Food & Drink
Hog Island Oyster Co. — Fab oysters and clam chowder. Always popular; the line starts on the ferry side outside the building but usually moves fairly quickly. ☞ If you’re dining alone, ask for the walk-in bar area; I often manage to squeeze-in there even when there’s a line out the door.
Tadich Grill — Legendary seafood institution with a great bar, too. Good pitstop downtown. Open since 1849.
Swan Oyster Depot — If you’re in the area for lunch, hit it. Order the combo salad. Often a line out the door. ☞ It closes at 2.30pm & is not open for dinner.
Slanted Door — Modern Vietnamese. Consistently packed—and it’s been open for years. Definitely reserve ahead if you’ll be more than 1 person (it’s also a good spot for an investor dinner); entrance is on the ferry side of the building. ☞ If going solo, there’s a long bar for walk-ins, where I’ve been consistently lucky in getting a spot, especially if I arrive before 7pm.
Liholiho Yacht Club — Neo Hawaiian/Asian/Californian. Interesting wine & cocktail list, too. Reserve ahead.
Mr Jiu’s — Funky neo-Chinese restaurant in a gorgeous retrofitted Chinatown building. Long, dim bar for walk-ins; tables in a high-ceilinged windowed rooms for bookings. Inventive cocktails and ingredients.
Mission Chinese — Spicy, hot AF, fabulous Chinese fare in a divey, disco-like setting. ☞ Ideal for group dining; you can order more things!
Zuni Café — Italian-French institution in a Flatiron building at the heart of Civic Center. Consistently reliable comfort food done right for brunch, lunch, dinner. ☞ Should you go with someone who’s into sharing: Their roasted chicken with bread salad for 2 is legendary.
Cotogna — Rustic-chic Italian pasta, grilled meats & pizza, plus a bar for walk-ins. ☞ If you want to go somewhere fancy to celebrate closing a deal, go to Michelin-starred sister restaurant, Quince.
Statebird Provisions — Eclectic tapas style plates, memorable combinations & flavors.
Octavia — Really special spot: It’s elegant & sophisticated, without any trappings or pretensions. Has a fabulous neighborhood vibe, superb New American cooking, excellent wine list, and a woman chef. Reserve ahead.
Leo’s Oyster Bar — Hello, wallpaper on the ceiling. Leo’s does everything right.
Bakeries & Cafés
Tartine Bakery — Start your day with a latte and their ‘morning bun’, an absolutely perfect confection of laminated croissant dough topped with sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon.
Sightglass — With single-origin coffee beans hand-roasted on site, the sheer aroma of Sightglass is bound to perk you up. Stop in for a cup and buy a bag to take home.
Tunnel Top — My favorite dive bar in SF occupies a windowed box over a tunnel (whence the name), up the hill from Union Square.
Bourbon & Branch —Dimly lit joint on the edge of the Tenderloin with a robust cocktail menu and serious mixology cred. Bills itself as a speakeasy and you do indeed need to ring the bell at the unmarked door & provide a password to get in. ☞ Reserve ahead to get the password.
Hyde Out — Legit SF dive bar. I promise you won’t see any fellow investors or tech bros in here. They also have TVs, if you want to watch tennis or hockey. ☞ Cash only.