As soon as I knew the dates I would be in San Francisco, I booked a table at Chez Panisse Café because the downstairs restaurant was unfortunately already full. The weekend before I head out though I received a voicemail that the restaurant had experienced a far and the restaurant was closed indefinitely. Fortunately, a former colleague had sent several other incredible recommendations, many of which I tried and review below.
Sightglass Coffee: 270 7th Street, SoMa
Opened by brothers Justin and Jerad Morrison and named after the window in the roaster for checking on the beans, this roaster and coffee bar occupies a spacious, sky-lighted warehouse in SoMa. Don’t bother asking for skim milk or artificial sweeteners. And expect unisex restrooms, taxidermy, and feeling like an extra in “Portlandia”.
Ike’s Place: 3489 16th Street, Castro
This chain of restaurants serves massive sandwiches, but be ready to wait and read the menu online before coming as most combinations aren’t listed. We shared a Matt Cain (turkey, roast beef, salami, godfather sauce, and provolone) and a Paul Reubens (pastrami, French dressing, Swiss cheese, homemade poppyseed coleslaw). The Dutch crunch bread is amazing, and try not to fill up on the addictive potato chips!
Japan Center mall in Japantown: Buchanan Street between Post and Sutter Streets
Don’t be dissuaded by the website. If you like the Japanese bookstore near Bryant Park, you will love Japan Center. We spent hours in the bookstore while waiting for our photo booth pictures to develop. An ideal date adventure, this place is super fun, and unlike anything you’d find outside of Tokyo.
Burritt Room: 417 Stockton Street, Union Square
Speakeasy-style bar on the second floor of the Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer. Come early for a seat, enjoy the live music, and peruse the cocktail menu divided by glass style and ice shape. You won’t go wrong with any of the drinks.
State Bird Provisions: 1529 Fillmore Street, Western Addition
Warning: don’t go to this dim-sum spot hungry. Rather than ordering everything at the beginning, waiters waltz by with enticing dishes, you happily point to your heart’s content, but your eyes are inevitably larger than your stomach. Favorites included the grilled asparagus with black trumpet ranch; tuna crudo & confit with chickpeas & cumin (and potato chips); garlic bread with burrata, ricotta dumplings with pumpkin soubise; sourdough, sauerkraut, pecorino & ricotta pancake; and earl gray, almond & cocoa nib ‘ice cream’ sandwich.
Burma Superstar: 309 Clement Street, Inner Richmond
I had never had Burmese food before, and I am not exaggerating when I write that this blew my mind. The tea leaf salad, rainbow salad, and samosa soup are incredible–filling yet light. To avoid a 90-minute wait, go as soon as they open for lunch or call the hostess’s cell phone number, (415) 350-7117, to put your name on the list.
If you have lunch at Burma Superstar, walk around Golden Gate Park and visit the California Academy of Sciences in the afternoon.
Last, but not least, the Bay Bridge lights may be having a few problems, but it’s still lovely to walk along the waterfront.