What You’ve Gotta Eat When You’re In San Francisco
It's not just tacos in this foodie paradise.
It’s kind of a given that you’ll stop at a taco stand when you visit San Francisco – the place is known for it. Every local will have their own take on where to find the best ones too, but while the thought of checking each of the hyped taco stands is enticing, so so much more to San Francisco than Mexican food. Do yourself a favour and check out some of these other local delicacies – all that hill climbing will surely rev up your appetite.
#1 Chowder in a bread bowl
Few things go together more perfectly than soup and bread, and if you’re going to dip your bread anyway, why not just build a bowl out of tasty sourdough? San Franciscans figured that out pretty quickly, so you’re likely to find an abundance of places in the city where you can get your bread bowl fix. It’s the perfect lunch if you’re visiting in the colder months. The dish is best suited to thick soups, like a clam chowder for instance, that doesn’t result in the the bread getting too soaked. Fisherman’s Wharf on the city’s edge is a great place to start with its abundance of fresh seafood. Spend some time wandering around the wharf to find your soup shack soulmate; Scoma’s can be a little pricey, but the views are totally worth it, while Alioto’s – on the cheaper side – certainly don’t skimp on flavour.
#2 Focaccia at Liguria Bakery
Any joint that has been open for over 100 years serving just one dish is probably still standing for a reason. Liguria’s North Beach Bakery is known for one particular Italian treat – focaccia, a flatbread family recipe that’s been passed down for generations.
Don’t let the line-ups at Liguria’s dissuade you – the brick oven baked focaccia is worth the wait. There’s delicious salty and sweet varieties and an excellent old-school vibe that keeps the people returning and the waiting line long. Be warned, though: once it’s sold out for the day, that’s it, they’re closing up shop.
#3 Garlic Fries at AT&T Park
At AT&T Park, you’ll get to kill two tourism birds with one stone – taking in a trip to one of the most iconic ballparks in the United States and tasting garlic fries, a classic West Coast game-side food. Forget hot dogs or sausages, these fries are the straight-up jam. The simple combination of French fries, parsley and copious amounts of garlic may not work its way up the haute cuisine ladder anytime soon, but as the intoxicating aroma works its way throughout the ballpark, it’s nearly impossible to not be seduced. So give in, because if you tell a local you went to AT&T Park, they’ll probably ask you if you snacked at Gilroy Garlic Fries and you can answer with a self-satisfied “yes”. The nearby town of Gilroy is renowned for its garlic crop and is considered by some to be the “Garlic Capital of the World”. Just don’t forget to buy some gum, too.
#4 Ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery
Honey lavender, Earl Grey, Pumpkin – pretty unique flavours of ice cream, huh? Locals flock to Bi-Rite regardless of the weather for their weird and wonderful take on ice cream. Every city has their own handmade ice creamery, but there’s something enduring about Bi-Rite that speaks to San Francisco’s feel-good, sustainable aesthetic.
Like many of the city’s most delicious spots, you’ll likely have to join a long line of fans waiting to eat this, but don’t worry – it’ll be worth it. Have a sample, see what new flavours have popped up and add a second scoop or two. Who knows when you’ll be back?
#5 Anchor Steam Beer
While we wouldn’t suggest having an entirely liquid lunch (not every day, at least), you’d be remiss if you travelled to San Francisco and didn’t try an Anchor Steam. Steam beer is a pretty unique type of brew – it uses warmer fermentation temperatures than your regular beer. Unless you’ve spent some time in the Golden State, you’ve likely never tasted anything like it.
The Anchor Brewery dishes out all types of beer, from IPAs to porters, but the original Anchor Steam has a rich amber colour and a hoppy finish. While you can grab a bottle almost anywhere in the city, the brewery itself is a unique spot to settle in for the afternoon. Offering tours, tasting sessions and over 100 years of brewing, it’s one of the most popular spots in the city, so remember to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
(Lead image: Allioto’s/Facebook)
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