Eating In & Out Of The Castro: 10 Eats in San Francisco
In The Castro
Old and new places to try when visiting the gay Mecca and its surrounding areas:
Located in the heart of The Castro, Hi Tops (pictured above), which opened last fall and is the city’s first gay sports bar, if you can believe it, serves up the classics (Buffalo Wings, et al.) you’d expect from a sports-centric watering hole,though with a decidedly fancy twist—including a four cheese grilled sandwich (smoked gouda, cheddar, gruyere, and jarlsberg) with dried fruit chutney. One note, this place is poppin and can at times be pretty full.
While Hi Tops of course has burgers, they’re taken a bit more seriously a few buildings southwest at SliderBar. This mini California chain (the original opened in Palo Alto) offers a variety of pint-sized sandwiches made of beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, and veggies and many comes with sassy names, such as the Double Trouble (double grass-fed beef patties based sliders), the Hot Chick (fresh ground chicken with various spicy ingredients and add ons), and Italian Stallion (pork patty with Italy’s finest added).
Continuing southwest, you’ll find long-standing favorite Catch, a cozy seafood spot where Harvey Milk’s first camera shop once stood (not to be confused with his later camera shop, which is now an HRC shop). Though most of the dishes are delicious, we recommend the seared halibut, sauteed blue talapia, and linguine with clams. Eat inside or out on the heated, screened patio.
The divier establishment Harvey’s also draws on the legendary activist’s legacy, and pairs it with Americana fare and a “build your own damn burger” (even soy) attitude. If you’re not up to the pressure, choose one of their pre-designed creations, like the Rita Moreno: beef topped with jalapaneos, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, and guacamole. As if that’s not enough, Harvey’s also hosts comedy acts and trivia games throughout the week.
Located near the corner of Market and Castro St., your French go-to is Bisou. Creating traditional French eats from organic Cali-grown products, the options here include the petrole sole roulade (stuffed with crushed pine nuts), pork penderloin, and a cheese souffle for dinner. Brunch is also available with various eggs benedicts and crepes and of course rainbow-flavored macarons.
Outside The Castro
From Hayes Valley to North Beach, take your taste buds on a tour of San Francisco’s eclectic flavors outside of The Castro:
Nominated for 2013’s “Best New Restaurant” award by the James Beard Foundation, Rich Table in Hayes Valley (north east of The Castro) serves up lamb tartare, tofu miso puree with roasted potatoes, and chicken lasagna with spring onions and wheatgrass. While the name brings to mind dollar signs, the prices are fair at this trendy yet casual up-and-comer that’s only open for dinner only.
A little further north in the Western Addition nabe is fellow newcomer State Bird Provisions, where a changing dinner menu of fusion and New American tapas-like eats includes duck liver mousse, steak tartare salad, and ricotta dumplings. For full plates: red trout, glazed pork ribs, and fried quail, the state’s official bird. As with Rich Table, it’s best to book your seat in advance.
It’s a bit easier to get a seat at the Latin American-flavored tapas bar Destino, a gay favorite across from the LGBT Community Center in the Mission District.
Heading to the coast, a new popular venue is the Chicago-styled pizzeria Capo’s in North Beach. Deep dish pies are of course on the menu, but so too are fine Italian dishes like Wood Fired Meat Lasagna and Chicken Limoncello.
Also popular is the flashy, beautifully designed Financial District outpost of the London-based Cantonese cuisine chain Hakkasan (pictured above). Selections include Jasmine tea-smoked chicken, Hakka stuffed tofu in black bean sauce, and various dim sum platters that come in fried, grilled, baked and/or steamed.