Restaurant Guide–San Francisco

Restaurant Guide Main Index


California

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  • 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)

Alameda

Phnom Penh–1514 Webster St. (Cambodian) Closed Sun.  People say the food here is excellent. The only thing is that it is different from Thai food in that it relies more on the freshness of the food and subtle flavors rather than spices, etc. Asian crepe is one of many interesting looking items (this is similar to the Vietnamese banh xeo). (3-5-19)

Berkeley

Imm Thai Street Food–2068 University Ave. (Thai) Open daily until 10 pm.  I honestly do not know how authentic it is, but from the photos it looks very visually appealing, and reviewers say it is very good. The is probably about a 45 minute wait to get a table much of the time. (3-5-19)

Kiraku–2566 Telegraph Ave. (Japanese) Closed Mon (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. Wait (without a reservation) can be up to 2 hrs. on weekends. (3-5-19)

Udupi Palace–1903 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). Dosa is also very popular. (3-5-19)

Burlingame

Copenhagen–1216 Burlingame Ave. (Danish) Open daily except Mon evening & Tue evening (serves breakfast daily). This is a bakery and cafe. Some say it’s as close to true Danish as you can get in the U.S. Pastries, sandwiches, Danish meatballs. (4-30-19)

Mokutanya–1155 California Dr. (Japanese) Open daily (open to 2 am).  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). (4-30-19)

Cupertino

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). (12-12-18)

Red Hot Wok–10074 E. Estates Dr. (Taiwanese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:15 to 5 pm). Reviewers say this is one of their favorite Taiwanese restaurants in the Bay Area. This is pretty much everyday comfort food (not expensive or high end). (6-10-19)

Yayoi–20682 Homestead Rd. (Japanese) Open Daily.  Japanese Teishoku restaurant (several small dishes served with steamed rice). Has very good reviews. Udon and katsu are popular items. Also in Palo Alto. (12-12-18)

Daly City

Chibog–2055 Gellert Blvd. (Filipino) Closed Mon.  Reviews are not as good as Boracay Garden in South San Francisco, but there seems to be plenty here that is very flavorful (it would be best to read on-line reviews to see what they recommend). Probably cheaper than Boracay also. (3-5-19)

Mahar Yangon–6318 Mission St. (Burmese) Closed Mon (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Reviewers let you know that this is not the best Burmese food in the Bay Area, but they like many aspects of it including the price. Also it is a mom and pop place so you can probably get them to explain the food if you have never had it before. (3-5-19)

Foster City

Joy–1489 Beach Park Blvd. (Taiwanese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  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. Reviews in late 2018 and 2019 indicate that it is now “uneven.” Part of the problem is that the landlord raised the rent and they can no longer afford to serve the cheap dishes (such as Taiwanese pancakes). They do say, though, that they have authentic Taiwanese food. (3-5-19)

Fremont

De Afghanan–37405 Fremont Blvd. (Afghan) Open Daily.  Seems to be 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. (6-10-19)

Din Ding Dumpling House–3213 Walnut Ave. (Chinese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 5:30 pm).  This is a Shanghai style noodle and dumpling house. Xiao long bao (with pork) is said to be excellent, but has many other excellent dishes as well. This is said to be a good alternative to the higher priced dumpling houses and is said to be the same quality (but perhaps not exactly the same menu). (6-10-19)

Line Thai–3964 Washington Blvd. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  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). Spice levels are at Thai levels (so be cautious when ordering). (6-10-19)

Half Moon Bay

Barbara’s Fishtrap–281 Capistrano Rd. (Seafood) Open Daily.  Clam chowder, fish & chips. (4-7-17)

Los Altos

Estrellita–971 N. San Antonio Rd. (Mexican) Open daily except Sun lunch (and closed from 2 to 5 pm).  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” Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area. (12-12-18)

Noodle Talk Home Cuisine–4546 El Camino Real (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 2:15 to 5:30 pm).  Authentic Hunan cuisine, but I think the “home cuisine” means that it is casual, inexpensive, and is more home style food than “banquet style.” (12-12-18)

Millbrae

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)

Milpitas

Banana Leaf–182 Ranch Dr. (Malaysian) Closed Sun (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  I think this is the place to go for Malaysian in the Bay Area (has the best reviews). Mango chicken is popular, and my experience in Seattle indicates that this may be a good bet. (12-12-18)

Chili Garden–210 Barber Ct. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Hunan style (said to be one of 2 authentic Hunan rests. in the Bay Area–the other Hunan rest. was in Sunnyvale but is now closed-one that recently opened in Los Altos may also be authentic).  House special Chili Garden beef, sour cabbage bamboo pork (ask for Chinese menu). (12-12-18)

Noodle Hut–1810 Milmont Dr. (Cambodian) Closed Mon (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Noodle dishes are recommended (particularly the Phnom Penh noodles). Some say they are disappointed with the noodle soup, but love the noodle plates. (12-12-18)

Mountain View

Caspian–1910 El Camino Real (Persian) Open daily except Sun evening.  Reviewers say the quality is good and they make good use of herbs and spices for a very nice flavor. (12-12-18)

Chef Zhao Bistro–400 Moffett Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Mon (and closed from 2:00 to 5:00pm).  Chef Zhao appeared on the Yan Can Cook show and prepared a couple of notable dishes–fish and ma po tofu (both of which have good reviews at the restaurant and appear to be authentic). Reviewers also recommend Lanzhou beef noodle soup, chili chicken, and dan dan noodles (and say the Sichuan boiled fish is very good). (12-12-18)

Oakland

Champa Garden–2102 8th Ave. (Lao) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  To me everything looks good, and reviews seem to support it. Lao Tae has better reviews, but it seems to have fewer items and has different hours. I would say take your pick (Champa Garden looks less expensive and more home style). (3-5-19)

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. Specializes in central Vietnamese cuisine (Hue style). (3-5-19)

Doña Tomas–5004 Telegraph Ave. (Mexican) Closed Sun evening & Mon.  Upscale Mexican–moles are popular. (3-5-19)

FOB Kitchen–5179 Telegraph Ave. (Filipino) Dinner only Wed-Fri; lunch only Sat & Sun.  Several things stand out here including the variety of dishes they serve, how good it looks visually from the photos, and the reviews it gets (other Filipino restaurants in the Bay Area also have a large variety of dishes though). I think this is one of the places that is worth seeking out. (3-5-19)

Lao Tae–6516 Moraga Ave. (Lao) Dinner only (open daily).  Food seems to be very flavorful and uniformly good. Lao sausage and crispy pork belly are particularly popular. (3-5-19)

New Gold Medal–389 8th St. (Chinese) Open daily (open late night).  Very authentic Cantonese food. Seems to have good food, but I get the impression that the staff expects you to know what you are ordering and some end up with items they do not like. Dry style chow fun is recommended. Has an extremely large menu (as most authentic Cantonese restaurants do). Serves food without MSG if you order it that way. (3-5-19)

Phnom Penh House–3912 MacArthur Blvd. (Cambodian) Closed Sun.  It is billed as Cambodian, but actually has Thai and Lao dishes as well. Cambodian food seems to be good, but many people order the other items because they are more familiar with them (and say they are very good as well). (3-5-19)

Shan Dong–328 10th St. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Mandarin/northern Chinese. Handmade noodles, dan dan noodles, dumplings. One of the favorite Chinese places of locals. (3-5-19)

Richmond

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)

San Francisco

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. (4-4-19)

Borobudur–700 Post St. (Indonesian) Open daily to 10 pm. Home style Indonesian food. Small rest. Rendang is authentic. One of the top Indonesian rests. in the U.S. (4-4-19)

Bund Shanghai–640 Jackson St. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Shanghai and Mandarin style. Very good. Has XLB but reviewers recommend that you explore the menu. (4-4-19)

Burma Superstar–309 Clement St. (Burmese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm). Reviewers say it is authentic. Samosa soup, tea leaf salad, chicken tofu kabat, pork curry. (4-4-19)

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. (4-4-19)

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. (4-4-19)

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.). (4-30-19)

Shanghai Dumpling King–696 Monterey Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm).  Recently moved to new location. Notes from the old location: best XLB in SF, and maybe the U.S; small place–cash only. New place seems to be the same, but I’m not sure about the cash only part. Some say the XLB here is better than in Shanghai. (4-4-19)

Ton Kiang–5821 Geary Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Wed. 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. (4-4-19)

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. (4-4-19)

San Jose

ASJ–1698 Hostetter Rd. (Taiwanese) Open Daily.  Prob. best Taiwanese street food in Bay Area.  Most people like beef noodle soup, but other items are good also. Cash only. (12-12-18)

Khaosan Thai–2062 Curtner Ave. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Very good reviews. Has northern style sausage, papaya salad, and other dishes from the north (but I believe it has southern Thai dishes as well). (12-12-18)

Popular Bakery–1636 Alum Rock Ave. (Bakery) 7am to 6 pm Mon-Fri; 7 to 5 on Sat.  Portuguese bakery. Egg tarts, queijadas, meringue are popular. Rec. by Doug in Mesa (from Chowhound). (12-12-18)

Santouka Ramen–675 Saratoga Ave. (Japanese) Open daily to 8:30 pm.  Maybe the best authentic Japanese ramen in the U.S., but some reviewers say it is good but not exactly like it is in Japan. Cash only. (12-12-18)

Zeni–1320 Saratoga Ave. (Ethiopian) Closed Mon.  Apparently the best Ethiopian in the Bay Area. Vegetarian combo plate gets the best reviews. (12-12-18)

San Rafael

Yet Wah–1238 4th St. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  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. (4-4-19)

Santa Clara

Din Tai Fung–2855 Stevens Creek Blvd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Shanghai style dumpling restaurant with Xiao Long Bao. Good reviews compared to several similar restaurants. (12-12-18)

Orenchi Ramen–3540 Homestead Rd. (Japanese) Open daily (closed from 1:30 to 6:00 pm).  Ramen restaurant that is particularly noted for its good broth, and some describe it as solid but not particularly the best in the Bay Area. Tonkatsu is recommended. Patrons say it is not uncommon to have a 30 min. wait to get into the restaurant. (12-12-18)

Tay Ho–2047 El Camino Real (Vietnamese) Open daily 10:30 am to 9 pm.  Banh cuon is the specialty here. I had it in Oklahoma City in the now closed Tay Ho restaurant (a chain with most restaurants in California, apparently including this one). I recommend it as much as the reviewers of this restaurant do. (6-10-19)

South San Francisco

Boracay Garden–269 El Camino Real (Filipino) Closed Mon.  This seems to be the best and most authentic Filipino restaurant in the Bay Area. It is more expensive than some of the others, but most dishes seem to be in the $15 range (not bad for the Bay Area). Also an advantage here is less greasy food and a very clean restaurant and restrooms. (3-5-19)

Sunnyvale

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). (12-12-18)

Saravanaa Bhavan–1305 S. Mary Ave. (Indian) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5:00 pm).  South Indian/Sri Lankan vegetarian restaurant. Some say this is the best South Indian rest. in the U.S. (there is also one in New York). Dosa, rasmalai. Serves thali. (12-12-18)

Shanghai Flavor Shop–888 Old San Francisco Rd. (Chinese) Closed Mon & Tue (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Sheng jian bao is the must try dish (like XLB but with a thicker dough that has been pan fried). (12-12-18)

 

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.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (San Francisco)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (San Francisco)

Zomato (San Francisco)

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