The Required: San Francisco

The Required: San Francisco

A definitive guide to San Francisco's tried and trues, as chosen by over 3000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

December 27, 2018
The Required: San Francisco

The Required: San Francisco

A definitive guide to San Francisco's tried and trues, as chosen by over 3000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

December 27, 2018
By Roxanne Webber | Art by Cassandra Landry

There are a lot of "musts" in this world. 

And yes, we'll admit it, this list is absolutely littered with them, but we can promise you this: they weren't appointed by a lone critic, or by write-in votes from well-meaning foodies. Instead, The Required is comprised of the stand-out restaurants that have garnered the all-time most recommendations from chefs, bartenders, sommeliers, and the like. There's no black box of arbitrary editorial committees or user surveys with obtuse criteria fueling this list: just plain, crave-able truth.

Read on to plan your next trip—or just be sure you've checked all the best boxes on your home turf. 

La Ciccia

For a romantic dinner, Sardinian restaurant La Ciccia hits the right notes: it's nestled away in a quieter part of town, the chef/owners exude warm hospitality, and the food and wine feel special but also effortlessly natural and unfussy. There is pasta to be eaten, whether with squid ink, a sausage-laced tomato sauce on little saddle-shaped mallordeus, or with tons of bottarga. There are Sardinian wines you've never tried, and snacks to be had, but most of all you can be left alone to simply enjoy.

Craftsman and Wolves

Clean lines, modern flavor combinations, classic technique, and a touch of punk-spirited-rebellious creativity make up the DNA of beloved Mission District bakery Craftsman and Wolves. It has so many recommendations for different pastries from our food and beverage experts that you'll probably just have to go try it for yourself to pick a favorite, but the savory Rebel Within—a perfect muffin surrounding a perfectly runny cooked egg—remains an ongoing subject of awe. Even the most jaded diner cracks a smile when they cut it open. 

Liholiho Yacht Club

Liholiho Yacht Club is one of those restaurant stories we live for: hard-working husband and wife team chug away holding pop-ups around town in alleys behind bars,  day-in and day-out, honing their unique flavor of Hawaiian-Cali cuisine, and finally get a chance to open a brick and mortar spot...and it's a smash hit. Get a little slice of modern Aloha and snack on poke on crispy nori crackers with a refined take on a tropical cocktail. Or go whole hog and get a large-format main course like a whole fish tail. Industry folks never miss the homemade Spam on rice which isn't always listed on the menu, nor the beef tongue on steamed bao buns crusted in poppy seeds, but there are no wrong moves.

Bonus tip: if you can't get in, ask if they have any spots in the downstairs bar Louie's Gen-Gen Room where you can get many of the same snacks and drinks, plus some bar-only gems like Taleggio cheese sandwiched between waffles and coated in truffles. 

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