- Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
- Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)
Kiraku–2566 Telegraph Ave. (Japanese) Open Wed-Sun (dinner only). Japanese tapas restaurant with a wide variety of dishes. Advice from reviewers is to order anything that looks interesting (it is all good). Not a sushi place– this is an Izakaya restaurant (but they have sushi also). There is a $15 minimum to eat here (or $30 if you make a reservation). It seems to be worth it for the type of Japanese food that it is hard to find in the U.S. (1-27-16)
Udupi Palace–1901 University Ave. (Indian) Open daily 11:30 am to 10 pm. South Indian vegetarian. Thali is good (I really liked the former Seattle location–I recommend thali sampler plate). (1-27-16)
Copenhagen–1216 Burlingame Ave. (Danish) Closed Mon & Tue evening (serves breakfast daily). Some say it’s as close to true Danish as you can get in the U.S. Pastries, sandwiches, Danish meatballs. (4-7-17)
Mokutanya–1155 California Dr. (Japanese) Open Daily. A destination Japanese restaurant that is not terribly expensive, but has enthusiastic fans for its hard to find authentic and delicious dishes. Black garlic ramen is one of the specialties (this is an izakaya restaurant–not primarily a sushi one). (This seems to be a place to come with friends–they give you individual rooms for each table). (4-7-17)
Joy Luck–10911 N. Wolfe Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily. Cantonese style. Good congee. Dim sum. Reviewers say food is good & authentic. Note: apparently the authentic food is in Joy Luck Place inside Joy Luck Palace. (Next best to Chinatown). (4-7-17)
Yayoi–20682 Homestead Rd. (Japanese) Closed Tue. Casual Izakaya style restaurant with very good reviews. Udon and katsu are popular items. (4-7-17)
Estrada’s–7440 Mission St. (Mexican) Open daily except Mon lunch. A quirky, old style Mexican restaurant that most people love. Started out in Fresno and Visalia, and now this is the only one still open. People on Chowhound rave about the sizzling tostada (fried tortilla, refried beans, chorizo, cheddar cheese, garlic/vinegar seasoning, and a red salsa). (12-6-15)
Joy–1489 Beach Park Blvd. (Chinese) Open Daily. Cantonese style. Has a “secret” Chinese menu which is a favorite with Chowhounds (it’s actually written on cards on the wall). The regular menu is Hong Kong, Sichuanese and Taiwanese. (4-7-17)
De Afghanan–37405 Fremont Blvd. (Afghan) Open Daily. An excellent place to try authentic Afghan food. However it is a very casual place that mostly serves kabobs. It is the variety of kabobs and the side dishes served that make it much more interesting than the average kabob restaurant. (4-7-17)
Line Thai–3964 Washington Blvd. (Thai) Open Daily. Opened in 2017, and many had been anxiously awaiting it. Reviewers say the curry is spot on, but the pad thai is really the special dish here (because they do it right and so many other restaurants do not). (4-7-17)
Half Moon Bay
Barbara’s Fishtrap–281 Capistrano Rd. (Seafood) Open Daily. Clam chowder, fish & chips. (4-7-17)
Estrellita–971 N. San Antonio Rd. (Mexican) Open daily except Sun lunch. Mostly a pretty standard Mexican restaurant, but the best dishes on the menu are Yucatan and Oaxaca style. This seems to be one of the best “sit-down” restaurants in the Bay Area. (1-27-16)
Ben Tre–219 El Camino Real (Vietnamese) Closed Tue. This is a “homestyle” Vietnamese restaurant that reminds Vietnamese people of home. It is not a special occasion restaurant and they do not have any special dishes–just ones that show you what people in Vietnam eat on a daily basis (and for this it is a good choice). (4-7-17)
Hong Kong Flower Lounge–51 Millbrae Ave. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm). Seems to be the No. 1 place in the Bay Area for dim sum (rec. by Chowhound). (4-7-17)
Banana Leaf–182 Ranch Dr. (Malaysian) Closed Sun. I think this is the place to go for Malaysian in the Bay Area (has the best reviews). (4-7-17)
Chili Garden–210 Barber Ct. (Chinese) Open Daily. Hunan style (one of 2 authentic Hunan rests. in the Bay Area–the other Hunan rest. is in Sunnyvale). House special Chili Garden beef, sour cabbage bamboo pork (ask for Chinese menu). (4-7-17)
Da Nang Quan–615 E. 12th St. (Vietnamese) Open 9 am to 8 pm (closed Thu). One of the best places for authentic Vietnamese (although Oakland has a large concentration of similar restaurants). Bun Bo Hue and banh xeo are specialties, but has a number of hard to find dishes. (1-12-16)
Doña Tomas–5004 Telegraph Ave. (Mexican) Dinner only (closed Sun & Mon). Upscale Mexican–moles are popular. (1-12-16)
Joy Luck–327 8th St. (Chinese). Cantonese/Hong Kong. Small place with few reviews, but seems to be authentic & good (and cheap).
New Gold Medal–389 8th St. (Chinese). Cantonese. Chowhound guide likes this best in Bay Area for Cantonese–good selection of food, good food. (Gold Medal at 381 8th St. is actually the one rated by Chowhound, but New Gold Medal has better reviews more recently). Dry style chow fun.
Phnom Penh–251 8th St. (Cambodian) Closed Sun. Upscale but small dining room where Cambodian dishes are available. Some recommendations are basil fried rice, eggplant with pork, lotus rootling salad, amok trei (fish in coconut curry), moran chea jee (chicken with beans and red peppers). (1-27-16)
Shan Dong–328 10th St. (Chinese). Mandarin/northern Chinese. Handmade noodles, dan dan noodles, dumplings. One of the favorite Chinese places of locals.
Shanghai–930 Webster St. (Chinese). Shanghai style. XLB, dumplings. Chowhound readers say it’s very good. Stinky tofu available after 6 PM (during the day the neighbors complain about the smell).
Orchid Bowl–3288 Pierce St. (Chinese). Cantonese. Varied menu, lots of unusual things, but is relatively cheap. Rec. by KK (on Chowhound). (4-7-17)
Beijing–1801 Alemany Blvd. (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 9:30 pm. Beijing style. Reviewers say it’s the most authentic Beijing style rest. in SF. Beijing street pancakes, beef noodle soup, dumplings are recommended. (1-27-16)
Borobudur–700 Post St. (Indonesian) Open Daily. Home style Indonesian food. Small rest. Rendang is authentic. One of the top Indonesian rests. in the U.S.
Bund Shanghai–640 Jackson St. (Chinese). Shanghai style. Very good.
Burma Superstar–4348 California St. (Burmese) Open Daily. Reviewers say it is authentic. Samosa soup, tea leaf salad, chicken tofu kabat, pork curry. (Also in Alameda–1345 Park St.)
Hon’s Wun Tun House–648 Kearney St. (Chinese) Open 9:30 am to 7:00 pm (closed Sun). Authentic Hong Kong style noodle house (one of the few really authentic places in Chinatown). Serves many versions of wun tun (wonton) soup–all of them seem to be good. (1-27-16)
Katana-Ya–422 Geary St. (Japanese) Open Daily. Real Japanese ramen. One of the best in the U.S. (better than anything in LA). (4-7-17)
Kui Shin Bo–22 Peace Plaza (Japanese) Closed Mon. Home style Japanese. Fresh fish specials are good. Mainly a lunch place (good prices for lunch). (4-7-17)
Mandalay–4348 California St. (Burmese) Closed Tue. Not only is this a hard to find cuisine, but the restaurant gets excellent reviews. Tea leaf salad, sauteed green beans, chicken in garlic sauce. Reviewers say it is Burmese-Chinese, so Burma Superstar might be more authentic. Reviewers are particularly disappointed with the tea leaf salad, but like the curry chicken, fish soup, singapore noodles, balada, mango chicken, mango salad, and others. (4-7-17)
Muracci’s Japanese Curry–307 Kearney St. (Japanese) Lunch only (closed Sun). It is actually open until 7 pm Mon-Thu, but some reviewers say they frequently run out of their best dishes earlier than this. I think this is probably one of the things that makes it good (everything is fresh and things are not prepared in large quantities). The specialty here is Japanese curry, which many people get with chicken katsu. The menu seems to be fairly limited but something really worth trying if you are a fan of Japanese food. (1-12-16)
New Hong Kong Menu–667 Commercial St. (Chinese) Open 5 pm to 9 pm daily. Authentic Cantonese home style food. Wintermelon soup, salty fish & pork. Popular with Chinese people (not touristy). (1-12-16)
Plaj–333 Fulton St. (Swedish) Open daily (dinner only). Expensive and maybe dress up, but it’s a good chance to try a full menu of Swedish food (there are not many in the U.S.). (4-7-17)
Shanghai Dumpling King–3319 Balboa St. (Chinese) Closed Tue. Best XLB in SF, and maybe the U.S. Small place–cash only. (1-12-16)
Taste of Formosa–2428 Clement St. (Taiwanese) Closed Tue. Authentic Taiwanese food. Even the Taiwanese people say not all of it is good, but get green scallion pancakes, braised pork over rice (add the egg), dumplings, homemade sausage. (1-27-16)
Ton Kiang–5821 Geary Blvd. (Chinese) Open Daily. Dim sum served all day. One of the most popular dim sum places in SF. There is lots of competition, so it’s hard to say which one is best. If you come here try the Shanghai meat dumpling, mushrooms and shrimp, ha gao, onion pancakes, egg custard tarts. (1-12-16)
Yank Sing–101 Spear St. (Chinese) Open daily (lunch only). In the running for best dim sum in SF. XLB is excellent also. 100 varieties of dim sum. Down side is that it is expensive, even for San Francisco. (1-12-16)
ASJ–1698 Hostetter Rd. (Taiwanese). Prob. best Taiwanese street food in Bay Area. Most people like beef noodle soup, but other items are good also.
Popular Bakery–1636 Alum Rock Ave. (Bakery). Portuguese bakery. Rec. by Doug in Mesa (from Chowhound).
Santouka Ramen–675 Saratoga Ave. (Japanese). Maybe the best authentic Japanese ramen in the U.S.
Zeni–1320 Saratoga Ave. (Ethiopian) Closed Mon. Apparently the best Ethiopian in the Bay Area.
Yet Wah–1238 4th St. (Chinese) Open Daily. Reviewers say this is the best Chinese food in Marin County (if you don’t want to cross the bridge into San Francisco). Has some authentic items on the menu. (1-27-16)
Chelokababi–1236 S. Wolfe Rd. (Persian) Open Daily. Good food, but more expensive than it might be in other cities (also seems to have more menu choices). (4-7-17)
Hunan Gourmet–163 S. Murphy Ave. (Chinese) Open Daily. Hunan style (one of the two most authentic in the Bay Area). Beef with caraway seed, pork with pickled mustard green, tofu with homemade pickled mustard green, stir-fried pork belly with green garlic (food is authentically oily). Has “fragrant-spicy” flavor. (4-7-17)
Saravanaa Bhavan–1305 S. Mary Ave. (Indian) Open Daily. South Indian/Sri Lankan. Some say this is the best South Indian rest. in the U.S. (there is also one in New York). Dosa, rasmalai. (4-7-17)
Shanghai Flavor Shop–888 Old San Francisco Rd. (Chinese) Closed Mon. Sheng jian bao is the must try dish (like XLB but with a thicker dough that has been pan fried). (4-7-17)
Notes About This List:
This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others. I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine. My own recommendations are in Bold.
I am not looking to include:
- Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
- Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)
Extra consideration for the following:
- The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
- The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good
In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:
- The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
- Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)
Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.
Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)