For decades, thousands of hungry 49er and Giants fans roamed the San Francisco neighborhoods near Candlestick Park, looking for that perfect pre- or post-game meal.
Although Candlestick is no longer the home of the 49ers (who move to their new, billion dollar digs in Santa Clara in the Fall of 2014), and the Giants haven't played there since 1999, the restaurants are still thriving.
If you're strong enough to weather the Northern California fog, there's plenty of good options for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But bring your jacket - unlike sunny, southern California stadiums, Candlestick is perched where the Pacific runs cold and deep. If it isn't foggy at the Stick, it's windy.
Especially in the summer months of baseball, when the hot inland area of California sucks all that cold fog off the Pacific just like the icy air that billows out of refrigerators on a sizzling summer day. Candlestick Park in July is the clearest reasoning behind Mark Twain's famous phrase: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
Weather aside, any place that survived a bracing 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 1989 and also hosted the Beatles last live performance deserves a fine send-off. And that's just what San Francisco has planned, from Sir Paul McCartney returning for a concert in August to Joe Montana and Dan Marino recreating their Superbowl duel in a friendly flag football game.
With many events still in the planning stages, grabbing a bite around Candlestick Park is a great idea.
While Foreign Cinema's misleading moniker may seem a better fit for a movie theater than an oyster bar, this restaurant's real attraction is their Mediterranean-inspired menu and outstanding oysters. They do, in fact, offer film showings in the adjoining courtyard, an added perk for those savoring tasty shellfish like the Hog Island Sweet, Marin Gem, Chatham and Steamboat oysters. The dinner menu changes regularly, and brunch is served on weekends. Foreign Cinema is also in the heart of the hip Mission District, an iconic San Francisco neighborhood that is constantly re-inventing itself with new restaurant and nightlife options popping up almost every day. (415-648-7600)
Flour + Water
If you believe the most successful plan is a simple one, Flour and Water might just be the spot for you. The name says it all; Chef Thomas McNaughton is serious about the flour and water that goes into his many different kinds of pasta, pasta that he insists on getting right time and time again. (He was trained in Bologna by "committed pasta artisans.") But don't fear that dinner will just be a bowl of pasta; the pasta based dishes are enlivened and dresesd up with a gorgeous array of locally sustained fruits, vegetables and meats. This is cooking with a conscience, for sure. (415-826-7000)
Serpentine keeps its simple but effective promise: "Honest Food and Classic cocktails." It's a versatile spot that's great for brunch, lunch or dinner. And it's always a good choice for cocktails.
If you need brunch, try their yummy fried egg sandwich with arugula, gruyere, dill aioli and crispy potatoes. If you're visiting for lunch, the Pan Seared Local True Cod with
summer squash, asparagus, leeks, garbanzo beans, shaved fennel and frisée salad is a can't miss. And if it's dinner you're looking for, order the satisfying Wild Nettle & Feta Cheese Agnolotti with nepitella, san marzano tomato, green garlic, and a soft poached egg. And one of their inventive cocktails can go alongside any one of these meals. (4152522000)
Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Within this small, bright eatery, you'll find some of the city's best sausages. Choose from kielbasa, knockwurst, Italian, chicken or weisswurst, or live boldly by sampling wild boar with chutney or smoked duck with figs. The variety is impressive and – served on French rolls with toppings like sauerkraut, spicy peppers and grilled onions – the dogs are incredible. Sodas and chips also find a place on the menu, and since the grill is small, most people place to-go orders or even take their selections next door to the Toronado Pub, which stocks great microbrews. On Tuesday, Rosamunde makes awesome juicy cheeseburgers as well. (415-437-6851)
Piqueos is a contemporary Peruvian tapas bar in Bernal Heights with a unique menu of small plates and entrees. Chef Carlos Altamirano, a native of the mountainous coastal region of southern Peru, blends his knowledge of traditional Peruvian cuisine with his passion for innovative cooking to create an unusual and delicious Latin American dining experience. He's worked in some of San Francisco's best restaurants since arriving in the U.S. in 1994. The atmosphere is festive but not overwhelming, good for both large groups and small. The delicious house-blended sangria is usually a big hit with locals as well as tourists. (4152828812)
If you've tried the grab-and-go fare up and down Geneva Avenue for lunch during your Cow Palace convention and need a fancier, sit-down meal for dinner (even a romantic date), try Limon Rotisserie. Although there are three locations of this popular Peruvian-style restaurant in San Francisco, the 21st Avenue/ Van Ness location is the closest to the Cow Palace. Executive Chef Martin Castillo has worked hard to create an authentic Peruvian-style dinner, including a brightly decorated dining area area with Latin lounge music. If you can't decide, the prix fixe menu that includes tartare, ceviche and chicharron - Limon's signature charred chicken - is both modestly priced and completely satisfying. (4158212134)
ICHI Sushi + NI Bar
Owners and partners Tim and Erin Archuleta have put their heart and soul into this small, popular sushi restaurant. Since opening, ICHI Sushi has won Best of the Bay in five outlets, was named one of Zagat San Francisco Bay Area Guide 2013's Top 20 Restaurants, and is included in the 2013 San Francisco Louis Vuitton City Guide. Sustainability is the focus, and menus change seasonally. ICHI offers Omakase service at the bar and full menu service at tables. Brand new location on 3282 Mission is even bigger and more comfortable than their old space in Bernal Heights. One of the most popular restaurants in the Mission area. ((415) 525-4750)
At La Taqueria, you'll not only get a great Mexican meal, but you'll save a little cash too. The menu specializes in burritos, tacos, and quesadillas served with beef, pork, sausage, or chicken. Carne asada comes highly praised, and chorizo sausage must be sampled before you leave. Long wooden dining tables are shared by guests, so enjoy a delightful meal and the opportunity to socialize with locals and tourists. Local restaurant critic Michael Bauer often fits La Tacqueria as his favorite place to get a taco, so you're not skimping on quality when you visit this iconic San Francisco restaurant. (415-285-7117)
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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