Francesca Fay, Guest Blogger, http://finnslocal.blogspot.com
What drives me crazy about tourists in San Francisco is that most of them just assume that because they are in California its going to be 90 degree weather, HA think again people, NorCal is NOT L.A. (thank god). Because of their ignorance you can always tell who the tourists are as the whole family is wearing the same “San Francisco” Sweatshirt that they just bought from the souvenir shop…pretty comical actually.
As a Native to SF, I wanted to share with you (and especially my friend Maggie who is making the move to SF) my local’s guide to what I think to be the best in the most beautiful city in the world. This first chapter is Restaurants. This is my top list of restaurants in San Francisco for every type of occasion and budget.
OK so here goes…
Loconda Osteria and Bar: $$
Incredible food and chic atmosphere. This was new about two years ago and was started by the same group that opened Delfina (another Fav of mine). It is contemporary Italian and let me tell you absolutely delicious. You have to get the Jewish style artichokes, the Stracciatella mushrooms, and the lamb ragu pasta. The atmosphere here is fabulous and the service impeccable. Make a reservation way in advance as it’s hard to get into but… WELL WORTH IT. http://www.locandasf.com
Delfina Restaurant: $$$ (Great date spot)
All can say is Warm White Bean Salad. Enough said… The whole menu is divine and I promise you will be so happy with everything: food, wine and service. It’s a cozy spot in the mission that has a real neighborhood feel. The pizzeria next door is delicious as well; Make sure you make a reservation in advance, as walk-ins are very hard. http://delfinasf.com/restaurant/
Zuni Café $$$ (Best Date Spot or place for when your parents come into town, Lunch too)
Two things to know: First, order the Chicken…it’s for 2 people, but it takes a while to cook so when you sit down tell them, "I want the chicken" (and don’t look back). Second, The Caesar salad is incredible, and I know that’s random but it has literally been written up for being the BEST. Again the whole menu is awesome, but trust me by ordering those two items you will be a very happy and full human being. DA BOMB. http://www.zunicafe.com
BIX Restaurant $$$ (When parents are in town)
The martinis are incredible, they have live jazz music and well the Truffle burger melts in your mouth. I have gone to BIX every birthday dinner with my parents for the last 4 years. It is always consistent and always enjoyable for my parents and me. Just a fabulous restaurant that never gets old. http://www.bixrestaurant.com
Frascati $$$ (3rd date spot, or anniversary)
This cozy little restaurant in Russian Hill has an incredible wine list, its intimate and the food is amazing. There is really not one bad thing on the menu. This is a real Local spot, and known by all the real San Franciscans… It’s right on Hyde Street so you see the cable cars cruising by. All in all it is just a great experience. http://www.frascatisf.com
The Corner Store $$ (fun for a group dinner or casual Friday night)
Owned and run by a bunch of guys I grew up with. It has a fun atmosphere, great drinks and well Chef Nick Adams never disappoints. The burger is to die for, but again this little local joint’s food has a lot of soul and will have you leaving very satisfied. Say hi to chef Nick if you go…you cant miss his smile J. http://www.thecornerstore-sf.com
Sushi Ran $$$ (Best Sushi Ever!)
In Sausalito, but worth the drive, ferry or bike ride over. Hands down the best sushi place I have ever been in my life. Get the Black Miso Cod. It is hard to get into so try going early and having some sake at the bar. http://www.sushiran.com
Ristorante Milano $$ (Casual dinner with a friend or lover)
Another local secret is this gem of an Italian restaurant. My mother is Italian and Ristorante Milano is by far her favorite authentic Italian Spot besides La Ciccia (http://www.laciccia.com/index.php). Home made pasta, everyone speaks Italian. You feel as though you are in Rome. It is very casual. Parking is a real pain though so prepare to circle the block a bunch, or just take a cab. http://www.milanosf.com
Balboa: $$ (Best Burger in SF)
I have been going here since I was a little girl and to be honest I have NEVER ordered anything but the balboa burger… that says a lot. I also go here for an after work martini and to people watch, its nickname is “cougar den”…go and then you will see why. They do have a killer bloody Mary as well. http://www.balboacafe.com/san-francisco/
Godzilla Sushi $ (cheap delicious sushi)
It is Easy, cheap and delicious. It won’t break the bank and you will be very satisfied. http://www.godzilasushi.com
Sociale $$ (date night)
This restaurant is cozy, romantic and the food is absolutely scrumptious. Please start with the fried olives.... I cant go there an not eat them. The duck penne is something you will never forget. Its impeccable food and David the owner has chosen a five star staff that makes your experience one to remember. http://sfsociale.com
Chez Spencer $$$ (Anniversary, romantic date)
Run by a beautiful French family, this beautiful French Restaurant is hands down one of the most romantic spots that I Have ever been to in SF. With the twinkling lights in the front courtyard, to the beautiful Parisian accents, you truly feel as though you are in Paris for the night. The food is divine and so are their signature cocktails. http://chezspencer.net
Liverpool Lil's- $ (Great during winter and for a couple beers)
They have Delicious beer on draft, a killer Sheppard’s pie, and well great dark corners to hide in during the winter. This is a San Francisco Staple. The people there will be SF Natives and smart young guys and gals who know what’s up. Great Sunday hangover dinner spot.
Mamacita's $$ (Group spot, date spot, just drink)
Delicious Contemporary Mexican food. Their chilaquiles are mouth watering, as are their pomegranate margaritas. Mamacita’s is fun for a Friday night before you take on the town. Watch out for the guacamole, it is dank but contains a lot of garlic so if you plan on macking on some men/women go easy on it. http://www.mamacitasf.com
Tortilla Heights (group dinner)
Easy, fun, and in expensive for a fun birthday dinner.
Tacolicious $ (its all in the name)
BOMB. Great week night dinner, casual, easy and delightful.
Roses Café $$ (Great brunch, lunch and dinner)
A neighborhood restaurant that is consistent. My favorite lunch item is the salmon cozy (holy pita). For Brunch: The breakfast pizza…done. And for dinner, the chicken is killer but you must have the fried potatoes (I get them extra crispy). This place is a phenomenal family spot for all meals. It’s like getting a home cooked meal, as the staff becomes part of your family. (Not kidding, My parents had a waitress over for Christmas dinner once.)
Outerlands Café $ (Organic, and a cozy spot after a big day of surfing at OB)
Its small but has a big food personality. It’s a gathering spot for friends, surfers and for people in the hood. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner. The atmosphere is very eco friendly and just cool. If you are out by Ocean Beach (OB) please go check it out…it’s a local spot and needs to be there when I get back…if you catch my drift.
Tipsy Pig $$ (Boozy Brunch)
The Strawberry Field
It says it all in the name. Great spot for Saturday or Sunday brunch. Ridiculous Juevos rancheros and the drink strawberry field…ladies… you cant just have one…WATCH OUT. Jamal the Bartender works there sometimes so please say hi to him, he is the sweetest. They have a great outdoor area in back so its great for when the sun is shining and let me tell you the people that are there are very attractive …ALWAYS. http://thetipsypigsf.com
I would like to conclude this segment with my top 2 ice cream places, as I have a serious sweet tooth, and I know Maggie has one too.
Fraiche: Homemade organic fresh frozen yogurt $$ (for froyo)
Honestly, this might be the best frozen yogurt I have ever had. It tastes fresh and light. The pumpkin flavor is incredible. They have fresh toppings including freshly grated dark chocolate and just out of the oven toasted almonds. This place is my addiction. I am fully obsessed. http://www.fraicheyogurt.com
Swensen’s $ (SF STAPLE: Good ole fashion ice cream)
It has been there since I was a baby. All homemade ice cream…absolutely delicious. http://www.swensens.com
Next Chapter… FASHION.