The cool hub of northern California, San Francisco is a beacon of American trend and liberal style as much in its boutique shops and alternative music scene as with its food. With over 3,500 restaurants to choose from, this exciting and diverse city is a haven for foodies looking to ignite, indulge and expand the senses.
The ultimate must-visit for all food lovers is Valencia Street. Wander past a host of new boutique eateries including Dosa, a vibrant South Indian restaurant offering dishes such as chatni masala dosa (spicy eggplant chutney and creamy spiced potatoes). Find Spork, a retro diner which was formerly a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Instead of commercial fast-food, now expect grass-fed beef burgers and slow-roasted pork.
Alternatively, try Bar Tartine for an inventive mix of flavours from Hungary, Japan and Denmark. There’s fried langos potato bread or smørrebrød sandwiches (steak tartare on sprouted rye bread) for lunch. At night, go to Amnesia, an intimate lounge that offers a range of microbrews made from Korean soju and a small stage that hosts an eclectic mix of live music.
For breakfast or brunch make a stop at the Red Door Cafe in Pacific Heights, small but always packed, get there early for a spot and indulge in one of the most popular dishes, French toast Josephine with caramelised bananas for melt-in-the mouth sweetness with a crisp outside.
Dedicated food explorers should also venture to the Mission District for some of the city’s most interesting eateries including energetic California-style sushi at Ichi Sushi which boasts delicious seafood topped with yuzu-ponzu gel and pickled kelp. Journey to State Bird Provisions on Fillmore Street for hearty California cuisine and an awe-inspiring array of appetisers including pancake with smoked sturgeon, duck liver mousse with almond biscuits and fried quail. Make sure to make a reservation though!
There’s also a plethora of festivals taking place in the city throughout the year from Mexican parades, Chinese New Year and Caribbean carnivals, all promising stacks of delicious home-cooked street food. The latest festival is perfect for sweet-toothed travellers, head to the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival on 14 September for chocolate-covered strawberries, sticky brownies and mountains of chocolate cheesecake.