San Francisco has long been a foodie destination. As known for its Michelin stars as for its major sights, the city has a strong blend of fancy and everyday eats that make chasing flavors quite fun. And since San Fran has more restaurants per capita than most — if not all — other U.S. cities, there’s always something to try!
Seeking out exceptional culinary experiences here is not only expected, it’s essential. Here are the top five best foodie tourism experiences Pursuitist has found to enjoy in the City by the Bay:
Take a few hours and get lost in The Ferry Building Marketplace, a gourmet food emporium that has become an essential San Francisco destination, both for food and tourist fun. Full service restaurants — like Gott’s Roadside with its amazing Ahi Burger, and The Slanted Door, thrice-acclaimed by the James Beard Foundation — are peppered in amongst market stalls featuring iconic local artisanal food brands like Cowgirl Creamery and Dandelion Chocolate. And don’t miss the Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market. Its community offerings may just be the main attraction!
Any time spent in San Francisco could never be complete without an authentic culinary visit visit to Chinatown. The neighborhood’s latest creative concept is China Live, a massive epicurean emporium complete with marketplace. The multi-story eatery contains a variety of creative experiences, bars, and dining options, including Oolong Café, and the Market Restaurant, where you absolutely must taste the Working Hands Dumplings, Spicy Wontons, and Peking Duck Pockets. China Live also houses the exceptional Eight Tables by George Chen.
Waterbar, on the Embarcadero, is impressive in all respects. Not only does it boast unrivaled panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, but the restaurant also entices as one of the city’s foremost seafood spots. While everything about it is certainly exceptional, don’t dismiss Waterbar as an option reserved for special occasions. Some of the best lingering lunches can be enjoyed under its more than reasonable Prix Fixe lunch special. For dinner? The Roasted Shellfish Platter as a table share is our pick. And you obviously cannot neglect to try some of Waterbar’s own oysters — yes, they cultivated their own breed! — the Golden Fog, which are only available here.
No rice. A tortilla, carnitas, beans, guacamole and cheese. It doesn’t sound super complicated, but La Taqueria‘s Carnitas Asada Burrito is simply sublime. Daily wait lines attest to this no frills spot being the Mission’s most famous Taqueria, and one bite affirms why. Everything on the menu is a must, though we’ve already shared our favorite. Pro tip: Order yours ‘El Dorado’ style and enjoy it toasted with a crispy grilled outside and insides melted to perfection.
Experiencing the Prix Fixe at Lazy Bear is truly an event. This Michelin-starred supper club caters to diners’ voracious appetite for the exclusive, and actually sells tickets to its 11-14 course dinners! Scout twitter for the date and time of the next monthly ticket release for this coveted culinary experience. Then, during your multi-course, multi-hour gastronomic feast, you’ll not only stuff yourself silly with scrumptiousness, but also have the opportunity to watch the chefs in action and wander over to pose questions and offer feedback about that meal you just paid up to $300 for… which was worth every penny.