By No Vacation Required, on October 6, 2013

Food we love in San Francisco

There is no other place like San Francisco. Each time we visit, we uncover uncommon experiences, boutique hotels, and an eclectic mix of people that make the city exceptional.

In honor of San Francisco’s distinct qualities, we decided to challenge ourselves to eat only at one-of-a-kind food joints during our last visit. This meant committing to eating at places with no locations outside of San Francisco. Let me tell you, it wasn’t too difficult.

In most cases, we were able to visit single-location outlets – truly unique. Be sure to check out some of these places next time you are in San Francisco and feel free to share your finds in the comments section.

Ritual Coffee

We got into the habit of starting our days at this java gem. Ritual’s commitment to coffee consciousness is evident. They source the right beans from the right farmers and take great care in getting every cup just right. Grab a cup at the Hayes Valley location and plan your day at the little park next door.

Tommaso’s pizza


Shame on us for even considering not going to Tommaso’s. While this restaurant met our one-of-a-kind requirement, we didn’t like the fact that it is so popular. We went anyhow (and endured the line) and are better because of it. When our lasagna arrived at the table, we were pleased, but not entirely convinced. When we had our first bites of the fresh spinach and shaved Parmesan pizza, we knew we had a find on our hands. I’ll say no more. Just look at the picture and then put this place on your list for your next visit.

Viewfinder Tip: San Francisco is a great place for a culinary adventure.

Saigon Sandwich

We went to this bastion of Vietnamese sandwiches twice during our last visit. For just over $10, we shared three banh mi and were stuffed. Our favorite was the meatball pork version. Packed with fresh condiments, this sandwich had a well-seasoned, semi-sweet flavor that was huge. The bread is perfectly chewy and is an ideal vehicle for the juicy concoction inside. Bring cash and don’t let the line deter you.

Dottie’s strata


This is another place that we wanted to force ourselves to avoid. Based on multiple rave reviews, we happily braved the line one day for brunch. As you can see, the strata was a feast for the eyes, and it tasted just as good. Perfectly browned and loaded with veggies and cheese, it was everything you hope for after a boozy Saturday night. The same can be said for the blueberry cornmeal pancakes (hint, hint) and don’t forget to take away a couple pastries for a snack later.


Also in Hayes Valley, Straw serves up a variety of carnival-inspired comfort food. I know, as if comfort food isn’t enough they had to go and throw carnival food into the mix. With tortilla chips piled high with cheese, ranchero sauce, avocado, and cilantro, the fiesta grande was spectacular. We’ve already decided that next time we’ll order the mac attack and the sweet tots.

Smitten’s ice cream

Smitten Ice Cream

As ice cream fanatics, we are smitten with Smitten. They bring this frozen delight to an entirely new level by hand-making every order. They accomplish this by using liquid nitrogen for speed and consistency. But you don’t need to know all of that. Just show up and pick something off of their board. You won’t be disappointed. After torturing ourselves with a decision, we went for a lavender-infused ice cream with a caramel sauce.

All of these establishments are located within easy access of the urban core. Be sure to check locations and hours before going.

What are your favorite San Francisco food finds?