San Francisco Bay Area
Searching for the best, tasty, unique, and fun restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area? We’ve picked out just a few of the best eating treasures we think you will enjoy. Many are not fancy but are still nice solid finds and easy on the budget too, which makes the experience even more of a pleasure.
Here are some good breakfast restaurants we visit in Sausalito.
Caffe Divino, 37 Caledonia St This is our current favorite. It looks like many of the neighbors agree since often a local neighbor will join us and our dog, Buddy, at the outside tables. Pleasant, low key, tasty Italian cooking. Usually active but not crowded.
Lighthouse Breakfast & Lunch, 1311 Bridgeway Little roadside diner serves a great American breakfast and Danish lunch. The bacon is outstanding. One rainy Sunday we ate breakfast at the counter with a man from Burlingame who drives up all the time to eat here. Last time there we talked with a local Marin couple who do the same thing. It’s small, seating about 30, so the main problem is a wait in line on weekends.Therefore we don’t go as often as we’d like.
Poggio Trattoria, 777 Bridgeway Street-side tables on main street near the Sausalito Ferry. A higher-end yet still informal experience for breakfast at least. From the looks,as a part of the Casa Madrona Hotel, we were concerned thatthis place might be overpriced and stuffy but were pleasantly surprised.
We’ve enjoyed hundreds of different restaurants in San Francisco and, probably because of the intense competition, most are atleast good. Here are a few hidden treasures we like best!
Mama’s On Washington Square, 1701 Stockton St, North Beach This is probably the niftiest breakfast and lunch place in San Francisco. Nice decor, excellent food. However, the wait is nasty 45 to 90 minutes standing outside even on weekdays.
Cafe Jacqueline, 1454 Grant/Union, North Beach. Small,unique, expensive, and often slow … but definitely a romantic treat. We go here for special occasions. Last time we walked back into the kitchen to see Jacqueline herself making the house speciality dinner and desert souffles. Call for reservations or you may not get in.
Michelangelo Cafe, 579 Columbus Ave, North Beach No frills but pleasant decor, food, & service. We’ve eaten here many times when living on Russian Hill. We’ve also had a lot of wine out of that Italian rooster carafe. Nice,easy going dining without a hassle.
Golden Boy Pizza, 542 Green St, North Beach Good,quick, cheap pizza, $2.50-3.50 by the thick slice. Take out or eat at the counter with a glass of draft beer. Check it out by first looking in the front window to see the wares (they bake them and heat up slices for you on the spot) and to smell the aroma of slices waiting to be eaten.
Buena Vista Cafe, 2765 Hyde Street, Fisherman’s Wharf at the end of the Hyde-Powell cable car line Well known for serving the first Irish coffee in the U.S. … and still the best. The Irish coffee & location are what make the difference.Good bar, decent food, nice setting though sometimes crowded.A good meeting spot where you can watch Irish coffees being made 10 at a time or have a pleasant chat with visiting tourists while you wait :).
Ghirardelli Square, 900 N Point St, Fisherman’s Wharf The all-American Lori’s Diner has a fabulous view at low-end diner prices. Sit inside or outside with your pooch on the pleasant patio. For first-time visitors take them to the Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop to eat a hot,fudge sundae. Both are ways to enjoy the San Francisco experience without breaking the bank.
Presidio Bowling Center, 93 Moraga Ave, Presidio A scruffy hidden gem. The quick, cheap grill food is nothing special but sitting outside on the ledge eating your hamburger and enjoying the great view is. It’s a pity some billionaire is trying to take over the land to show off his art collection which will mean the end of this hidden treasure.
Liverpool Lil’s, 2942 Lyon St, Marina, just outside the Presidio’s Lombard St Gate We’ve enjoyed our informal Sunday brunches here on their front patio where they will even allow dogs. Last time there the French onion soup and Ramos Gin Fizzes were great. The English pub bar inside looks good too.
Butler & The Chef Bistro, 155 S Park Street, South Park off 3rd St, SOMA The very French Chef who owns the place is properly proud of his quiche Lorraine. It’s the best quiche by far that we we have ever had; several friends we’ve introduced to it agree. Since the quiche is something you do not want to miss call ahead to find out exactly when it is served; he won’t let you have any unless it’s just right! The place has a nice French bistro decor and works for just coffee and pastry too. (Update June 2012 – we skipped it because the place is getting too crowded on Sundays unless you get there early when the quiche is not yet ready).
San Francisco Giant’s ball park, King St. & 3rd St, SOMA When people go to this baseball park they leave talking about the great view and the great food. Try the Sheboygan bratwurst, vegetarian food stand, garlic fries (note: quality differs between food stands), or the Guinness at Murph’s Clubhouse Pub inside. We actually prefer sitting in the cheap upper stands … for the view.
Ike’s Place, 3489 16th St/Sanchez St, Castro Probably the best sandwiches in San Francisco and they often have the lines to prove it. In fact they were evicted from their former location due to long lines. Call ahead at (415) 553-6888 to bypass the lines. Our favorite sofar is the Matt Cain sandwich with dirty sauce.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill, there are two locations, one at 2832 Mission St./24th St. and one at 545 Haight St./Fillmore St. Both have great grilled German Sausage sandwiches on a fresh French roll. Of the many varieties of sausage we like the real wild boar with chutney best.
Rosamunde on Mission St is just south of the 24th St. BART station. They have inside and nice outside seating on the street plus an excellent beer bar as well. They serve some good Sunday brunch sausage combination dishes too.
Rosamunde on Haight St is a small take-out place where you hang around outside waiting for your sausage to be freshly grilled. Or, you can wait next door at the Toronado Bar and eat your sandwich there later. What a nifty combination this is! Open daily from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm.
Lucca Food Store, 1899 Irving St/20th Ave, Outer Sunset The inexpensive deli sandwich counter is definitely a local favorite. Irving Street along here is very active & interesting; it is obviously popular with good looking young Asians. Lucca’s is on the corner one block west of 19th Ave and one block south of Golden Gate Park.
Taco Bell, 5200 Coast Hwy Yes, a Taco Bell. However this one is right on the beach complete with a 10 million dollar view of the Pacific Ocean. It’s obviously cheap and down and dirty but if you are in the area and like Taco Bell food … then why not. We usually sit on the large outside beach deck together with the surfers who walk up with sandy feet to order through the outside window and with our dog, Buddy. He likes the tacos too!
Mezza Luna, 459 Prospect Way, Princeton This is one of our favorite Italian restaurants in the south Bay area. We’ve always had excellent food & service, and prices are reasonable too. The view is just OK but it’s only a 2 minute walk tothe Princeton harbor.
Barbara’s Fish Trap, 281 Capistrano Rd, Princeton Usually a long wait but a very unique setting and decent food. Someplace different to go to entertain friends. Rather than wait we will typically order the calamari at the outside service window and enjoy it sitting at beach side tables on the sidewalk while soaking in the view & sea breezes.
Sam’s Chowder House, 4210 N Cabrillo Hwy The ocean viewis magical at sunset, one ofthe best! We usually eat outside by the bar to better enjoy the sun & sea air. Their fancy drinks are very good tooso I’ll usually just have the tasty Manhattan clam chowder and with tasty “milk shake like” festive drink. By the way, dogs are allowed at the outside tables.
Cons: We’ve experienced marginal service inside. I personally prefer the Manhattan (red) clam chowder to the New England (white) clam chowder which is usually not true having lived in Boston several years. The famous lobster roll is very tasty but other food seems a bit expensive and nothing special.
Bottom line: Sam’s is a gem; however, it has become so crowded that now we usually pass or walk up from the beach to the outside bar.
Cafe Gibraltar, 425 Avenue Alhambra, El Granada Mediterranean cuisine in one of the finest and more expensive eating establishments on the Half Moon Bay Coast. Dinner hours only.
The Happy Taco, 184 San Mateo Rd Best taste &value in Mexican food that we’ve found in the San Francisco Bay area. A real gem! No decor at all, unless you want to listen to loud recorded music and see where the locals eat. We much prefer it to Tres Amigos, 270 Cabrillo Hwy, where most gringos go.
Garden Deli & Cafe, 356 Main St The fresh bread is what makes this deli a jewel! First, stand in line to getyour sandwich (or soup) at the counter. Then, we go sit in the tree covered area in back (behind the more visible seating nearthe sidewalk) eating our tasty pastrami sandwich and big cookie.The food, the air, the setting, the experience is just very,very nice.
Moonside Bakery & Cafe, 604 Main St/Miramontes Excellent place to sit outside and have a relaxed breakfaston a Sunday morning. One of their cookies, the hazelnut ring,is costly at about $4/cookie … but so good that we usually buy (only) one to share anyway.
Walk east from the bakery on Miramontes one block to see a restored church and two more blocks to an interesting historic graveyard.
Max’s Opera Cafe, 1250 Bayshore Hwy Their Jewish deli food is excellent (for the West Coast). Our favorites are the matzo ball soup, pastrami sandwich, and New York cheesecake. The ice cream is good too tastes homemade. Portions of everything are big!
We’ve always enjoyed Max’s Opera House Cafe, at 601 Van Ness Ave.,SF, near the Opera House in San Francisco as well. The singing waiters there are actual opera hopefuls which makes for good music. Some of the other Max’s on the Peninsula feel less appealing even though the food is the same.
Copenhagen Bakery, 1216 Burlingame Ave nice Scandinavian bakery with food service. Inside and sidewalk seating. We mainly go for the Swedish Princess cake which reminds us of Stockholm.
Nini’s Coffee Shop, 1000 N Idaho St, off Peninsula Ave just south of Hwy 101 Hidden in a neighborhood near Burlingame this is the favorite breakfast spot of many local residents.Older, funky diner look. There is a long line on Sundays butthey serve free coffee while you are waiting. Their traditional American food tastes great if you can handle the calories.
Lily’s Creperie, 108 De Anza Blvd Great little crepe, gelato, smoothies and coffee shop in Crystal Springs Shopping Center.
Guadalajara Grill, 19 Laurie Meadows Dr Good big burritos,reasonable prices, very little decor. A good find but not superb.
Other Mexican restaurants in San Mateo include Taqueria El Metate, immediately off Hwy 101 going south at 120 Harbor Blvd, Belmont, which is more of a hidden find the locals enjoy, especially for lunch.
San Remo’s Pizzeria, 1152 San Carlos Ave just off El Camino Excellent thin crust pizza using the same recipe as Tomasso’s in San Francisco … the founders of each were relatives. Often crowded but the staff is pleasant and usually quick.
Pho Dong, 2610 Broadway St. Good Vietnamese pho beef& noodle soup. Nice decor … we prefer the sidewalk tables.We recommend the Vietnamese hot/iced coffee, of course. Should you prefer an Italian latte then Peet’s Coffee is on the corner nearby.
Khanh’s Garden Restaurant, 335 S Winchester Blvd across from Santana Row This is our favorite Vietnamese-American restaurant in the Bay area… and we’ve eaten pho soup at many, many of them. A very well run family restaurant with quick,outstanding, pleasant service and the best beef stew pho soupI’ve ever eaten. Much cleaner and nicer than most traditional Vietnamese restaurants.
Crispy Imperial rolls with a large bowl of pho soup capped byflan dessert (only $2.75) and Vietnamese hot/iced coffee makes for a big, tasty, inexpensive meal.
Eating at restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area offers many pleasures. In combination with other fun San Francisco things to do dining out really helps to “make your day.”