Food is a massive thing In San Francisco. And there are a thousand places to grab amazing bites to eat throughout the City. Our guide to what to eat in San Francisco is definitely a tourist guide, Rather than a list of obscure eateries with Niche menu items. We are focusing on the Dishes that are Synonymous with the City and will be for the foreseeable future. Like NYC Pizza or Philidelphia CheesSteaks, San Francisco has an array of Delicacies enjoyed by locals and tourists by the bucket load.
As with any US City, there is a multitude of nationwide Chain restaurants throughout the City so you will always find something to eat but as with any visit to anywhere, it’s always part of the experience to try the local cuisine. So here is our list of the tourists Must try items in San Francisco.
Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl
Head down to Fishermans wharf and you will see people all over with Large hollowed out Breas loaves filled with Soup. The Soup is actually Clam Chowder and thick, rich Seafood Broth. While Clam Chowder was originally from the east coast the dish has been widespread across the United States for many decades now.
The Serving of the soup in a Bread bowl is what makes this San Francisco’s own delicacy. The serving method adds drama and convenience to the dish, giving you both bowl and dipping bread in one! Just about every restaurant or cafe on fisherman’s wharf will serve these up cheaply, while the bread bowls tend to be uniform the quality of the chowder can certainly vary. Most restaurants will let you try first, and if not…think about skipping that place!
Boudin’s bakery was the originator of this Dish and still serves some of the best. Should you not be a fish fan know that most Clam chowders are not very Fishy, and often most outlets will have a non-seafood variant on the menu as well, so you don’t have to miss out on the occasion.
Sour Dough Bread
Even if you don’t go for a bread bowl you should still check out San Francisco’s incredible Sour Dough Bread! Brough to the City by French Immigrants (you may notice a theme developing) the bread is now a City Staple. First Mass produced by the Boudin Bakery, Sourdough loaves are now available in every grocery store throughout the area. And they taste fantastic, enough to have you searching every local Artisan Bakery for a suitable alternative once you get home.
Cioppino is a Hearty Italian Seafood Style Stew introduced by Italian Dock worker and Sailors. Any restaurant down near Fishermans Wharf will offer their very own “best in the City” version of the dish. Which one is best is always open to fierce debate.
The Contents of the Stew can vary traditionally it was meant to be whatever the fisherman could scrounge should his catch have failed. So there is no right or wrong. It’s always a good selection of seafood, such as Crab Scallops Shrimp, clams and mussels.
Best Served with Sourdough bread.
Chinese – China Town
San Francisco’s China Town is the Largest and one of the oldest outside of Aisa. So it’s no Suprise Chinese food is HUGE In San Francisco. It also very very good. So it should definitely get on your must eat list.
Western Chinese Food
Many people credit the Birth of western Chinese food to San Francisco. What this means is the Chinese food we all eat today doesn’t bear that much similarity to the food actually eaten in China. This was because when the first Chinese settlers arrived the ingredients they were used to simply were not available. They attempted to recreate the dishes from their homeland wit what they had to hand. This developed into a whole different cuisine which spread around the western world. It may not be 100% authentic but it’s certainly delicious, and it’s perpetuated for long enough to be authentic in its own right!
China town is crammed with fantastic Chinese restaurants, and many will require either a reservation or a long wait! The house of Nanking, R&G Lounge and Hunan home’s restaurant are all very popular and very good.
As for dishes Salt and Pepper Crab is fantastic, made with local Live Dungeness Crab. Sesame Chicken and Chicken Potstickers are also favourites of ours, but really the menus are so diverse it’s hard to narrow it down. Most items are good in their own way.
Not to be sought out, but after your Chinese meal, you will receive a now commercially produced fortune cookie, A True Chinese tradition right? Wrong, The Fortune cookie was thought up in San Francisco’s China town, and as such gets a quick honorary mention on this list, a good factoid for you after your dinner too.
Dim Sum is small Bitesize pieces normally a type of Chinese dumpling.
Dim Sum was certainly NOT Born in San Francisco. The Chinese have been eating it for centuries. However, San Francisco is credited with popularising it in the west as a whole meal in itself. Now San Francisco is populated with many world class Dim Sum Restaurants where you can feast on as many small Chinese delights as you like.
Not your regular burrito, this is a specific style of burrito originating from the Mission District of San Francisco. It’s now spread State wide but you should try and get the original while here. Larger and more “stuffed” than its diminutive cousin It makes a great hearty lunch.
Available from a multitude of Taquerias across the City. We don’t even want to begin to get into the argument over which is best!
Finally a true local delicacy. These Crabs are still caught locally in an active fishery. Normally boiled and served whole. Locals stand outside key side stalls on fisherman’s wharf expertly picking the crabs. Our attempts have always been a little more amateur.
Often an ingredient in Cioppino, and many other dishes. There are many ways to enjoy this Crab is the idea of picking one apart doesn’t appeal! Check out any Fishermans wharf restaurants, they will all serve Crab in one form or another.
Anchor Steam Beer
The Anchor Brewing Company is one of the oldest in the USA. Easily Pre-dating prohibition. The Brewery obvious closed down during those dark days. It was one of the first to Reopen once Prohibition ended.
The Brewery is on of the very few remaining to produce “California Common Beer” Sold under Trademark as Steam Beer. This highly Fizzy beer is a San Francisco classic and well worth searching out. Not that you will have much trouble, just try a supermarket!
Anchor also Brew quite a few other beers all of which are very good, but none have the same History as the Steam Beer. There are also plenty of local Brewery’s making many Excellent Beers. All well worth Sampling. Being British American Beers tend to get a very poor rep over here. But in recent years things have changed dramatically and there are many fantastic Beers out here now.
Another Historic San Francisco Brand. The Ghirardelli Chocolate company has been making and selling chocolate in San Francisco since 1852! Its brand and Presence can be felt throughout the City and particularly down near Fishermans Wharf and Ghirideli Square and Official Landmark.
The Chocolate itself is very high quality and well worth trying. Available in many different varieties, there should be something for any chocolate lovers.
You may have noticed a great many of San Francisco’s Delicacies are Influenced by immigrants of one type or another, Why is that? Simple because San Francisco was built by immigration. San Francisco simply wasn’t a city until the foreign workforce flooded in and built it into what it is today. Much like most of America. As there were no real local food influences the immigrants brought their own ways and adapted them to what was available and the good dishes caught on and spread. Leaving San Francisco as a food-lovers Paradise…Enjoy.
Have you Anything to add you think we have missed? as you can tell this list is very tourist based. So we are not looking for the latest fad foods but if there is a Classic San Francisco dish you think we have missed let us know. Just drop us a comment below, of if you have anything at all you wish to discuss.