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F&W's San Francisco Food Obsessions

Food & Wine · Guide to San Francisco · created about 3 years ago

Our editors reveal 25 not-so-guilty pleasures.

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    Bacon-Filled Hot Dogs at 4505 Meats (Ferry Building Thursday & Saturday Market) in San Francisco, CA

    When Ryan Farr launched 4505 Meats in 2009, he very quickly found a following for his excellent bacon-filled hot dogs, both in his online store and at a stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.

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    Banh Mi at Saigon Sandwich in San Francisco, CA

    Our favorite cheapie Vietnamese banh mi sandwich here is stuffed with spiced pork meatballs, cool pickled carrots and jalapeños.

  • Beef Tongue Sliders at Alembic in San Francisco, CA

    The opening of this chic cocktail den went a long way toward helping Haight Street shed its hippie image. The bar is the focus, with inspired drinks such as the Promissory Note, made with tequila, ginger liqueur, honey and a dash of absinthe. But the bar food is also excellent: beef tongue sliders topped with fried green tomato pickles and horseradish aioli.

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    Carne Asada Tacos at Taqueria Vallarta in San Francisco, CA

    This Mission taco stop features bench seating, colorful murals depicting San Francisco scenes, like the Golden Gate Bridge, and palm-size soft tortillas filled with deliciously simple combinations of meat, onion and cilantro.

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    carnitas tacos at Mijita in San Francisco, CA

    Chef Traci Des Jardins, owner of powerhouse Cal-French restaurant Jardinière, looks to her Mexican-born grandmother for inspiration at this tiny place, which specializes in Mexican street foods like carnitas tacos and aguas frescas as well as homey dishes like spicy meatball soup.

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    Cheeseburger at Gott's Roadside (Formerly Taylor's Automatic Refresher) in San Francisco, CA

    Now a mini chain, brothers Joel and Duncan Gott’s original diner on Highway 29 in Napa Valley gained fame for its outrageously good burgers made with Niman Ranch beef, hand-scooped milk shakes and cool retro-styling.

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    Corn Dog at Zog's Dogs in San Francisco, CA

    The Zog at this wiener stand is owner Jesse Herzog, who hawks classic and gourmet franks, including a fresh-fried turkey corn dog and The Moral Conundrum, a veggie dog wrapped in bacon.

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    Croissant at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, CA

    Husband-and-wife team Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt prepare buttery scones, perfect croissants and luxe pressed sandwiches, including an exquisitely melty Gruyère with ham at this cult-worthy corner bakery.

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    Epoisses Burger at Heirloom Cafe in San Francisco, CA

    Anyone can order the off-the-menu Epoisses burger with onion jam and arugula. Sommelier Matt Straus recommends it with vin jaune, an unusual oxidized white wine from the Jura region of France. “Because of the subtle, funky cheese in our burger, the jury seems to be out as to whether it's best with red or white," says Straus.

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    Fried Fish Tacos at Tacolicious in San Francisco, CA

    The Marina District taqueria prizes local ingredients for its tortilla fillings, like summer squash with grilled Brentwood corn and fried local rock cod with cabbage and tangy crema.

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    Fruit Pie at Mission Pie in San Francisco, CA

    Alan Carter's first forays into baking were with his grandmother in rural Mississippi; he then cemented his craft working under master pastry chefs in Paris. His flaky-crusted pies have earned a devoted following at this cafe.

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    House-Ground Hamburger at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, CA

    Legendary chef-owner Judy Rodgers accents her house-ground burgers with thin-cut zucchini strips pickled in apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds and turmeric. In place of a bun: grilled rosemary focaccia.

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    Kurobuta Pork Belly at Sneaky's BBQ in San Francisco, CA 94110

    Until recently, the only way to get almond wood–smoked kurobuta pork belly from Sneaky's was by delivery. Now Sneaky's has a permanent home at Hayes Valley's Rebel bar, and that superrich pork belly and Carolina-style pulled pork are served nightly until 10 p.m.

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    "Le Grand" at Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, CA

    The burger at Tyler Florence's gastropub is called Le Grand with good reason: It's a custom blend of ground prime rib, brisket, skirt steak and tenderloin, topped with smoked bacon, roasted onions and Marin brie cheese.

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    lemon pistachio doughnut at Dynamo Donut & Coffee in San Francisco, CA

    Owner Sara Spearin’s menu changes all the time with inspired flavors like lemon pistachio and Banana de Leche, filled with caramel-coated fruit. The Bacon Maple doughnut, with smoky sautéed apples, is now available everyday.

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    Margherita Pizza at Flour and Water in San Francisco, CA

    The thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pies at Flour + Water are some of the best in the city. Jon Darsky makes just four pies with simple toppings, from a classic Margherita to prosciutto with summer squash and wild Italian herbs.

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    Mousetrap Grilled Cheese at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco, CA

    Heidi Gibson was an engineer with a degree from MIT. Then she won the national Grilled Cheese Invitational and opened this shop in the city's multimedia gulch. Tech geeks come for well-constructed sandwiches like the Mousetrap, with cheddar, havarti and Monterey Jack on artisanal sourdough.

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    Pork Dumplings at Yank Sing Restaurant in San Francisco, CA

    This excellent dim sum house not only serves impeccable minced kurobuta pork dumplings from traditional rolling carts, but also offers amazing sliced Peking duck in steamed buns.

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    Reuben Sandwich at The Sentinel in San Francisco, CA

    “Eating a big Reuben at New York City’s Carnegie Deli at age 11 was a pivotal moment for me,” recalls chef Dennis Leary. At his counter in a former cigar shop, Leary personally assembles all eight sandwiches on the letter-board menu, from marinated yellowtail with avocado and fennel to his very own Reuben on focaccia.

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    Risotto at Incanto in San Francisco, CA

    “One of the best, most intriguing meals I’ve ever had. I adored the chicken risotto with confited gizzard and heart and sautéed livers.”—Dana Cowin, Editor in Chief.

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    Salsiccia Pizza at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco, CA

    An offshoot of Delfina restaurant, from Craig and Anne Stoll, the Mission spot tops Neapolitan-inspired pies with inventive combinations and the best ingredients like a Salsiccia pizza with housemade fennel sausage.

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    Salted Caramel Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, CA

    The excellent ice cream shop blends local Straus Family Creamery products into amazing flavors like honey-lavender, balsamic-strawberry and salted caramel. Almost everything is made from scratch, including the marshmallows for the Rocky Road.

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    Secret Breakfast Ice Cream at Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco, CA

    Staffers sell quirky, delicious ice cream flavors like white chocolate–lavender and Secret Breakfast—bourbon ice cream with corn flakes. Truly creative scoops include prosciutto and peanut butter–curry.

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    Shrimp Dumplings at Ton Kiang in San Francisco, CA

    The dim sum here is Shanghai-style, which is lighter than the classic Cantonese style. Many of the offerings are filled with shrimp, like pan-fried dumplings with green chives.

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    Sweet-and-Sour Pork at Heaven's Dog in San Francisco, CA

    Charles Phan pays homage to the noodle shops of northern China with a menu full of classic dishes. His sweet-and-sour pork, which he makes with pasture-raised pigs, is exemplary.