San Francisco. Culinary capital of the United States? Fair statement. I’d say it’s definitely up there. With food trucks, food festivals, and restaurants of all sizes, cuisines, and price points, there’s something for just about any palate in this wonderful city. There’s little doubt that San Franciscans are one of the most well-fed people in the country. Luckily, being just a 2.5 hour flight away from Vancouver, we are easily able to enjoy the best the city has to offer as well. On our recent 4-day trip to SF, we made an effort to try as many places as we possibly could. We did this back in 2012 (click here to read about it), and with 50 or so restaurants on our list, it’s only a matter of time before we do it again. But here’s the roundup from this latest trip.
Nob Hill Grille
Nob Hill Grille place is fantastic for American breakfast/brunch for under $15. I had several people recommend this restaurant to me, and being only a few blocks away from our hotel, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Left: Corned Beef Hash – slow-cooked corned beef with bell pepper trio, onions, and 2 poached eggs, topped with a mild jalapeño aioli, served with wheat toast. Don’t be fooled by the photo. The mound of corned beef was buried under the potatoes, but it was a hearty serving, and the eggs were perfectly soft poached.; Right: Huevos Rancheros – Red beef sauce with corn tortillas, 2 fried eggs, Mexican rice, black beans, shredded lettuce, and sour cream.
Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe
You have to try the famous clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl when you’re in San Francisco. Although several places sell it when you’re around Fisherman’s Wharf, we would suggest getting it from Boudin. With several locations throughout San Francisco, this flagship location has a quick service bakery and cafe on the ground floor, as well as a full-service restaurant upstairs. As it was a beautiful sunny day, we decided to grab a seat on their patio. The chowder was comforting, although we had both wished for more clams. We also shared a shrimp salad sandwich, which was also quite delicious and refreshing. I would’ve preferred a nicely toasted baguette, as I did find the bread a bit on the dense and chewy side.
Mocca on Maiden Lane
If you’re right around Union Square, then you won’t want to miss this gem, which is tucked away in an alley on Maiden Lane. Although it’s a bit pricey, the food there is always delicious. I haven’t had a bad thing there yet. One of the must-order items is the open-face Pepper tri-tip of beef sandwich. You won’t be disappointed.
This time around, we ordered the familiar Mixed Shellfish Salad (left), Saffron Paella with prawns, mussels, squid, sausage and peas (right), and Escargot De Bourgogne (stuffed snails with garblic and herbs) (bottom).
House of Prime Rib
I have to admit, given the choice of a nice rib eye steak and a slow roasted prime rib, I will probably always lean towards the rib eye. Maybe that’s because I haven’t had very remarkable and memorable prime rib before. Well folks, that changed once we ate at House of Prime Rib. It was truly fantastic and lived up to the hype. Opened since 1949, it is a popular spot amongst locals and tourists. Apparently this place books up a month in advance and it’s tough getting a last minute reservation. We didn’t have a reservation, but undaunted, we tried our luck by going there early at 5pm. While there were no tables available, we were able to get seated at the bar right away. We were able to order food from the bar anyway, so that worked for us. Within half an hour of our arrival, there was already a 45-minute wait at the bar, so we showed up just at the right time. Shown below is the King Henry VIII Cut (a 16-oz. thick cut of prime beef), served with Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes and gravy. The beef was cooked to medium-rare perfection, just as I requested. It was quite honestly the best prime rib I’ve ever had. It also came with 3 different horseradish condiments (creamed horseradish, horseradish mayo, and raw shredded horseradish). I really enjoyed the raw horseradish, as it was fresh and so spicy that you feel it right up in your sinuses. For dessert, we shared a creme brûlée. I’m used to having creme brûlée that is caramelised and crisp on top, but cold on the inside. This one was a pleasant surprise, as it was warm throughout. A perfect way to cap off a delicious dinner.
Kokkari Estiatorio, is an upscale Greek restaurant named after a small fishing village on the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea. When you walk into the dark restaurant, one of the first things that will catch your eye is a large brick rotisserie oven, with various spits of juicy meats like chicken, lamb, beef, and more roasting away inside.
Left: Rotisserie Peking duck stuffed with cinnamon and blood orange, with fennel, coriander, on a bed of roasted duck fat potatoes. This was the daily rotisserie special, and it was as delicious as it sounds; Right: Moussaka, a classic Greek eggplant and/or potato‑based dish. This was prepared as a traditional casserole of spiced lamb, eggplant, potato & yogurt bechamel.
Barbacco Eno Trattoria is a casual Italian eatery located in the heart of the Financial District. We had an early dinner here before catching our evening flight back home, and it was the perfect meal to end our trip.
Left: Brussels sprouts fried in duck fat with capers, anchovies, red wine vinaigrette. “WOW”; Right: Piastra seared squid with fennel, chili, & lemon. This tender squid appetizer was packed full of flavour.
Left: Chitarra with Sicilian meatballs, pine nuts, raisins, chard, spicy tomato sugo. Chitara is traditionally made with a wooden instrument that uses strings to cut the pasta. This rustic dish was delicious and the spicy ragu left us wanting more; Right: Spaghetti with mussels, ‘nduja, garlic, & chili.
There’s no question that San Francisco is a great food city, whether you’re here to stay, or there to visit. With dozens of restaurants still on our list to try, we’re already excited for our next visit. If you are a frequent visitor to San Francisco, what are some of your favourite restaurants? Leave your comments below and we’ll add them to our ever-growing list. Bon appetite!