My Favorite Food Spots in the Bay
While LA has been my home away from home for the past few years, San Francisco is where I was born and raised and I will always be a Bay Area girl at heart. I am fortunate to come from a family that loves food just as much as I do, meaning my parents and I are constantly trying new places. In fact, for the past two summers, we have made it a priority to try a new food spot almost every week!
Since I’ve definitely visited my share of restaurants and cafes in the Bay by now, I’ve decided it is time to share my favorite places with y’all! These extend beyond the city itself, since I grew up just outside- but good food extends way beyond the city’s borders, I promise.
What are your favorite places in the Bay? Do any of these make your list? Help me find my next new favorite spot!
- Plow: Plow is one of the most popular brunch spots in SF. It is located in a super charming building in Potrero Hill, and when I say charming, what I really mean is: tiny. For how popular this place is, I am always amazed by the fact that they haven’t expanded. Tips? Get there EARLY! I have gotten there at 10 on a Saturday and been told it is a three-hour wait. And that is not abnormal. But when you do get seated, my recommendations are The Plow (lemon ricotta pancakes, sausage or bacon, eggs any style, and their famous potatoes) or Almond Flour Pancakes (personally some of the best pancakes I have ever had). And if you want a shorter wait, put your name to sit outside, even on chilly days. They have blankets and a pot of tea or hot coffee will do the trick.
- Shoreline Coffee Shop: This spot is in Tam Valley (aka Mill Valley), about 15 minutes over the Golden Gate Bridge. It shares a parking lot with a Walgreens and looks like a run down building from the outside, but once you walk in, you’ll find farm fresh Mexican American food that will tickle your tastebuds ;) They easily have some of the best toast I have ever tasted and while I don’t like avocado toast, their Tennessee Valley Toast is famous around here.
- Bellota: Okay, Bellota is one of the most FUN places (I refuse to consider “funnest” as a word) to eat in the city. Live music, huge open kitchen, and a little rolling cart that goes to every table with innovative snacks- I was hooked the moment I stepped in and it is always one of my first places to hit up with friends from out of town. While their paella is not as good as my dad’s (#daughterpoints), it is pretty dang good- especially their vegetarian one which is loaded with kale. Their turkey meatballs are also amazing, as well as their churros.
- Bar Bocce: Bar Bocce has been, and will always be, one of my favorite restaurants. While the food is pretty good (my go to order every time? Breadsticks for the table, kale salad, kale ricotta pizza, and the Bocce Bliss- layered vanilla bean gelato, meringue, raspberry puree, and fresh raspberries), it’s the location that will always steal my heart. The restaurant is located right on the water in Sausalito (right over the GGB) and, yes, has a bocce ball court. You can even order at the counter, take a number, and go sit on the beach if it is too crowded.
- A Mano: A Mano is relatively new, but is killing the dinner scene. It is relatively inexpensive for dinner in SF (think $15 dollars a dish) and features handmade, fresh pasta. They also have great salads, pizzas, and desserts. No reservations here, though, so make sure to get there early or you will have a killer wait.
- Trouble Coffee: I stumbled upon this place a few years back and was instantly in love. The shop is a skinny room and really only serves coffee, grapefruit juice, and cinnamon toast. But this cinnamon toast is not just your run of a mill cinnamon toast- no, it is on thick, delicious bread that is oozing with cinnamon sugar and butter, just waiting to melt in your mouth. Go on a warmer day and enjoy your toast on the tree benches outside. You’ll see what I mean. Oh, and if you get the chance, read the founder’s story- really incredible.
- Tartine Manufactory: Okay. Close your eyes. Now imagine a place where you can get fresh bread, delicious pastries, amazing soft serve, a full bar, a fancy set dinner menu, and much much more. Now open your eyes, get in your car, and drive to the Manufactory because this place of your dreams exists. My favorite orders? The buffalo milk soft serve with cacao nib brittle and pistachios. The oatmeal cookies. Anything on their oatmeal loaf. Oh, and did I mention they are opening one in LA?
- Tartine Bakery: Before there was the Manufactory, there was just Tartine Bakery. And by “just” Tartine Bakery, I mean the bakery of your wildest fantasies. The line extends around the corner and up the block and you can smell the pastries in their kitchen all the way from the back. Their morning buns? Incredible.
- Salt and Straw: Love this in SF for the same reason I love it in LA: the texture and flavors make this way more than run of the mill ice cream.
- Smitten: Smitten makes ice cream with liquid nitrogen, which is one of the coolest things to watch if you haven’t yet. The best flavor I have yet to try is the pretzel cookie dough (can you say texture?). The only problem is that you can’t sample or order more than one flavor per cup because of the process.
- Bi-Rite: I like Bi-Rite, I do, but mostly it is on here because of its legendary status in the Bay. I think they have really good ice cream, but it isn’t my all time favorite. The shop is located in Bi-Rite market which has been around forever and they have ice cream cakes which is one of the best parts in my opinion!
- Blue Barn: There aren’t too many sandwich/salad shops in the Bay that live up to my expectations, but Blue Barn always does. Huge salad bowls, innovative sandwiches, and delicious paninis- plus fries and soft serve. This is the perfect lunch spot. I love their kale caesar, their burrata grilled cheese, and their seasonal buddha sandwich.
- Rustic Bakery: Rustic is another one of those places that lives up to my sandwich and salad needs. Their seasonal Barcelona salad and endless case of drool-worthy pastries (try their walnut loaf with cream cheese frosting and any of their croissants) are my go to choices. The one thing I wish they had? Matcha!
- Sweet Things: I have been going to Sweet Things since I was a little girl. Every day after school (seriously, as far back as I can remember), my mom would pick me up, and we would go get a cupcake from Sweet Things. Sometimes we would even stop in on our way to school if I wanted a delicious scone for breakfast! I love their black and white cupcake (chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting) and buttercup cupcake (vanilla cake with chocolate frosting). They are sweet, but definitely not to the point where I feel sick. Easily my favorite cupcakes of all time!
- Berkeley Bowl: As you can probably tell by the name, this grocery store is in the east bay. While I don’t trek there often, I can easily see myself doing so when I am an adult and have a family to feed because their bulk section is beautiful. Aisles upon aisles of goods, including ones you would never expect to find!
- Good Earth: We don’t have Erewhon up here in the Bay, but I like to think of Good Earth as our Erewhon. They have amazing smoothies and healthy choices. Plus, they have coco whip at their drink bar which is a genius move.
- Off the Grid: Off the Grid is one of the coolest events in SF. One reason I love San Francisco so much is because of how friendly everyone is. In the summer, Off the Grid (a foodtruck company) sets up in the Presidio around a huge green field, with 20+ food trucks. They have live music and everyone brings picnic blankets, Frisbees, babies, and corgis. They have famous food, from delicious pizza to rice pudding to ice cream to BBQ. It’s a great event with a beautiful view! Note: Off the Grid goes to tons of locations throughout the week, this one just happens to be my favorite.
While I have been to many places, there are still so many more I have yet to try: China Live, Octavia, Rose’s, 20th Century Café (I am dying to try their legendary Russian cake), the Mill, just to name a few. I can’t wait to keep exploring and finding new places!