The Best Alternatives to SF's Most Popular Restaurants

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San Francisco is home to some of the most incredible food in the world. That's why some restaurants have lines that wrap around the block, through the park, and into the bay.


Never fear, there's hope yet. If you can't quite muster the patience to eat at one of the most popular (and rightly so) spots, we've got a list of underrated alternatives to satisfy that hunger.

Mandalay > Burma Superstar

That tea leaf salad, right? You go to Burma Superstar and its associated restaurants for the complex blend of flavors and great cocktails. But right around the corner is long-standing Mandalay, with its own killer offerings of herbaceous salads, mixed right at the table, and garlicky delicious noodles. // 4348 California St. (Inner Richmond)

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous > Bi-Rite Creamery

A Dolores Park landmark with its famous salted caramel ice cream, Bi-Rite Creamery rules the ice cream scene in SF. Next time you’re craving something cool, try out the unique flavors at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. The white rabbit, inspired by a creamy Chinese candy, might change your life. // 699 22nd St. (Dogpatch)

Hog and Rocks > Nopa

You’ve got a client dinner, parents in town, or a friend’s birthday? You think of Nopa, especially the burger. If, however, you want to shake things up, head to Hog and Rocks. It’s ham and oysters, so what could go wrong? They’re serving up twists on American classics in a similarly trendy but bustling atmosphere, and you can actually get a reservation. // 3431 19th St. (Mission)

Bund Shanghai > House of Nanking

The freshness at House of Nanking belies how most people think of Chinese food. For those of us who enjoy even more traditional Chinese cuisine at the sacrifice of a little style, Bund Shanghai is a well-kept secret. An innocuously decorated dining room hides possibly the best xiao long bao in the city. // 640 Jackson St (Chinatown)

Boxing Room > Brenda’s

Southern charm and spicy, creamy creations have everyone flocking to Brenda’s, and while Boxing Room isn’t exactly a non-entity in the dining scene here, it’s much easier to find a table. The spot is beautifully designed in hopping Hayes Valley, and the menu offers textural masterpieces full of surprises like fried lemon slices hiding in the gator appetizer. // 399 Grove St (Hayes Valley)

Le Marais > Tartine Bakery

We’ve all eaten at Tartine by now, and there’s a reason why their pastries and breads have expanded across the ocean. To fulfill your desire for croissants with even more leisurely, elegant charm, Le Marais serves up French baked goods with a farm-to-table focus. Plus, you can take your kouign-amann for a walk down to the harbor. // 2066 Chestnut St. (Marina)

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