50 Things You Need to Eat in San Francisco Before You Die



by By Tamara Palmer via Thrillist SF

You are going to DIE. Sorry, dude. Before you do, though, at least make sure you house all 50 of these bucket list-able SF things, from Humphry Slocombe's Secret Breakfast to Craftsman and Wolves' The Rebel Within.


1. Rossini

Burger Bar,Union Square

San Francisco’s most expensive sandwich overflows with an embarrassment of luxurious ingredients: “Kobe style Wagyu” beef from Australia, a mega-chunk of foie gras, shaved black truffles, and a black truffle sauce. You’ll feel like a million bucks and will also win Instagram for life. Oh, by the way, it’s $65, which defines decadence, but you're worth it.

2. Secret Breakfast

Humphry Slocombe, The Mission

HumpSlo has lots of sexy ice cream flavors but they all take a way-way-WAY backseat to this grande dame. Secret Breakfast folds bits of caramelized cornflake cookies into a bourbon base that is lush and rich without tasting (too) boozy. It’s actually perfect for breakfast even though the shops don’t typically open until 11am; you can hit the outpost in the Ferry Building as early as 8am on Saturday mornings, though, which you will now that you've read that sentence.

3. Kouign amann

b. patisserie, Pac Heights

One of the best-selling calling cards of this charming Pac Heights bakery is the kouign amann (“queen ah mahn”), an example of fine Viennoiserie made of multiple layers of butter- and sugar-covered pastry dough baked up into a delicate celebration of caramelization and custard. The way it shatters on first bite... yup.


Tamara Palmer/Thrillist

4. Fried veggie po-boy

Brenda’s Meat & Three, Western Addition

Get up on this sandwich whether you’re a vegetarian or not because it is San Francisco’s most interesting remix of the New Orleans standard -- a standout even among Brenda’s solid meat and seafood choices. Cornmeal-crusted cauliflower, okra, and yams are drenched in vegan chipotle remoulade to create this filling 'boy.

5. Ham”Burger

Palm House, Cow Hollow

It takes a lot for a writer who has burned out her macaroni and cheese palate after judging not one but TWO amateur mac & cheese battles and who's sworn the stuff off for pretty much life. Like, fuck mac 'n cheese for real. But crust it on up with some fatty nuts and it’s a game-changer for sure. Can you feel the brand-new day?

6. “Ham”Burger

Cockscomb, SOMA

Chef/owner Chris Cosentino and his young son Easton came up with the idea to blend ham and beef for the burger at his approachable new SOMA restaurant. The blend yields surprisingly juicy results, dude. Dad serves it with grilled onions, Gruyere cheese, Dijon, and fried potatoes. Pro tip: you should go ahead and put an egg on it.


ANAR Restaurant

7. Dolmeh

Anar, SOMA

There are stuffed grape leaves and then there are the transcendent dolmeh at this family-owned traditional Persian restaurant in SOMA. They’re stuffed with ground beef, rice, and split peas and topped with sweet, tart barberries and if they told you they were served as a dessert instead of an appetizer before the awesome main course kebabs and stews you’d totally believe ‘em.



8. Detroit-style red top

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, North Beach

Despite the titular Napoletana, there are several regional pizza styles at play at Tony’s. If you’re a fiend for fried dough and double cheese, you’ll happily eat way too much of the puffy, deep, and square Detroit-style red top, notable for its thick racing stripes of marinara. Brick cheese is layered on the bottom of the pan and on top of the dough for glorious heart-stopping potential.

7. Dolmeh

Anar, SOMA

There are stuffed grape leaves and then there are the transcendent dolmeh at this family-owned traditional Persian restaurant in SOMA. They’re stuffed with ground beef, rice, and split peas and topped with sweet, tart barberries and if they told you they were served as a dessert instead of an appetizer before the awesome main course kebabs and stews you’d totally believe ‘em.



8. Detroit-style red top

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, North Beach

Despite the titular Napoletana, there are several regional pizza styles at play at Tony’s. If you’re a fiend for fried dough and double cheese, you’ll happily eat way too much of the puffy, deep, and square Detroit-style red top, notable for its thick racing stripes of marinara. Brick cheese is layered on the bottom of the pan and on top of the dough for glorious heart-stopping potential.

9. Russian honey cake

20th Century Cafe, Hayes Valley

A labor-intensive nine-layer Russian honey cake (also called Krasinski torte) is a particularly efficient way for fiends to mainline sugar when the urge is just that strong. The layers of cake taste as if they've been soaked in caramelized honey, and they're sandwiched together with honey buttercream. The slice is slim but fat in flavor. Mmm... fat flavor...



10. Carnitas

Nopalito, Inner Sunset and The Panhandle

Nopa’s haute Mexican offshoot deals legit crack in the form of a giant hunk of pork that’s been braised in orange, milk, cinnamon, beer, and bay leaf, accompanied with a little cabbage salad, spicy pickled vegetables, and tomatillo salsa to pile into tortillas with it. It's braised until it’s so tender it falls straight off the bone and into your mouth. It’s best experienced in slow motion so you catch all those flavors.

11. Chocolate snacking cake

Charles Chocolates, The Mission

This square, layered cake spanks other chocolate cakes both for superior flavor and value. The word snacking implies modest eating but this is an honest-to-goodness mountain of brownie-like cake with chocolate and mocha ganache. It’s inspired by owner Chuck Siegel’s summer camp memories, proof that we were all clearly going to the wrong summer camps.


12. Louisiana andouille pizza

Pauline’s Pizza, The Mission

OG pizza parlor Pauline’s has a Cajun-style pizza with a light and bubbly crust that isn’t easily duplicated elsewhere around town, which earns it a spot on this list. This particular pie is topped with andouille sausage, red bell peppers, green onions, and a fontina cheese that’s so creamy you will not actually miss the mozzarella.



13. The Real Korean Tacos

Namu Gaji, The Mission and The Embarcadero

Another brilliant ethnic repurpose of the taco concept, this one using nori as the tortilla replacement. Filling options include tofu and chicken, but it's all about the interplay of Korean marinated and grilled bulgogi beef, kimchi salsa, and spicy aïoli.

14. Dried porcini doughnuts

Rich Table, Hayes Valley

Melted raclette (a cow’s milk cheese) and dried porcini mushroom shards push these sinkers straight over the line of common decency and into food fantasy territory. If you've never had a savory donut, first, we don't even know you, and second, this is the best way to pop that cherry.


15. Oboro tofu

Eiji,The Castro

Even if you're averse to the blocky and boring forms of tofu found at the grocery store, ask for the made-to-order oboro tofu and your perception will shift. It’s kind of like white, unsweetened flan, all warm and jiggly in a wading pool of soy milk made fresh at the restaurant. Soy sauce and toppings like bits of ginger, daikon radish, green onion, sesame seeds, and ribbons of shiso leaf are customizable options to enhance the delicate flavor.



16. Tacos tropical

Loló, The Mission

Thinly sliced rounds of jicama are used in place of tortillas for the most creative tacos in town. The crunchy vegetable is a clever alternate vehicle for such a ubiquitous dish. Crowned with crispy panko-breaded shrimp and mango salsa, you’ll be tempted to recreate this dish at home but you won’t be able to without injuring yourself (jicama’s The Worst).

17. Pomme d'amour

Knead Patisserie, The Mission

The signature pastry from the bakery arm of Local Mission Eatery is a vanilla crème brûlée loaded into a puff pastry that's been streaked with crunchy salted caramel. It's beautiful, evil, awesome, and frightening.


18. State bird with provisions

State Bird Provisions, Fillmore

Quail is the California state bird and the namesake inspiration for this eclectic and perpetually packed restaurant. Here the quail is crusted in a uniquely awesome batter that has inclusions like pumpkin seeds and house-made croutons before taking a bath in some hot oil and swimming atop a tangle of lemon-stewed onions. You’ll probably need to order two. Wait, no, you'll DEFINITELY need to order two.

19. Coconut black rice pudding

Kin Khao, Union Square

Forget the fried bananas, this Thai dessert is served family-style with coconut milk, caramel, and a crunchy mix of brown rice, sesame, and peanuts to put on top. Its ability to stun the eater senseless even after a meal of savory delights should not be underestimated.

20. Kitfo

Sheba Piano Lounge, Fillmore

Get in touch with your blood-boiling inner carnivore with this luscious Ethiopian steak tartare drenched in spiced, clarified butter. Ironically, even though the meat is uncooked, the menu states that the dish takes an extra 15 minutes to prepare. It’s worth the wait, especially if you’re chilling at the table by the fireplace.

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1699 Van Ness Ave San Francisco, CA 94109

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