My top 100 things to eat in San Francisco

Incomplete,never finished, and probably completely out of date after the aftermath of coronavirus. Check out my foodie map instead (although most likely just as out of date).

  1. The caramelized onion and sesame baguette at Noe Valley Bakery
  2. The chocolate-cherry breakfast bread at Noe Valley Bakery
  3. The combination seafood salad at Swan’s Oyster Bar
  4. The clam chowder at Ferry Plaza Seafood
  5. The mushroom pizza at Delarosa
  6. The salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery
  7. The “crunchy sticks” (sesame-poppyseed-cheese twists) at Esther’s German Bakery (available at Rainbow Grocery and on Thursdays at the Crocker Galleria)
  8. The El Rey chocolate toffee semifreddo at Bix (seasonal)
  9. The pistachio macaroons at Boulette’s Larder
  10. The burnt caramel and chocolate covered hazelnuts at Michael Recchiuti
  11. The chocolate feuilletine cake at Miette
  12. The belly buster burger at Mo’s Grille
  13. The hazelnut hot chocolate at Christopher Elbow
  14. The princess cake at Schubert’s Bakery
  15. The ricciarellis (soft bitter-almond macaroons) at Arizmendi
  16. The Charlemagne chocolate feuilletine cake and chocolate chip financiers at Charles Chocolates, when they have them
  17. The chocolate hazelnut tarts at Tartine
  18. The croissant at Tartine
  19. The caramelized hazelnut financier at Craftsman and Wolves
  20. The bordeaux cherry ice cream at Swensen’s, in a cone and dipped in chocolate (the ice cream itself, not the cone)
  21. The flatbread at Universal Café
  22. The Umami truffle burger
  23. Captain Mike’s smoked tuna (Ferry Plaza farmer’s market)
  24. The mushroom empañadas at El Porteño
  25. The Tcho chocolate liquid nitrogen ice cream at Smitten
  26. The macarons at Chantal Guillon
  27. Pine nut Bacetti (Howard & 9th)
  28. The Atomica pizza at Gialina’s
  29. The salted hazelnut and chocolate shortbread at Batter Bakery
  30. The chocolate velvet cupcake at Kara’s Cupcakes
  31. The lobster roll at Woodhouse Fish Co.
  32. The gianduja and pistachio at Coletta Gelato
  33. The croissants and pains au chocolat at Arsicault (Arguello & Clement)
  34. The lasagna served bubbling hot from the oven at Pazzia
  35. The wild mushroom benedict at Mission Beach Café
  36. The farm egg ravioli at Cotogna
  37. The cioppino (spicy tomato-fish stew) at The Tadich Grill
  38. The sada (plain) dosa at Dosa Fillmore
  39. The French and Fries burger at Roam Artisan Burgers
  40. The lasagna at Trattoria di Vittorio
  41. The oyster fish & chips at Pacific Catch
  42. The croissants and kouingn amann at B Pâtisserie
  43. The Gianduja (chocolate hazelnut mousse) cake at Café Madeleine
  44. The funghi misti (wild mushroom) pizza at Beretta
  45. The pistachio ice-cream at Marco Polo
  46. The crab cioppino at Sotto Mare
  47. The foccacia at Liguria Bakery
  48. The almond cookies at Victoria Pastry Co.
  49. The Grandma Mary’s pizza at Slice House
  50. Pretty much everything at Hook Fish Co.
  51. Hand-made pasta at A Mano
  52. Hand-made pasta at Barzotto, specially the pappardelle with braised beef ragu if they have it
  53. The Belgian fries with dips, served in a cone, at Frjtz
  54. The daily ice cream flavors at Mr & Mrs. Miscellaneous
  55. The deli sandwiches at Cheese Plus
  56. The deli sandwiches at Blue Fog Market
  57. The deli sandwiches at Canyon Market
  58. The deli sandwiches at Le Beau Mob Hill
  59. The deli sandwiches at The Sentinel
  60. Brunch at Petit Crenn
  61. The sandwiches at B To Go, offshoot of B Pâtisserie
  62. The sandwiches at Rhea’s, on Valencia
  63. The quiches and pot pies at Café Madeleine
  64. The ice cream at Humphry Slocombe

Divine Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle

Divine Chocolate is owned by a Ghanaian cocoa farmers’ cooperative. All the profits go back to the farmers, unlike the “Fairtrade” scam where the expensive certification primarily benefits self-aggrandizing Western auditors and marketers. For that reason alone it is a brand I would like to love. Unfortunately, my experience with their products to date has been underwhelming—not bad per se, just very ho-hum.

I experienced chocolate cravings today and stopped by the SF SOMA Whole Foods despite its mediocre range (Whole Foods’ selection is mostly abysmal, but they are the only grocery within walking distance of my office). They had a new bar by Divine, and I tried it out. This tuned out to be good call.

The bar itself is really a dark chocolate gianduja, I guessed they dumbed down the name to “truffle” to avoid confusing the mainstream consumer. I personally prefer a lighter, milk chocolate based giandujas, my benchmark being the Venchi Blend bars and the Callebaut blocks meant for bakers, but this bar has a clean taste, and the hazelnut taste comes out well.

It is not as good as the Poco Dolce Bittersweet Hazelnut bar, but is also significantly cheaper at $4 each. I am not sure how long they can keep the price, given the bar is 20% hazelnuts by weight, and that the price of hazelnuts on world markets has jumped by 60% due to poor Turkish harvests (Turkey produces 70% of the world’s supply of hazelnuts, and 25% of the world’s hazelnuts are snapped up by Ferrero, makers of Nutella).

My favorite hamburgers in San Francisco

(updated 2013-04-21)

See also this list of cloth napkin burgers.

  1. Bix
  2. Mission Beach Cafe
  3. Marlowe
  4. Roam
  5. Umami
  6. Slow Club
  7. Magnolia
  8. Mos Grille
  9. Custom Burger
  10. Bistro Burger
  11. Super Duper
  12. In-n-Out

As a bonus, the most overrated burgers:

  1. The Burger Bar in Macys—the Las Vegas one was OK, but the SF one is a wreck, far worse than even a McDonalds, with inedibly gristly meat the one and last time I had the misfortune to go.
  2. Zuni Cafe—the shoestring fries are lovely, but the burger itself blah
  3. Joes Cable Car—OK, but nothing to write home about
  4. Five Guys—this East Coast chain is starting to make an appearance in the Peninsula (they have a location at Tanforan), it’s OK but I can’t understand the rave reviews

Amano Ocumare Milk

Amano Ocumare DarkAmano, based in Salt Lake City, makes the best chocolate in the USA, their Ocumare bar, using only Venezuelan criollo cacao (the best in the world).

art_pollardThe founder, Art Pollard (photo taken 2 years ago at Fog City News in San Francisco) claims he gets superior results from roasting at high altitude in Salt Lake City, but I think superior conching technique is primarily to credit.
They recently introduced milk chocolate bars, the Jembrana and Ocumare. Despite its lovely green wrapper, the Jembrana leaves to be desired — it just doesn’t taste chocolatey enough. The Ocumare Milk comes through with wonderful texture, a rich, complex cocoa flavor while avoiding over-sweetness, the downfall of too many milk chocolates, specially in the USA.
It also avoids the harshness of some bars made by chocolatiers new to the world of milk chocolate — the abysmal Scharffen-Berger 68% cocoa “dark milk” bar comes to mind.

Amano Ocumare MilkAmano Jembrana Milk

Ty Couz

One of the best values in San Francisco dining, their $8.50 scallop galette (Breton for buckwheat crêpe).

Update (2012-07-13):

Sadly, it closed a few months ago.