San Francisco offers a dizzying number of options when it comes to food and drink. Here are a few restaurant suggestions to get you started, whether you're looking for an old-school classic, a one-of-a-kind pairing experience or a stylish neighborhood spot.
Historic Beer Hall Revived
Founded in 1893, the traditional German beer hall in the Financial District known as Schroeder’s has undergone a transformation. The most recent iteration comes to us from the team behind one of the city’s most successful wine bars, Press Club. The vast 5,000-square-foot space now has a decidedly more modern and sleek feel with updated furnishings and lighting, yet it still brims with character, from the 1930s-era Herman Richter murals to a new chandelier made from a grouping of the original light fixtures. The front area is now a casual drink hall serving bar bites, and beyond that is a dining room with a new, full menu. The traditional Bavarian fare—think wiener schnitzel, pork cracklins and bratwurst with sauerkraut, has a California sensibility. The impressive beer offerings—selected by a master cicerone—are mostly German and available on draft; the wine list highlights German and Austrian wines; and many of the artisan cocktails have German roots or incorporate beer. Prost! 240 Front St., San Francisco, 415.421.4778.
The concept behind the upscale SoMa restaurant Radius an impressive one: It sources all of its food from a 100-mile radius. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but the food shines at this under-the-radar spot with a loyal neighborhood following. The rustic minimalist atmosphere suits the localized menu, which changes regularly. We recommend starting with the steamed mussels a la mariniere with pork belly and crostini if they’re on the list, along with a crisp, refreshing salad. Standout entrees have included spring gnocchi with English peas and green apple as well as roasted pork chop with peach panzanella. You’re likely to see a few orders of the crowd-pleasing vanilla & olive oil milkshake pass your table. For a more casual affair, the cafe adjacent to the restaurant serves sandwiches and salads and has an inviting back patio. 1123 Folsom St., San Francisco, 415.525.3676.
The History Buff’s Dinner Spot
The oldest San Francisco restaurant still operating in the same space, The Old Clam House was built in 1861, the same year that President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated and just six years after the California Gold Rush. Back then, the small wood-frame structure served the fishing industry workers at its waterfront location. Today, the same site is a mile from the bay, in an industrial district on the edge of the city. The restaurant survived the Earthquake and Fire of 1906 (contained about 10 blocks north) and was more recently hailed an “iconic establishment that contributes to the culture, character and lore of San Francisco” by the San Francisco Architectural Heritage organization’s Legacy Project. A meal here still starts with the traditional clam juice and sourdough for dipping. We also recommend an order of the clams escargot, a witty take on the French classic served with bread crumbs and garlic butter. The giant clam bake cioppino is stuffed with seven kinds of tender seafood and available in family-size portions. A popular dinner spot after Giants games, the restaurant’s atmosphere oozes history with its checkered tablecloths, pressed metal ceiling and wood walls covered with old-time San Francisco and marine-themed memorabilia. 299 Bayshore Blvd., San Francisco, 415.826.4880.
The stretch of Hyde Street in the heart of the Russian Hill neighborhood has a charming, Old World feel, with sidewalks set up for alfresco dining and a smattering of European-style bistros and wine bars. This is the setting for Stone’s Throw, a warm and inviting, casual-chic spot from one of the city’s most talented restaurant teams (which includes three Michael Mina alums). The seasonal menus here are outstanding—order the perfectly grilled, melt-in-your-mouth octopus and the puffed potato and eggs if they’re on the lineup. The talented bartender mixes creative loophole cocktails (liquor licenses are hard to come by in this town) to complement the extensive artisan beer and wine lists. The desserts are artfully presented, playful riffs on childhood classics, like chocolate bananas foster and peanut butter and jelly doughnuts. The restaurant also regularly hosts special dinners with top chefs from around the city to benefit a local food bank, as well as beer and winemaker dinners. Neighborhood foodies rave about the Sunday brunch. 1896 Hyde St., San Francisco, 415.796.2901.
Dinner for the Beer Enthusiast
Abbot’s Cellar is akin to a monastery for beer, approaching brews with a reverence usually reserved for wine. Located in the city’s foodie epicenter, the Mission District, the focus in this soaring, masculine space is refined beer and food pairings. Backlit shelving behind the bar showcases an array of glassware, the stone-walled beer and wine cellar is two stories high and the specially designed tables have sliding slots to contain the book-like drink menu, which lists well over 100 beer varieties. The tasting menu and a la carte options change daily, and the polished servers walk guests through the pairing process. We recommend the pork chops, bone marrow, gnocchi and excellent preparations of carrots and green beans. 742 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415.626.8700.