San Francisco is a food lover’s paradise. The crisp air and cool fog covering the  charming neighborhoods are just an added bonus to the culinary scene that encompasses this historic city. With thousands of great options to chose from, one of the hardest choices you’ll have to make is choosing where you want to eat.

In an effort to try to narrow down some of my favorite places, I created a list of eight restaurants and cafes that are unique to San Francisco for a quick bite, a quirky dinner, or a sweet craving.

If you’re planning on a trip to San Francisco, pin or bookmark this post for future inspiration! 

Marafuku Ramen

A recent Japantown hotspot Marafuku is the place to go if you want to slurp your way through San Francisco’s best chicken paitan, or Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen. Both paitan and tonkotsu are rich soups that look cloudy-white from the long process of cooking of pork or chicken bones. At Marafuku, you can even specify the firmness of your noodles, level of spice, and even the thickness of the broth.

Be sure to give the takayuki (friend octopus) a try for your appetizer. I ordered the Hakata Dx ramen that came with a soft-boiled egg, nori, green onions, scallions and corn. It’s hard not to love this quintessential Japantown restaurant.

Popover Tip: You’ll likely encounter a wait during peak lunch/dinner times. They do not take reservations so plan to come early, or plan to browse the shops around the restaurant to pass the time.

 Japantown | 1581 Webster St. Ste 235 | (415) 872.9786

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse has been described as “the comfort food of pastries” and for a good reason. When their cruffin (a cross between a croissant and a muffin) took off in 2015, lines were around the block with wait times of 90 minutes. A cruffin comes in the shape of a muffin, but the flakey layers of brioche dough giving it the pull-apart texture of a croissant.

The long lines have since died down, but the bakery remains popular. Don’t pass up some their latest creations including a matcha croissant, or a pineapple upside down cake cruffin.

1042 Larkin St  | Lower Nob Hill | (323) 739-0473

 Mama Ji’s

Pop on over to Mama Ji’s in the Castro area for home-style Sichuan cooking and Dim Sum. This family owned restaurant is perfect for a quick and cost friendly lunch.

Their Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai dumplings), steamed pork buns, and crispy friend shrimp dumplings are full flavored and delicious.

Castro | 4416 18th St | (415) 626-4416

Media Noche 

Media Noche takes traditional Cuban food and adds a fun Miami twist to classic dishes.  You’ll walk inside and be welcomed by Latin music playing with turquoise wall paneling and colorful tiles at your feet. Needless to say, this is a restaurant that was meant to be photographed. 

Media Noche is a fast-casual atmosphere – perfect for a lunch stop if you’re in the Misson District. I have a weakness for fresh guava pastries and cafe con leches. I knew when I spotted a plate of fresh guava pastries on their counter that I couldn’t resist the temptation.  Locals sing praises for their media noche sandwich (a Cuban sandwich on brioche) and their ice cream pops for dessert. 

Mission District | 3465 19th Street | (415) 655-3904



Step right up for a culinary (carnival) ride. Straw is a playful quirky carnival-themed restaurant in Hayes Valley complete with an actual antique Tilt-a-Whirl that you can dine inside. Decorated with old Coney Island photography, and light fixtures made of mason jars – it’s the perfect place for a celebration dinner, or a Sunday brunch.

The real main event at Straw on their menu is their The Ringmaster donut burger and Chicken -n- Waffle Monte Cristo. What’s not to love about a burger in two house-made donut buns, or belgian waffles with crispy chicken smothered in raspberry jam and swiss cheese?  Come one Come all!

Hayes Valley  | 203 Octavia Blvd | (415) 431-3663

 Elephant Sushi 

This small family owned sushi restaurant typically has a line out of the door before it opens – and for a good reason! At Elephant Sushi you’ll find fresh and flavorful rolls. Try the Flaming Sea bass, Ya Man Roll, and for a splurge item the Himalayan Trout.

Popover Tip– Plan to arrive early to avoid a long wait. For dessert after walk up the street and checkout a San Francisco favorite ice cream shop Swenson’s.

Russian Hill | 1916 Hyde Street | (415) 440-1905

Home Cafe SF

Two words. Rainbow Latte. It can be your birthday every day at Home cafe with their colorful birthday cake latte. After trying this latte, you might forever more want to take your coffee with “extra rainbow sprinkles”.

Home has a wide selection of expression drinks, drip coffee and cold brew. Checkout their “creative menu” for drinks like a Cookie Monster Latte, or snap a picture of their jack o’lantern latte in October that will put your pumpkin spice to shame.

Needless to say your inner child will feel right at “home” here.

Outer Sunset | 1222 Noriega Street | (415) 742-0038

Belly Good Cafe & Crepes

At this cafe you can get your dessert “animal style!” Head over to Belly Good Cafe and Crepes in Japantown for a delicious crepe that is almost too cute to eat.

Popover Tip: Belly Goode only accepts cash! Save a stop to the ATM and bring cash in advance.

Japantown | Kintetsu Mall | 1737 Post St Ste. 393 | (415) 346-8383


What are your favorite cafes in San Francisco? The city has so many great ones to choose from! Have you tried one of my favorite places above? I’d love to hear! 



Similar Posts


  1. I love your unique recommendations! Some delicious sounding foods and treats here that I can’t wait to try and my next visit to SF. Thanks for sharing!

    1. They are all unique to San Francisco! Let me know when you make it out there and if you try any!

  2. I haven’t tried any of these. That cuban one sounds really interesting. Pinning for reference when I head back to San Francisco hopefully in November.

  3. Wonderful website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get advice from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

    1. Hi, Matt! Thanks for commenting and I’m so glad you enjoyed my post on San Francisco! Are you referring to travel communities in general? Or, more information about people who would be knowledgeable on San Francisco/different restaurants in the Bay Area?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *