San Francisco’s dining scene is in its prime. Build up an appetite exploring the notoriously vertical metropolis and fuel up at one of several eateries combining local California ingredients with techniques and flavors from around the globe. Here’s where to eat now.
This Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese fusion) restaurant exudes style, from the manga artwork to gorgeously plated shareable plates like flower-adorned scallop ceviche resting in swipes of squash puree. Cocktails and an extensive sake list complement the range of dishes. (Closed Mondays; 1838 Union St., 415-525-4804, kaiyosf.com)
This “new-school” Italian eatery is big on innovation and Asian influence, with dishes like Berkshire pork spare ribs with a “Calabrian XO” sauce. Space is tight and highly sought after, so try and secure a reservation in advance. (Closed Mondays; 3431 19th St., 415-483-1112, prairiesf.com)
A combination retail shop, cafe, restaurant and fine dining spot, China Live wraps all the energy and flavor of Chinatown into a single space. In the large market restaurant, guests can order a range of dim sum, cold plates, noodles and shareable platters, like a whole Cantonese-style crispy skin garlic chicken. (644 Broadway, 415-788-8188, chinalivesf.com)
An offshoot of the endlessly popular Tartine Bakery, this nearby sit-down restaurant offers Tartine’s famous freshly baked breads in a plethora of tasty creations, from gooey grilled cheese to flatbread sandwiches. Pastries, breads and other grainy goods are available to go, as well as soft serve in homemade cones. (595 Alabama St., 415-757-0007, tartinebakery.com)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Block out a few hours to weave your way through a seven-floor survey of modern art, where lesser-known pieces by artists important to world art history and San Francisco, like Frida Kahlo and 1960s pop artists, are interwoven with international artwork spanning decades. (Closed Wednesdays, admission $25/adults, $22/seniors, $19/ages 19-24; 151 Third St., 415-357-4000, sfmoma.org)
Mission Dolores Park: Comparable to Central Park in popularity (if not quite scale), this park is a public gathering spot for San Franciscans all year long. Wander through the palm trees, absorb the skyline views and perhaps join in a drum circle or unofficial dog social. (Dolores and 19th streets)
City Lights Bookstore: An independent bookstore, publishing house and gathering spot for creatives since the early 1950s, this charming shop steps from the famous Chinatown Gate offers everything from contemporary fiction to a “Pedagogies of Resistance” section focusing on revolution-inspiring texts. (261 Columbus Ave., 415-362-8193, citylights.com)
GOOD TO KNOW
Getting around: San Francisco may be famed for its cable cars, but the signature trolleys are only one of many easy and convenient forms of public transit. Download the free MuniMobile and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) apps to prepay for tickets and access helpful maps and schedules for trains and streetcars. Rideshare services are also rampant.
Where to stay: The Tenderloin has a rough reputation. But new streetlights and increased government efforts to revitalize the neighborhood are luring locals and tourists to the Proper Hotel San Francisco. The hotel’s rooftop bar, Charmaine’s, with firepits, craft cocktails and small bites, is another draw. (1100 Market St., 415-735-7777, properhotel.com)