12 Best Lunch Spots in San Francisco [for 2023]
Welcome to the culinary resurgence of lunching in the city! San Francisco’s restaurants are embracing this comeback with open arms, offering a plethora of options to satisfy your midday cravings.
Whether you desire a quick and delectable takeout for a desk-side delight or prefer to indulge in a leisurely feast on a laid-back Friday afternoon, the city’s eateries are eager to please. Let’s take a delightful tour of the best lunch spots in San Francisco that will leave you craving for more!
1. Maison Nico
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Tucked away on a charming side street just off Columbus Avenue, this bakery and cafe beckons with its elegant French viennoiserie, making it a culinary treasure in the heart of San Francisco. Follow the line of eager customers that often snakes down the sidewalk, for what awaits inside is nothing short of extraordinary.
Prepare to be enchanted by their specialty, a mouthwatering pate en route that promises a slice of culinary heaven. And if that’s not enough to tempt your taste buds, their rustic, garlicky rillette de Cochon, served with sliced baguette and a delightful medley of pickles, is sure to transport you to the French countryside.
Once inside, find solace in one of their cozy seats and savor the light fare that awaits you. To complement your delightful meal, indulge in a canned cocktail or a glass of wine, adding a touch of elegance to your dining experience.
With each bite, you’ll understand why this place has earned a reputation for offering the best lunch in San Francisco. The fusion of exquisite French flavors and warm ambiance will leave you craving more, making it worth every moment spent waiting in anticipation.
2. Popi’s Oysterette
Chestnut Street boasts an array of lunch options, but there’s one place that has stolen the hearts of the neighborhood since its opening earlier this year: Popi’s Oysterette. This coastal-inspired eatery has quickly become favorite, captivating diners with its delectable raw bar offerings and seafood-centric delights.
For a leisurely lunch that delights the senses, you can’t go wrong with their platter of fresh, succulent shellfish paired with a glass of bubbles. Let the flavors dance on your palate as you savor the ocean’s bounty.
If you’re in the mood for a more laid-back meal, fear not, as Popi’s Oysterette also presents an array of casual fare. Dive into their flavorful fish and chips, indulge in refreshing salads, or savor the tantalizing shrimp or lobster roll.
Step inside this inviting oasis to find a cozy dining room where you can unwind and enjoy your culinary journey. If you prefer a glimpse into the kitchen’s magic, a couple of bar seats offer a front-row view.
When seeking the best lunch in town, Popi’s Oysterette is the destination of choice. With its coastal charm and irresistible menu, it promises an experience that will linger in your memories.
Prepare to indulge in the epitome of a power lunch at Akikos, the stylish new rendition of chef Ray Lee’s renowned sushi restaurant in the vibrant East Cut. Since its debut earlier this year, Akikos has set a new standard for culinary excellence, and the power lunch tradition lives on in grand style.
For a truly exceptional lunchtime experience, Akikos offers a $150 omakase that takes you on an exquisite gastronomic journey. Delight in a procession of small bites, each meticulously crafted to perfection. Imagine the divine flavors of snow-crab-topped chawanmushi and the decadence of shokupan crowned with toro and caviar.
As you savor each tantalizing bite, the experience reaches its zenith with a selection of seven pristine pieces of nigiri, showcasing the finest ingredients from land and sea. The symphony of flavors unfolds with every morsel, leaving a lasting impression that will stay with you long after the meal is over.
Akikos’ omakase power lunch is an artful culinary performance that takes approximately an hour and a half to enrapture your senses. It is a celebration of the freshest ingredients, masterful craftsmanship, and a dining experience that transcends the ordinary.
Step into the elegant ambiance of Akikos, where culinary dreams come true, and be captivated by the best lunch in San Francisco. Embrace this extraordinary journey that awaits you at Akikos, and let your taste buds dance in delight at this culinary sanctuary.
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Chef Matt Accarrino’s all-day cafe in the vibrant Fillmore District is a hidden gem that opens its doors Thursday through Sunday, offering a midday meal that will leave your taste buds in awe. The menu is a celebration of fresh and flavorful creations, showcasing the best of local and seasonal ingredients.
Indulge in the star of the show – the fresh pasta, each crafted with love and care. These delectable dishes spotlight the bounty of spring vegetables and are generously adorned with the rich flavors of Point Reyes Toma cheese, elevating every bite to perfection.
For those seeking a heartier option, the charcoal-grilled meats are sure to satisfy. Choose from the irresistible smoked brisket or the massive pork chop, served alongside a zesty salsa verde that tantalizes the palate.
Treat yourself to the creamy buffalo milk ice cream sandwich, a sweet finale that should not be missed. The perfect blend of indulgence and sophistication, it’s a dessert that will linger in your memory.
Though the cafe only operates four days a week, each visit promises a culinary adventure that transcends the ordinary. The exceptional flavors and warm ambiance make this cafe a must-visit for any food enthusiast.
When you find yourself longing for an afternoon feast that delights the senses, head over to chef Matt Accarrino’s cafe in the Fillmore District. Let the enticing aromas and exquisite dishes take you into a realm of culinary bliss, leaving you eager to return for more.
5. Kin Khao
For those seeking the epitome of Thai cuisine, Kin Khao stands tall as one of San Francisco’s most esteemed Thai restaurants. As the casual sister restaurant to owner Pim Techamuanvivit’s acclaimed Nari in Japantown, Kin Khao offers a delectable menu that leans towards delightful street food creations.
Prepare to embark on a culinary adventure as you delve into the captivating flavors of Kin Khao. Among the must-try dishes, the mushroom hor mok is a revelation for the taste buds, while the fish sauce-infused Pretty Hot Wings are an irresistible indulgence. Though they might leave your hands a little messy, the experience is more than worth a few extra napkins.
Savor the authentic tastes of Thailand, as each dish showcases the essence of Thai cuisine crafted with finesse and passion. From the vibrant spices to the harmonious blend of flavors, every bite is a delightful symphony on your palate.
Kin Khao has earned its reputation as one of the best lunch spots in San Francisco, and it is no surprise why locals and visitors alike flock to experience its culinary magic. The perfect balance of casual dining and culinary excellence makes Kin Khao a true gem in the city’s food scene.
Venture into the fascinating world of Kin Khao, where Thai traditions meet contemporary creativity. Prepare to be mesmerized by the richness of flavors and the warmth of the ambiance, which will take you back with memories of an extraordinary lunch that you will savor long after the meal is over.
Prepare to be blown away by the exceptional palate served at this fast-casual fried chicken shop, a culinary masterpiece from the team behind the renowned Michelin-starred Birdbox. With a dedication to quality, they source only the finest organic and free-range chicken, ensuring a flavor that is unparalleled in the Bay Area.
The art of frying chicken is perfected here, resulting in flawlessly crispy and succulent pieces that will leave you in awe. But the true magic lies in the array of funky and unexpected seasonings that grace each piece. Indulge in the divine flavors of Classic Yeast, the fiery kick of Spicy Falcon, or the delightful twist of sour cream and onion.
Pairing the delectable chicken with buttery cornbread on the side is an absolute must, adding a touch of Southern charm to your meal. And for those who crave an extra kick, a double-fermented hot sauce awaits, bringing a tantalizing burst of spice to the feast.
The fast-casual concept ensures a swift yet memorable dining experience, making it the perfect lunch spot in San Francisco for any food enthusiast. Whether you’re on the go or savoring every moment, this fried chicken haven promises to elevate your taste buds to new heights.
For the best lunch in San Francisco, venture into this culinary marvel where extraordinary flavors and culinary expertise unite. Your palate will thank you for the unforgettable experience, and you’ll be eager to return to this fried chicken haven time and time again.
7. Cielito Lindo
Nestled in the Outer Sunset, this charming Mexican restaurant has quickly won the hearts of locals with its mouthwatering menu of flavor-packed tortas and tacos. Prepare for a culinary journey as you explore the stars of the show – the quesabirria tacos – which are an absolute must-try.
These tacos are a feast for the senses, featuring grilled tortillas crisped to perfection, cradling a mountain of tender, succulent meat. With every bite, the flavors dance on your palate, creating a delightful symphony of taste. For a burst of freshness, cilantro and raw onions are the perfect companions, adding a touch of brightness to the savory indulgence.
Step into the cozy blue-and-white space, and you’ll find a warm and inviting ambiance. A few tables await, offering a delightful dining experience under a canopy of papel picado, creating an enchanting atmosphere that enhances your meal.
Indulge in the best lunch in Outer Sunset as you savor the authentic flavors of Mexico, crafted with passion and care. The blend of warm hospitality, delightful surroundings, and exceptional cuisine make this Mexican gem a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable dining experience.
When you find yourself outside at sunset, follow the scent of enchanting aromas and discover this tiny Mexican restaurant where each meal is a celebration of taste and tradition.
8. Lucinda’s Deli & More
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Near Alamo Square, a delightful sandwich spot has emerged, thanks to a former Horsefeather chef with a penchant for enjoying a mortadella sub in the park with his beloved pit bull. This charming eatery offers a straightforward yet captivating menu that promises to tantalize your taste buds.
The sandwiches may appear simple, but they are elevated by the chef’s creative touches that shine through in each bite. You’ll be delighted by an array of delectable spreads and toppings that add a burst of flavor to every sandwich. From flavored mayo and housemade barbecue sauce to the delightful crunch of pickled and crispy onions, each element harmoniously complements the fresh ingredients.
Step into this sandwich haven and let the chef’s passion for creating culinary delights embrace you. The menu pays homage to the chef’s personal favorites, crafted with care and love, ensuring a delightful dining experience.
The combination of simple yet expertly curated ingredients and the chef’s inventive twists makes this sandwich spot a true gem near Alamo Square. It’s the perfect place to savor a delicious sub, enjoy the park with your furry friend, or simply indulge in the flavors of expertly prepared sandwiches.
So, join the chef in celebrating the joy of good food and good company, as you experience the wonders of this sandwich spot near Alamo Square. Each bite tells a story of culinary creativity and love, making it a delightful destination for anyone seeking simple yet satisfying fare.
9. Beit Rima
In the heart of Cole Valley, a culinary gem awaits: Beit Rima, a casual full-service restaurant serving simple yet exquisitely executed Arabic cuisine. Prepare to embark on a journey of taste as you indulge in a menu that never fails to satisfy.
Beit Rima’s dedication to culinary excellence shines through in every dish. From the velvety hummus to the smoky baba ghanoush, each offering is a celebration of authentic Arabic flavors. Grilled meats, tender and succulent, tantalize the senses and elevate the dining experience to new heights.
Whether you choose the comfy dining room or opt for al fresco dining at tables outside, the ambiance complements the culinary delights perfectly. The combination of warm hospitality and flavorful dishes makes Beit Rima an ideal destination for vegetarians and omnivores alike.
Savor the rich tapestry of Arabic cuisine, carefully curated and lovingly prepared to transport you to the heart of the Middle East. Every bite is an explosion of taste, leaving you eager for the next delightful morsel.
When seeking the best lunch in San Francisco, look no further than Beit Rima. This culinary oasis is a solid choice for anyone who appreciates simple yet masterful Arabic fare, making it a must-visit destination for every food enthusiast.
10. Palm City
Calling itself the “premier westernmost hoagie destination in the country,” Palm City is an enticing cafe and wine shop nestled in the Outer Sunset. Here, owners Dennis Cantwell and Monica Wong bring the authentic taste of Philly-style hoagies to San Francisco, promising a culinary adventure that will leave you craving more.
Prepare to be tantalized by a variety of mouthwatering hoagies, each meticulously crafted to perfection. The mortadella, finocchiona, mozzarella, parmesan, arugula, and nduja mayo hoagie is a delightful fusion of flavors that will transport your taste buds to new heights.
For a taste of tradition, indulge in the garlic-roasted pork hoagie, complete with broccoli raab, toma, and cherry pepper aioli. The combination of succulent pork and rich toppings creates a symphony of taste that is sure to impress.
If you’re in the mood for a classic, the well-stuffed BLT is a true crowd-pleaser. Savor the satisfying blend of crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, and juicy tomatoes, expertly tucked into each bite.
Palm City offers both indoor and outdoor seating, welcoming guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Whether you choose to dine inside or enjoy the vibrant surroundings outside, the ambiance complements the delightful flavors of each hoagie.
11. Chuck’s Takeaway
While Chef Charles Phan’s famed Slanted Door at the Ferry Building may still be awaiting its reopening, he delights diners at a casual sandwich counter in the Mission with an exquisite array of sandwiches. Prepare to be dazzled by the chef’s culinary artistry as he goes all-in, crafting handheld delights that elevate the lunch experience to new heights.
The CP OG #3, a masterpiece of a sandwich, takes center stage. Chef Phan’s take on the classic banh mi is a testament to his skill and creativity. Built on a freshly baked baguette, lovingly crafted in-house, the sandwich is adorned with the chef’s own pate and pickles. Each bite is a symphony of flavors that transport you to culinary heaven.
Though the offerings are essentially takeout-only, these handheld gems make for the perfect park lunch. Picture yourself in a sunny San Francisco park, savoring the exquisite flavors and enjoying the al fresco experience like no other.
For the best lunch in San Francisco, look no further than Chef Charles Phan’s sandwich counter. His dedication to crafting culinary masterpieces shines through in every bite, making it a destination that leaves a lasting impression.
12. La Palma Mexicatessen
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In the heart of the Mission District, a classic deli and grocery store awaits, inviting you to savor the authentic tastes of Mexico. Step into this culinary haven and immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors that abound.
From fresh tortillas to sweat-inducing salsas, the array of offerings promises to delight your taste buds. The menu boasts a mouthwatering selection of Mexican food, available to go for a quick and satisfying meal. Burritos, tacos, nachos, tamales, and more are yours to enjoy.
For the ultimate San Francisco special, indulge in the pro-move and opt for a foil-wrapped Mission-style super burrito. This iconic creation can be stuffed with your choice of protein, allowing you to customize your culinary adventure. While carnitas is a respectable choice if you want to step out of the usual suspects, go for La Palma’s chicharrones.
Each bite of the chicharrones-filled super burrito is a celebration of flavors and textures that will leave you craving more. The tender and crispy chicharrones, paired with the other delightful fillings, create a symphony of taste that embodies the true essence of Mexican cuisine.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, a visit to this deli and grocery store is a must for anyone seeking the best lunch in the Mission District. The authentic Mexican fare, made with love and care, promises a memorable dining experience that will keep you coming back for more.
Embrace the flavors of Mexico and indulge in the culinary delights that await you in the Mission District. La Palma’s offerings are a testament to Mexico’s rich culinary heritage, leaving you with memories of an exceptional lunch experience.