San Francisco is a true foodie heaven. We are lucky to have access to the freshest ingredients pretty much year-round, and farmers come from all over the Bay Area to showcase their beautiful produce at our farmers markets.
But why is it so hard to find healthy-ish spots to eat and drink? We like to think we're at the cutting edge of cuisine, but often what's trending restaurant-wise doesn't satisfy our daily need for simple, casual, good-for-you food. So, I've spent a lot of time exploring and eating everywhere in order to find my own go-to spots. Say hello to your one-stop guide to healthy dining in San Francisco, from matcha and the perfect almond milk latte to delicious smoothies, bone broth, the OG toast spot, and the best salad around town.
I was ecstatic when Bluestone Lane opened in SF—I first discovered their gloriousness during a recent trip to New York. The menu has a wide range of breakfast and lunch options, and they are super healthy and delish.
The vibe at Bluestone is laid back. Whenever I stop in, I see the local downtown working crowd hitting up Bluestone for lunch or an afternoon pick-me-up. It's totally not pretentious, which means it's my kind of place.
What to Order
Toast. By all means, get the toast. My typical go-to order is the avocado toast, and then I add a poached egg and some crispy bacon on top—or you can change it up with smashed sweet potato or smoked salmon with a few poached eggs on the side for extra protein. All of the ingredients are quality, so you won't walk out of there feeling bloated or overly full.
Not feeling the toasts? No problem. They have salads, bowls, and so many other options, and can easily accommodate groups with differing diet preferences.
Matcha. I always down my toasts with an almond milk matcha. Bluestone's isn't the best matcha I've had, but it's a super solid option. Feeling like something decadent? Go for the Hot Milo, which is malted chocolate made with steamed whole milk—and yes, they can do it with almond milk, and it's divine.
// Bluestone Lane, 227 Front St. (FiDi), bluestonelane.com
Bi-Rite Creamery & Grocery
Bi-Rite requires no introduction for SF locals and bridge-and-tunnelers coming to picnic at Dolores Park on sunny days. The Mission-based grocer is beloved for its amazing sandwiches and gourmet food items; and, of course, the line always rounds the corner for the famous ice cream at nearby Bi-Rite Creamery. With a second location on Divisadero and a new Civic Center cafe, Bi-Rite's artisanal eats are now accessible all over town.
No matter which Bi-Rite location you visit, you will first note they have that mom 'n' pop vibe going on—I love it. Then you walk inside, and your tastebuds and senses are piqued in every way possible. The shelves and aisles are packed with local, organic produce, hard-to-find gourmet food items, and quality everyday items such as Simple Mills crackers and Coconut Cult probiotic yogurt. Finally, if you like artisan chocolate and local wines, their selection is phenomenal.
What to Order
If you are shopping at the grocery stores, just pick up a basket and let your imagination run wild. On a hot day, don't miss the ice cream—the Tcho chocolate and black sesame is the best I've ever had. Dairy free? Yes, they have a few options for you, too.
// Bi-Rite Market and Creamery, multiple locations, biritemarket.com
Trouble Coffee Co.
The toast trend started at Trouble, that odd little coffee-shop-that-could tucked away near windy Ocean Beach. Owner Giulietta Carrelli has since found success, opening locations in Bayview and in Oakland, but I always venture back to the funky little original.
The original location is an institution. It's super tiny and no frills, but there is something intriguing and also magical about this place. What you get, in addition to the best darn cup of coffee, a fresh Thai coconut, and the most comforting slice of toast this side of the world, is them. I never find the people there to be particularly friendly; in fact, I sort of feel out of place every time I'm there—maybe because I show up in fresh P.E. Nation workout gear, and they just rolled out of bed. I'm not sure. But whatever it is, just roll with it. They aren't pretentious, they are just them.
What to Order
Coffee. I personally love their almond milk lattes. The coffee is strong, the latte art game is strong, and the combo gets the job done.
Toast. You have two super basic options that will transport you to someplace else altogether. And TBH, neither fits my definition of "healthy" because I avoid both white bread and sugar, but this toast is worth the splurge. Grab yourself a peanut butter and honey slice (my personal fave), or the signature slice topped with a gob of butter, cinnamon, and sugar. There are no gluten-free options, so don't even ask.
A whole coconut. Make it healthy-ish with a young Thai coconut on your way out. They chop it open and serve it with a straw and a spoon for digging out the meat. You will feel really hipster, and it makes for a great photo op outside the shop. (Do not even think about hogging up space inside while trying to post to IG.)
The Trifecta, aka the Build Your Own Damn House: The coffee, the coconut, the toast. It's the whole shebang.
// Trouble Coffee Co, multiple locations, trouble.coffee
Run, don't walk, over to Stonemill Matcha, which opened on Valencia a few months back. It is, hands down, my favorite place in the city to grab a matcha. Their food menu? Spectacular. Oh, and their matcha-infused pastries? Even more spectacular.
The space is minimal and truly gorgeous. It's decorated in Japanese style with lots of space, plants, and plenty of tables to sit down and enjoy your eats and drinks. The place gets busy, but not so busy that you can't find a place to park it. Get in line to place your order.
What to Order
Matcha, obviously. I always order a hot matcha with their oat milk, but the iced matcha is fantastic, too. They do use a touch of cane sweetener, but you can easily tell them to omit or go light.
Chicken okayu. This is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. It's is a warm bowl of rice porridge with nori, egg, pickled wakame, mushrooms, and green onions.It's also light, so you won't feel like you ate a heavy meal.
Other fantastic menu items are the barley and veggie bowl, and the shokupan toast (matcha butter with jam on top).
Pastries. Don't leave without grabbing a matcha-infused croissant. It's light and flaky and has the ever-so-slight taste of matcha. They use real butter and real ingredients, so I'm ok indulging in a croissant once in a while. And don't forget to take home a matcha cookie. Don't ask questions, just thank me later.
// 561 Valencia St. (Mission), stonemillmatcha.com
Ah, The Mill. I could go on about The Mill, a collaboration between Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread. Baker (yes, that's his name) makes the best bread I've ever tasted, with the finest and freshest ingredients around. It's always perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft as a pillow on the inside. Expect to stand in line any time of day. Order yourself a slice of toast, any of their fresh pastries from the case, a coffee, maybe a loaf to take home, and hand over a $20. While they are preparing your order, get ready to fight for one of the window seats—there are only two, and they go fast.
Gorgeous, modern, and minimal. The people aren't the friendliest bunch, but that is kind of a theme in SF's hipster spots these days. It's my speculation that hashtag #hipstertoast originated here.
What to Order
Toast. Whatever you do, don't leave without ordering toast. There are always seasonal toppings, so if you are feeling that on a given day, by all means. I'm more of a classic kinda gal, so I typically go with the country bread with house-made almond butter and sea salt. Sometimes I'll add their seasonal jam, like pumpkin butter in the fall. Other options include homemade nutella, cream cheese, and more.
Gluten-free? No problem. Baker makes a badass "adventure" bread. (Here's the recipe). It's a dense seed and nut bread that, when toasted, will tantalize your taste buds. I love it with their local butter and sea salt on top, but you can customize and add anything you'd like.
Coffee. When I'm here, I get an almond milk cappuccino. I don't find their espresso shots to be particularly strong, so I find that a latte is just too much milk. But you might beg to differ, so by all means get what your heart pleases!
// The Mill, 736 Divisadero St. (NoPa), themillsf.com
Native Co. is a solid spot for breakfast and lunch, with locations in downtown SF and SoMa, as well as at Oakland's Grand Lake Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Native caters to the working crowd searching for fresh and healthy meals on the go. You can pick up a ready made salads and veggie spring rolls from the case, or a juice to go, or you can order a meal off the menu and they will make it while you wait. Native also caters to almost any diet—vegan, paleo, etc.—and I love that it's a woman-owned business.
The décor is simple and pretty, and you can leave with a full and happy belly. Note, I've been known to put my salad bowl on the floor for my photos because I love the cement flooring.
What to Order
Smoothies. If you are a matcha person, go with the Matcha.com (spinach, matcha, mint, banana, dates, and coconut water)—it's super thick and creamy, and the matcha flavor isn't overpowering. If you aren't a matcha person, no probs. Another fave is the Smooth Lavendator (banana, date, lavender-infused coconut milk, and coconut water). Oh, and don't forget about the nut-free Sunshake.
Salads. Their toasts and soups are always a fine choice, but when I come here, I come for a nice big bowl of greens. My standard is the Native salad (baby lettuces, herbs, beets, pickled red onion, avocado, hard boiled egg, crispy quinoa, and mustard lemon dressing). If I'm super hungry, I'll add some Mary's chicken.
// Native Co., multiple locations in SF and Oakland, nativecosf.com
Project Juice is one of my favorite smoothie shops in SF. When they first opened their retail locations a few years ago, they sold only ready-to-go beverages and snacks, and I was hooked from day one.
But now they are even better, having evolved into so much more. At certain Project Juice locations, you can now order toast, smoothies with all kinds of extra superfoods, freshly made waffles, and elixirs. My favorite weekday activity is to take a Barry's Bootcamp class in the Marina, and then walk less than a block over to Project Juice on Chestnut Street and refuel with a killer smoothie.
The stores are clean and happy, and a few locations have outside seating, so pull up a chair and get your chat on with your pals. I've also had the pleasure of becoming friends with the owners of Project Juice this past year, and I can tell you that their commitment to quality and freshness is legit. They put a lot of love into each menu item.
What to Order
Toast. Their golden toast is currently a fave. It's served on Bread Srsly gluten-free sourdough and topped with turmeric hummus, pickled hummus, avocado mash, micro greens, and black sesame seeds.
Acai bowl. Pick your base (the acai base isn't too sweet) and your toppings (I always go for the paleo). If the watermelon bowl is in season, go for it—it's life changing; like summer in your mouth.
Smoothies. You can't go wrong with any of their smoothies. My current obsession is the Blue Moon (homemade almond milk, blue majik, coconut meat, cashews, dates, and vanilla). It tastes like a vanilla milkshake, and I often times add collagen for an extra protein boost.
Cashew Mylk. Take it to go. I always have three or four bottles in my fridge because my husband steals, er, drinks them every time I turn around. The creaminess factor is unreal.
If you can't get to a Project Juice location, but want to experience Project Juice for yourself, you can order their ready-to-blend smoothies here—use the code KALEJUNKIE to get four smoothies free.
// Project Juice, multiple locations, projectjuice.com
The ever-popular Jane has two locations—one on Larkin Street and the other on Fillmore—serving the same amazing food, but the Pac Heights location is my favorite since I can team breakfast or lunch with window shopping and a stop for non-toxic skincare products at Credo, across the street.
This is a buzzy spot and a small one, so my recommendation is to go at slightly off-peak hours to avoid the ungodly lines and snag a table. Don't even try to go right at noon lest you find yourself wandering around like an ass with toast in hand and no place to sit. Trust.
What to Order
You really can't go wrong here, but I'm a creature of habit—here are my usuals.
Warm quinoa bowl. Whether you go for breakfast or lunch, I am in love with this hearty bowl of quinoa, roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and kale. I always have them add a soft-boiled egg on top—when you cut open that yolk and mix it all in, you might as well have died and gone to heaven.
Cobb salad. Who doesn't love a good old classic Cobb? This one is simple, but bursting with flavor.
The Green Queen is my go-to salad here because, yes, it has lots of green: arugula, quinoa, cauliflower, asparagus, snap peas, mint, and soft egg, tossed in sorrel vinaigrette. It's light, fresh, and that mint takes it to the next level.
Toast. I know there's a lot of toast on this list, but let me tell you something: Jane is home to the best avocado toast in SF, topped with poached egg, pickled shallot, jalapeño, and cracked black pepper. It's large and in charge, and tastes amazing. Gluten-free bread is also available.
// Jane, multiple locations, itsjane.com
Belcampo Meat Co.
My obsession with bone broth is real. And there's only one place worth mentioning in SF to go for the good stuff, and that's Belcampo, the woman-owned meat market/restaurant/shop serving up locally sourced, organic, grass-fed-and-finished meats. They also happen to have a bone broth bar, which is not to be missed.
It's all super casual. Head straight to the meat counter to place an order for the best meats in town, or grab a seat at the restaurant and order a burger. Or just make yourself a cup of bone broth and sip it while scanning the store for all the chocolates and gourmet goodies to take home.
What to Order
Bone broth. I drink bone broth every single day, and when I can, I always drink Belcampo bone broth. Their broth is nice and thick and gelatinous, the way bone broth should be. It's slow simmered for over 24 hours, and it's heavenly. You can add a variety of salts and condiments, but I like it plain.
The Belcampo burger is unlike any you've tried elsewhere, and be sure to order a side of fries made with duck tallow—they are perfectly crispy and salty. Note, you can also get a Keto burger as well. This, my friends, is real food, made with real ingredients. You won't find canola oil here.
// 1998 Polk St. (Russian Hill), and various Bay Area locations, belcampo.com
Nourish Café is a wonderful little breakfast, lunch, and smoothie spot serving an entirely plant-based and organic menu at two locations in SF. Everything is made from scratch with whole, fresh ingredients sourced from local farms and purveyors. It's also a woman-owned business.
These are tiny, no frills spots, but don't judge a book by its cover. Nourish serves some of the best healthy eats in town, and is perfect for a post-workout meal. I like to go at off-peak hours to easily find a seat. Parking can be tough at both locations, so be patient and wait for the parking gods to eventually answer your prayers.
What to Order
The Nourish bowl. What makes it amazing? The simplicity of the ingredients and tasty combination of flavors including quinoa, yams, avocado, sprouts, hummus, cucumber, mixed greens, tomatoes, beet sauerkraut, sunflower seeds, and a creamy, oil-free dill hemp dressing.
Cookies. The chocolate chip cookies are OMG good. Yes, each cookie is a whopping $5, but it's big, dense, moist, and will transport you to heaven. The ingredients are super clean, and if you know me, you know I'm the kween of baking my own cookies, but these are unbeatable.
// 189 6th Ave (Inner Richmond), and 1030 Hyde St. (Nob Hill), nourishcafesf.com
Whenever someone asks me where they can grab a casual lunch, I always say Souvla, the always-packed Greek-inspired eatery serving a perfectly brief menu of salads, pita sandwiches, fries, and frozen yogurt made with locally sourced ingredients. They can also customize any salad to make it dairy free, and if you are vegan, you can replace any of the meats with their delish sweet potatoes.
The décor at Souvla is adorable, riffing on traditional Greek style with blue and white tiles, rustic wood tables, and always a warming view to the rotisserie chickens.
What to Order
The Chicken or the Veg. Pick your protein—pork, chicken, lamb—or go for the sweet potato veg, and then make it into a sandwich (the meat and veggies stuffed in the homemade flatbread) or a salad. I always go for the chicken salad or the veg salad. Souvla is great about customizing to your preferences—I love accommodating places, don't you?
Greek fries. Made with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and sprinkled with Greek cheese on top, these are my favorite fries in town. If you don't do dairy, you can hold the cheese.
Frozen Greek yogurt. Yes, it's made with dairy, so if you are lactose intolerant, it's worth taking a digestive enzyme so you can enjoy this mildly-sweet-tart treat with a few different toppings to choose from—I always go with the sour cherry compote.
// Souvla, multiple locations, souvla.com
Next time you're in Hayes Valley, stop at Little Gem, where it's casual enough for lunch in your workout clothes or appropriate for a relaxed date night. Everything is gluten free, locally sourced, and free of additives and preservatives. Yes, you read that right. The entire menu is gluten-free! You don't need reservations, but if you are going at night, then it's a good idea just in case.
It's casual, modern, and understated-trendy. Plop down at the beautiful bar and order yourself a glass of wine. Then meander on over to a table for the full Little Gem experience. The staff is always super kind, informative, and willing to make any and all adjustments to cater to specific dietary needs.
What to Order
The question here is more like what shouldn't you order. Here are my favorites.
Bibimbop bowl. I get this 99 percent of the time. It's a big bowl of seasonal veggies, brown rice, chili garlic sauce, and a fried egg—I also add salmon tartare on top, as well as an extra fried egg when I'm feeling hungry.
Spiced hummus with non-bread. They make their hummus in house, with the most decadent and chewy gluten-free flatbread around. It's a must-order fo sho.
// Little Gem, 400 Grove St. (Hayes Valley), littlegem.restaurant
Craftsman & Wolves
Craftsman & Wolves needs little introduction thanks to its cases filled with the most beautiful pastries you've ever seen—seriously, they look like works of art. I like to go during off-peak hours and bring my laptop—they have free WiFi and good people watching.
Modern, edgy, and cool, this official home of The Rebel Within is just so Mission (though there is also now a location in Bayview).
What to Order
The Rebel Within is now the stuff of SF legend—a muffin made with asiago cheese, local sausage, green onion, and a soft cooked egg that spills out when you slice it in half. Yeah...it's an orgasm in your mouth, so get ready for it. I never feel guilty about eating decadent foods like this once in a while, and that's because they are made with real, quality ingredients. No faux stuff here.
// Craftsman & Wolves, 746 Valencia St. (Mission), 1598 Yosemite Ave. (Bayview), craftsman-wolves.com
Oh, As Quoted. This place is so pretty, there's no other way to describe it. Tucked discreetly among a few fashion boutiques and directly across the street from Mighty Pilates, it's perfect for a post-class bite to refuel.
The pristine white design draws lots of stroller-pushing mamas who come for mommy dates and post-partum bone broths and nutritious meals. The entire menu is gluten free, so for anyone looking to avoid the bloat, this place is for you.
What to Order
Bone Broth. There is something special about this broth. It's creamy, thick, perfectly salty, filled with plenty of chives, and oh so comforting. Sure, it's pricey at over $5 a cup, but It's slow simmered for over 48 hours and worth every penny.
Toast. My favorite toast on the menu is the "breakfast" toast, a thick piece of GF bread topped with pasture-raised bacon and poached egg, greens, Just Mayo, chives, and shallot vinaigrette.
They also have a delicious beet latte.
// As Quoted, 3613 Sacramento St. (Presidio Heights), eatasquoted.com
If you've been in San Francisco for any length of time, you might be wondering why and how Mixt made it onto this list. Not because it's not healthy (it is), but because it's a chain restaurant that, in the past, didn't seem like anything special. But over the last year or so, this place has done a complete 180, and I am in awe. Busy working people can come here for the convenience factor, but the offering is fresh, seasonal, and innovative, serving not-boring salads, sandwiches and grain bowls. And no matter what "diet" you follow, whether vegan, paleo, keto, pescatarian, Whole30, or what not, this place can accommodate your specific needs, and they do it with a smile on their face.
This depends on the location, with some catering more to the working crowd with on-the-go counter service. Other locations, including a recently opened spot in the Mission, offer open seating to sit down and stay a while. The staff are always friendly and happy to talk ingredients, and they aren't stingy when it comes to portion sizes—and that's important to me, because I like to eat.
What to Order
DIY Salad. Some days I don't feel like thinking, and that's when I go for a salad straight off their menu. One of my favorites is the Orchard salad (kale, mixed greens, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, seasonal apple, sharp cheddar, avocado, toasted almonds, savory herbs, and balsamic vinaigrette). Other days I'm feeling picky (i.e. most of the time) and I want to select every single ingredient. On those days I build a DIY salad around all their seasonal veggies and the proteins I'm feeling that day.
The market plates are my favorite. They are warm. They give me all the feels. My typical go-to plate is the grilled broccoli with lemon and chili flakes, either the butternut squash mash or seasonal quinoa, and for protein, I go with their incredible steelhead or flat iron steak.
Drinks. They serve kombucha and beer on tap, and wine by the glass. Therefore, when I bring the fam for a casual dinner, mom and dad are happy to have an adult drink and somewhat feel like we had a night on the town. I mean not really, but you parents feel me, yes?
// Mixt, multiple locations, mixt.com
Asha Tea House
Asha Tea House is best accessed by Uber or Lyft since parking in FiDi can be a real pain. But good matcha is worth the effort.
Asha is a tiny little hole in the wall, not some trendy SF spot. But it's legit cute, and for a second you might even feel like you are in Japan. Sweaty yogis and well-suited worker bees alike come here to order up hand-whisked matcha (the way it should be). There are just a few coveted tables, so you'll be lucky if you snag one; best to grab your drink to go and walk around Union Square.
What to Order
Cold matcha. Their signature menu item is a matcha latte over ice. I always get one with almond milk and ask for it to be lightly sweetened. Then I proceed directly outside the storefront and hold my hand up and take a picture of my iced matcha latte and post it immediately on Instagram. You know you'll be doing that too.
// Asha Tea House, 17 Kearny St. (FiDi), ashateahouse.com
Samovar Tea & Chai
Samovar is not new to SF, but their new Tea & Chai Lounge on Fillmore is, and it's fantastic. Tiny and with limited seating, it's ideal for grab and go. There is a small selection of light bites if you are so inclined, but the brews are the main attraction here. Note that Samovar has two full-service, restaurant locations in the city where you can sit down and eat some yummies in a mellow atmosphere.
Simple and tasteful, where the big steel pots of bubbly chai and golden milk—and their heavenly aromas—are all the delightful decor we need.
What to Order
Turmeric golden milk—the spice factor is unreal. But if anyone knows how to make a real chai in this city, it's Samovar. Go for the Masala chai.
// Samovar, multiple locations, samovartea.com