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San Francisco food is fabulous! The best SF seafood, ceviche, Michelin restaurants.

girl feeding horse statue

Oh, we ate like horses in San Francisco! The tourism board and various PR reached out to us, and set us up with the city’s most innovative restaurants.

For me, trying the local cuisine is one of the best ways to get to know a place and its culture. When you travel, I urge you to open your mind and palate. Don’t hide behind fears and restrictions. You never know what you might discover — like Yukiro’s new appreciation for seafood!

From fresh seafood to Peruvian fruits, here’s a chronicle of our San Fran eats. We loved every experience, but put the favorites at the top. Forks up, and let’s dig in.

la mar cebicheria peruana, san francisco

Our absolute top pick is La Mar Cebichería Peruana at the Embarcadero. Yukiro agrees: “La Mar with La Carmina was my best meal during the trip. We could have spent a day there, just eating and eating. Seriously, you must visit this seafood paradise if you ever come to San Francisco.”

san francisco pier 1.5 wharf

You couldn’t eat Peruvian seafood and ceviche in a more beautiful setting, at the pier. Loved the outdoor dining space and lively color scheme, which matches my hair.

plantain chips, peru fried bananas

We started with these plantain chips and dip. It didn’t take long for us to finish the bucket. Yukiro adds, “The service here was very good; our waitress chatted with us like a genuine friend. In the open-air kitchen you could see how all the fresh fruits they make into drinks or sauces.”

fresh tuna ceviche, peru

“We had ceviche to die for, served beautifully with a lot of fresh and variable seasonings.” Cebiches, or raw marinated fish, are the national dish of Peru for good reason. We had a 100% sustainable sampling platter. The yellowtail one was so good that we ordered another serving.

la mar ceviche seafood restaurant, san francisco

I’m the type of diner who likes to try a bite of everything, so I appreciated the menu’s many sampler platters. We ordered pisco sour cocktails, empanadas, and causas (whipped potatoes topped with artichoke, beets, broccoli and avocado).

peruvian desserts, la mar chocolate lucuma crepe

And the award for best dessert goes to… the chocolate lucuma crepe! The Andean valley fruit flavor is out-of-the-park, and unlike anything I’ve had before. If you only go to one restaurant in San Francisco, make it La Mar.

le colonial michelin starred restaurant

We also adored Le Colonial, a Michelin starred restaurant near Union Square. Inspired by the French era in Vietnam, the entrance is a lush jungle, and the service is top class.

French Vietnamese fine dining, live music

Everything, from the low lighting to the southeast Asia Buddhas, adds to the romantic fantasy. On the top floor, we saw figures in top hats dancing to live jazz.

san francisco top rated restaurant food

Yukiro reminisces, “The wine blew our minds far away. Very delicate flavored indeed. The appetizers were Vietnamese inspired and included tofu, spring rolls and skewers. It all tasted magnificent.” For the mains, I fell for the steamed Chilean sea bass wrapped in banana leaves.

star shaped cookie dessert, le colonial

Finally, Vietnamese flourless chocolate cake with a warm interior, and lemongrass panna cotta topped with a (Michelin?) star. Yukiro puts it best: “After stuffing our faces with this luxury, we felt we had to roll down the hills of San Francisco to get home!”

pier market seafood, fisherman's wharf mahi mahi

I always say that when it comes to food, quality and location matter. Yukiro adds, “I have to admit that before coming here, I didn’t think highly of shellfish. Pier Market Seafood proved me wrong. The crew treated us fellow pirates to a feast of freshly-caught seafood dishes. The pomegranate cocktail was super refreshing and probably the best we had during the whole trip.”

grilled shrimp, swordfish fish restaurant

We died over the mahi-mahi (melt in your mouth!) and grilled salmon, swordfish and shrimp. Some of the best I’ve had in recent memory, and this is coming from someone who is always in Tokyo and Vancouver.

Yuki-chan continues, “After this feast we got coffee cocktails and tremendously tasty desserts bestowed upon us. Chocolate cake and home-made apple pie with ice cream. What a treat! I got a nostalgic feeling from my childhood when my mother used to make a similar apple pie. But this one tasted even better than those sweet memories. Overall you must come to Pier Market Seafood for the Mahi Mahi dish, fresh cocktails and tasty desserts.”

isa restaurant san francisco marina district

In the Marina district, we had a relaxing dinner with friends at Isa Restaurant. “The venue was romantic, gothic and darkly cozy. The very pleasing wines filled our tummies and spirits.”

pinot noir la follette wine

Our server at Isa was a fun fellow who used to work as a translator to the Cambodian court. “He brought us a lot of nice recommendations, which we took time to share and enjoy.” The chef did a outstanding job of infusing French with Californian cuisine, keeping it simple to let the ingredients do the talking: lamb lollipops, Tomales bay oysters, and baked Chenel goat cheese.

cheese plate with fruit, grapefruit granite

Yukiro enjoyed a good cup of dark coffee after the dinner, and I was all over the refreshing (and pretty) grapefruit granite.

Pisco Latin Lounge, san francisco mission restaurant

We had a divine time at Pisco / Destino, a Latin lounge and bistro. Modern Central / South American is currently one of my favorite choices for dining out.

(Both of my dresses in this post are c/o Alice’s Pig. The white draped top is c/o Peace Love World.)

pisco Destino bistro, peruvian ceviche sangria

“This Latino place was to die for. Their sinfully good sangrias were non-sweetened and ‘diluted’ with more red wine. We had several re-fills due to the exquisite and rich fruit flavor. The best sangria I’ve ever had. Red wine is consumable in all conditions but this was probably its best form!”

“The fresh raw fish in different seasonings, called ceviche, was a killer dish. We loved every slice and dice of it.”

historic john's grill restaurant

For those with “meaty” appetites, we recommend Historic John’s Grill. This is one of San Fran’s oldest establishments, and was a setting in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.

The dark one says, “A traditional American steak house with a long reputation at stake. Could this satisfy a drag queen diva who eats children for breakfast? Certainly, m’am!”

john's grill san francisco, wine

There was an impressive wine list, and we drank their own label — a fine white, recommended by the vivacious server. “The only thing unclear was… why they are named Historic John’s, when the founder’s name was Arnold?”

steakhouse filet mignon, crab cocktail

Start with escargot, Dungeness crab cocktail, and lobster-stuffed ravioli. Move on to the filet mignon, or Sam Spade lamb chops.

berries flan dessert

And end with fresh berries with cream, and vanilla cream caramel flan. “There was no surprise, you got what you expected and loved it to the fullest. Historic John’s lives up to its reputation for sure.”

urban tavern san francisco bistro

After all heavy eating, we were grateful for the seasonal gastropub grub at Urban Tavern. Trevor, Yukiro and I appreciated their mascot, the robot-mechanical horse.

vegetarian green vegetable wraps

The sunflowers aren’t for eating… but we enjoyed healthy green salads and wraps, with quinoa and hummus. Yukiro especially loved the fresh avocado, and I devoured the yam fries.

peanut brittle cake dessert

But you’ve got to end a meal with dessert, heavy metal style. Here’s to good old chocolate cake, peanut brittle and ice cream.

fog harbor fish house seafood platter

The sun sets over Fog Harbor Fish House, another Pier 39 seafood restaurant with a cool view of Alcatraz.

(Here are more photos of our SF waterfront explorations.)

san francsico fresh seafood tuna tartar

It was fun to wear bibs, and crack open this impressive seafood platter — crab, prawns, oysters, mussels and even corn on the cob.

I only wish we had more time to do tastings around San Francisco! Do you make efforts to try local foods, when you are in a new city? Which of these restaurants made your taste buds tingle?

SHARE & COMMENT

37 Comments

  1. Posted June 27, 2014 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    I love your hair color! It’s wonderful!

  2. Posted June 27, 2014 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Miss you both. Stay safe in HK!

    • Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      thanks wish u were here

  3. Posted June 27, 2014 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    oh wow!

  4. Posted June 27, 2014 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Wow, thanks for the cool photos.

  5. Posted June 27, 2014 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    hi i am a Marilyn Manson Fan from Germany and looking for other MM Fans

  6. Posted June 27, 2014 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks! I love it so far in SF.

  7. Posted June 27, 2014 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    YUMMMM

  8. Posted June 27, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Love your blog always so colorful and detail oriented. Loving the seafood make my mouth water:)

    • Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      Aww thanks Trina! I try to put time into each post and the photos – thanks for reading :)

  9. Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Love the post!

  10. Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Cool post! nice one!

  11. Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Beautiful!! X

  12. Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    (´▽`*)

  13. Posted June 28, 2014 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    have fun

  14. Posted June 29, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    wow…OMG how exciting…
    can i come with you for free…

  15. Posted June 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    envy you.. but a lot ^__^ travel around the world… great … life: you do it right… U_U i need to going to Cape town soon or later.. to meet the great white shark

    • Posted June 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      I’m having such a great time in Cape Town :-)

  16. Posted June 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    You’re gonna love cape town! Especially the amazing burlesque troop!

    • Posted June 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Having such a great time here already.

  17. Posted June 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    So many things to try!! i LOVE ceviche, and seafood generally!

    • Posted June 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes, then you must try at least the first few places, can’t wait to hear and see what you do :-)

  18. Posted June 29, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    thats YUM!

  19. Posted June 29, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    ^^

  20. Posted June 30, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this feast of delicateness with me! <3 *my stomach is still expanded* mohahaaha

    • Posted June 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Oh the places we go and the things we eat…

  21. Posted July 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    thank you!

  22. Posted July 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Love!

  23. Posted July 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    PERÚ

  24. Posted July 11, 2014 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    If you still have no idea what this
    means, don’t worry about it, because you can always…

    Kizi

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