More often than not, the best food comes from the most unexpected holes-in-the-wall.
In San Francisco, you could kind of think of the Tenderloin as one giant hole-in-the-wall...and we love eating in it.
Now, before you send your snark our way, we will acknowledge that one of the city’s most notorious neighborhoods continues to grapple with some very real and very serious problems. Parcel to the 'hood's troubles, too, is the struggle of the hardworking small business owners and the employees who stand behind them to sustain their livelihoods as this pocket of SF gets overlooked (or downright avoided).
One of the neighborhood's problems, however, is not a lack of diverse restaurants that can go head to head with any other in the 7x7. From cheap AF bowls of noodle soup as big as your head to sexy sandwiches, here are seven foodie destinations serving signature dishes in the TL that keep us coming back.
(Courtesy of @thatsouttasight)
A Slice at Outta Sight Pizza
Pizza from a former sous chef at Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant Mister Jiu’s? Now say that 10 times fast. Outta Sight Pizza turned its pop-up into a full-on New York–inspired slice shop last year and our lives (and stomachs) have been better for it ever since. For a fiver and some change, you can fill yourself up with a truly satisfying slice of pizza with toppings, or snag a plain but textbook-perfect slice of cheese for just $4.15 (a nod to SF’s area code). // Outta Sight Pizza is open daily; 422 Larkin St, thatsouttasight.com.
Crepe Cake at Sweet Glory
Your camera eats first at Sweet Glory. The AAPI-owned bakeshop is known for its Instagramable sweets and fun-flavored drinks. And, while they may look like flavor could be compromised for good looks, that thankfully isn’t the case. You can’t go wrong with any of the crepe cakes on offer, but we have a sweet spot for the caramel Biscoff chocolate mille crepe cake with house-made caramel sauce. // Sweet Glory is open daily except Tuesday; 721 Larkin St., sweetglorysf.com.
(Courtesy of @kinkhao)
Hor Mok at Kin Khao
We have yet to meet an item on Kin Khao’s menu that we have not fallen head-over-heels in love with. But, if we had to pick just one dish to marry at the Michelin-starred, Thai-inspired restaurant it would be the mushroom hor mok. A total texture and flavor bomb, the fragrant mushroom curry mousse served with crispy puffed rice cakes is technically a starter, but for us it’s the main affair (and it's vegan, too!). // Kin Khao is open for lunch and dinner daily;Parc 55 Hotel, 55 Cyril Magnin St., kinkhao.com.
(Courtesy of @azalinas_)
Tasting Menu at Azalina's
After pandemic-related setbacks and closures, Azalina Eusope's eponymous restaurant is back and as committed as ever to sharing delicious Malaysian dishes with Bay Area foodies. Her new(ish), cheerful restaurant is standing steady on plenty of best-of lists right now; you'll see what the buzz is about when you take a seat for the four-course tasting menu, which changes every couple of weeks and features an optional mocktail or wine and beer pairing. // Azalina's is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday; 499 Ellis St., azalinas.com.
(Courtesy of @saltys_sf)
Pastrami Papi at Salty’s
We love a sexy sandwich and Salty’s knows how to make ‘em. Among their most popular is the Glorious Bastard, which is absolutely stuffed with turkey, bacon, avocado, pepper jack, pickled onions, lettuce, tomato, and garlic mayo on Dutch crunch bread. And while we can confirm it has gotten us through many summer park days, it’s the served-hot Pastrami Papi (with swiss, pepperoncini, dijon, and garlic mayo on rye) that is keeping us fueled lately. // Salty’s is open 7am to 2:30pm weekdays; 748 Van Ness Ave, saltysf.com.
(Courtesy of @mongthusf)
Noodle Soup at Mộng Thu Cafe
In a city where technology reigns supreme, a restaurant that holds its ground on being cash only has gotta be good. That much is true for Mộng Thu Cafe, at least. The family-run Vietnamese cafe serves up bowls of soup as big as your head (yes, even yours, big head!) and nothing on the menu costs more than $15. Slurp down a bowl of bun bo hue—a beef and pork noodle soup topped with herbs and onions. We also love to down a bowl of classic pho ga when we feel a tickle in the back of our throat. // Mộng Thu Cafe is open Tuesday through Sunday; 248 Hyde St.,mongthu.com.
(Courtesy of @riseoverrun.sf)
Brunch at Rise Over Run
When the wait for brunch at Brenda's gets too long, pop a couple blocks over to Rise Over Run. The bar and restaurant on The Line Hotel's 13th floor rooftop is cool but not pretentious. Take advantage of sunny days and order the fried chicken—served in a gilded bird cage with various dipping sauces—and a side of scallion bacon scones. Don't overlook the "bread basket" which is anything but standard (think butter mochi cake and bolo bao with cultured butter and whipped peanut butter cream cheese). And, of course, there are cocktails... lots of them. // Rise Over Run serves brunch from 10am to 2pmSaturday and Sunday; 33 Turk St., thelinehotel.com.