Our Favorite Restaurants in San Francisco

Where’s the best place to eat?

There’s never a single restaurant that answers that question. Instead, for most of us trying to reply as accurately as possible, there’s a litany of follow-ups: Which neighborhood? Casual or fancy? What kind of mood are you in? What vibes are you seeking? Does it require a perfectly prepared cocktail?

Last week, my colleague Tejal Rao, food critic at large, kicked off a new series that provides some answers, starting with her list of the 25 best restaurants in Los Angeles right now.

The New York Times will showcase its favorites in cities across the country, highlighting the places that our reporters and editors recommend to visitors, our go-to neighborhood joints or the places we know are just generally delicious.

Today, we are spotlighting some of the best San Francisco restaurants.

Sure, the Bay Area pioneered hyperseasonality to the point of becoming a punchline. But it is, like Los Angeles, home to some of the largest immigrant communities across the country.

There are newer restaurants on this list, like Prik Hom and Noodle in a Haystack, two unassuming spots on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco that deliver such virtuosic dishes that they landed a place on our national list.

Nearby in the Outer Sunset, Yuanbao Jiaozi nourishes diners with bowls of beef noodle soup and freshly made dumplings that you can watch being assembled while you eat.

California has its own taxonomy of burritos. In a less foggy part of the city, at 25th and Mission Streets, La Taqueria has recently been receiving accolades from around the country, but local people have been flocking there for five decades. Miguel Jara and much of his staff have become like family to many diners, serving perfectly griddled burritos and making millions of tacos for the neighborhood.

And while our restaurant critic Pete Wells recently noticed a surge of chefs executing Korean fine-dining menus in New York, the chef Cory Lee has been doing just that for over 10 years with Benu, a placid but triumphant oasis in SoMa.

Still, a joy of living in San Francisco is that it never ceases to surprise.

When they aren’t working 60-plus hours a week, the city’s chefs, restaurants and hospitality workers somehow still find ways to create community by D.J.-ing parties at El Rio in Bernal Heights or combating the opioid epidemic by working with the city’s harm-reduction task forces.

So when people outside San Francisco ask, “Are you OK?” the best answer might be Jimmie Fails’s line from the film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”:

“You don’t get to hate it unless you love it.”

Eleanore Park is an editor for New York Times Cooking. She is based in the Bay Area.

Today’s tip comes from Beverly Kraut, who recommends visiting the Ruth Bancroft Garden in the Bay Area:

“I have been a member and volunteer at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek for about 10 years. Over that time, as drought and water scarcity have become more of a pressing issue in California, dry gardening and the use of succulents and native plants are replacing water-thirsty lawns in both private homes and public spaces here.

Ruth Bancroft’s vision of a dry garden, started in the 1970s on three acres of land, has become a showcase for what can be done with minimal water to have colorful blooms year-round. It is a wonderful place to visit and walk the gravel paths while taking in the diverse range of plants from giant agaves to tiny Haworthia hidden in the soil and rocks surrounding them. Ruth, by the way, died just six years ago at the age of 109, but her vision lives on in her beautiful garden.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Lori Hu didn’t believe the stories she saw on the Netflix reality show “Love Is Blind” about couples who fell in love and became engaged before ever seeing each other. Then it happened to her.

Hu, who works at a venture capital fund in San Francisco, matched with Nick Matcheck, a former naval aviator, on the dating app Hinge in March 2020. The couple began dating online, bonding over their love of ’90s music and nostalgic films, and soon planned their first date: a picnic by the Golden Gate Bridge for late April 2020.

The picnic never happened, because of the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but the two kept dating. After weathering some major challenges together, including the death of Hu’s father, they decided a few months later to move in together in Wisconsin, where Hu’s family owned a home.

By the time the two finally met face to face that June — Matcheck was waiting on a marble staircase in the lobby of a Chicago hotel, a single red rose in hand — the stories on “Love Is Blind” seemed much less incredible.

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