[San Francisco] First visit! 2 days! What to eat?

So, I’ll be visiting the USA next week and I’ll also be in San Francisco for a few days. Never been to the West coast!

I’ll be staying at the Hyatt Regency Soma, but of course I’m mobile and ready to explore the city. I will have one full day alone, a Saturday, and I want to try a good authentic Mexican place, and also some local restaurant institution.

I’ve just watched Somebody Feed Phil again, and perhaps Swan Oyster Depot and La Torta Gorda fit the bill. Somebody disagree and have better options? What else should I try in San Fran?


Torta Gorda is a gem, a great patio and a lovely neighborhood to walk around as well. 100% recommend. Even the small sandwiches are a ton of food.

Haven’t been to Swan in years. They have good raw seafood dishes that you can’t get elsewhere, but I’ve seen mixed reviews recently on the length of the line and the surliness of the staff.

We recently moved out of SF and here are the places we went during our last week. We lived in the Castro, so it’s a bit focused on places around there.

Zuni – Deservedly an institution: chicken, bloody mary, espresso sorbet.
Shanghai Dumpling King – New location opened near us on 14th with great pancake dishes.
Cha Ya – Vegan Japanese in the Mission.
Anchor Oyster – Another institution, hadn’t gotten the cioppino until NYT did a write-up, but it was worth it. Interesting star anise flavor. FYI, it’s not really crab season.
Super Duper Burger – Nothing special but better than In ‘n’ Out and was nice after a day of packing.
Puerto Alegre – Another Mexican option, though not as unique as Torta Gorda. You could also do Tommy’s for a margarita if you’re out in Golden Gate Park or Land’s End.
Beit Rima – Relatively new, phenomenal Palestinian food.
Marcello’s – Drunk pizza.
Canela – Great tapas with a great patio, neighborhood gem.
The Page – Dive bar, outdoors.
Nopa – Another institution: cocktails, salads, tomato caesar, eggplant parm was nontraditional and great. Their burger is famous but I’m not a $25 burger kind of person.

As far as sights, if it’s your first time, I think Sutro Baths/Land’s End is one of the best places you can visit. Have a good trip!


Welcome to town! A good list above. Perhaps Anchor Oyster might give you a shellfish feed similar to Swan without the crush. And, yes, Zuni should be a go.

A personal favorite somewhat under the radar is Piccino in Dogpatch.
Fabulous and inventive pastas. Great drinks.


Are you going to stay in SF proper?
Or is the bay your oyster?

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Downtown it says, so I guess proper.

I meant eatingwise.
:slight_smile: you’ve got the east bay, peninsula, Marin and Sonoma etc

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Oh, ha! :slight_smile:

Yeah, I don’t know. Is it easy to reach and worthwile?

Fill him in, gang.

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Get some Dim Sum. I like Yank Sing ( or used to), and Harbour View , for the food, but also for the experience.


My rec, let him stay in town this time and give him a reason to come back for further exploration.


I’ll definitely want to return. I was actually thinking of staying a few more nights and perhaps head out to Carmel. But it’s a business trip so I’ll be alone, and would rather do it with my partner and then take the time, rent a car that sort of thing.


Carmel is a longer ride than taking BART to Berkeley.
At least take a ferry to Sausalito.
You can’t go wrong.


@Damiano wrote that he will have one day alone, which I read to mean without business meetings. That’s not much time, even for something as simple sounding as a ferry ride. But said ferry, look around and return will eat up at least half that day.


I’d like to join in welcoming you to San Francisco!! looks like you will be enjoying Cinderella weather, not too hot, not too cold. I personally think this time of year is the best time to visit The City.

A few of my suggestions, with the caveat that we just don’t dine out much anymore. Even before the pandemic. These are restaurants that we’ve enjoyed in the past, and still visit periodically.

Mexican. Pancho Villa, 3071 16th St, San Francisco. A basic neighborhood taqueria. The ingredients are always fresh, prep is well done. Great help yourself salsa bar, love their tomatillo salsa verde. Our usual order is a burrito and 3 tacos. With Carnitas (braised pork) and/or Lengua (beef tongue).

Swan’s Oyster Depot is a popular go-to for many visitors. The queue can be a couple of hours long, be forewarned.

For a taste of San Francisco seafood prep, we like Sotto Mare, 552 Green St, San Francisco. Neighborhood seafood restaurant in North Beach, thus with an Italian bent. The Cioppino is very good. Had some great Swordfish steak, just before the lockdown. Pastas are very good as well.

Tadich Grill, 240 California St, San Francisco. A couple of blocks away from the Regency. Old school (real old) restaurant fits your local institutions request. Great Sand Dabs, Sourdough bread baked to their unique specifications, huge martini’s. A menu that covers both seafood and steak.

Scoma’s, 1965 Al Scoma Way, San Francisco. Another SF seafood institution. Food is a touch spendy, but the restaurant has had decades to fine tune their menu and service.

House of Prime Rib, 1906 Van Ness Ave. Still the best place for a meat-centric dinner, for me. Great meltingly tender Prime Rib (aged beef), OG tossed salad, sourdough rounds, creamed spinach and Yorkshire Pudding. With a couple of martini’s to start, and a full bodied red with dinner. One of my favorite dinners.

Chinese Dim Sum. Great Eastern, 649 Jackson St, San Francisco. Old old school. Not exactly nouveau Hong Kong current, but still good enough to scratch that Yum Cha itch. Obama stopped his motorcade there in 2012 for takeout.

R&G Lounge, 631 Kearny St, San Francisco. Well prepared Cantonese restaurant doing some fine cooking. We like their Drunken Pigeon, Whole boneless fried chicken stuffed with glutinous rice (pre-order), and their double boiled Cantonese soups.

I hesitated to add the Ferry Building farmer’s market on Saturday morning, since there are so many great farmer’s markets on your side of the pond. If you do happen to be wandering around Saturday morning, the market is a mere block away. You can drop by for a cup of Blue Bottle coffee, and a pastry from Acme Bakery. Or maybe a half dozen oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co.

Since you are only free one day, tried to keep list to generally walking/short Uber distance from the Hyatt. Glad to add more if you have more ideas. Have fun, should be a great time.


Tommy’s: Margaritas sublime, food: lousy, location way out west side near ocean.

Swan is great for crab salad, you have to be willing to wait in line, seating is a counter with backless stools. If you get to go, you can go to the doorway, usually not a line for that.


I don’t think Yank Sing is worth such high prices now.

Since you have a free Saturday walk to the gorgeous farmers market at the Ferry Building, there’s a line for the porcetta sandwich but so delicious!


There’s no need/time to leave SF, there’s plenty to do within walking distance of your hotel. Tadich is a great idea, quick walk, 240 California, Sand Dabs (best to get them fried) superb, I also love the broiled Petrale Sole or Fried Shell fish, they have more than fish but it’s a fish house, Very Fresh, very authentic, straightforward.

I would go to Ferry Building early, Tadich for dinner.


I agree. The ferry ride to Sausalito is nice, but Sausalito isn’t worth a trip especially when time is limited - too junky and touristy!

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We endorse R&G, and note that if petrale is your preference, Sam’s on Bush is closer to your hotel than Tadich and every bit the quintessence of a San Francisco martini and fresh fish dinner.


Well, he is a tourist :wink: