Eats & Drinks

Taste the City: 10 Iconic Eats & Drinks in San Francisco

A city is famous for its iconic landmarks, vibrant culture, and stunning surroundings, San Francisco also has a diversified culinary scene that matches the diversity of its population. From waterfront dining to hole-in-the-wall gems, the city offers a plethora of food and drink experiences that are a must-try for any visitor.

Let’s start a gastronomic journey through San Francisco, highlighting ten iconic eats and drinks that define the city’s unique flavor.

Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl

Location: Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the most famous dishes in San Francisco is clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl, a combination of the city’s love of fresh seafood and its renowned sourdough bread. Fisherman’s Wharf, with its bustling piers and maritime charm, is the best place to savor this classic dish.

Why It’s Iconic

Clam chowder itself is a comforting, creamy soup filled with clams, potatoes, and a variety of spices. What makes it uniquely San Francisco is the serving vessel: a bowl made from sourdough bread. The tangy, chewy bread perfectly complements the rich chowder, making for a satisfying and memorable meal.

Mission-Style Burrito

Location: Mission District

The original location of the Mission-style burrito may be found in the thriving and ethnically diverse Mission District. Known for its large size and generous fillings, this burrito is a San Francisco staple that draws food lovers from all over.

Why It’s Iconic

Mission-style burritos are famous for being large and packed with a variety of fillings. These include rice, beans, meat, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, all wrapped in a big flour tortilla. This culinary creation stands out not just for its flavor but also for its ability to provide a hearty, satisfying meal on the go.

Top Spots

For the best Mission-style burritos, head to La Taqueria, which has earned a reputation for its deliciously seasoned meats and fresh ingredients. Another favorite is El Farolito, where the lines are long, but the burritos are worth the wait. Both spots are landmarks in their own right and offer a quintessential experience of most expensive hotels in San Francisco experience.

Dungeness Crab

Location: Fisherman’s Wharf, Crab Stands

No visit to San Francisco is complete without indulging in some fresh Dungeness crab, especially when it’s in season from November to June. The city’s proximity to the ocean ensures that you’re getting the freshest catch possible.

Why It’s Iconic

Dungeness crab is prized for its sweet, tender meat and is a culinary treasure of the West Coast. In San Francisco, it’s often enjoyed steamed or roasted, served with a side of drawn butter or a tangy dipping sauce. The simple preparation allows the natural flavor of the crab to shine.

Best Times to Enjoy

While you can find Dungeness crab year-round, the best time to enjoy it is during the crab season, which runs from November to June. During these months, the crabs are at their freshest and most flavorful, making for an unforgettable seafood experience.

Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe

Location: Fisherman’s Wharf

For a perfect blend of coffee, whiskey, and cream, head to the Buena Vista Cafe at Fisherman’s Wharf. This historic establishment is credited with introducing Irish Coffee to America in 1952.

Why It’s Iconic

Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe is more than just a drink; it’s a ritual. The recipe involves hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and a topping of lightly whipped cream, served in a distinctive glass mug. The combination of warmth from the coffee and whiskey, with the cooling cream on top, makes for a delightful beverage.

Dim Sum in Chinatown

Location: Chinatown

The oldest and largest Chinatown in North America is located in San Francisco. It’s a bustling neighborhood filled with vibrant culture, and one of its culinary highlights is dim sum.

Why It’s Iconic

Dim sum, which means “touch the heart,” consists of a variety of small, flavorful dishes typically served with tea. From dumplings to buns to rolls, each dish offers a unique taste experience. For San Francisco solo travel, dim sum is a beloved brunch tradition.

Popular Places

For an authentic dim sum experience, visit Yank Sing or City View Restaurant. Both spots are renowned for their extensive menus and high-quality dishes. Whether you’re a fan of shrimp dumplings, pork buns, or sesame balls, you’re sure to find something that delights your palate.

It’s-It Ice Cream Sandwich

Location: Various Markets and Stores

A true San Francisco original, the It’s-It ice cream sandwich has been a local favorite since 1928. A scoop of ice cream is layered between two oatmeal cookies and coated in chocolate to create this delicious treat.

Why It’s Iconic

The It’s-It ice cream sandwich is a nostalgic treat for many San Franciscans. Its unique combination of creamy ice cream, chewy cookies, and rich chocolate coating makes it a standout dessert. Available in various flavors, including vanilla, mint, and cappuccino, there’s an It’s-It for every taste.


The It’s-It ice cream sandwich is a delightful combination of flavors and textures that can be enjoyed as a late-night snack or on a sunny day. You can find these treats in supermarkets and corner stores throughout the city, making it easy to grab one on the go.


Location: North Beach

The rich seafood stew known as cioppino has its origins in the Italian-American neighborhood of San Francisco. This dish, filled with a variety of fresh seafood, is a staple in the city’s North Beach neighborhood.

Why It’s Iconic

Cioppino is a rich, tomato-based stew brimming with fish, clams, mussels, shrimp, and crab. This dish is luxurious and comforting at the same time because the flavors blend so well together. Served with a crusty piece of bread, it’s a meal that showcases the best of San Francisco’s seafood.

Martini at Top of the Mark

Location: Top of the Mark, Nob Hill

The Top of the Mark, a historic lounge on the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill, is a great place to get an elegant drink with a view.

Why It’s Iconic

The Top of the Mark is renowned for its panoramic views of San Francisco, offering a stunning backdrop for enjoying a martini. The lounge has a storied history and has been a favorite spot for celebrities and dignitaries over the years.

Signature Drinks

While the martinis are a highlight, the Top of the Mark offers a variety of cocktails to suit any taste. Whether you prefer a classic dry martini or something with a modern twist, you’ll find a drink that complements the breathtaking scenery.

Vegan Treats at Nourish Café

Location: Various Locations

Reflecting San Francisco’s health-conscious and progressive spirit, Nourish Café offers a range of delicious vegan treats that cater to modern dietary preferences.

Why It’s Iconic

Nourish Café’s menu is filled with wholesome, plant-based options that are both tasty and nutritious. From smoothie bowls to avocado toast, every item is made with fresh, organic ingredients. This café is a testament to the city’s evolving culinary scene and commitment to sustainability.

Popular Items

Some of the must-try items include the acai bowls packed with fruits and superfoods and the vibrant, nutrient-rich salads. The café’s commitment to quality and flavor makes it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Anchor Steam Beer

Location: Various Bars and Stores

Anchor Steam Beer is one of America’s oldest craft beers, with a history that dates back to 1896. This distinctive beer is a proud product of San Francisco’s brewing tradition.

Why It’s Iconic

Anchor Steam Beer stands out for its unique brewing process, which involves fermenting the beer at higher temperatures than usual, giving it a distinct flavor. The result is a refreshing, flavorful beer that captures the essence of San Francisco’s pioneering spirit.

Brewery Tour

For a deeper dive into the history and craft of Anchor Steam Beer, visit the Anchor Brewing Company. The brewery offers tours that provide a fascinating look at the brewing process and the chance to sample a variety of their beers.


San Francisco’s culinary landscape is a reflection of its rich history, diverse culture, and innovative spirit. From classic dishes like clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and Dungeness crab to unique treats like the It’s-It ice cream sandwich and modern vegan delights, the city offers a feast for the senses.

Whether you’re sipping an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe or enjoying a martini at the Top of the Mark, each bite and sip tells a story of San Francisco’s vibrant food and drink scene. So, next time you’re in the city, make sure to taste these iconic eats and drinks and discover the true flavor of San Francisco. And travel with Pristine Traveller Tales for more fun food ideas.