Outerlands4001 Judah St., Outer Sunset | 415.661.6140
Though the stone-and-wood interior has the potential to feel cold, the vibe at this comfort food-centric spot is super welcoming…that is if you can actually get in—waits can get kind of unbearable. While everything Chef Yoni Levy turns out is good (a testament to his skill and the top-notch ingredients he sources from local farmers), he does particularly spectacular things with weekend brunch. We're fans of the Dutch pancakes—both sweet and savory versions are excellent—and the pesto-smothered eggs-in-jail.
Bi-Rite Creamery550 Divisadero St., Alamo Square | 415.551.7900
A decade ago, two Bi-Rite Market pastry chefs spied a vacant space across the street from the iconic market and moved in their small-batch baking and ice cream operation. Staying true to the Bi-Rite mission, only organic local ingredients are used, resulting in some of the hands-down best scoops (balsamic strawberry, honey lavender, mixed-berry coconut in the summer; earl grey, orange cardamom, maple walnut in winter), buffalo-milk soft serve (only available in the original shop), frozen cakes, sundaes, and popsicles in the country. The original is in the Mission (and they have soft-serve).
Out the Door#5 Ferry Bldg., Embarcadero | 415.321.3740
This is the Slanted Door's more casual but equally delicious offshoot. At this location, take-out is the only option. In Pacific Heights, you can actually sidle up to a communal table or counter for an excellent lunch of Asian-inflected small plates or a weekend brunch (the 5-spice scramble is pretty special). None of the dishes feel too heavy and all go really well with a glass of house wine.
Bob’s Donuts1621 Polk St., Nob Hill | 415.776.3141
Bob's has been taking up prime real estate in Nob Hill since 1960. The secret to their staying power? Really, really good donuts. They don't get crazy with out-there flavors and prefer to use old-school baking methods. While here, take the BIG ONE challenge, which requires you eat the oversized $8 donut in three minutes or less—maybe best attempted after a late night out, as it's open 24-hours a day. Succeed and get your name on the coveted Wall of Fame.
Nopalito1224 9th Ave., Haight Ashbury | 415.233.9966
Come here for sustainable, organic, and healthy Mexican food, best enjoyed on the succulent-studded patio at their Broderick Street location. Their simple cocktail list offers a straightforward margarita and paloma, plus blue-bottle coffee for abstainers.
Nick’s Crispy Tacos1500 Broadway, Russian Hill | 415.409.8226
Nick's Crispy Tacos is only open during the day, since, you know, it operates out of a Russian Hill night club (you enter through a side door of the club). They have the best tacos—crispy or regular—along with perfect guacamole, elote (Mexican corn on the cob), and delicious melon juice. The plush red booths and sprawling dance floor make for an interesting set-up for a taco place but it's a fun place to bring out-of-towners. They also do "Taco Tuesdays" when you can get two tacos for $6 and two Mexican beers for $7.
Little Star Pizza846 Divisadero St., Western Addition | 415.441.1118
In a city not famous for their pizza, Little Star Pizza is delicious. They serve both thin and thick crust so there is something for everyone and they do both options just right. The always surprising daily specials change constantly according to seasonal offerings. They don't take reservations and only accept cash; there are two locations in San Francisco, including an outpost in the Mission.
Foreign Cinema2534 Mission St., Mission | 415.648.7600
Come here to enjoy a dinner and a movie in one shot. The menu is surprisingly elevated, rife with perfectly executed American classics like oysters and fried chicken, and a pretty killer scallop situation. Films run the gamut from foreign to classic to indie (check out the screening schedule online). The poached egg with duck confit is particularly insane—it's only served at weekend brunch, which usually involves a wait, but luckily you can stroll around the Mission while your table is prepped.
Tartine Bakery600 Guerrero St., Mission | 415.487.2600
For anyone who can't resist the siren song of fresh-from-the-over bread, Tartine Bakery in the Mission is a required stop. Owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson masterfully churn out the freshest breads (which are used for the construction of insanely good sandwiches) and pastries (best washed down with freshly brewed Blue Bottle coffee). They also do some pretty great cookbooks.
Humphry Slocombe1 Ferry Building, The Embarcadero
Humphry Slocombe vs. Bi-Rite Creamery is an ongoing debate between locals. Jake Godby and Sean Vahey—the two dudes behind team Humphry—pride themselves on the time and effort they put into concocting flavors, which run the gamut from Elvis (the fat years) to potato chip to salt & pepper. They’re also bringing back the ice cream cake in a big way. There's also a location in the Mission.
St. Frances Soda Fountain2801 24th St., Mission | 415.826.4210
This classic greasy spoon has been in the exact same location since 1918 though it underwent a top-to-bottom restoration in 2002 to give the retro signage, a flashing neon sign, and vinyl booths the love they deserve. The menu has everything you'd expect from a diner, yet somehow the sandwiches, soups, and salads seem surprisingly light, not greasy (lots of vegan options, too). Even if you don't stay for a full meal, order a shake or a sundae at the counter—both are served old school with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Blue Plate3218 Mission St., Mission | 415.282.6777
Set up in an old converted home complete with a back yard, this is the kind of laid-back, blessedly well-priced spot locals feel good coming back to on the regular. The menu is packed with comfort food staples like meatloaf, fried chicken, and various pastas. It's pretty ideal for weeknight family dinners.
Lovejoy’s Tea Room1351 Church St., Noe Valley | 415.648.5895
Lovejoy's Tea Room is adorable and eclectic, making it the perfect spot to host a small group of children for a tea party. If you're looking to take some of the magic home with you, there are shelves full of antique-looking china sets, teapots, and of course, tea.
Bakesale Betty’s5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland | 510.985.1213
Australian baker Alson Barakat's teeny shop is a go-to when it comes to fresh-baked, ingredient-driven pastries (the strawberry shortcake is outstanding), but the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the fried chicken sandwich. The perfectly crispy chicken and piles of from-scratch coleslaw make it well worth the inevitable wait in line.