San Francisco welcomes millions of visitors every year, not to mention a population of 7 million in the entire region. The hip food scene leads to long lines, and even longer reservation lists. When you're visiting one of the most popular destinations in the world, we want you to be able to find an off-the-beaten-path, gem of an eatery so you can avoid those long waits when your stomach is grumbling. That's why we've created the ultimate lineup of must-try restaurants just outside of San Francisco.
The atmosphere, the food, the service, and the location put these establishments over the top and onto our list of the best restaurants worth traveling for outside San Francisco. So grab your map and your appetite and try out each entry on our list:
7 Mile House (Brisbane)
Don't let the look of the exterior fool you, this place serves up some delicious grub.
Amoura (South San Francisco)
Offering a Mediterranean feel, Amoura has only a few tables so you get incredibly personalized service.
Barrel House Tavern (Sausalito)
If you are looking for gorgeous bay views while you eat, Barrell House is your choice.
Bungalow 44 (Mill Valley)
Bungalow 44 is owned and operated by experienced restauranteurs who are legends in the area.
Molina (Mill Valley)
Small, intimate atmosphere with exceptional cuisine cooked in a wood burning oven.
Murray Circle Restaurant (Sausalito)
Feeling like an old high-end country club, Murray Circle offers incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
An inventive menu compliments the outdoor seating where you can watch San Franciscans walk by in all their glory.
Contemporary Indian fare with an aroma that makes your mouth water.
Stella Alpina Osteria (Burlingame)
Italian with a twist - the risotto and local specials are a must-try.
Can't decide what to get here? You probably will have trouble. Try about a half dozen small plates instead, you won't regret it.
When I was twelve, my parents called a family meeting; the first we had ever had. I was so excited at the prospect of doing something that came so normally to sitcom families that I didn't even pause to wonder what exactly we would be talking about. I only remember the strange thrill I got when I learned we would be moving cross-country; from New York to California: my first brush with wanderlust.
At the end of August, a storm quite literally blew us off Long Island, sending the taxi bringing us to the airport careening into the center ditch of the Long Island Expressway. Arriving in San Francisco, then, even with its characteristically cloudy late summer afternoons, was a breath of fresh air.
Soon, though, I grew to miss the sudden changes in temperature and precipitation of home. "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute,"; was the mantra back East - here, it was nonsensical. I understand sometimes, in the middle of a true East Coast winter, the draw to the West, but December in a light sweater never seemed natural to me when I was living it.
Nevertheless, I loved San Francisco. If, at twelve, I'd had the decision-making power to make it my permanent home, I would have. I loved the look of the hills, the rush I got from riding my scooter down one and wondering if I'd be able to stop, the view from our house in Pacific Heights over the bay. I loved how quaint the cable cars were, though I didn't really understand the meaning of the word quaint quite yet. I looked at Ghirardelli Square, the Disney-esque appearance of the little village, and the giant sundaes that could be purchased there. I licked gobs of butterscotch off a long, slender spoon, and marinated in my new reality.
We only lived in San Francisco nine months, but it felt like home when I had to say goodbye. I didn't return until five years later, when I considered coming back for college, and it was only then that I realized how many secrets San Francisco was still keeping from me. I steered clear of Ghirardelli; I had lost my taste for the sickly sweet; and instead made my way to Fisherman's Wharf, where fishermen were unloading their boats onto the docks, and where one could purchase a bowl of hot soup that perfectly matched the cloudy disposition of the city, complete with crusty sourdough bread for dipping.
I never moved to San Francisco; I ended up even further north, in Canada, and then even further away, in Europe. But there's a part of me that still loves the city, like I love all the places I've lived. I remember watching the fishermen joking and laughing with one another as I perched on Fisherman's Wharf at seventeen. I felt decidedly like an outsider, but for once, I didn't mind: San Francisco was for them what I had once wanted it to be for me: home, pure and simple.
Emily Monaco is native New Yorker, living and writing in Paris since 2007. She loves discovering new places and, of course, their local cuisines! Read about her adventures in food and travel at tomatokumato.com or follow her on Twitter at @emiglia
1. Crissy Field
You and your sweetheart can take a leisurely stroll, hand-in-hand along the promenade at Crissy Field. The iconic views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge are the perfect backdrop for romance. Watch the sunset illuminate the bridge as you walk toward it and the lights of the city twinkle as you walk back.
2. Twin Peaks
Few things are more romantic than a beautiful view. And few views in the city are as beautiful as the one from Twin Peaks. If you have a rental car and it's a clear day, drive up to the top and enjoy the sweeping views of the city. It's the perfect spot to snap some photos and sneak a heartfelt kiss.
3. San Francisco Botanical Garden
It's no wonder flowers are a traditional Valentine's Day gift. There's something about the fragile beauty of flowers, plants and even trees that stirs the heart. And with 55 acres of landscaped gardens and open spaces, the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park is the ideal spot for a romantic walk.
4. The San Francisco Bay
Board a boat and admire the beauty of the city and its skyline from the bay. Take a sunset cruise and stand close to your sweetheart on deck as you sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz, back toward the twinkling lights of the city.
5. Ocean Beach
Catch the sunset as you watch the waves crash along the expansive stretch of sandy shore at Ocean Beach. The wind can be chilly, so it's the perfect place to snuggle as you sit and enjoy the setting of the sun. If you prefer to watch the sunset from cozier surroundings, you can head to the Cliff House. The landmark restaurant sits right on the edge of the water and provides a lovely view, ideal for a romantic dinner.
Anis Salvesen is an avid traveler, polyglot and editor of the Tripping blog. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys outdoor activities, trying new restaurants and exploring the city. If you're headed to San Francisco, you can connect with her and other locals via Tripping's worldwide community of travelers and locals.
There is a reason why San Francisco consistently ranks at the top of the most visited US destinations. San Fran and the Bay Area offers incredible tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, classic cable cars, and of course, the Full House set. The people that live there know tourism since they are surrounded by it. San Francisco breeds talented travel bloggers, and it was difficult to choose a list of our favorites, but we powered through. Please do yourself a favor and follow these San Francisco-based travel bloggers to learn more about the area they live in, as well as places all over the globe.
101 Cookbooks: "The premise this site was built on is best summed up in two sentences: When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking. This site chronicles a cookbook collection, one recipe at a time."
A Lady Goes West: "Visit A Lady Goes West to learn about the City by the Bay from the perspective of someone who moved to San Francisco from across the country. Ashley Pitt, the creator and Lady of A Lady Goes West, explores the best restaurants, activities and everything you really want to know about being in San Francisco in conversational posts, infused with a little healthy living and fitness talk on the side."
Dear Vixen: "Welcome to the Dear Vixen blog, derived from an advice column I wrote while getting my MBA. I'm Catherine Gacad. I live in SF and consider myself a modern day Dear Abby. I give helpful, opinionated advice based on my own experience and from the expertise of my extensive network. Join me on my journey to help you live a magical life."
Food and Other Things: "My website/Food and Other Things is tailored to the traveler who seeks out the quintessential restaurants in San Francisco. As a native, I know what works and where to really get the best California burrito."
Food Gal: "FoodGal.com is an award-winning blog that was established in 2008."
Independent Travel Cats: "Independent Travel Cats is a popular San Francisco Bay area based travel blog focused on providing savvy travel advice, travel tips, and personal travel stories. Jessica and her cat-loving partner focus on independent travel around the world, having traveled within Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe in just the past year. They not only describe and provide beautiful photos of their own travels, but they also share insightful advice, allowing readers the opportunity to experience the same adventures by providing all the needed information and tips to plan it themselves."
Mission Mission: "Mission Mission is our daily salute to San Francisco's most vibrant neighborhood. We love it here, and we bet you do too."
Oh Happy Day: "Oh Happy Day is a party and lifestyle blog based in San Francisco. We just moved back after spending a year in Paris, France. We love to throw parties and make things!"
OlivNtheCity: "OlivNTheCity is a San Francisco based travel blog that visually captivates the essence of this city. Allow me to be your host to our beautiful city by the bay."
Salt and Wind: "Salt & Wind is a new site dedicated to all things food travel and is here to help you to taste the world. We’re taking our love for food and mixing it up with our passion for travel—all with a goal to creating an inspiring place where you can get cooking and get on the road, too."
Savvy in San Francisco: "A lifestyle blog about a San Francisco mom of three and wife of one! A love for photography, beauty, fashion, good food, travel, wine and all things French! "
SF Girl by Bay: "SFGIRLBYBAY is a san francisco-based blogger, photographer, photo stylist, design junkie and bonafide flea market queen. VICTORIA SMITH is editor of sfgirlbybay, one of the west coast’s leading interior design blogs, featuring new product reviews, shopping tips, including art, photography and design resources, as well as home entertaining and lifestyle stories, with a ridiculously loyal readership that includes social media butterflies, top magazine editors, shoppers, and industry professionals."
Shop Sweet Things: "Hello, I’m Jeanne Chan, founder, curator, and voice behind the lifestyle blog, Shop Sweet Things. I launched this blog in 2011 to share my passion in shopping and to discover simple luxuries in fashion and home. It has now expanded to my other personal interests including beauty, kids, food, DIY, and local spots in my city, San Francisco."
Super Duper Fantastic: "[Super Duper Fantastic] is a lifestyle/personal blog, documenting my adventures in San Francisco and beyond. My primary focus is on experiences in food and travel and anything else I can fit into the hours outside of my regular 9-5."
Take Your Big Trip: "San Francisco and the Bay Area are a treasure trove of activities for every interest and background. I'm a San Francisco local who's traveled the world, and my blog Take Your Big Trip covers many ways to explore this great city."
Team WIking: "Team Wiking is a travel and lifestyle blog focused on Jessica's adventures in California and beyond. The blog aims to inspire you to travel lightly, live stylishly, and make every day an adventure."
The Bay Bridged: "Founded in 2006, the San Francisco-based nonprofit project The Bay Bridged has become recognized nationwide as the leading source for San Francisco Bay Area independent music through our award-winning music blog and podcast series, as well as a series of acclaimed music festival events."
The City Kitchen: "The City Kitchen is a boutique culinary event company and food blog based in San Francisco. It is a way for me to reach people in the Bay Area, to share recipes, knowledge and techniques and to make cooking and entertaining fun. I hope that you enjoy The City Kitchen as much as I do!"
The Expat Woman: "The Expat Woman, headquartered in San Francisco, is a fabulous online resource for international women from all across the globe who now live in the US. Because of the large expat women community in the SF Bay Area, we also host exciting events around the year in San Francisco."
The Perfect Spot SF: "My incessant hunt and passion to find the best in food, drink, coffee and all things edible eventually lead to a full-time career as a food/drink writer, currently as the Zagat Editor for SF/Bay Area. But the Perfect Spot is where I started: my own site where I uncover standouts from my many daily tastes and discoveries all over the Bay Area — and from numerous cities and countries around the world."
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