And which dishes to order
Nomsters! After traveling all over the Bay looking for awesome foodie adventures, we’ve compiled our definitive list of absolute must-try casual restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we’ve included our favorite dish at each place so you know exactly what to order. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the noms (in no particular order)!
Must Try Casual Restaurants in the SF Bay Area and what you should order:
1. Chili House’s Peking Duck
To start off our list of must try casual restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve got Chili House and their Peking duck! Anecdotally, we’ve gotten the thumbs up from multiple sources saying this is one of the best places in the city, and we’d definitely have to agree. It’s always cooked perfectly – crispy, lightly salted skin and moist, flavorful meat – and is served with thin pancakes for wrapping, green onions, cucumber, and Peking sauce. The rest of their menu is amazing, as well, so it’s definitely worth a trip when you’re super hungry. Just keep in mind that it takes 1 hour to roast and prepare the duck, so calling in advance is best.
2. Augie’s Montreal Deli’s Reuben Sandwich
This deli is a straight up gem conveniently located in Berkeley, just off Ashby and Seventh. It’s Canadian-owned, and their management couldn’t possibly be friendlier or more accommodating. And their meats need to be tasted to believe! It’s moist, perfectly cooked and seasoned on the outside, and to top it all off, the put it through a panini press, which gives the bread that awesome, toasted, crispy texture and taste. Oh, and they seriously stack the meat in all their sandwiches, so you definitely get your money’s worth.
3. Little Charlie’s Gourmet Cookies
I think the photos speak for themselves, but these cookies from Little Charlie’s are insanely good! First off, they’re huge, and second, they’re gooey in all the right places, and they melt in your mouth. There are some definite staples in their repertoire, but they also experiment with new cookies pretty often, so check back frequently! They currently operate out of their home and take online orders, and they make visits to South San Francisco, Emeryville, and Antioch once a month for pick-ups, so it’s easy to get your hands on some of these.
4. Roli Roti’s Porchetta Sandwich
I’ve had some tasty sandwiches in my day, but it’s not often that I’m absolutely blown away by one. Roli Roti’s Porchetta Sandwich was the closest I’ve gotten to that feeling in a long time. If you’re unfamiliar with the famous food truck, they do rotisserie meats, and you can’t forget their potatoes that get covered in the meat drippings. The porchetta is moist and cooked to perfection, and topped with housemade onion marmalade, rosemary sea salt, and arugula, on a porchetta drippings-soaked Acme bun.
5. The Lucky Pig’s Korean Fried Chicken and Dosirak Lunchbox
Next up, one of our definite fave dishes from one of our must try restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area is The Lucky Pig’s Korean Fried Chicken!… And we actually love this place so much we had to throw in a second dish – their Dosirak Lunchbox. The Lucky Pig is a modern Korean joint that puts their own spin on Korean traditional and street foods. Their Korean Fried Chicken is amazingly crispy, and they serve their sweet and spicy sauce on the side, unlike other places, which ensures that it never gets soggy.
The Dosirak lunchbox has some of my favorite things like spam, kimchi, and kimchi fried rice, all piled on one plate. If you’re ever looking for a hearty, filling, and delicious all-in-one lunch set that doesn’t require that you make tough decisions, this is it.
Read our full post about The Lucky Pig HERE
6. Rooster & Rice’s “The Original”:
How can something that looks so simple be so freakin’ bomb? Rooster & Rice has expanded like crazy within the city over the past couple years, and it’s for good reason – this ranks as one of the best casual restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area if you’re looking for something quick! This is their take on the Thai street food, Khao Mun Gai, and we agree with everything about it. The chicken is moist, the sauce is like a gingery ponzu and is perfectly complementary, the cucumber adds some refreshment, and if you’re a fan of spicy stuff, you HAVE to add some of the habanero sauce on top. Boom.
Read our full post about Rooster & Rice HERE
7. Chick n’ Bros’ Nashville Fire:
Chick N’ Bros is a great example of a spot that doesn’t try to do too much. They stick to a few similar style fried chicken sandwiches and 100% crush them. Their Nashville Fire is crafted with Premium Mountnaire Black Label Beer Battered Fried Chicken, spicy adobo aioli sauce (bro sauce) sweet and tangy sauce (chick sauce), onions, pickles, purple cabbage, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili oil, and local honey, all on a brioche bun.
Read our full post about SPRO Coffee Lab HERE
8. Riceful’s Pork Boy Onigiri:
I’m half Japanese, so you already know I’m an onigiri fan, but Riceful over in Berkeley has taken them to a completely new level. Typically, onigiri consists of a rice ball with something delicious in the middle like umeboshi, salmon, or tuna mayo, but Riceful makes theirs like a taco with a TON of amazing ingredients on the inside. Their menu is pretty extensive, so we honestly haven’t tried them all, but we seriously recommend the Pork Boy Onigiri, which comes packed with spam, egg, tonkatsu, cheese and unagi sauce.
9. Mokuku’s Shabu Shabu with Wagyu Beef:
Until finding Mokuku, I often opted for hot pot over shabu shabu, but this spot changed my mind entirely. And what was the reason? It’s their wagyu beef in all its marbled glory. Sure, other places have delicious beef options, but none that I’ve been to have had any even remotely reaching this quality. They’ve got a bar downstairs and a bunch of tables upstairs, but you should still get there on the earlier side to avoid waiting.
10. Ramenwell’s Signature Pork Ramen:
Last, but definitely, DEFINITELY not least was the Signature Pork Ramen from Ramenwell, a ramen and izakaya joint in San Francisco’s Mission district. One of the main problems with a lot of places that serve tonkotsu ramen is that they don’t make the broth thick enough. Tonkotsu is bone marrow broth and NEEDS to be thick and rich, which is exactly what Ramenwell does, and it’s incredible. Add a thick cut piece of pork in there and some springy noodz, and you got yourself one heck of a bowl.
Read our full post about Ramenwell HERE
So that’s it! We hope these recommendations help to give you some eating inspiration and find something new. Have you tried anything in our list of dishes you must eat in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area? What do you think of them? Let us know your thoughts!
For more awesome Bay Area recommendations, check out our San Francisco Bay Area Tab HERE