrette on our salads used to be called French dressing. But Cafe Jacqueline, a restaurant that has been around since Julia Child's heyday, retains a sense of culture shock. While Jacqueline Margulis incorporates ingredients like cilantro... More >>

  • Best Halal Restaurant

    Cafe Zitouna

    San Francisco has three times the number of halal restaurants — Yemeni, Pakistani, Afghan, Turkish, Chinese — it did a decade ago. Muslim diners can find pizza and burritos now, as well as shawerma and seekh kabobs. But it's hard to eat certified halal as well as you do at Cafe Zitouna. The flavors of Najib Rebia's harira (lentil soup) and Moroccan tajines are lilting and complex. His Tunisian fare brings on the spice, whether it's the chiles that make... More >>

  • Best of the New Izakayas


    Ask anyone who's moved from Japan about San Francisco's izakaya boom and they'll roll their eyes, agreeing with you that all it seems to take to call yourself an izakaya here is to add a few skewers to your sushi menu. And then they'll interrupt the complaining to interject, Except Ippuku, of course. Christian Geideman's restaurant — brutishly beautiful, serenely industrial — is the product of a focus so intense it's almost, well, Japanese. He specializes in chicken in many... More >>

  • Best Omnivore Restaurant for Vegetarians


    These are exciting times for vegetarian food-obsessives, and not because the number of veg and vegan restaurants is growing. Very quietly, a number of bistros in the Bay Area have shifted their menus away from meat. Study the menu at Outerlands, Plum, Cotogna, Frances, or Contigo, and you'll notice half of the dishes at most contain meat. Our favorite of these half-vegetarian restaurants is Piccino, where Rachel Silcocks is applying the gentlest hand to plant-based dishes. Farro with roasted cauliflower... More >>

  • Best Place to Eat Geoduck

    Kim Thanh Restaurant

    While the tanks full of strange, hideously ugly creatures that grace the front of Kim Thanh might scare away some, they draw in seafood-savvy diners with the promise of the unique and delicious. The geoduck clam may look freakish, with its comically tiny shell popping open around its fleshy body and long, wrinkled siphon that some compare to an elephant's trunk. But this bivalve's flavor and texture are to be prized, and no one makes a more appetizing case for... More >>

  • Best Restaurant Reinvention

    Bar Tartine

    It's not quite a new restaurant — the owners and the gorgeous marble bar in the back are the same — but under chef Nick Balla, Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson's restaurant is nothing like it was a year ago. To describe Balla's food as Hungarian with Californian and Japanese influences is to underestimate how intricately the flavors are woven together, and how far the chef's imagination roves. Balla isn't just making his own blood sausage, he's grinding his own... More >>

  • Best Seafood

    Anchor Oyster Bar

    Walking in to Anchor Oyster Bar is a bit like escaping San Francisco for a moment and stepping in to a beachside seafood joint on some distant boardwalk. The menu is scrawled across a restaurant-wide mirror, bowls of oyster crackers rest on each table, and the waiters wear crisp black tees with the Anchor Oyster symbol emblazoned across the pocket. Aside from the prices (ranging from oh, my to oh, God), Anchor Oyster Bar is like its boardwalk inspirations: a... More >>

  • Best Sushi


    This is a city of roving sushi chefs, whose groupies follow them as they migrate from restaurant to restaurant. But Kiyoshi Hayakawa isn't going anywhere. After working at Sushi Ran and Tokyo GoGo, he has settled in at Koo, his 8-year-old restaurant, where he presides over a small, reservation-only sushi bar to the side of the main dining room. His classic nigiri and hand rolls are exquisite, the proportion of fish to rice ideal for tasting both, the rice molded... More >>

  • Best Cupcakes

    Let's Cupcake

    Were it not situated on a nondescript stretch of Judah in the Sunset District, Let's Cupcake would be a household name among the dessert connoisseurs whose sweet tooths have kept such establishments flourishing. Rather than garish icing, a cupcake's crucial quality is its texture, and this is one of the few spots that keeps the cake from drying out — it is always spongy, moist, and divine. And since people don't buy cupcakes to feel macho, you can completely surrender... More >>

  • Best Burger

    Hotel Palomar San Francisco - A Kimpton Hotel

    There's no need to plop foie gras and shaved truffles onto some ground beef, or gently heat it in a CVap oven and spike it with umamitude, to make a burger executive class. At the lounge in Fifth Floor, David Bazirgan's cooks form the patty from ground short rib, chuck, and skirt steak — all cuts known for their deep flavor, as opposed to that namby-pamby sirloin — and well-larded with fat. They grill it so that it's pink and... More >>

  • Best Burrito

    La Corneta Taqueria

    Oh, the gastronomic abuse that has been perpetrated in under the guise of a super burrito. Too often, "super" means gloopy, starchy, overwhelmed by bland rice. The super burritos served at La Corneta's Glen Park location incorporate fistfuls of cheese and fresh lettuce in their super burrito, but the flavor comes out bold and balanced. Grill smoke still hugs the steak and chicken. The rice is cooked with enough aromatics to taste vivid. The lettuce adds a fragile crunch, and... More >>

  • Best Dish to Sear Your Eyebrows Off

    Z & Y Restaurant

    The next time your best friend pretends she's not dieting but "cleansing her body of toxins" with a little bout of self-starvation, one-up her by embarking on an internal sweat lodge, otherwise known as Z&Y's fish with flaming chile oil. A bowl of liquid the happy, prosperous color of glowing coals arrives at the table, and when you reach into its depths to pull out fat, white pieces of fish, you must hold them over the bowl long enough for... More >>

  • Best Fancy Pizza

    Una Pizza Napoletana

    You can hate the fact that Anthony Mangieri only serves five pizzas, with no substitutions or side salads, and that he doesn't take reservations. Fine. Hate away. But what you can't deny is that the pizzas are some of the best you will ever eat. Mangieri has become so masterful that his pizzas seem to embody the Taoist notion of wu wei, or natural action: The crust swells and bubbles, alternately puffy and charred crisp, as if it were thrown... More >>

  • Best Local Beer

    Linden Street Brewery's Burning Oak Black Lager

    Adam Lamoreaux's black lager isn't just a favorite of bistros like Flour + Water and Cotogna because it is low alcohol and pairs so well with their food. The beer is made in a style native to the Bay Area — which Anchor patented as steam beer and others call California commons — that uses a yeast strain developed by 19th-century European immigrants to ferment perfectly in our cool maritime climate. While the opaque, cola-colored beer looks like a stout,... More >>

  • Best Service


    You can spot career waiters, like the ones Philippe Gardelle has filled his restaurant with at Chapeau!, the moment they walk up to your table. They've graduated beyond that post-college miasma that sends so many of us into the restaurant industry, and have nothing to prove to you about their amazing extracurricular graphic-artist-fashion-design activities. His waiters look you in the eye when they talk to you, and hear the requests behind your responses — you want to be left alone?... More >>

  • Best Ice Cream

    Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous

    What sets the ice cream here apart is the texture and complexity: There's no need for toppings or mix-ins because they're already in there. Owner Ian Flores left a career as a pastry chef in fine-dining restaurants for the family-friendlier hours of an ice cream shop. Still, his best creations are not child-friendly, like the Croquantino, with caramelized hazelnuts and hazelnut liqueur in a vanilla base, or Bulleit Bourbon and Peanut Brittle. In fact, we'll skip the cocktail bar this... More >>

  • Best Place to Overdo Dairy (Savory Variety)


    This loud grotto has some great beer on draft (including Pliny the Elder), and a menu than runs to the fried and excessive. For dairy greenhorns, there's the Grilled Cheesus Christ: a three-cheese toasted sandwich with tomato that's even cheesier than it sounds. But for those who want to take a real starch + dairy challenge, there's the Grilled Mac 'n' Cheese Sandwich, a creamy behemoth that will take you all night to eat. Two hunks of bread separated by... More >>

  • Best Roast Chicken

    Goood Frikin' Chicken

    The worst-spelled restaurant in San Francisco has been turning out the city's best rotisserie chicken for more than eight years. Owner Nabeel Yousef is a native of Jordan, and you can sense it in the subtle hint of sumac zest along with lemon, olive oil, and garlic on the flavorful chicken skin, as well as the za'atar on the grilled pita bread that accompanies it. The open-flame chicken, with a za'atar, garlic, and olive oil marinade, is more overtly Middle... More >>

  • Best Turkey Sandwich

    Fredy's Ocean Beach Deli

    Fredy's Ocean Beach Deli could be a fierce competitor in any deli competition, but its Sunday special is truly the tops. It pairs warm, thick-cut, honey pepper turkey with melted swiss into a sandwich that Fredy himself will usually be around to make for you. Aside from the usual mayo and mustard (we like the honey dijon with this one), the sandwich comes with the classic lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion combination. Just as the buttons can make or break... More >>

  • Best New Restaurant

    State Bird Provisions

    Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski's State Bird Provisions may be the most fascinating restaurant to open this year. Small and sparsely decorated, the restaurant is innovative not just in the format of its service — small trays that circle the room, dim sum style — but in the food that the two chefs (he savory, she sweet) put out. The carts allow them to take risks, selling diners on the look of complex dishes rather than hoping they respond to... More >>

  • Best Get out of Jail Meal

    Sunrise Cafe

    There's no Get out of Jail Free card in real life, but as long as you have your freedom and around $10 in pocket, you can revive your day (if not your life itself) just around the corner from the Hall of Justice's barred windows. American breakfast staples fight for attention with classic Vietnamese homestyle cooking — but luckily, both fuel the soul as well as the body. The pho offerings will brighten your outlook, whether you're down from a... More >>

  • Best Hidden Barbecue

    Hyde Away Blues BBQ

    Slow-cooked meat is the new sinful speakeasy, and not just because the jambalaya, pulled pork, and other smoked-out tastes that a stalwart like Hyde Away's Lil May whips up are served in a tiny storefront with room for 'cue and not much else. The creators of this New Orleans creole/Cajun flavor care nothing for your fussy Nor Cal foodie peccadillos, and neither will you after a taste of the ribs, the red beans and rice, or the mac and cheese... More >>

  • Best Shawarma

    Old Jerusalem

    Beans, rice, meat; beans, rice, meat. Face it: Burritos get tired faster than you do pedaling that wrong-geared fixie up Valencia Street. Why not break the vicious carnitas cycle while satisfying your jones for protein wrapped in carbs with the OG meal wrap? Spices like curry give kick to the earthy goodness of tahini sauce, all rounded out by the soothing smoothness of yogurt and crunch of cucumber. You get your pick of lamb, beef, or chicken, but none is... More >>

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Breakfast Mama’s Best Brunch Brenda’s French Soul Food Best Burger Super Duper Burger Best Burrito Papalote Best Candy Store Miette Best Cheap Eats Tie: Batter Up, Taqueria Cancun Best Crepes Crepes A Go Go Best Dessert Tie: Mitchell’s Ice Cream, Humphry Slocombe Best Food Truck Senor Sisig Best Fusion Senor Sisig Best Italian Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack Best Korean Tie: Brother's Restaurant, Han Il Kwan, Manna Best Late-Night Bite Tie: Sparky’s, Mel’s Diner Best Mexican El Farolito Best New Restaurant... More >>

  • Best Foodie Tour Guide

    GraceAnn Walden

    By Sean Timberlake San Franciscans have an insatiable taste for the new. Just like today's catch or the season's first asparagus, the perceived worth of the city's food attractions is inversely proportionate to how long they have spent beneath the heat lamp of the public eye. But sometimes, as with scotch or balsamico, time tempers the rough edges and adds depth and complexity. Such is the case with GraceAnn Walden's walking tour of North Beach. For well over two decades,... More >>

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