What Food is San Francisco Known For?

San Francisco is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic food cities. When figuring out what food San Francisco is known for, It’s important to take note of a number of factors. The city is home to a vibrant food scene that is shaped by its unique history, geography, and diverse culture.  Its location is near some of the best produce in the country. Iconic craft beer is found here and in the surrounding North Bay. And world-famous wine regions, Napa and Sonoma, are just a stone’s throw away. The proximity to these places and more have made San Francisco a mecca for delicious food and innovation in the culinary world. 

When asking what food is San Francisco known for, it’s important to look at the history of the food scene in SF. San Francisco’s culinary history dates back when the Spanish arrived in the later half of the 18th century. However, the scene really flourished in the 1840s. This is when the city was a major port and trading center for the Pacific Rim. It was during this time that a wave of immigrants arrived in San Francisco. They brought with them their unique culinary traditions. The city’s proximity to the abundant fishing grounds of the Pacific Ocean, the fertile farmland of California, and the wine-producing regions of Napa and Sonoma, has helped to shape San Francisco’s food culture. In this blog we’ll take a closer look at the different foods that San Francisco is known for and where you can find the best SF eats. 


cioppino with wine and a view of the SF bay

One of the most famous dishes that San Francisco is known for is cioppino, a hearty seafood stew that originated in the Italian-American community in North Beach in the late 1800s. It is said that the dish was created by Italian fishermen who would gather the day’s catch and make a stew out of it on their boats. Today, cioppino is a must-try dish for anyone visiting San Francisco. The taste of cioppino is rich, savory, and slightly acidic from the tomatoes. The broth has a deep seafood flavor that is complemented by spices and aromatics. The seafood in the stew is tender and flavorful, and the Dungeness crab, in particular, adds a slightly sweet and delicate flavor to the dish.

One of the most unique aspects of cioppino is that the flavors of the different seafood ingredients blend together in the stew to create a complex and satisfying taste. The dish is often served with garlic bread, which is used to soak up the flavorful broth and complete the meal.

Overall, cioppino is a delicious and hearty dish that is perfect for seafood lovers looking for a taste of San Francisco’s culinary history. And the quintessential answer to everyone’s question, what food is San Francisco known for.

Clam Chowder in a (Sourdough) Bread Bowl

Another iconic dish that SF is known for is the best clam chowder in San Francisco served in a sourdough bread bowl. The city’s famous sourdough bread is a result of the unique yeast and bacteria strains found only in the Bay Area. Clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, especially when enjoyed while strolling along the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf. If you’re thinking you want to take a stab at cooking this at home, don’t forget the sides! Here are the best things to eat with Clam Chowder.

Sourdough Bread

For a taste of San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread, head to Boudin Bakery in Fisherman’s Wharf. Boudin has been baking bread in the city since 1849 and is known for its tangy, chewy sourdough loaves. Visitors can watch the bakers at work through the bakery’s viewing window and sample a variety of sourdough breads and pastries.

Dungeness Crab


Dungeness crab, the BEST crab in San Francisco, is another seafood staple that San Francisco is famous for. The cold, nutrient-rich waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Francisco are home to some of the world’s best Dungeness crab. Visitors can enjoy this delicacy at one of the many seafood restaurants in the city. Or try their hand at crabbing themselves by taking a charter boat out into the bay. It’s easily some of the best food in San Francisco that is on everyone’s must try list. 

Dungeness crab has a sweet, delicate flavor that is often described as slightly nutty. The meat is tender and has a firm texture. This makes it ideal for a variety of preparations, from salads to soups to crab cakes.

The flavor of Dungeness crab is influenced by its diet and the environment in which it lives. The crabs feed on a variety of seafood, including clams, mussels, and other small crustaceans, which can give the meat a slightly briny flavor. The water in which the crabs live can also affect the taste, as crabs from clean, cold waters are considered to have a superior flavor.

Overall, Dungeness crab is highly prized for its sweet, delicate flavor and firm texture. It is a popular ingredient in many dishes, and is often considered a delicacy in San Francisco cuisine.

Mission Burrito

The Mission burrito is another San Francisco favorite. It is a giant, overstuffed burrito that was invented in the Mission District, one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. The Mission burrito is typically filled with rice, beans, meat, cheese, and salsa, and is often accompanied by a side of guacamole and sour cream.

This vibrant neighborhood is home to some of the city’s best taquerias, including La Taqueria and El Farolito. The mission burrito is a San Francisco institution, with its large size and variety of fillings. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Many taquerias offer creative twists on the classic burrito, like adding French fries or tofu.

World Famous Bakeries

croissant bakery

San Francisco’s food scene is not just limited to savory dishes. The city is also home to some of the best bakeries and pastry shops in the country. Tartine Bakery is one of the most famous bakeries in the city and is known for its delicious croissants, pastries, and bread. B. Patisserie is another popular bakery that offers a wide selection of sweet and savory pastries, as well as coffee and tea.

Cutting Edge Cuisine in SF

In addition to the iconic dishes mentioned above, San Francisco is known for its innovative and cutting-edge cuisine. The city is home to a thriving food scene that features an array of cuisines from all over the world, as well as many up-and-coming chefs who are pushing the boundaries of traditional cuisine. Check out the best places to explore SF for new cuisine to try. 


What is San Francisco known for, if not for its bustling Chinatown. San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the oldest and largest Chinese communities outside of Asia. This vibrant neighborhood is home to a variety of Chinese restaurants and bakeries that offer traditional dim sum, Peking duck, and other classic dishes. Visitors can also find some of the city’s best tea shops and herbal medicine stores here. And not to mention some of the best places to eat in SF. 

Mission District

If you are looking for places to visit in San Francisco, you can’t miss the Mission District. San Francisco’s diverse population has also led to a rich and varied Mexican food scene, particularly in the Mission District. Here, visitors can enjoy everything from street tacos and tamales to upscale modern Mexican cuisine. La Taqueria is one of the most famous Mexican restaurants in the city and is known for its delicious tacos and burritos.

North Beach

The city’s Italian food scene is also worth mentioning. We would be remiss not to mention North beach when answering the question, What food is San Francisco known for? San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood is home to a variety of Italian restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that serve everything from classic pasta dishes to Neapolitan-style pizzas. One of the most famous Italian restaurants in the city is The Stinking Rose, which is known for its garlic-centric dishes. But North Beach is home to some of the hottest restaurants in San Francisco that aren’t to be missed. Check out our favorite pizza spots in SF.  

Wine Regions

San Francisco’s location near some of the best wine regions in the world. This has also also made it a destination for wine lovers. Napa and Sonoma Valley are both located just a short drive from the city. Visitors can take day trips to explore the vineyards and taste some of the world’s best wines. In addition, San Francisco is home to a number of wine bars and restaurants. These spots offer extensive wine lists and expert sommeliers.

Craft Beers

Craft beer is also a big part of San Francisco’s food and drink scene. The city has a number of local breweries that offer a wide selection of beers, from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts. Anchor Brewing Company is one of the oldest and most famous breweries in the city, and visitors can take tours of the brewery and taste their beers on site.

For additional taste of San Francisco’s craft beer scene, head to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and visit Magnolia Brewing Company. This brewery and gastropub offers a wide selection of beers on tap, including their signature Blue Bell Bitter and Proving Ground IPA. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of classic pub dishes, like fish and chips and sausage rolls. Check out our complete list of best breweries in SF.

Ferry Building

Looking to experience San Francisco’s food scene? There are a few must-visit destinations that you should add to your itinerary. One of the best places to start is the Ferry Building Marketplace, located on the Embarcadero. This historic building is home to dozens of artisanal food vendors.  This includes local cheese makers, bakers, butchers and some of the SF best restaurants. Visitors can browse the stalls and taste samples of everything from fresh oysters to artisanal chocolates.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Another iconic destination for foodies is Fisherman’s Wharf, where you’ll find some of the best seafood in the city. The wharf is home to a number of seafood restaurants. This including Fog Harbor Fish House, which has been serving up fresh seafood since 2007. Visitors can enjoy classic dishes like crab cakes, clam chowder, and steamed Dungeness crab, again the BEST crab in San Francisco, while taking in views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

San Francisco’s food scene is a reflection of its rich history, diverse culture, and unique geography. From iconic dishes like clam chowder and cioppino to innovative farm-to-table cuisine and world-class wine. San Francisco truly has something for every food lover. And with so many up-and-coming chefs and new restaurants opening all the time, the city’s food scene is only getting better. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, San Francisco’s food scene is definitely worth exploring.

Fog Harbor Fish House

outdoor dining

For those looking to try some of San Francisco’s most iconic dishes in one place, a visit to Fog Harbor Fish House on Pier 39 is a must. If you’ve been looking for where to eat San Francisco, Fog Harbor is the answer. This restaurant is located right on the waterfront and offers up one of the best San Francisco restaurants with a view. They serve an array of San Francisco staples, including clam chowder, Dungeness crab, and cioppino. The sourdough bread is also freshly baked on-site. This makes it the perfect place to get a taste of everything San Francisco has to offer. It truly is one of the best places to eat in San Francisco. Not to mention it’s one of the most popular restaurants San Francisco has got. We always recommend making reservations beforehand so you can eat at your desired time. Although, we always leave room for walk-ins as well. 

Plus if you’re looking for Private Dining San Francisco style, look no further, with 3 private and semi-private options to host your next gathering you won’t be disappointed!

San Francisco’s rich history, unique geography, and diverse culture have made it one of the world’s most iconic food cities. From cioppino to sourdough bread to the Mission burrito, San Francisco is home to a variety of dishes that are a must-try for anyone visiting the city. And for those looking to sample some of these iconic foods in one place, a visit to Fog Harbor Fish House is highly recommended. Check it out if you’re looking for the best San Francisco waterfront restaurant!