I’ve edited this list from an excellent article by Western Neighborhood Project’s Frank Dunnigan (to eliminate non-food truisms). The whole list is interesting, especially if you live west of Twin Peaks. Most of these were still truisms, whether true or not, when I arrived in SF in 1962.
The bread is never fresh on Wednesdays.
Beach Chalet was nothing more than a smoke-filled VFW hall with a bar.
Herman’s on Geary was the best place to go for potato salad.
Baronial Bakery on Taraval Street had the best doughnuts in the Sunset.
Sugar Bowl Bakery on Balboa Street had the best doughnuts in the Richmond.
Adeline on West Portal Avenue had the best Danish pastries in West Portal.
Wirth Brothers on Geary had the best Danish pastries in the Richmond.
Fantasia on California Street had the best cakes in the Richmond.
Golden Brown Bakery on Irving had the best cakes in the Sunset.
QFI at Stonestown had the best meat and produce.
In the 1970s, 22nd & Taraval Market was a full grocery store with an excellent meat department.
In the 1980s, 22nd & Taraval had become an excellent produce-only market.
In the 1990s, 22nd & Taraval had become a Walgreens, with neither meat nor produce.
The best neighborhood Mexican restaurant in the 1950s and 1960s was the Hot House at Playland.
The best take-out Mexican food came from Johnson’s Tamale Grotto on Vicente Street.
The best sit-down Chinese food is still Yet Wah on Clement Street.
The best Chinese restaurant in the Sunset that offered delivery was Tien-Fu on Noriega Street.
The best kosher deli was Gilbert’s on Noriega.
The best Sunset District pizza is still Pirro’s on Taraval.
The best neighborhood Italian food was always West Portal Joe’s or the Gold Mirror on Taraval.
The best hot meatball sandwich was at Herb’s Delicatessen on Taraval (every Thursday).
The best Sunday brunch was at the Cliff House, followed by a walk through Sutro’s.
The best rocky road Easter eggs came from Shaw’s on West Portal or Ocean Avenue.
The best hand-boxed chocolates were from See’s—Downtown, Clement, Irving, West Portal & Stonestown.
The best neighborhood ice cream sundaes were at Blum’s (also Coffee Crunch Cake) in Stonestown.
The grocery coupons and the food section are always printed in the Wednesday newspapers.
Most neighborhood bakeries featured hot cross buns for Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Star Bakery on Church Street was the best place to buy Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day.
Ukraine Bakery on McAllister Street was the best place to buy challah.
Larraburu in the Richmond District made the best French bread.
Liguria Bakery at Stockton and Filbert is still the only place in San Francisco to buy real focaccia.
Williams-Sonoma was a single, tiny downtown store on Sutter Street that sold imported kitchenware.
El Sombrero at 22nd & Geary was the best “dress-up” Mexican restaurant in the 1960s & 1970s.
Le Cyrano on Geary near 6th Avenue was the best French restaurant in the 1970s.
The Red Chimney was a popular local restaurant adjacent to the Emporium in Stonestown.
The Red Roof, with branches on California Street and on Ocean Avenue, was a completely different business, owned by attorney-politician Harold Dobbs who also founded the iconic Mel’s Drive-In.
Zim’s (their motto: “Zim’s—Where Else?”) had the best BROILED hamburgers and thick milkshakes from about 1950-1995 (more than a dozen SF locations during the peak years).
Maison Gourmet inside the QFI Market at Stonestown sold “Pizza Pups”—a slice of cheese pizza wrapped around an all-beef hot dog—for 29 cents back in the early 1960s.
Irish families always celebrate Easter with ham.
Italian families always celebrate Easter with lamb.
Greek families always celebrate Orthodox Easter with goat.
Borden’s delivered most of the milk in the Sunset District in the 1950s.
Sun Valley Dairy on Irving Street was the best place to buy strawberry milk in glass bottles.