Redefining the airport breakfast sandwich at The Manufactory Food Hall at SFO. (Photography by Juan Carlos Bricena)

First Taste: Manufactory Food Hall brings a taste of the city's best restaurants to SFO

By

For travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport, there's a fresh reward for that TSA frisk, and it's being served in the form of carnitas tacos, Thai fried chicken, and croissants. Got your attention?

Yep, the long-awaited, 3,241-square-foot Manufactory Food Hall has at last opened at SFO, making that sterile post-security trek to the plane now totally delicious thanks to its fast-casual food concepts from the chefs behind SF's Tartine, Cala, and Kin Khao—all of them favorites among locals as well as must-visit restaurants for tourists.


Don't miss your flight while perusing the many tasty offerings at the new Manufactory Food Hall at SFO.(Juan Carlos Bricena)

Now though, if you happen to be flying Air France or Virgin Atlantic—or even Jet Blue and Hawaiian Airlines, whose domestic flights still jet out of the international terminal—you can conveniently get a taste of some of the city's finest culinary talent without even leaving the airport.

The Manufactory Food Hall is a sprawling project, and is without question the most prominent opportunity ever for SFO travelers to get a taste of the diverse flavors and fresh, seasonal ingredients that are the hallmarks of San Francisco's leading restaurants (though there is much to be said for Napa Farms over in T2). The space is divided among the three restaurants, grab-and-go stations, a full-service bar, and a retail component perfect for visitors looking to take home the flavors of our great food city.

All of the kiosks are gradually working up to full menu strength (if you think opening a new restaurant in San Francisco is hard, try opening one in our airport). Here's what's on offer.

Tacos Cala at Manufactory Food Hall SFO

Street-style offerings at Tacos Cala.

(Juan Carlos Bricena)

When Mexico City chef Gabriela Cámara arrived in San Francisco and opened her upscale, CDMX-style restaurant Cala, we all lamented that she hadn't come sooner. Now, fans of her back-alley weekday companion spot, Tacos Cala, can get a familiar bite before boarding.

There's just about everything you could want to be piled on top of a corn tortilla: eggs, fish, sweet potato, chicken, and carnitas. There are also breakfast items including chilaquiles and egg sopes; quesadillas; tortas; and entree-sized salads.

Kamin, the Kin Khao spin-off at SFO

Delicious, gluten-free fried chicken at the airport? Duh.

(Juan Carlos Bricena)

Kin Khao's Pim Techamuanvivit is among our local culinary heroes for the way she's managed to elevate authentic Thai fare—and for turning out a gluten-free, Thai-style version of fried chicken that is utterly divine.

The Tenderloin restaurant's much buzzed about dish is the headliner at SFO spin-off Kamin, where it plays roles in sandwich form, in a meal box with turmeric rice and papaya salad, and in Kin Khao's original, slightly spicy wings. Chicken and fried tofu khao soi (noodle curries), salads, and breakfast porridges will also play a key role on the menu.

Tartine Bakery at SFO

Taking the red-eye? Tartine's flaky quiche will be just as delicous for breakfast in the morning.

(Juan Carlos Bricena)

Once just the Mission's most beloved local bakery, Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt's Tartine has long since gone global, with locations not just elsewhere in the 'hood (hi, Tartine Manufactory) and Los Angeles, but in Seoul, Korea as well.

Here at SFO, noobs to the brand can easily get a taste of its signature goodies with pretty much everything on offer—think quiche, sandwiches, soups (look for ingredients from Bay Area growers and artisans such as Rancho Gordo heirloom beans), scones, croissants, and pain au chocolat. How do you choose? Well, since we're talking about one of the world's premier bakeries, something with bread and some form of pastry is pretty much obligatory.

Third Wave Joe + Real Booze at SFO's Coffee Manufactory

The food is all well and good, but when it comes to travel, we all know what's truly important: coffee and booze. In the world of airports, there's nothing wrong with enjoying a cappuccino at 8pm or a glass of rosé at 8am. But until now, with the exception of a Peet's and an outpost of Vino Volo, SFO has lacked for indulgences in this department.

Coffee Manufactory brings the Third Wave coffee movement to the airport with the expected latte art and hipster cold brews. The bar is also serving bottled and draught Northern California craft beers; far-above-airport-average California wines by the glass; and a solid list of classic cocktails made with high-quality ingredients and inspired by what you'd find at the actual bars of Kin Khao, Cala, and Tartine Manufactory in SF.

Here you can also grab snacks with a more concise food offering of items from each of the three restaurant kiosks.

The Manufactory Food Hall sits in the Departures A wing of the International Terminal and can be accessed by any traveler who has cleared security (unless you're arriving from someplace abroad that isn't Canada). It is operated by large-scale concessionaire SSP America, but the restaurants say they have full control over food quality and the chefs pop in often as they commute to their other restaurants in L.A. (Robertson and Pruiett), Bangkok (Techamuanvivit), and Mexico City (Cámara).

We've probably never given a toast to SFO before, so let's raise a craft cocktail or a glass of Joseph Swan Zinfandel to three of SF's most universally beloved, hard-working, and completely not-corporate restaurants for serving destination-worthy food at the gateway between SF and the world.

Eat in or grab and go at SFO's Manufactory Food Hall.(Juan Carlos Bricena)

DON'T MISS A BAY AREA BEAT! SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER.

Related Articles