The Bay Area 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 Northern California 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.
This guide was edited and produced by Marin-based fitness and wellness guru Nicole Modic, aka Kale Junkie. Visit her site and follow her on Instagram.
As a full-service restaurant with a wine list and cocktails, Wildseed is a great night out for heathy eaters.
(Courtesy of Wildseed)
Wildseed rolled up on the scene in 2019, and since then has been my absolute favorite plant-based restaurant in San Francisco. Their menu is extensive, and the food is out of this world, made with the freshest local produce—even the biggest carnivore in your life would be hard pressed not to fall in love with Wildseed. They also have a fantastic craft cocktail selection, which makes this the perfect date-night spot, too.
Wildseed is open for indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout and delivery. Plus, look for a Palo Alto location coming soon.
It's a beautifully designed space, bright and airy, with large wood tables, and a full bar. Set in a cozy neighborhood, you can also show up super-casual and blend in just fine.
What to Order
Mushroom fritters. If you are a mushroom person, they are, by far, the best appetizer on the menu. They are perfectly and lightly fried, and come with a vegan aioli dipping sauce. I order an entire batch just for myself. No sharing!
Neatball masala. This comforting bowl infuses flavors of Italy (with plant-based meatballs), India (with the masala sauce), and even Greece (with a vegan tzatziki sauce). The flavors pair so well together, and the meatballs are served over wild grains. It's hearty and delicious.
Caponatina pizza. This pizza is the most unique of their offerings. If you like eggplant caponata, you'll love it served on a perfect pizza crust. It's tangy and warming all at the same time. They also offer gluten-free crust for an extra $2.
// Wildseed 2000 Union St. (Pacific Heights), wildseedsf.com
Stonemill Matcha's bright interior.
(Courtesy of Studio BBA)
Run, don't walk over to Stonemill Matcha on Valencia. 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 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.
Pastries. Don't leave without grabbing a matcha cream puff or cookie. Don't ask questions, just thank me later.
// Stonemill Matcha offers indoor dining, takeout, and delivery; 561 Valencia St. (Mission), stonemillmatcha.com
Bi-Rite Market & Creamery
Bi-Rite's original location on 18th Street in the Mission.
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 as well as at the second location on Divisadero.
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. 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.
// Grocery, deli, and bottle shop pickup and delivery are also available; Bi-Rite Market and Creamery, multiple locations, biritemarket.com.
(Courtesy of Souvla)
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 or opt for the newer Black Sheep plant-based lamb.
The décor at Souvla is adorable, riffing on traditional Greek style with blue and white tiles, rustic wood tables, and an always-warming view of 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.
// Order ahead for pickup, delivery is available via Caviar and DoorDash; multiple locations, souvla.com.
Do not leave The Mill without ordering toast, topped with any number of classic and seasonal toppings.
(Julia Stotz Photography, courtesy of The Mill)
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!
Pizza night remains on hiatus but watch out for its eventual return (fingers crossed).
// The Mill is currently offering takeout only due to the pandemic; 736 Divisadero St. (NoPa), themillsf.com
Project Juice x Earthbar
(Courtesy of @projectjuice)
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.
Over the years, they have evolved into so much more, serving gluten-free toasts, 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.
In early 2022, the company introduced its merger with Earthbar, whose brand name will now appear on the labels of your favorite PJ juices.
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, 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, microgreens, 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 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.
// Project Juice Clean Kitchens have multiple locations in SF. Also look for the new Earthbar location inside Equinox at 2600 Shattuck Ave. (Berkeley); Instagram, earthbar.com
Trouble Coffee Co.
Trouble Coffee owner Giulietta Carrelli.
The toast trend started at owner Giulietta Carrelli's Trouble Coffee, that odd little coffee-shop-that-could tucked away near windy Ocean Beach. Since the pandemic, they've opened a pickup window; there's always room on the standing parklet space.
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. The options are super basic but they 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. In addition to cinnamon and peanut butter toasts, Trouble now serves avocado toast.
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, 4033 Judah St, (Outer Sunset), trouble.coffee
Plenty of gluten-free breads and pastries are available at Jane.
(Courtesy of Jane)
The ever-popular Jane has three locations—the original on Fillmore, Jane on Larkin Street, and the newer Jane the Bakery on Geary Boulevard, which focuses on the bready stuff. 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.
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 offers takeout by ordering ahead via Tock. Delivery is available via DoorDash and Caviar; multiple locations, itsjane.com. You can also shop cookie sets, tea, granola, and retail on shop-jane.squarespace.com.
(Courtesy of Nourish Cafe)
Nourish Cafe 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.
// Nourish Cafe is open for indoor and outdoor dining daily, and well as takeout (order ahead) and delivery via Caviar, Grubhub, and DoorDash; 189 6th Ave (Inner Richmond), and 1030 Hyde St. (Nob Hill), nourishcafesf.com.
(Courtesy of As Quoted)
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 $6 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 sandwich" 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 is open 8am to 3pm weekdays. The made-to-order menu is available, along with gluten-free pastries, for takeout or delivery via Caviar; 613 Sacramento St. (Presidio Heights), eatasquoted.com. If you'd rather make your own gluten-free eats, you can also purchase As Quoted's digital cookbook, with all proceeds benefiting employees.
Craftsman & Wolves
CAWS' The Rebel Within.
(Courtesy of Craftsman & Wolves)
Craftsman & Wolves 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). Indoor dining may still be closed due to Covid-19, but outdoor seating is on offer.
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 is open daily at 746 Valencia St. (Mission) and on weekdays at 1598 Yosemite Ave. (Bayview), craftsman-wolves.com. Delivery is available via Uber Eats; advanced order pickup is available at craftsman-wolves.square.site.
(Courtesy of Mixt)
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 this brand has done a complete 180 in recent years, 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 whatnot—this place can accommodate your specific needs, and do it with a smile.
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. Find outdoor seating at the Cow Hollow, Oakland, and Mission locations. 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 has eight locations in SF as well as one in Oakland (2299 Broadway) and San Ramon (6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd.). The restaurants offer indoor and outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery; mixt.com.
Asha Tea House
Asha Tea House's San Francisco location remains closed due to Covid-19, but its East Bay locations are open for takeout.
(Courtesy of Studio KDA)
*Asha Tea House's San Francisco location is temporarily closed due to Covid-19. The Berkeley and Oakland locations are open for to-go orders only via ashateahouse.square.site.
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, temporarily closed); 2086 University Ave. (Berkeley) and 80 Grand Ave. (Oakland), ashateahouse.com
Bluestone Lane's avocado toast.
(Courtesy of Bluestone Lane)
I was ecstatic when Bluestone Lane opened in SF—I first discovered their gloriousness during a 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 has three locations in SF and is open for indoor dining as well as takeout and delivery, bluestonelane.com.
This guide was edited and produced by Nicole Modic, aka Kale Junkie. Visit her on Instagram and at kalejunkie.com. The article has been updated since it was originally published in November 2018 to reflect modified hours and closures during Covid-19. Due to the pandemic, things are subject to change quickly. Please check with the restaurants for the most up-to-date info.