San Francisco’s diverse culinary cuisine is a big part of the city’s appeal. Millions of tourists flock to the City by the Bay every year to take in the sights and dine at a handful of the city’s thousands of eateries. From traditional American restaurants to Asian, South American, African, and European food in San Francisco represents the city’s rich regional traditions.
Local Restaurants in San Francisco
As a Bay Area native and a self-proclaimed foodie, I’m proud to say I’ve eaten my way through my fair share of San Francisco dining establishments. No matter which San Francisco neighborhood you find yourself in next, your taste buds are in for a treat.
So where do the locals eat in San Francisco?
A hot spot for San Francisco eateries along the waterfront and near the Giant’s baseball stadium, South Beach offers a diverse variety of cuisine at a wide range of prices.
If I had one word to describe ROOH, it would be Wow! It’s what you’ll think when you see the restaurant’s artistic presentation of dishes, and it’s what you’ll say when you taste Executive Chef Pujan Sarkar’s progressive Indian menu. R
OOH offers creative cocktails and seasonal meals with unique Indian spices and fresh local produce. Combined with colorful décor and friendly staff, ROOH is one of the best restaurants in the city.
Don’t miss the Green Pea & Goat Cheese Kulcha, the Tandoori Octopus, and the Traditional Butter Chicken.
21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant
The perfect place to grab a burger and a pint before heading to Oracle Park for a Giant’s game, 21st Amendment serves refreshing beers and traditional pub fare, like wings, fish and chips, ribs, tacos, and sandwiches.
Busy after business hours, the Financial District is a great spot to grab dinner amongst the city’s sparkling lights.
Founded in 1849, the Tadich Grill is the oldest continuously run restaurant in California and the third oldest in the U.S. Specializing in delectable seafood, this classic spot serves large portions with fresh ingredients and is perfect for a special occasion.
Mouthwatering Greek cuisine in a romantic atmosphere. Kokkari is warm and inviting, with a fireplace and plenty of fresh flowers. Open for lunch and dinner, menu favorites include Psari Psito (traditional grilled whole fish with Horta and lemon) and Katsikaki Stifado (stewed goat with orzo, artichoke & feta cheese).
Nob Hill/Russian Hill
Take the California Street cable car to the top of affluent Nob Hill, where you’ll find luxury hotels, Grace Cathedral, and gorgeous city views. Just to the north is a quieter residential neighborhood known as Russian Hill.
Swan Oyster Depot
The small seafood counter serves fresh fish in a casual environment. Expect to wait in line to be seated, but as soon as you taste the oysters, you’ll be glad you did.
The northern Italian restaurant is cozy. The service is fantastic, and the food is absolutely delicious. Try the Calamari all Griglia, the housemade pasta, and, of course, the Tiramisu.
Fillmore Street, the heart of the neighborhood, has trendy shops and cute eateries, and Alta Plaza Park offers perfect panoramic views of the city skyline and the beautiful bay.
State Bird Provisions
A Michelin-star restaurant, State Bird Provisions is popular with locals and tourists alike. The seasonal menu is designed to be shared, dim-sum style. Expect bold flavors, attentive service, and a relaxed dining experience. This place is busy. Reservations are definitely recommended.
Roam Artisan Burgers
For a cheaper, still delicious, but more casual atmosphere, pop over to Roam for hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes.
Running the entire length of the south end of Golden Gate Park, the Sunset neighborhood is ideal for grabbing a bite to eat after a day at Ocean Beach or an afternoon exploring the park.
You can’t go wrong at this popular neighborhood bakery. From freshly baked bread to scones, muffins, cookies, and the Pizza of the Day — there’s a reason why you’ll probably have to wait in line.
People from all over the city flock to the Inner Sunset to dine at San Tung. Menu items include dumplings, rice dishes, and noodles, but the chicken wings are a personal favorite.
Beach Chalet & Park Chalet
The upstairs/downstairs duo sits across the Great Highway from the Pacific Ocean, making them some of the best restaurants in San Francisco with a view. Upstairs, Beach Chalet faces the water, has enormous windows perfect for watching the sunset, and serves scrumptious seafood and steaks. Downstairs is a little more casual with outdoor seating on the lawn. This is the perfect spot for a burger and a beer on a lovely San Francisco afternoon.
Running the entire length of the north end of Golden Gate Park, the Richmond is another great spot to eat after working up an appetite at the beach or park.
A local favorite, Burma Superstar is full of flavor. Popular items from the Burmese menu include Chili Lamb, Coconut Rice, and Sesame Chicken.
Pick it to go or dine inside, the seasonal pizzas are delectable, but that’s not all they serve. Don’t miss the fresh salads and homemade desserts.
This “Little Italy” is a fantastic destination if you’re in the mood for Italian. On your way to dinner, wander through the City Lights Bookstore and enjoy a pre-dinner drink at the casual Vesuvio Café.
This classic Italian-American restaurant opened in 1937 and has delighted diners ever since. Leather booths, tasty cocktails, and big portions of pasta, steaks, and seafood keep locals coming back for more.
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
A San Francisco staple and possibly the best pizza in the city, Tony’s offers award-winning pies at great prices. All ingredients are imported from Napoli, the pizza capital of the world.
Mama’s on Washington Square
There’s a reason Mama’s always has a line. It’s worth the wait. Open for breakfast and lunch, this institution has served delicious omelets and fresh-baked pastries for over 60 years.
If you like focaccia, this is the place to go. But get there early. It’s so good it sometimes sells out!
Looking for a fun outdoor activity in San Francisco? Exploring the Mission District is a great place to savor street art and murals, and it’s a great place to enjoy a tasty meal.
A favorite of the Mission, especially for late-night meals, the burritos at El Farolito are big, flavorful, and possibly the best in the city.
The rotisserie chicken at this Peruvian restaurant will make you want to come back again and again. So yummy!
Filled with quirky shops, vintage consignment stores, tattoo parlors, restaurants, and bars, Haigh-Ashbury has a unique hippie vibe. Popular since the 1960s Summer of Love movement, one main attraction is 710 Ashbury Street — the former Grateful Dead house.
Cha Cha Cha
This fun and colorful restaurant has sweet sangria and flavorful dishes, like jerk chicken and paella. It’s lively and a great spot for dining solo, with a friend, or with a group.
Puerto Rican food in a cozy ambiance. Try the Camarones a La Criolla — sautéed shrimp in a fresh tomato, onion & sweet pepper cream sauce. You won’t be disappointed!
Nicole is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. As a former professional athlete, she gravitates toward active vacations, but also loves a great luxury hotel (The Palace Hotel in San Francisco is her favorite). In addition to travel writing, Nicole has published pieces about sports, parenting, entertainment, art, technology, and law. When she's not writing, she can be found reading a good book, hiking around the Bay Area with her son, trying to train their 70 lb. puppy, or watching reruns of I Love Lucy.