The Richmond is massive. There’s the Inner, Outer, general middle area, and a whole lot of Geary Street in between. It’s the home to almost all of the city’s best Burmese restaurants, along with everything from Chinese to Japanese to French. The Richmond basically has it all, which makes it hard to choose where to eat. Here’s our guide to the best places in the never ending neighborhood.
Pearl is a place where we would gladly live. There’s great light, window-seat benches, and it’s sheltered from the fog. Also, you can eat really well here from morning until night. The all-day cafe serves wood-fired bagels in the morning, salads and toasts during the day, and heartier Mediterranean food later on, all of which make it one of the best anytime spots in the neighborhood. Pearl makes you feel like you’re at a local spot you’ve been coming to for years on your first visit, and we’re excited to have it in the mix.
You’re here for one thing: croissants. Try to get to the tiny storefront early before the almond croissants sell out, otherwise you’ll be forced to settle for just a perfect regular croissant. Arsicault has a few tables outside and some seats on a small upper level area, but honestly, seating isn’t so key since you’ll likely be eating your pastries out of a bag on the street. Besides the croissants, the kouign amann and chocolate chip cookies are some of the best around. Your best bet is to hit this place up at non-peak hours or just after they open (7am weekdays, 8am weekends) to beat the line.
Violet’s cocktails are excellent and the food - a mix of bar snacks, raw seafood, salads and entrees - is strong, too. The seafood dishes are what really shine, especially the crudo, oysters, and scallops. As the most buzzed about spot in the neighborhood, Violet’s gets pretty packed and they use every inch of the restaurant, but you can usually luck your way into a spot at the bar. After you get a drink, start with the chips and duck pate dip.
If there’s one Burmese place you need to try, it’s Burma Superstar. You’ll have to wait a bit while drinking at the Irish dive bar a block away, and once you’re seated you will become intimately acquainted with the elbows of the person sitting next to you. But once your food arrives, you will forget those things and get hooked for life. After one experience though, calling in a to-go order is definitely a good idea.
BStar tends to be where people head when they’re told about the two-hour wait at Burma Superstar, and for good reason. The tea leaf salad is just as good, the platha and dip are better, and the back room is a great place to hang out, drink Singhas, and try as much of the menu as you can. They also do a solid brunch – especially the tofu scramble and salmon ochazuke.
You can get great pork buns at plenty of places on Clement Street, but our favorites in the city are from Hong Kong Lounge II on Geary. It’ll take a little more effort than popping in and out of a counter shop because this is a sit-down place, but the quality of the dim sum is well worth it. It’s best to come here with a small group so you can try more things, but once you’ve found your favorite, make sure the steamer basket doesn’t leave your sight.
There aren’t many restaurants you remember for their wallpaper. Fiorella is one of them, with the faces of famous San Franciscans like Alice Waters and E-40 dotting the walls. Once you’ve taken that in, you can move to why you’re actually here: pizza and pasta. It’s a great option for a low-key date or when your family is visiting, and Fiorella also does brunch, just in case you aren’t able to get in for dinner. If you have any room left after your meal, make sure to get the almond ricotta cake for dessert.
There are hot pot places all around the neighborhood, but Spices! is one of the few we’ve found that does dry hot pot. They also do great spicy fried chicken, cumin lamb, mapo tofu, and other Sichuan specialties. Plus, it’s super affordable, so you can walk out with enough money to buy a carton of milk afterwards to cool your mouth down.
There are a lot of Burmese restaurants in SF (especially compared to the rest of the country), and Mandalay might be the best without “Burma” in its name. Make sure to get the tea leaf salad, string beans, and balada. They take reservations for groups of five or more, and the service is great, too.
We know bagels in San Francisco don’t have the best reputation, but House of Bagels holds their own. The everything and whole wheat are some of the best you can get in the city, and the True New Yorker with lox and cream cheese is always dependable. Definitely a to-go situation, but that’s how bagels are supposed to be eaten.
This place is tiny with only four tables inside so getting a table isn’t the fastest thing in the world, but the thin crust pizzas are worth it. Drink some wine outside while you wait, and when you finally get a spot, order away. They have standard pizzas, but the seasonal toppings change and they have salads to save you from inhaling a whole pie on your own.
Burmese Kitchen is set up between a car dealership and an auto parts store, but the food is good enough to merit coming here even when you don’t have the urge to test drive an ’07 Rav4. The spicy fish and coconut chicken are good enough to take your mind off that sweet leather interior and ABS braking, but if not, you can get takeout, too.
Omakase nigiri or just going crazy on the a la carte menu, you can’t go wrong at Wako, which serves some of the best upscale sushi around at better prices than spots like Kuskasabe. The bluefin tuna and butterfish are perfect, and the seats at the sushi bar are exactly where you want to be.
This corner spot in the Inner Richmond is a great option for a chill breakfast, lunch, or coffee and a snack. Skip the sub-par bagels and weird potpies and go with the egg sandwiches for breakfast, bulgogi or turkey avocado sandwich for lunch, and excellent chocolate chip cookies for a snack. Or just 10 cookies.
This Thai spot is somewhere you go for a special occasion. You take your shoes off upon entry, and sit at a table with leg space recessed into the floor. The menu leans a little heavily on the American-Thai classics (satay, green curry, pad thai), but it’s a good time regardless.
A big part of coming here is for the back garden area, but it wouldn’t be worth staying if the pastries at Marla Bakery weren’t fantastic. If you want more than just fancy breads, they also do a great brunch with things like baked eggs and a trout plate.
Grocery store delis can be pretty hit or miss, but we don’t think of Arguello Market as having a deli attached. We think of it as a turkey sandwich emporium where you just happen to be able to buy Wheat Thins and French onion dip. Just make sure to get yours on a Dutch crunch roll.
This comes from the school of slightly-upscale dim sum, which makes sense because the owners pioneered the form at Koi Palace in Daly City. Our favorites are the more creative options—sea bass dumplings, fried duck roll, rainbow taro bun, and the like. Go here if you’re a bit bored with the basics.
Cassava serves food pretty much all day, but we like to drop in for breakfast. They make a good honey spiced latte that could make even going to the DMV a little better, but combined with the Japanese breakfast, it’s a setup for a perfect morning.
There are a few Lou’s Cafes around SF, but their sandwich making skills are always consistent, regardless of which neighborhood you’re in. Their breakfast sandwiches are always a good call, but the ami-cado with pastrami and salami for lunch is easily one of our favorite sandwiches in the city - just make sure you add jalapeno spread.
You were flipping channels when Moulin Rouge came on, and now you’re in the mood for French food. Call a few friends and have them meet you at Chapeau! on Clement Street. They do all the classics, from escargots to cassoulet to profiteroles, and while it can’t match the scenery of the movie, it does feel really French. You’ll be happy enough when you leave to admit to your friends that it was actually “Rush Hour 3” that inspired the trip.
Thanks to your lease agreement and over attentive landlord, your Weber mysteriously vanished in the middle of the night. If you still need to be around a grill, go to Jang Soo BBQ. You can cook up all the Korean barbecue you want and get some bibimbap. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the cleanup after.
Tommy’s bills itself as the “World’s Best Tequila Bar,” but whether that’s true or complete hyperbole doesn’t really matter. What is verifiably true is that the bar has a great tequila list, and bartenders who are ready and willing to educate. The Mexican food is solid too, but it’s really just a supplement to the tequila you’ll be drinking.
Maybe you’re running late, or maybe your horoscope said that good things will come to you if you start sitting at more restaurant counters. If that’s the case, head to Clement BBQ. They have really good char siu bao and siu mai, but in a counter scenario, so you can get a box to go in the time it’ll take you to remember what your sun sign is.
People are always reinventing the wheel when it comes to ice cream, but when we want a scoop that hasn’t been shot into space or frozen into beanbag chair filling, we go to Joe’s. It’s a classic spot with the basics like mint chip and some not-so-basic flavors like Thai tea, wasabi, and eggnog.
Clement Street has a better reputation for dumplings than burritos, but that shouldn’t stop you from going to Gordo Taqueria. We like the grilled chicken burrito, but the chili verde is a solid bet, too. Gordo has another location in the Richmond not far away from here, so if that’s the closest one to where you are, go for it, but we like this location best.
There are no windows in Grand Hot Pot Lounge, but the ceiling is painted to look like the sky, so if it’s extra foggy outside, come hang out “in the sun” and get some Szechuan food. Order a few hot pots, throw whatever meats you want into the spicy broth, and enjoy. If you have a larger group, go for a private room and do some karaoke.