Photo courtesy of Pop Sugar (City)
Fancy a foodie? San Francisco is a place where food lovers can experience a glorious mecca of cuisine available in the city and the greater Bay Area.
Below, I list dining options that have stood the test of time, and that I whole-heartedly recommend.
Globe: The late night gourmet hangout
This photo of Globe Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Although San Francisco is consistently ranked as one of the best restaurant cities in the world, most San Francisco restaurant kitchens shut down by 11, leaving late-night gourmets in a bind.
Enter Globe, the gourmet answer for those of us who get to bed late. Located on a sleepy corner in the middle of downtown, Globe has become the late-night hangout of choice. Though relatively tame during regular dinner hours, by 10pm tables start to fill, and by 1am Globe looks and sounds just like any other trendy San Francisco restaurant at the height of the dinner rush. Packs of 20- and 30-something servers crowd the bar, while chefs swap stories at the candlelit tables in back.
Much of Globe’s attraction comes from its elegant atmosphere: white tablecloths, colorful abstract art, and brick walls lend an air of urban style, while the open kitchen and chefs in backward baseball caps suggest something more down-to-earth. Around midnight, that impression is solidified when unobtrusive jazz music suddenly changes to crowd-pleasing 80s tunes.
Globe’s menu features California-Italian-style comfort cuisine, with freshly-shucked oysters and wild mushroom and black truffle oil pizza listed alongside dishes of Tillamook macaroni and cheese and homemade spaghetti. In a unique take on tuna tartar that forgoes the usual Asian flavors; Globe matches large-diced cubes of fresh, sashimi-grade albacore with olive oil, basil, and a luxuriously salty olive tapenade on toast. For the more adventurous, try a salad of grilled baby octopus with shaved fennel, cannelini beans and lemon confit. The assertive note of lemon matches perfectly with the sweet, flawlessly cooked octopus and the silky texture of the beans.
A visit to Chez Panisse
This photo of Chez Panisse is courtesy of TripAdvisor
The nightly prix-fixe menu for the Chez Panisse dining room is not finalized until the Monday before, and everyone who eats on a particular night is served the same thing. Consequently, unless you magically procure a last minute cancellation, you must make reservations without knowing what you’ll be eating. When thenight’s menu was posted on the Monday before my reservation, I was thrilled to see the following:
- An aperitif
- Little neck clam, Monterey Bay squid, and lobster salad
- Ricotta gnocchi with fava beans, pecorino, and mint
- Grilled Wolfe Farm quail stuffed with wild mushrooms, spinach, and sausage; green and white asparagus risotto
- Warm Pixie tangerine crepes
True to the philosophy of Alice Waters, I would be eating primarily fresh, locally-grown products at the peak of their season. I couldn’t wait.
Walking into the restaurant was like walking into a temple to food – the warm, craftsman style dining room was decorated with bowls and crates of the produce that was featured in the night’s menu. I saw heaps of spring onions, a wide bowl brimming with fava beans, and a pile of curious wrinkled oranges, which turned out to be the Pixie tangerines that would be used for the night’s dessert. The mellow lighting throughout the dining room and low, box-beamed ceilings instantly made me feel comfortable.
Tartine Bakery: a cafe/patisserie in the heart of the outer mission
This photo of Tartine Bakery is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Tartine Bakery is one of the primary reasons that Bay Area foodies are drawn to the block of 18th Street between Guerrero and Dolores. Though not marked by any exterior signage, you’ll immediately recognize its corner location by the long lines of Missionites threading out the door, and the warm, sweet smell of baked goods that wafts through the air around it. Peak in the side window before walking in to see the busy kitchen at work, piping vanilla custard into chocolate-covered éclairs ($3.50), and dusting confectioner’s sugar over luxurious Scharffenberger pots de crème ($4).
Tartine Bakery is a throw-back to a traditional French patisserie/cafe, where patrons are tempted to wile the day away over a cup of rich coffee and a feather-light croissant still hot from the oven ($2.25). Those with a more savory tooth can try a glass of French wine with one of the gourmet hot pressed sandwiches. The best varieties include Pecorino and Almond with lemon and sage, or the rich Jambon Royale and Gruyere with Niman Ranch ham and country Dijon mustard (each $7). All are made with slices of Tartine’s award-winningcountry or walnut bread.