Oh how I love San Francisco. There is no other city like it. If you haven’t ever visited the city of neatly stacked homes, the Golden Gate Bridge and the beautiful blue bay, make it a goal. The views are breathtaking and the restaurants are exceptional.
Navigating the food and wine scene can be tough. Especially if you are visiting from out of town. It’s great to have a list of restaurant recommendations to reference from someone you trust (and I hope that someone is me!). I’ve been to every place on the list below and many were referred to me from other food professionals and local San Franciscans.
Did you know that there are enough restaurant seats in San Francisco that if the entire city went out to eat at the same time they could seat everyone? How’s that for stiff competition!? Now, I wouldn’t want you to be overwhelmed when you visit this fine city, so use this condensed list of my favorite places to wine & dine.
Italian & Pizza
Beretta – wood-fired pizzas, crave-worthy veggie sides, tons of vegan options and craft cocktails make Beretta a favorite when visiting San Francisco. Be sure to arrive early or call an hour in advance. They don’t take reservations for parties under 6
A16 – A charming Italian restaurant and wine bar. Order the roasted beet salad sans cheese, a side of cannellini beans, a glass of red wine and a marinara pizza. Sit at the prep counter and watch the Chef’s work their magic
Flour + Water -House made pastas, Neapolitan style pizzas & reasonably priced wine. Set in a cozy house. Stay for dessert. Menu is difficult for plant-based eaters. Just tell your server and they will accommodate.
Cotogna – There’s a reason Chef Michael Tusk won best Chef-Pacific in 2011 from The James Beard Foundation. He happens to be a very sweet man too. Try his house-made pastas. They literally melt in your mouth
Kuletos – when binge shopping in Union Square and craving some classic Italian fare (hey that rhymes!), Kuletos is a great bet. The Super Tuscan by the glass is quite tasty and the minestrone is too.
Il Fornaio – On the way to SFO is Burlingame, a cute little town with a good selection of restaurants. Il Fornaio is a personal favorite. An Italian chain on the west coast with great salads, pastas, soups and pizzas. The wine list is inexpensive and offers great selections, particularly the Pinot Noir.
Patxis– Vegan deep dish pizza on a whole wheat crust. Yes, I said vegan deep dish. It is fantastic and topped with ooey, gooey, Daiya mozzarella cheese. There are quite a few locations in the Bay Area and beyond, so eat your heart out!
The Slanted Door – Dress up for some upscale, updated, authentic, Vietnamese on the Embarcadaro. Do the vegetarian spring rolls, green papaya salad (ask for it without fish sauce), Hodo Soy organic tofu, brussels sprouts and yuba noodles. The drinks are great and the confection plate with cotton candy is a hoot
Thai Idea – Inexpensive vegan and vegetarian Thai. Order the green papaya and the Massaman curry. Heck, order the Pad Eggplant too. Wear stretch pants. Enough said
Yank Sing – Two San Francisco locations with carts and carts and carts of creative and flavorful Dim Sum. Did I mention carts? Be sure to snag a savory vegetable dumpling, the red cabbage and jicima salad, green beans and sesame ball. Be careful, they come around quick with loads of options. The bill can add up quick
Dosa – South Indian cuisine set in a swanky environment. Be sure to get 3 orders of the Bhel Puri (for yourself), all of the chutney’s, some Dosa & a few craft cocktails (they have priority beverage recipes there!). The Fillmore location provides a more lavish dining experience
American + Veggie Restaurants
State Bird Provisions– James Beard awarded American dim sum. Crave-worthy provisions that continually stroll by your table. Be careful, a few too many cocktails and multiple grabs from the oh so convenient cart, and your wallet will be a bit lighter upon exit
Sanctuary Bistro– Head to Berkeley for some amazing sustainable, local, gluten-free and organic food. Did I mention it is vegan too? Sounds too good to be true. Well it isn’t. They even make their own nut cheeses in house! Go for brunch, lunch or dinner. All wines are vegan and the raw cheesecake is a must.
Cinnaholic– Build your own freshly baked vegan cinnamon rolls across the street form The U C Berkeley campus. I recommend double cream cheese frosting and a raspberry swirl
Nopa– Great ambiance, great food, usually a wait. Do shared plates here if you eat plant-based. I recommend the fried broccoli di ciccio, trumpet mushroom toast sans cheddar, young kale salad without pecorino, the Moroccan vegetable tagine minus the yogurt, roasted carrots with Barhi dates and a side of fries. Don’t forget a cocktail; they have a great list
The Plant – Organic cuisine full of planty options with five locations in the Bay Area and one in terminal 2 at SFO. I’m digging the avocado and grapefruit salad, the dino kale salad and the Plant burger. Save room for the raw raspberry cheesecake. It’s uniquely flavorful
East West Restaurant– Up in Santa Cruz lies a hidden Mediterranean gem with loads of plant-based options serving all day-parts. Order the Mediterranean platter, garden salad, the falafal pita and the braised Tamari tofu for the table. They even have vegan Daiya cheese, dairy-free ice cream and a macro plate on the menu!
The Source – Literally over one hundred different vegetarian and vegan options served in a fast-casual setting. Nosh on everything from a “Cluck” & kale salad to brick oven pizzas and a peanut butter & jelly cookie. Don’t miss the spicy buffalo bytes with ranch
Gracias Madre– Fully vegan, upscale Mexican food in the Mission. The ensalada de ceasar is very good if looking for something light. Looking to indulge? Then order the quesadillas de comote, guacamole and a peach cobbler with cinnamon ice cream!
Napa is gorgeous and so is Sonoma. Sonoma has more affordable tastings, many of which are free. But don’t forget the Central Coast. Some of my favorite cabs come out of that region. See some highlights below!
Cline Cellars– Go there for wine tastings. They are free and you can have like 20 tastes! The wine is also vegan. Holla!
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards- The sister winery to Cline, located conveniently across the street. Tastings are free, reserve tastings are a buck. They produce olive oil too which you can also taste. Yum!
Rombaurer – Just 20 minutes north of Napa Valley in St. Helena is Rombaurer. This winery boasts great mountain views, exceptional service and incredible wines; some of the best my palate has every endured. The Chardonnay and Zinfandel are my favorite. Tours must be set up in advance
Silver Oak Not trying to be pretentious at all, but I just love their Alexandar Valley 100% Cabernet. The 2010 is phenomenal. Ask for the extended tour. You may get a few extra samples and will enjoy the views
Clos La Chance- Head about 1.5 hours south of the city and hit some beautiful wine country. Clos La Chance makes a delectable oaked Chardonnay, great Cabernet, Pinot Noir and a good Cab Franc. The grounds are beautiful, the people are friendly and they also pack for The Vegan Vine *not all wines are vegan at Clos La Chance