As part of my Life List goal of getting to know my city like the back of my hand, I’m collecting 100 of the best things to taste in San Francisco. These are 11-18:
Let’s go somewhere delicious and fun.
1. Pork Shumai at New Asia, $4.50
New Asia is a kitschy Chinatown banquet hall, and their weekend brunch features rolling steam carts with endless, reasonably priced dim sum to ease your hangover. The mostly Chinese patrons are an excellent sign, but the pace can intimidate if you’ve never cart-ordered dim sum before. Research what you’d like to try, and ask the waiters zooming by to send it your way. Otherwise, you can just nod when they show you something appetizing.
2. Happy Hour Oysters at Waterbar, $1.05 each
Fresh oysters and bubbly with a view of the Bay Bridge, this is among the best reasons to live here, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
3. Dessert Soufflé at Café Jaqueline, $30
Café Jaqueline is a romantic, all-soufflé restaurant tucked off the main strip in North Beach. Call ahead to secure a spot at one of the five or six tables, and settle in for a nice slow dessert or savory soufflé with a bottle of wine. Use the restroom so you can peek at the little kitchen, where you’ll find a bottomless bowl of eggs resting on the counter.
4. Burger at Mission Bowl, $15
Burgers that are simple, juicy, and with some kind of magic sauce — all to the soundtrack of pins toppling.
5. Half a Fresh Cracked Crab at the Swan Oyster Depot, $20
San Franciscans will queue for absolutely nothing but great food, so a line is a sign. You will always find a line at this tiny seafood diner, especially now that it’s crab season. Wait in line. Take a seat on a swivel stool at the counter and enjoy a plate of oysters on ice. Grin at the suckers in line, and order another glass of white wine while you crack into your crab.
6. Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton Lounge, $65
I feel calmer just thinking about this place. If you’re going to take tea, there should always be a harpist at hand.
7. Ribeye at Alfred’s, $32
Alfred’s was founded in 1928, and it still feels like you should be able to smoke a cigar at the table. The steaks are exceptional, and reasonably priced for a San Francisco steak house, but I love it because the cocktails are perfect and the place is so cozy. Especially good for a rainy or foggy night.
8. Nebulous Potato Thing and a Breakfast Milkshake at the St. Francis Soda Fountain, about $10 for both
This soda fountain has been around since 1918, and was run by three generations of the same family until 2000. In 2002, the current owners renovated the 1948 dining room and installed a kitchen, making it my favorite diner in the city. Everything is good, but I like the Nebulous Potato Thing – a mound of potatoes fried with onions and whatnot, smothered in melted cheddar with sour cream on top. Your choice of thick breakfast shake on the side, tin included.