What a dump” but “what perfect dumplings” are on offer at this Outer Richmond Chinese, where adventurous eaters “turn a blind eye” to the “no-frills” decor and the “distance” from other parts of town to slurp down Shanghainese delicacies; you may have to “share your table”, but it’s so “super-cheap” and service so “helpful” that after “one taste”, you’ll be this king’s “advocate for life.”
3319 Balboa St.; 415-387-2088
“Generous portions” of “fresh-tasting” Chinese chow are “elegantly presented” at this Pacific Heights Hunan haunt, where “quality ingredients” add up to an “excellent” meal; the “lovely” modern setting and “reasonable” prices make it “a favorite for those in the know” (lunch is an especially “amazing deal”), but idlers opt for “takeout” to avoid “the bum’s rush” from the “fast” waiters.
2877 California St.; 415-621-4819
This “tiny” Parkside “hole-in-the-wall” “charms the tongue” with “darn-good dumplings” and other “cheap and delicious” Chinese eats; just “don’t expect service or decor” or fast in-and-out, as there are often “huge waits” – though “takeout is quick and easy.”
1713 Taraval St.; 415-566-6143
Hong Kong Lounge
Lines rivaling “the Great Wall” suggest this Outer Richmond dim sum spot is “one of the best”, serving a “stunning variety” of “superb” dumplings delivered “directly from the kitchen to your table”; “quality” Chinese dinners, including “bargain” “prix fixe” options, add to the possibilities – as long as you can overlook sometimes “not so nice” staffers; P.S. for a “shorter wait” try the Laurel Heights offshoot.
5322 Geary Blvd.; 415-668-8836
“Brave” (or just adventurous) eaters who “explore the entire menu” at this off-the-radar Chinatown locale will be rewarded with both dim sum delicacies and “authentic Shanghai cuisine”, from some of the “best soup dumplings in town” to more unusual specialties; “service can be slow” but it exudes “genuine” “hospitality”, and prices are “reasonable.”
640 Jackson St.; 415-982-0618
Diners are wowed by the “excellent homemade” Chinese fare, including scrumptious “soup dumplings”, at this “small”, “simple place” in Outer Richmond, which some say serves “the best Shanghainese in San Francisco”; service can be “slow” and decor is nonexistent “but the food makes up for it”; P.S. cash only.
3641 Balboa St.; 415-831-9288
“Order your heart out” at this “two-floor” Outer Richmond “institution” where a “dazzling” variety of dim sum is “served all day”, joined by “Hakka cuisine” at dinner; “it’s not the cheapest” and could use “sprucing up”, plus there are “long” waits “weekend mornings”, but for “delectable” Chinese food without the “drive to Chinatown”, it’s “the place to go.”
5821 Geary Blvd.; 415-387-8273
Siphon-Style Tim Wendelboe or Stumptown Coffee at MA-velous
This mid-market coffee shop really is too marvelous for words, what with its astounding array of coffees from around the world and inventory of coffee-making gadgets. It’s known in particular for carrying Stumptown Coffee and for being one of the new stateside shops offering cult Norway micro-roaster Tim Wedleboe. Each of the seasonally rotating artisanal bean blends can be brewed in six different ways (espresso, drip, Chemex, French press, Kyoto-style cold slow drip and via a siphon [or vacuum pot] machine). We recommend you order it siphon-style.
1408 Market St.; 415-626-8884
The Gibraltar at Blue Bottle
The granddaddy of third-wave coffee draws crazy long lines to its multiple outposts in the Bay Area (and New York) for many of its coffee drinks, including the New Orleans-style iced coffee. However, insiders know to request the Gibraltar, an off-menu selection that founder James Freeman invented. Named after the glass in which it’s served, the Gibraltar is made with 1.5 oz. of espresso and 2.5 oz. of milk.
Flat-Bottom Kalita Pour-Over at Wrecking Ball Coffee at Firehouse 8
Tucked away in the back of the North Beach’s Firehouse 8 (a mixed-use retail and event space) is the city’s newest third-wave coffee bar. Wrecking Ball is the exclusive U.S. importer of Kalita coffee-brewing gear. The shop offers all sorts of espresso drinks as well as quick-service brewed coffee, but it’s best known for its pour-over coffee service using flat-bottomed Kalita Wave dripper filters, which founder Nicholas Cho insists maximizes extraction and highlights the natural sweetness of the coffee. Wrecking Ball is currently offering two coffees, Colombia Huila San Agostino and Rwanda Nyamasheke Bourbon. The Colombian is more balanced with a bit of fruitiness, while the Rwanda is more delicate and floral.
1648 Pacific Ave.; 415-371-9662
Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista Cafe
You can’t have a conversation about San Francisco and coffee without at least paying a nod to the city’s most iconic hot beverage – the Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista Cafe. Invented in 1952 as a send-up of a drink found in Shannon Airport, this whiskey-spiked java drink features enough caffeine, sugar, booze and cream to stave off the fog, and on busy days, the bar serves over 2,000 of them. (It’s also available at Buena Vista’s sister restaurant, The Trident in Sausalito). The bartenders still make it the same way: stirring hot coffee and two sugar cubes into a preheated glass, adding a jigger of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey and topping it off with 2 oz. of lightly blended heavy cream.
2765 Hyde St.; 415-474-5044