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San Francisco Food & Drink Guide

Brandi Robinson and Sherry Truong are first year law students at UC Hastings, Bay Area natives, and co-founders of the newly formed Hastings Food & Wine Law Society.

As serious enthusiasts of all things gastronomic, we’ve been eating our way through San Francisco for years. Below we’ve compiled a list of restaurants and bars—including a few time-honored favorites as well as some current standouts.

For more information or further suggestions contact either of us at: hastingswinelaw@gmail.com

Happy eating!

RESTAURANTS

Nopa
560 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

Nopa is pretty much everything you want, all of the time. It has a lively, buzzing atmosphere, the food is well thought out without being fussy, the cocktails are perfect, and the wine list is interesting and extensive. They also serve brunch (a meal we take very seriously here)—if you’re going this route, order the French Toast; I promise you won’t regret it. If you’re going for dinner, keep in mind that this restaurant can be anything you need it to be (which might be why I love it so much). Come in for a multi-course meal of expertly executed but simple, seasonal food and a bottle of wine; or come in for their burger and a cocktail—either way, I’m reasonably certain you’ll love it. Tip: this place books up quick. Make your reservation early, or try going late night when it’s easier to grab a spot (they’re open til 1 AM!)

Yank Sing/Shanghai Dumpling King
Yank Sing: 49 Stevenson Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Shanghai Dumpling King: 3319 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94121

I wanted to choose just one—but it would be an injustice to San Francisco cuisine to offer one of these Dim Sum options without the other. All things being equal, the level of cooking and service at Yank Sing is easily superior. Think white tablecloths and traditional, seamless dim sum cart service. That being said, there’s just something really special about Shanghai Dumpling King. It’s way out into the far reaches of the Sunset but significantly cheaper than Yank Sing. The dim sum is still delicious, but the entire experience is a bit rougher around the edges (which just adds to the charming authenticity of the place, in my opinion). If you’re in the market for cheap, delicious dim sum without the frills—Shanghai Dumpling King is your spot.

Note: Shanghai is cash only, but there’s an ATM down the street if you forget. Also, I’m a big fan of the BYO method here. Grab a bottle of bubbles at one of the many awesome wine shops in the city (I’m a big fan of K & L in SoMa and Arlequin in Hayes Valley) and enjoy it with your dim sum, corkage free!

Humphry Slocombe/Bi-Rite
Humphrey Slocombe: 2790 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Bi-Rite: 3692 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Mmm—ice cream. San Francisco doesn’t really have seasons, which is great because that means grabbing ice cream at one of these two spots well into fall and winter is often entirely appropriate. People here generally fall into one of two camps: Bi-Rite lovers or Humphrey Slocombe lovers. Bi-Rite has just straight up delicious ice cream (and ice cream cookie sandwiches—need I say more?). It’s right across from the Bi-Rite grocer, from which it draws its name sake; and also happens to be right next door to Dolores Park, one of my favorite places in the universe. Humphry Slocombe is for the adventurous palette. They’re known for their crazy ice cream flavors, such as Foie Gras, Oolong, Russian Imperial Stout, and Strawberry Black Olive. They also have awesome traditional flavors, which are also delicious.

Brenda’s French Soul Food
652 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Brenda’s is a delicious Cajun spot with an almost cult-like following. The enthusiasm for this place makes sense:  Delicious New Orleans fare and a quaint, authentic atmosphere make this the ultimate comfort food destination. The beignets, gumbo, and really everything else, to be honest—are pretty much perfect. This is an awesome place for brunch, but the place is pretty small so the wait can be crazy. Weekdays at lunch or dinnertime are definitely your best bet.

Super Duper Burger
721 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

This place is made for the burger purist. No artisanal cheeses, aioli, or brioche buns here. It’s a good old fashioned, straight forward, delicious burger. They also have soft serve that they make in house, which is always a good thing.

House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

Want to feel like you’re in an episode of Mad Men? House of Prime Rib has got you covered. This place has been has been a San Francisco tradition since pretty much forever—and nothing about it has changed for decades. The burgundy velvet upholstery and tuxedoed servers preparing Caesar salad tableside is more sweetly nostalgic than kitschy—and the prime rib is to die for.

Taquerias El Farolito
2779 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Mission burritos are phenomenal, and according to pretty much everyone—these ones are the best. They’re ridiculously huge, which means best bang for your buck, guaranteed. The tacos are phenomenal, too. There’s bound to be an enormous line outside, but I promise you--it’s definitely worth it.

Nopalito
306 Broderick Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

This place is actually an offshoot of Nopa—hence the name. More sit down style Mexican with California flare. Organic, local ingredients; awesome cocktails and beautiful patio seating make this place an awesome place to grab lunch or dinner.  

BARS

Bourbon and Branch
501 Jones Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

This not-so-secret speakeasy in the heart of the Tenderloin is blocks away from the UC Hastings campus.  Staying true to the prohibition theme, patrons are given a secret password to gain entry into the main bar.  Reservations are strongly encouraged to secure a quiet table.  No reservations?  No problem. The venue has a second bar in the back called the Library that serves the same drinks.  Just ring the buzzer and use the password, “books,” and a host will escort you to a separate room with floor to ceiling books.

Chambers
601 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

If you’re craving some flavorful handcrafted drinks, Chambers is a lovely restaurant/bar tucked inside the colorful Phoenix Hotel. The entrance may be hard to find but once inside, you’ll notice an eclectic selection of vinyl records lining the walls.  Quiet but cool, this place is definitely one you’ll want to come back to.

Tip: Try a Boulevardier- similar to the Negroni, but made with rye whiskey, vermouth, and Campari.

Smuggler’s Cove
650 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

San Francisco’s best tiki bar offers kitsch, fun cocktails, and over 400 rare rums.  The interior of the bar sports a mini lagoon and pirate themed décor.  If you’re feeling adventurous or are unsure of what drink to get, the bartenders are always willing to throw something together for you! For larger groups, the giant scorpion bowl is a SF tradition.

Hopwater Distribution
850 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108

This is one of the popular places to stop in for a great craft brew. With over 30 California beers on tap, you’re bound to find something you’ll like.  The bar also has some creative pub-style food that pairs splendidly with any ale. Though it gets busy as it hits the evening peak hours, there’s always a good crowd with fun and interesting people to meet.

Hidden Vine
408 Merchant Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

This wine bar was named one of best in the U.S. by Gayot. They have an extensive wine selection and also offer wine flights for those who want a sample of some different varieties.  There’s also plenty of comfortable couches and chairs to tuck into.  An added bonus-there’s a hidden bocce ball court in the back of the bar!

Hard Water
Pier 3, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

A visit to this quaint whiskey bar is a must if you venture to the Embarcadero.  The first thing you’ll see when you enter is a tall wall with shelves of whiskey and bourbon.  Care for some Eagle Rare 17yr? A bartender will gladly climb up the ladder and fetch it for you. Hard Water also features a Van Winkle flight for the bourbon connoisseurs. If you’re hankering for a bite, the bar serves up delicious Southern food that pairs wonderfully with some of their signature cocktails.  Who can say no to bites of fried pork belly and bourbon?

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