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11 Cuisines That Define San Francisco

by Julia Kitlinski-Hong Dec 17, 2016

1. Burmese

Whether you wait in line for an hour at Burma Superstar or opt for the homely interior of Mandalay, it is hard to go wrong with Burmese food in SF. With a sizeable Burmese population in the city and surrounding Bay Area, there are plenty of authentic dining options to satisfy some cravings. Influenced by Chinese, Thai, and Indian flavors, the hearty curries and savory tea leaf salads are the perfect antidote to those chilly San Francisco nights.

2. Peruvian

As a fusion cuisine, Peruvian food seems to fit naturally into San Francisco’s diverse culinary landscape. Dishes like ceviche (raw fish marinated with spices and lime juice) and roasted chicken are some of the delicious comfort foods that are being served at Peruvian restaurants around the city. Limon and Limon Rotisserie is the go-to placesfor rotisserie chicken, and Mi Lindo Peru for the ceviche.

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3. Chinese

With San Francisco’s large Chinese-American population, there is no doubt diverse Chinese dining options from dim sum to large Lazy Susan-centered meals. To combat the cold, make sure to head over to places like Hon’s Wun Tun House for delicious wonton noodle soup. For dim sum, it is hard to go wrong with Hong Kong Lounge in the Inner Richmond. For the best salt-and-pepper crab in the city, drop by R & G Lounge for a feast fit for royalty.

4. Mexican

It is true that San Franciscans do not have the wide variety of Mexican food that our neighbors in Southern California are blessed with, but we have our own variations that are just as delicious. Exhibit A: our famous Mission burrito that is approximately the size of your forearm, and is best characterized for having no rice inside. La Taqueria is a good place to start, along with El Farolito. For taco enthusiasts, head straight to Taqueria Vallarta.

5. Vietnamese

In the Richmond and Sunset districts it is hard to not go a few blocks without passing a Vietnamese restaurant featuring pho. Kevin’s Noodle House is a solid bet, where you can warm up with a fragrant bowl of noodle soup. For the best bahn mi, Saigon Sandwiches located in Little Saigon have a cult following, and best of all are under $5.

Une photo publiée par renae b (@renbensf) le

6. Russian

As you make your way to the Outer Richmond on Geary Street, you are bound to hear Russian and smell the sweet scent of baked goods in the air — welcome to Little Russia. Stop in the Moscow & Tbilisi Bakery for addictive piroshkies ,and then make your way to Cinderella Bakery & Café for some serious comfort food like potato vareniki (dumplings) and desserts like poppy seed rolls or homemade cookies like Hamentashen.

7. Korean

Santa Clara may have an unofficial Koreatown, but in San Francisco, there are some well-known spots to indulge in Korean BBQ and other comfort food dishes. From the hoards of Korean tourists pouring into Han Il Kwan from their tour buses, you know this restaurant will excel in what it does best: Korean BBQ. For a less formal occasion, there is Little Korean Market in the Inner Richmond where you can stock up on pre-made dishes like bibimbap to eat a few blocks away in Golden Gate Park.

8. Japanese

San Francisco is a bit lackluster when it comes to sushi in comparison to cities like New York or Los Angeles, but it makes up for that with Japanese comfort food. Izakaya Sozai serves up solid bowls of ramen and small dishes like grilled meat on skewers. If you are in the Outer Richmond, New Oyaji is a great place to grab a late night bite of crab cream croquettes and yakitori (grilled chicken) with a cold Sapporo.

9. Salvadoran

The Mission district may be known for its Mexican cuisine, but if you know where to look there is plenty of delicious Salvadoran food as well. Pupusas, flatten disks of corn masa often stuffed with cheese and meat, are filling, cheap, and delicious. Pair it with a side of rice and beans and you are good to go. El Savador Restaurant and La Santaneca De La Mission are two very wise choices indeed.

10. Thai

Thai food has been a staple in San Francisco since the 1980s, so there are plenty of solid places to get your fix of noodle and curry dishes. Marnee Thai is a citywide favorite that serves signature dishes like the Green Papaya Salad and Pumpkin Curry. Lers Ros Thai in the Tenderloin is another solid choice.

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11. Indian

There is no shortage of good Indian food throughout the city, whether you are looking for a casual eatery or a more upscale restaurant. A longtime favorite is Aslam’s Rasoi, which has both Pakistani and Indian influences on the menu, and never disappoints with dishes like a savory tandoori or a delicious tikka masala. For a more low-key dining experience, Shalimar is a great choice for inexpensive dishes that do not sacrifice on flavor or quality.

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