A guide to the most restaurant-filled neighborhood in San Francisco.Less
No two meals are ever the same at Mijoté, a French restaurant that changes their four-course, prix fixe menu daily—and that’s exactly what makes it so exciting. Expect to see simple, bright dishes like maitake mushrooms that've been slow-roasted and drenched in harissa butter, a tower of scallops stacked high with cucumbers and nectarines, and crispy-skinned chicken with elderberry jus that’s poured tableside.
Bubbling vats of spicy tteokbokki and flat-out luxurious galbi are packed with so much flavor you’ll most likely spend 75% of the meal taking it all in with your eyes closed while wondering if you’ll ever eat a piece of beef this great again. Booking a table at this place that feels like an exclusive underground club usually requires month-out planning, but the effort is worth it. Get here for celebratory occasions, dinner with the parents, or any time you want a spread of life-changing meat.
Donaji is a counter-service Oaxacan restaurant in the Mission that we beeline to as often as Harry Styles reaches for a feather boa. The bright pink and teal walls will make you feel spontaneously transported to a beachside town where everyone exclusively wears jean shorts. The feeling will intensify once you get a glass of their ice cold sangria, richly spiced mole, and tamales with a flavorful chicken filling. Donaji’s thick housemade tortillas will also do wonders for your mood.
Taishoken specializes in tsukemen, a dipping ramen you won’t find at most Japanese spots in SF. Their version is one you should clear your schedule and get to immediately. The broth is rich with an intense pork-y flavor, the noodles have an ideal chew to them, and the sous-vide chashu basically falls apart when you poke it with a chopstick. Other dishes, like spicy cucumber salad and chicken karaage, and the spicy ramen with thinner noodles are also deserving of your time.
Ernest may be home to excellent seafood and seasonally changing entrées - but it’s also one of the most exciting dinner spots in the city, and one where we go for a Big Night Out. That big night usually includes the $95 chef’s pick menu, which comes with 10-ish courses that showcase the spot’s Asian-influenced dishes. For a more casual experience, walk up to the bar where it’s first come, first served, and grab a glass of wine and the beef tartare topped with glistening orange ikura.
Yes, the momos at this Nepali restaurant on Valencia Street are the stuff of legend, but there’s more to Dancing Yak than well-spiced proteins wrapped in beautiful crimson-colored wrappers. They serve amazing small plates, curries, skewers, and other house specials that are as beautiful as the casual, jewel-toned place. Plus, the space is big enough to usually have room for you and a group of friends on any given day of the week, and everyone you encounter will be friendly and welcoming.
Whenever lunchtime rolls around and the closest thing we have to a proper meal is half a box of Wheat Thins, we immediately start thinking of a backup plan. And luckily, Stonemill Matcha - and their incredible chicken katsu curry, which we could write endless love letters about - exists. Settle into a corner of their peaceful space with an iced matcha latte and something involving their perfectly golden-brown katsu, whether it’s the curry plate with rice or the pork katsu sandwich.
At Itria, house-made pastas and fresh crudos are the name of the game. Which is why your table will probably quickly fill up with bowls of squiggly gramigna with tender ragu bianco and an assortment of oysters and scallops after you’re seated in their bustling dining room. Itria has a pretty extensive wine selection, too, making it a great place to bring a date or a group of friends to celebrate a special occasion or unwind after a long week.
You come here for pupusas, and the ones at this Salvadoran restaurant are great. Thick corn cakes with meat and cheese oozing out of them - it’s not the lightest lunch ever, but you’ll be set for a while. We like the chicken or the loroco, but no matter which filling you get, make sure to top yours with the cortido that comes on the side.
Handroll Project is the only place in town where you can sit alongside 13 raw fish enthusiasts, and devour temaki that’ll make you reconsider everything you know about combining seafood with rice. Diced scallop is coated in creamy aioli and slices of avocado. Pickled radish is mixed in with fatty tuna to add a great crunch. And buttery wagyu gets topped with crunchy garlic chips and chives. The glistening toppings and perfectly vinegar-y rice are held together by crisp nori.