Whether the iconic streetcars, or the Summer of Love, or it’s current position as the center of the global tech industry, San Francisco has had no shortage of claims to fame. Throughout its whole history, the city’s culture has been a magnet for attention, but with one key omission. One aspect of the city that’s gone relatively unnoticed by outsiders has been the incredible food scene. Unnoticed, that is, until recently.
Named “Best Food City in the Country” by Bon Appetit Magazine in 2015, San Francisco stands among the leaders a competitive national restaurant scene, but longtime residents will say this prize is a long time coming. Here are a few extraordinary spots, both old and new, that demonstrate why all eyes are finally on the City By the Bay’s unrivaled cuisine.
Appropriate for San Francisco’s endlessly creative culture, this French-American eatery’s conceptual menu items are both visually and gastronomically inspiring to even the most experienced palate. With an emphasis on regional cultivation of ingredients, the talented chefs under head Laurent Gras create individual experiences for each visitor, with no set menu. Informed by the expertise of local farmers, fishermen, and ranchers, each meal is undeniably imbued with the free spirit of Northern California. Having attained three Michelin stars, Saison stands atop its San Franciscan foundation to live among the top restaurants on the globe, a premier destination for both the city’s international visitors and nearer neighbors alike.
The famed supper club Lazy Bear combines a boisterous family-style seating arrangement with a world-class cutting-edge menu filled with creative creations that change nightly. What started as a regular dinner party among friends is now a $280 a head 14-course extravaganza. Diners get their seat at the space’s long tables not by reservation, but by purchasing tickets online in frenzied sales which often sell a month’s worth of meals in less than a day. It might sound like buying a concert ticket, and rockstar chef/owner David Barzelay is a marquee-worthy frontman.
The clean, casual layout and relatively modest prices at this New American eatery shouldn’t scare off those into haute cuisine: AL’s Place may sound like a greasy spoon, but their globally-inspired menu provides for a cosmopolitan dining experience. This vegetarian-friendly menu features bold takes on old favorites, like chickpeas in smoky romesco sauce, and kimchi stew with yellow-eyed beans. Carnivores, there’s ribeye steak and cured trout for those who can’t go without their meats. In all, the unpretentious setting and world-class dining may seem a contradiction, but that kind of melange perfectly suits San Francisco, a cultural capital with international flair.