SAN FRANCISCO is surrounded by water on three sides, so it’s no surprise that many of San Francisco’s most popular dishes come from the sea. But beyond seafood, restaurants in the City by the Bay also serve up world famous burritos and a decadent ice cream sundae that should be at the top of everyone’s must-try list. Here are some favorite San Francisco foods, and where to find them.
This seafood stew takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach with a simple recipe first created in San Francisco. Legend has it that Italian fishermen who migrated to San Francisco would pool their resources after a day’s work and throw their leftover catch into a large communal pot. The result is a flavorful combination of Pacific Coast seafood in a simple tomato and wine broth.
Where to find the best Cioppino in San Francisco: Tadich Grill
Tadich Grill is considered California’s oldest restaurant. Here you’ll find a generous offering of shelled prawns, crab, mussels, clams and local seafood served with a side of garlic bread that is perfect for sopping up the hot broth.
Hours of operation: 11:30 AM – 11:30 PM; closed Sun
Address: 240 California St., FiDi
2. Mission-style burrito
In the great burrito competition, San Francisco’s Mission-style burritos reign supreme. They are regularly named best in the world, and for a good reason. Flour tortillas are packed with rice, beans, meat and salsa, plus optional guacamole, sour cream, and cheese. Sorry, San Diegans, you won’t see any French fries in the mix here.
Where to find the best Mission-style burrito: La Taqueria
A Mission District staple for more than 40 years, La Taqueria takes a somewhat unique approach to its burritos — owner Miguel Jara opts for no rice with his recipe. Instead, diners will find a freshly steamed flour tortilla packed with a larger serving of grilled meat, beans, salsa and other ingredients before the burrito is lightly grilled and served hot counter-side.
Hours of operation: Tue-Sat 11 AM – 9 PM; Sun 11 AM – 8 PM; Closed Mon
Address: 2889 Mission St; Mission District
3. Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl
A steaming serving of chunky New England-style chowder is dished up in a bowl crafted from San Francisco’s world-famous sourdough bread, for a combination that fits perfectly in the city’s foggy waterfront ambience.
Where to find the best Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl: Boudin Bistro
The chowder at this San Francisco institution is great, but it’s the bread bowl that really makes this dish stand out. Made fresh at Boudin’s flagship bakery, the circular sourdough loaf-turned-bowl soaks up the chowder while you eat, leaving a few bites of doughy goodness as the vessel becomes part of the meal. Dip the accompanying piece of bread from the hollowed loaf to get the most out of your meal.
Hours of operation: Sun-Thu 8 AM – 10 PM; Fri and SAt 8 AM- 10:30 PM
Address: 160 Jefferson St., Fisherman’s Wharf
4. Ghiradelli hot fudge sundae
GLocal chocolate company Ghirardelli serves sumptuous (gooey, and more) rich chocolate sundaes to long lines of admirers at Ghirardelli Square every day. You’ll find several variations of the ice cream delight here, all enhanced by Ghirardelli’s chocolate confections.
Where to find the best hot fudge sundae: Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop
Ghirardelli’s handmade hot fudge makes all the difference with this classic recipe. Sundaes are layered with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, handmade hot fudge, diced almonds and a cherry on top to create a sensuous pairing of hot and cold; thick and creamy.
Hours of operation: 9 AM- 11 PM
Address: 900 North Point St., Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf
5. Dungeness crab
Swan Oyster DepotSan Francisco, United StatesAvoid the tourist trap crab stands at Fisherman’s Wharf and grab a spot in line at a local institution. This no-frills foodie destination always has a crowd (including regular stops by celeb chefs) waiting for a seat at the seafood bar.
The mid-sized Dungeness crab is taken from the sea starting in late-November — when demand peaks during the holiday season — but you can find it almost every day at Swan Oyster Depot. You’ll have to work for your meal, pulling meat from cracked legs, and chambers within the crab’s body. The payoff is well worth the labor.
Where to find the best Dungeness crab: Swan Oyster Depot
Avoid the tourist trap crab stands at Fisherman’s Wharf and grab a spot in line at a local institution. This no-frills foodie destination always has a crowd (including regular stops by celeb chefs) waiting for a seat at the seafood bar. Once you grab a stool, go for the cracked crab and an Anchor Steam beer. Enjoy the banter as a crew of gregarious apron-clad fishmongers works its way through a non-stop procession of fresh seafood orders.
Hours of operation: 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM; closed Sun
Address: 1517 Polk St., Polk Gulch, Nob Hill