Life can be tough sometimes. Your roommate has decided after a particularly enlightening ayahuasca trip that she’s moving into a commune with her trustafarian friends from Burning Man, and your phone was stolen at one of the many crowded SF bars that undoubtedly doubles as a crime ring but also has a great dance floor. When sh*t hits the fan, you need comfort food spots that can reliably turn your week around. This list is your lifeline when you need good food to happen to a bad week.
No one likes getting dumped, especially on their birthday and by their girlfriend’s mom. When that happens though, you need to go somewhere that’ll make you think of better, happier times, and New Orleans-themed Alba Ray’s is just the place. This spot in the Mission makes great cocktails, serves everything from jambalaya to crawfish, and will quickly help you forget about the past 24 hours. And if not, at least there are beignets.
Your plan to own an aquarium took a horrible turn when a lamp tipped over, punched a hole in the tank, and flooded your apartment with water and goldfish. Now your downstairs neighbors have a pot catching the drips and are charging you by the centimeter for the damage. Escape to Tartine Manufactory for a while, which has all the baked goods and soft serve you need to take your mind off of thinking about your neighbors’ expensive taste in furniture.
The landlord wasn’t bluffing about the old pipes in your building, and thanks to your “we should install our own disposal” experiment, you’ve got a plumbing bill larger than Andre the Giant’s legendary bar tab. Before you call the utility company to plead your case, go eat some tortellini or lasagna at Italian Homemade and think about what you learned from this experience.
Comstock Saloon in North Beach is pretty much the Swiss Army Knife of bars. It’s old-school without being too formal, and lively without being too loud to actually hear your friends when they’re giving you advice. It’s also somewhere you can comfortably sit at the bar solo, drink a well-made cocktail, and eat some lo mein cacio e pepe or crispy Brussels sprouts while you reflect on the past week. And then maybe order a second drink.
You spilled coffee on your new shirt, caught your jacket in a revolving door, and almost got hit by a scooter all before noon. When you need to have lunch some place where you can reset for a bit, go to 4505 Burgers and BBQ. Get some brisket or ribs and head outside to one of the picnic tables in the back. It won’t reverse how your day started, but some fresh air and barbecue will at least help you get through the afternoon.
It’s basically impossible to be unhappy at Chubby Noodle, both because their food is really good and it’s always a party inside. Sit at a booth with a few friends, order some garlic noodles with fried chicken, and talk about your weekend plan to install a zipline from Andy’s apartment at the top of the hill down to your courtyard at the bottom - the landlords won’t mind.
Zuni is an institution in San Francisco. The chicken for two should be appointed the state bird of California and the fries are insanely good. Make a reservation when you’ve been trolling Craigslist looking for a new apartment for weeks and your most promising lead is a studio in SoMa that comes with a 42-year-old club promoter. Go to Zuni, let it restore your faith in San Francisco, and maybe switch to Zillow.
It’s the third time this week your supervisor has sent your work back to you with the only instructions being, “do it again.” Take a mental breather and go to Molinari in North Beach. This place sells every type of Italian meat, cheese, and pasta you can think of, and has some of the friendliest staff in the city. Make sure to grab a sandwich while you’re there - we’re partial to the Renzo with capicola and prosciutto, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
John is out sick, Karen is on vacation, Charlie had to go to his kid’s school for a parent teacher conference, and now everything is on you. A chicken pita from Sababa could save your entire week from turning to ruin. It’s comfort food, but light enough that you’ll still have plenty of energy to respond to the 97 emails that were funneled your way courtesy of your coworkers’ out of office messages.
Your grandpa just figured out iCloud, but in the process accidentally shared photos of something he meant to send to his gastroenterologist. Go to Trick Dog when you need to reset your life and trigger some form of retrograde amnesia with a strong cocktail and some chicken fingers.
The pancakes at Zazie can move mountains, save kittens from burning buildings, and get you out of street cleaning parking tickets. OK, maybe not that last one - but they’ll at least make you feel better about them. Zazie is also the perfect destination for any day you decide to play hooky. The brunch line on weekends is absurd, so treat yourself to a San Francisco delicacy without the wait when your boss changes their mind on strategy again and you just need a personal day.
Baked Bear lets you customize an ice cream sandwich with cookies and toppings, or if you don’t want to have to immediately change your shirt, you can get your cookie and ice cream in bowl form. There’s also a North Beach location, but the Fisherman’s Wharf one is close to the water, so you can sit, stare at the bay, and make the fact that your car got broken into for the third time feel insignificant.
It’s been a long week. The city decided that your street is due for some construction and surprise, it’s perfectly acceptable to jackhammer the sidewalk at 6am Monday through Friday. You are tired and cranky and need something nice. Here’s where the Riddler comes in. Try to get there early in the evening, post up with a lot of champagne, some potato chips and caviar and maybe a charcuterie plate, and let it all go.
When you lose your faith in humanity and need to believe in something, believe in the kouign amann at B. Patisserie. They taste like the test tube baby that a flaky croissant and soft cookie would produce, and instantly make your day better. B. Patisserie is the perfect stop for breakfast any day of the week if you’re a normal human being that doesn’t make brunch reservations three months in advance, but also don’t feel like cooking for yourself.
Your boyfriend of almost a year decided to pursue his dreams and move to the Dominican Republic to open a surf shop. Or was it a farm? Somehow he forgot to invite you and is already subletting his apartment to a guy named Jim, and you are now single. Dinner at A16 will make this sting a little less than the sunburn your idiot boyfriend hopefully gets the instant he arrives. It’s ideal for solo eating at the bar, and the pasta and pizza solve pretty much all problems.
Your shower is inexplicably unable to drain and you found a mouse building itself a villa and cabana in your pantry. Time to eat like a knight in a place that could pass for the VIP section of Medieval Times. Cockscomb’s vaulted ceilings, stone floor, and chandeliers make the space feel like a castle’s dining hall and the meat-heavy menu - from the bacon chop to the burger to the steak to feed an army - is excellent.
If you can’t remember much of the night, but woke up to texts from the bouncer at Bootie asking if you still want to hike Alamere Falls in the morning, it’s Devil’s Teeth time. Delete the texts, drive straight to the Sunset, and eat their breakfast sandwich on Ocean Beach. Make like Hilary Duff and let the ocean wash away your sins while devouring the egg-bacon-biscuit creation that’s covered in avocado and aioli.
After a huge presentation on Monday, your coworker finally told you that you had a noticeable rip going down the back of your pants. Anyway, the funk is following you around, and you can’t shake it. Head to Union Larder for some cured meats to cure a bad week. Their grilled cheese can pull you out of the deepest hole if necessary.