We know there's nothing quite as American as baseball and apple pie, but what if you want more than just dessert before or after a game? Although the garlic fries at San Francisco's beautiful AT&T Park, home of the city's beloved Giants, are legendary, there are many restaurants around the ballpark that are worth checking out.
If you're running late to the game but don't want to skimp on quality, pop into HRD Coffee Shop or The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen for a sandwich to go. If you have time for a sit-down meal that's bit more fancy (and pricey), check out Marlowe's or Bar Crudo's. And if you want to rub elbows with a place packed with Giants fans, Original Joe's is a good bet.
If you're eating before the game, leave some time to get to your seat, especially if you're visiting AT&T Park for a Giants game.
If you're eating after the game, hop on the MUNI line, which stops right outside the stadium. Not only will the MUNI line take you to several of the restaurants below, you can also take it further downtown to for more dining possibilities.
Albeit a tiny space with bar dining downstairs and a handful of tables upstairs, Bar Crudo has made quite a splash with its exquisite seafood. Impeccable preparation and spot-on flavors distinguish the fare, whether you choose chilled shellfish or their crudo (raw fish) items. The latter get a kick with fennel, mint, tobiko, ginger, and blood oranges. Seafood chowder, with its base of applewood-smoked bacon, pleases folks who want something hot; other possibilities include tuna confit, an artisan cheese plate, and sherry duck liver mousse. The bar's spotlight shines on an array of Belgian beers, which is also the perfect primer before a baseball game at nearby AT&T Park. (415-409-0679)
High ceilings and awesome Bay views establish a unique atmosphere at this well-received waterfront venue. Style and spectacle are grounded, though, by Slanted Door's authentic country Vietnamese dishes, which get a California kick from local ingredients. Taste the results in the catfish claypot, crispy peppercorn duck, shaking beef, spicy squid and mesquite-grilled pork chops. Spring rolls also come highly recommended, and great cocktails and scrumptious desserts are worth indulging in. And with a world-famous chef/owner like Charles Phan in charge (author of the fantastic cook book "Vietnamese Home Cooking"), you'll get quite a crowd. And don't forget to keep an eye out for celebrities! (415-861-8032)
HRD Coffee Shop
If you value food over atmosphere in your dining experience, then HRD Coffee Shop might be the place for you. The location itself is as imaginative as its name, but the food is a daring and delightful mix of Chinese, American, Korean and Mexican favorites. You can try everything from Korean Loco Moco to Mongolian Cheesesteak, all under one old, unimpressive roof. But with all of San Francisco's Soma district waiting outside, from the cheers at AT&T Ballpark to a beautiful stroll along the bay, why would anyone want to be inside anyway? Order that Firecracker Shrimp for the road! (415-543-2355)
Founded way back in 1937 and having survived the Great Depression, Original Joe's is a great place to eat. The simplicity of the meals is only outdone by the portions: the classic Flatiron Steak and Eggs is three square meals on one plate. The breakfast menu offers a good variety of omelets, along with sausage, eggs, ham, and other traditional breakfast items. The retro ambience includes waiters in tuxedos, and hamburgers come highly recommended. With its signature red leather booths, legendary smooth cocktails, and renowned Italian American menu, Joe's has come to signify its own Northern Californian category of food and symbolizes classic Italian American comfort food at its finest. (415-775-4877)
The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen
If you still have savory dreams from childhood of two slices of perfectly buttered toast squeezing out melted cheddar cheese, this restuarant is for you. And, even though the recipe is simple, they take their one product very seriously, with "Commander in Cheese" Heidi Gibson dreaming up delectable sandwiches such as "The Mousetrap," which has an unforgettable mix of Tillamook Cheddar, havarti and Monterrey jack. And since grilled cheese should go hand-in-hand with tomato soup, be sure to order a to-go cup of their house-made Smoky Tomato Soup.
If you think you know grilled cheese sandwiches, swing by The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen and get an education about this simple American masterpiece. (415-243-0107)
The Butler and the Chef
The Butler and the Chef has three simple but lovely food principles: mix the best local ingredients with some quality French imports; use only organic bread, pastry and milk products; and offer expertly made French and American beverages. That means you can enjoy a classic Parisien sandwich with locally raised Niman Ranch ham; a croissant made from the highest quality organic flour and butter; and a Macon Villages chardonnay from France. If you're wandering around San Francisco and get that wild lust for a delightful French Bistro, head straight for The Butler and the Chef. You'll be singing Oo-la-la before you know it. (415-896-2075)
The stylish and intelligent atmosphere of Marlowe comes directly from its stylish and intelligent owner, New Zealand native Anna Weinberg, and Executive Chef Jennifer Puccio. Weinberg has owned several successful restaurants before, including Stella in New York (2001) and South in San Francisco (2007). And Pucio was executive chef of San Francisco's Cortez, where she won three stars from San Francisco Chronicle Food Editor and Critic Michael Bauer. In other words, these ladies really know what they're doing, and it definitely shows. Whether you want the legendary Marlowe burger for lunch or the always popular pan-seared scallops for dinner, you can rest assured that the entire restaurant has been trained to offer you a fantastic and memorable meal. (4159745599)
South Park Café
Overlooking South Park, this cafe is considered one of the city's favorite lunch spots. Its European atmosphere features an intimate space with sunny hues, punctuated by flowers that complements a fine French cuisine. Steamed mussels and roasted duck breast are two excellent choices, along with sea bass accented with red-wine sauce. Desserts are also a decadent treat, further proof of finding an authentic French meal at moderate prices. And although lunch is wonderful, dinner is worth sampling here as well. If you're on your way to or from a Giants game at AT&T Park and want to savor a special meal, check out South Park Cafe. (415-495-7275)
Although Joe DiMaggio was a New York Yankee legend, San Franciscans know he was born in nearby Martinez and had a love affair with San Francisco his whole life. If you want some of the classic San Francisco atmosphere that Joe DiMaggio couldn't get enough of, go no farther than Momo's - which is right across the street from AT&T Park. Although the Yankee Clipper never ate here himself, Momo's has just the right mix of comfort and style that DiMaggio himself made famous. Featuring comfort food like Chicken Pot Pie (Roasted chicken, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, peas, herbed pastry top) or Momo's Meatloaf (Roasted garlic mashed potatoes,steamed broccolini, mushroom gravy), Momo's is the perfect choice before or after any AT&T Park festivity. (4152278660)
Paragon Restaurant & Bar - San Francisco
If you are lucky enough to be headed to AT&T Park on a fogless day, you can't beat a meal and a beer at Paragon Restaurant. Featuring a garage door that rolls open on good weather days to their outdoor patio, you can sit in sun drenched joy within view of AT&T Park while enjoying one of their delectable craft beers. The Happy Hour bites (including Pork-Ricotta Meatball Sliders and Crispy Oysters with Meyer Lemon Aioli, Fennel and Parsley) are good enough to order over and over and call it a meal. And Executive Chef John Nguyen keeps the meals delicious but not too pretentious for an afternoon of baseball. (4155379020)
About Tom Molanphy
The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.
Tom has lived in the San Francisco Bay area since 2000. His journalism has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, SF Weekly, and 7x7. He teaches writing, journalism and literature at the Academy of Art University in downtown San Francisco. His latest book, Loud Memories Of A Quiet Life, is available through Outpost19.
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