With a laid-back Californian vibe and a commitment to showcasing local produce, this American city offers the ideal getaway for foodies.
If you’re planning a trip to the west coast, try our top restaurants, bakeries, festivals and breweries.
For more inspiration, visit our travel hub.
Fort Point Beer Co.
Fort Point Beer is a quintessential San Francisco brewery that crafts all its beers in the Presidio district. Its beer garden, located under the north arcade of the Ferry Building, offers up small batches of seasonal brews, often incorporating local ingredients like charred manzanita wood or dried apricots. Reviewed by Jane Connors
Burgers made by a robot sounds gimmicky. But Creator Burger chef David Bordow (once a mechanical engineer) is all about flavour. It’s fun to watch the machine churn out a burger every 5 minutes and seriously good to eat with gourmet options for £6 such as the Presidio (horseradish, salsa verde aioli and Persian lime pepper). Look out for collaborations with local chefs, too.
Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt Tam Cheese is a Bay Area staple and a must-try for any visiting foodie. Our office’s lunchtime go-to is the Mt Tam Cheese & Fig Sandwich from Acme Bread. Reviewed by Jane Connors
Tartine is more than a bakery. Famous for its Morning Roll (a superior cinnamon bun), a vast space is dominated by a huge central oven, with poured concrete floors, wooden booths and school chairs. Open for breakfast through dinner, it sells bread, pastries, coffee and cookery books. Standout breakfast dish: coddled eggs with horseradish, trout roe and za’atar flatbread.
With a focus on natural wine and bang-on season local produce, Lord Stanley is a bit of modern San Francisco not to be missed. Start with snacks like emmenthal puffs with pistachio, or sourdough with cultured butter, then move on to Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin) with curry broth, or littleneck clams with kombu and succulents. It’s high-end cuisine in casual surroundings.
Frog Hollow Farm Shop
Frog Hollow extends the use of their seasonal ingredients. They grow peaches, avocados, olives, pears, cherries, and more. At the height of the season you can get fresh fruit at their shop in the Ferry Building and as the season goes on the peaches are used in tarts, jams, or made into syrups for iced tea or ice cream. Dried cherries are used in the winter atop oatmeal or baked into chocolate chip cookies. Reviewed by Jane Connors
High-end South Indian-inspired food using Californian ingredients is chef Srijith Gopinathan’s mission at the Taj Campton hotel by Union Square. The Spice Route tasting menu features delicately-spiced dishes – often seafood, such as poached lobster with coastal curry; scallops, dosa and turmeric; and halibut with spiced lentil dust. It kicks off with his signature Spice Pot, a quirky, upmarket riff on chaat, served in a mini flower pot with tiny crudites, tamarind gel and yogurt foam, served over dry ice – a nod to the San Francisco fog.
Try a martini with smoked olive juice and rosemary oil as you snack on oysters and radishes with beet kimchi at The Progress. Chef/owner Stuart Brioza’s passion is Bay Area anchovies, which on our visit he served in basil oil with potato-fry bread (like a savoury donut) dunked in crème fraîche. Noisy and fun.
La Cocina’s annual Street-Food Festival celebrates community, culture, and of course, amazing local cuisine. For the perfect day trip, drive through the redwoods to Point Reyes Station where you can visit Cowgirl Creamery’s production facility and witness Red Hawk cheese being made and aged on site. Grab some picnic items and head to Hog Island for fresh oysters along the Tomales Bay. The drive is less than an hour from the city and the area is surrounded by sprawling ranches and farmland. Reviewed by Jane Connors
Watch bandana-sporting chefs flipping okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes) and knocking up short ribs and pork belly at Statebird Provisions. Pick from a menu of ‘commandables’, including the signature Californian quail supplemented by cart service where you might be offered oysters or smoked trout. Do not miss the pickled anchovy toast.
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All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of 20th September 2019 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out of date information in this guide please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to.
Accommodation provided by Taj Campton and San Francsisco Travel.
Photographs: Jason Doly/Getty Images, Cavan/Alamy Stock Photo, Nat And Cody, Aubrie Pick, Ed Anderson, Tartine Manufactory