Whether you came to San Francisco specifically for the culinary scene or you are just hungry after a long day of sightseeing, you are in for a treat as long as you know where to go. With restaurants dotting almost every city block, especially in the highly visited areas, I thought you might appreciate a little help - so I broke down my top choices by type.
Home to the best Italian eateries outside of the boot-shaped penninsula itself, San Francisco is a mecca for Italian food lovers. Although the city sports many traditional old-world style Italian restaurants it also has a booming California-Italian fusion culinary scene based on the fresh seasonal bounty of the golden state. San Francisco's Italian restaurants are world-renown, make sure you indulge while you are in town.
As the birthplace of the hippie movement and the nation's alternative lifestyle capital San Francisco is a city where vegetarian eating is the norm for much of the population. What this means for the visitor, even if they are not a vegetarian, is highly innovative vegetarian cuisine and well-established vegetarian restaurants around every corner. Many vegetarian restaurants also base their menus on the harvests of California's many small organic farms, which often grow heirloom and specialty crops rarely seen in other part of the country.
A city surrounded on three sides by water, San Francisco counts waterfront dining among its favorite activities for visitors. Great restaurants line the bay near the massive Ferry Building Marketplace, the city's largest farmers market, but there are also a handful of winners down on Fisherman's Wharf. Since many waterfront restaurants specialize in seafood, make sure you try the Dungeness Crab when it is in season.
Although the city's sizable Mexican community is mostly centered in the Mission District and other residential areas to the south, Mexican food is the official street food for the city of San Francisco. Burritos are to San Francisco what pizza is to New York and burgers are to LA - something that many locals eat on a daily basis. This means the competition is high, driving the quality through the roof - you can get the most delicious meal in you life for under $5 if you know where to go. Be sure to try other specialties, like tacos and enchiladas, as well and don't forget the house made juices.
San Francisco with children, as the high proportion of single professionals and childless couples can make the dining scene feel particularly anti-family. But San Francisco's trademark open-mindedness also means that most restaurants will accommodate you easily, without hassle, and the ones on this list are even more family oriented: they are expecting you.
From beer battered fish and chips to the heartiest hamburgers in town, Irish Pubs offer up some of the city's highest quality budget eats. San Francisco is home to a deep rooted Irish community, one of the largest on the west coast actually, and the city's many pubs - especially in the Richmond District - often host live Celtic music nightly. Most also have great happy hour food specials.
For light fare and great lunch specials, San Francisco's eclectic cafes offer not only the best deals in town but some of its most creative hand-made plates. From grilled focaccio sandwiches at a traditional Italian cafe to raw nut-burgers at one the bohemian neighborhood gathering joints, cafe dining is often a staple of locals and should be tried by any visitor to the city that wants to immerse themselves in the local scene.