clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

The Supercharged Flavor Guide to San Francisco

View as Map
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.
FY15 Infiniti Q1 Q50 Lifestyle logo

Flavor, it goes without saying, is a priority of just about every restaurant or bar. And there are dishes (and drinks) that'll knock each of the five basic flavors — sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami — out of the park. We'll be mapping the biggest flavor hits of cities across the country, as part of Eater's partnership with MOFAD and Infiniti USA. This stop: San Francisco. In a city packed with great, often innovative restaurants, here are 10 places that do wonders with the five flavors.

Read More
If you book a reservation through an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Reverb Kitchen & Bar

Copy Link
Served skewered on a serrated knife atop a bed of charred greens, the fried chicken and waffles at this stylish Polk Street restaurant are the ultimate sweet-and-savory combination. Crispy, salty fried chicken merges with a sweet amaranth waffle, and it gets an extra dose of sugar thanks to a butterscotch apple maple topping.

Destino Latin Bistro/Pisco Bar

Copy Link
Pisco has a long history in San Francisco, first gaining popularity during the Gold Rush era. It’s still all the rage at bars across the city and especially at Upper Market’s pisco bar Destino. The winning drink here is the lip-puckering pisco sour made with La Caravedo pisco, plenty of fresh lime, and a touch of egg white, served frothy with an artful dash of angostura bitters.

Liholiho Yacht Club

Copy Link
Pastry chef Penelope Lao’s Hawaiian riff on the mid-century dessert Baked Alaska has been showing up on Instagram since the Hawaiian-inspired Tenderloin hot spot opened in April. Not only beautiful, this beehive-shaped creation features caramelized pineapple ice cream and a thin vanilla shortbread crust encased in fluffy toasted chiffon. It’s definitely worth saving room for — if it doesn’t sell out before you can order.

Old Bus Tavern

Copy Link
This new Bernal Heights brewpub is quickly gaining notoriety for its creative, playful twists on fine dining. One great example is the quail eggs appetizer, featuring four sous vide pickled quail eggs served on a nest of salty fried onions. The delicate eggs, cooked at 85 degrees for five minutes, rest overnight in a house-made pickle juice that imparts subtle notes of mustard, coriander, and bay leaf, then get an extra punch of salt and texture from that crisp onion bed.
San Francisco loves its avocado toast, and the latest rendition topping best-of lists comes from this tiny Tenderloin haunt that showcases the treat on its dinner and brunch menus. Huxley’s version sets itself apart thanks to the sea urchin and seaweed, which bring an oceanic saltiness to the base thick sourdough, creamy avocado, and sesame.

Mission Chinese Food

Copy Link
Inside the Mission’s humble Lung Shan restaurant, chef Danny Bowien's creative Chinese food mashups have been drawing lines down Mission Street for years. The sour chili chicken has its roots in a traditional black bean chicken dish, showcasing an authentic sour sauce, while romanesco and cauliflower provide the restaurant’s signature California twist. There’s an extra dose of acid (and heat) from pickled serrano peppers.

Bar Mia

Copy Link
This cocktail bar within Nostra Spaghetteria, the Mission’s newest pasta joint, is all about bitter Italian amaros. Among the drinks created by manager Adam Mardigras is the Beeter & Sweet, a riff on a gin martini that uses bitter cynar instead of sweet vermouth and adds fresh beet juice infused with pink peppercorns, Sibona Amaro, Fernet branca, and Aperol. Coconut lemon water balances the drink while the flamed orange zest garnish adds a little flair.

E&O Kitchen and Bar

Copy Link
Salted caramel and whipped cream softens the bitterness of the bittersweet chocolate mousse featured in this downtown restaurant’s devil’s food cake, while the five-spice ganache lends a subtle depth of flavor.

Scotland Yard

Copy Link
San Francisco’s best burger might be its newest: the double decker behemoth coming out of the Marina’s new Scotland Yard. The premium beef patties are topped with bone-marrow aioli and two types of cheese to punch the umami factor up a few big notches, plus a cornichon remoulade to cut the richness (at least a little).
Umami in a cocktail? You bet. The mind-bending Umami and Mint cocktail is just one example of the creativity coming from behind the bar at this power-lunch hotspot in SoMa. While the sesame oil imparts an earthy, savory quality to the tequila-based drink, fresh mint and cucumber keep things light and refreshing.
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Reverb Kitchen & Bar

Served skewered on a serrated knife atop a bed of charred greens, the fried chicken and waffles at this stylish Polk Street restaurant are the ultimate sweet-and-savory combination. Crispy, salty fried chicken merges with a sweet amaranth waffle, and it gets an extra dose of sugar thanks to a butterscotch apple maple topping.

Destino Latin Bistro/Pisco Bar

Pisco has a long history in San Francisco, first gaining popularity during the Gold Rush era. It’s still all the rage at bars across the city and especially at Upper Market’s pisco bar Destino. The winning drink here is the lip-puckering pisco sour made with La Caravedo pisco, plenty of fresh lime, and a touch of egg white, served frothy with an artful dash of angostura bitters.

Liholiho Yacht Club

Pastry chef Penelope Lao’s Hawaiian riff on the mid-century dessert Baked Alaska has been showing up on Instagram since the Hawaiian-inspired Tenderloin hot spot opened in April. Not only beautiful, this beehive-shaped creation features caramelized pineapple ice cream and a thin vanilla shortbread crust encased in fluffy toasted chiffon. It’s definitely worth saving room for — if it doesn’t sell out before you can order.

Old Bus Tavern

This new Bernal Heights brewpub is quickly gaining notoriety for its creative, playful twists on fine dining. One great example is the quail eggs appetizer, featuring four sous vide pickled quail eggs served on a nest of salty fried onions. The delicate eggs, cooked at 85 degrees for five minutes, rest overnight in a house-made pickle juice that imparts subtle notes of mustard, coriander, and bay leaf, then get an extra punch of salt and texture from that crisp onion bed.

Huxley

San Francisco loves its avocado toast, and the latest rendition topping best-of lists comes from this tiny Tenderloin haunt that showcases the treat on its dinner and brunch menus. Huxley’s version sets itself apart thanks to the sea urchin and seaweed, which bring an oceanic saltiness to the base thick sourdough, creamy avocado, and sesame.

Mission Chinese Food

Inside the Mission’s humble Lung Shan restaurant, chef Danny Bowien's creative Chinese food mashups have been drawing lines down Mission Street for years. The sour chili chicken has its roots in a traditional black bean chicken dish, showcasing an authentic sour sauce, while romanesco and cauliflower provide the restaurant’s signature California twist. There’s an extra dose of acid (and heat) from pickled serrano peppers.

Bar Mia

This cocktail bar within Nostra Spaghetteria, the Mission’s newest pasta joint, is all about bitter Italian amaros. Among the drinks created by manager Adam Mardigras is the Beeter & Sweet, a riff on a gin martini that uses bitter cynar instead of sweet vermouth and adds fresh beet juice infused with pink peppercorns, Sibona Amaro, Fernet branca, and Aperol. Coconut lemon water balances the drink while the flamed orange zest garnish adds a little flair.

E&O Kitchen and Bar

Salted caramel and whipped cream softens the bitterness of the bittersweet chocolate mousse featured in this downtown restaurant’s devil’s food cake, while the five-spice ganache lends a subtle depth of flavor.

Scotland Yard

San Francisco’s best burger might be its newest: the double decker behemoth coming out of the Marina’s new Scotland Yard. The premium beef patties are topped with bone-marrow aioli and two types of cheese to punch the umami factor up a few big notches, plus a cornichon remoulade to cut the richness (at least a little).

Mourad

Umami in a cocktail? You bet. The mind-bending Umami and Mint cocktail is just one example of the creativity coming from behind the bar at this power-lunch hotspot in SoMa. While the sesame oil imparts an earthy, savory quality to the tequila-based drink, fresh mint and cucumber keep things light and refreshing.

Related Maps