|See #10 below for info on the Giant Donut of Doom.|
1. Darbar. This tiny little restaurant has the best Indian food in the city. They have a weekday lunch buffet that is very reasonably priced, and they also offer carry out and dine in options for dinner. This is the one restaurant I take everyone to when they come to visit me in the city.
2. Giorgio's. Giorgio's is an Italian restaurant that serves big helpings of classic Italian foods. The restaurant is adorable, with its red-and-white checked tablecloths and friendly waitstaff. It's also conveniently located on Clement Street, which offers a variety of shopping and wandering options for those who wish to escape the ALA and Pride crowds.
3. The Tonga Room. Looking for something adorably kitschy? Look no further. The Tonga Room is located in the Fairmont Hotel and boasts a Hawaiian-themed menu and tiki-esque atmosphere. The restaurant is centered around the old hotel swimming pool, which now plays host to a pontoon where live music is played every night. The Tonga Room fills up quickly, though, so call for reservations now.
4. The Stinking Rose. If you like garlic and don't have time to visit Gilroy, the Stinking Rose is a good restaurant to eat at. They serve Italian food with a healthy dose of garlic, so make sure you have some mints in your pocket for afteward.
5. The Crepe House. This is a great place to stop for a quick savory or sweet crepe. It's also conveniently located on Polk St., which has a variety of coffee shops and small businesses and is a great place to wander off the beaten path.
6. Tony's Cable Car. Diner-style food in an adorable cable car, this is a cash-only restaurant, so make sure to stop by an ATM before you show up.
7. Toy Boat Dessert Cafe. Ready for dessert? Stop by the toy boat, a tiny ice cream shop located on the corner of Clement St. and 5th Avenue. The shop is decorated with vintage toys and is not to be missed.
8. Polly Ann Ice Cream. Speaking of ice cream, if you are indecisive, I recommend Polly Ann's Ice Cream Shop. Located on the corner of 39th Avenue and Noriega, this little shop has a wheel you can spin if you don't want to choose what flavor to eat.
9. Swenson's Ice Cream. The original Swenson's is on Hyde St., and the line that can stretch out the door is an indication of exactly how good their home-made ice cream is. This is a great place to stop by once you've visited Lombard Street.
10. Bob's Donuts. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Bob's Donuts, another small donut shop on Polk Street between Clay St. and Sacramento St. In addition to the standard variety of donut, they also serve giant donuts, which are worth gawking at and possibly eating if you have some friends to share with.
There are also scores of tiny coffee shops and other hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are great to eat at. Each neighborhood in the city has its own flavor and style, and it will be easy to find a variety of places to eat when you are here. You will not find many fast-food chains within the city, and that's not a bad thing: while you're here, please sample some of the local cuisine.