Best Restaurants near The Cow Palace

Daily Specials in Daly City: The Best Restaurants near Cow Palace

Daly City and South San Francisco, the closest neighborhoods to the Cow Palace, are the blue-collar backbones of the Bay Area. They aren't exactly highlighted as tourist "hot spots" - in fact, one tourism book infamously declared, "If Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, then he left his spleen in Daly City."


But if you happen to be attending a convention at the historic Cow Palace, and you need a quick bite to eat, there are several Hawaiian and Filipino eateries well-worth checking out.  Daly City has one of the largest Filipino communities in the entire U.S., so Filipino food restaurants like Nick's Kitchen serve the real deal. 

And this area has more to offer than just quick bites, too. If you're in an adventurous spirit - maybe even a little sick and tired of Mission hipsters or the crush of downtown techies that have swamped San Francisco - then take some time to explore these neighborhoods rich with old-school San Francisco charms. If you happen to be in town before January 2014, then make sure you stop by historic Joe's of Westlake, a South Peninsula institution that will be closed for most of 2014 for a complete remodel by its new owners.  Many of these restaurants could easily be bought out and replaced by hipper -and more expensive - menus, so be sure to catch them while you can. 


Outlying Areas

Known for its excellent hardwood grilled steaks, chops and seafood, Birk's became a South Bay institution the moment it opened its doors in 1989. If you're interested in the Silicon Valley crowd, a little different than the average football fan, you should check out Birk's. In their own words, Birk's serves the "Silicon Valley's business professionals, travelers, deal makers, mavericks and culinary aficionados." The Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence has been awarded to Birk's for nine consecutive years, so it's definitely a great choice for those who love wine. Birk's also opens at 10 am on 49er Game Day, so it's a great choice for a pre-game meal.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Birk's is a good option if you find yourself in-between the Cow Palace and Levis Stadium.

Tom's expert tip: Start off with California classic: Grilled Artichoke, with Romesco, roasted tomato sauce, and lemon- garlic mayonnaise.

Read more about Birk's →

Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

Simplicity and authenticity reign at this small, popular restaurant. Zinc tabletops and exotic hardwoods bear this out, as does the incomparable Italian fare with its top-notch ingredients. Treat yourself with grilled calamari salad, braised rabbit, steak frites, roasted chicken, or salmon with fresh vegetables. Although Delfina has garnered much acclaim since it premiered, the trattoria still delights with casual ambience, friendly service and satisfyingly reasonable prices – all boons to dining aficionados. Delfina is highly regarded not just locally but nationally, so if you have time for only one Italian meal on your trip, you can't go wrong with Delfina.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Delfina is worth the trip from the Cow Palace area to the Mission District.

Tom's expert tip: Delfina's sister restaurant, Locanda, is better for smaller parties.

Read more about Delfina →

Hayes Valley

Nopa defies categorization as either old or new because it has some of both. Although it's only been around since 2006, chef Laurence Jossel worked at several traditional and popular restaurants before Nopa and brings professionalism and expertise to every dish. But tradition bends to experimentation, and that wonderful blend creates some of Nopa's most famous dishes, such as Moroccan vegetable tangine and wood-roasted king salmon. What's more, as one of the more popular restaurants in the city, Nopa makes a concerted effort to be a friendly, active, and concerned neighbor. If you want to experience the ultimate San Francisco "foodie" menu, head to Nopa's.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Nopa is the heart of San Francisco's culinary "foodie" craze, so it's worth a trip from the Cow Palace area.

Tom's expert tip: Fantastic location - smackdab in the middle of San Francisco.

Read more about nopa →

Henry's Hunan Restaurant

Henry's Hunan Restaurant, owned and run by chef Henry Chung, specializes in hot, spicy Hunan cuisine, and regulars can't get enough of the addictive fare. Folks hold Henry in high esteem, not only because of his food but the large servings (you'll likely leave with a bundle of leftovers) and fair prices. Among the options you'll find are house-smoked duck (and other meats), fried onion cakes, hot shredded pork, and kung pao chicken. For those in town for a convention at the Cow Palace, the Mission location off of Alemany Boulevard is a short cab ride away. It's the best Chinese food you'll find near the Cow Palace.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Henry's Hunan is the best Chinese you can find near the Cow Palace.

Tom's expert tip: If you like meat in your meal, try the Hunan Spare Ribs.

Read more about Henry's Hunan Restaurant →

South Pacific Island Restaurant
Photo courtesy of South Pacific Island Restaurant

Geneva Avenue, the main strip closest to the Cow Palace, is dotted with authentic but somewhat hole-in-the wallsy restaurants. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the authentic ones from the holes-in-the-wall, but South Pacific Island definitely deserves to be in the former. What it loses in atmosphere, it makes up in dishes that are tasty and affordable. This place is heavy on the Samoan influence, including the size of the portions. The combo plate is definitely enough for two, especially if you're here for lunch and have three hours of afternoon presentations ahead of you that you shouldn't sleep through while your boss is watching.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: South Pacific Island is the best restaurant within walking distance of the Cow Palace.

Tom's expert tip: Try the si'usi'u pipi, or turkey tail, a house favorite.

Read more about South Pacific Island Restaurant →

Let's face it - sometimes only a great big platter of Mexican food will do. If you're near the Cow Palace and want some authentic Mexican cuisine - and don't feel like fighting the uber-hip crowds of the Mission to get a decent burrito - head down classic El Camino Boulevard on the peninsula to El Super Burrito. If you really want a sense of the 50's-style atmosphere that makes up a lot of the neighborhoods surrounding the Cow Palace, the ride down EL Camino alone is worth the trip. And El Super Burrito lives up to its name, offering big burritos bursting with flavor, including the enormous and enormously satisfying "Bay Area Burrito."

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: El Super Burrito is the best Mexican restaurant near the Cow Palace.

Tom's expert tip: The Monday-Friday Happy Hour from 2:30-4:30 offers great deals on beer and small plates.

Read more about El Super Burrito Mexican Grill →

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.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Limon Rotisserie is a short cab ride away from the Cow Palace for those who want more of an upscale restaurant.

Tom's expert tip: With two choices for sides with most plates, make one of them the tasty yuca fries for the whole table to enjoy.

Read more about Limon Rotisserie →

South Bay/Peninsula

If you're in the mood for an inexpensive meal, and you don't give a hoot about ambiance or your daily requirement of fruits and vegetables, then head to Superstar for a big steaming plate of "silog." Silog is a Filipino tradition that usually includes fried rice, eggs and meat; Superstar excels at this gastronomical marvel. You can choose which meat goes with the plate, including pork chop (porkchopsilog), bacon (baconsilog), fish (tuyosilog), and spam (spamsilog). Other than the sad, lonely tomato that comes with most dishes, this is not the place for vegetarians. But you can't beat the prices, and this is authentic Filipino with some Chinese flair.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Superstar is the best of the "cheap eats" near the Cow Palace.

Tom's expert tip: Don't leave without trying the garlic-fried rice.

Read more about Superstar Restaurant →

If you're in the neighborhood of the Cow Palace and don't want to fight the crowds of Northbeach in downtown San Francisco to get some good Italian food, consider Sodini's in South San Francisco. This place has all the authenticity and warmth of the North Beach Italian eateries without the overwhelming crowds and worries about parking. The Bertolucci family founded this restaurant in 1928, and it was originally a boarding house where Mama Bertolucci cooked family-style meals for hordes of hungry steel workers. How much more authentic can you get than that? If your Power Point presentation at your conference at the Cow Palace has worked up a steel-worker appetite, treat yourself to a big mound of meatballs and pasta at Sodini's.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Sodini's is a cab ride from the Cow Palace, but it's worth the ride if you want authentic Italian food.

Tom's expert tip: Start off with the fried calamari that comes with a spicy aioli sauce.

Read more about Sodini's Bertolucci's →

South Bay/Peninsula

If you want an authentic taste of what Daly City is all about, head to Nick's Cafe. Daly City has one of the largest Filipino populations in all of the U.S., so their clientele is very picky about this cuisine. Nick's delivers. If this is your first time eating Filipino, be warned: this is tough territory for vegetarians, with many meat-heavy dishes. The atmosphere is very simple, almost like a living room, which the faithful of Nick's describe as "very Filipino." A great choice if you're attending a conference at the near-by Cow Palace, especially as a grab-and-go option if you have a short lunch break.

Recommended for Restaurants near The Cow Palace because: Nick's is the best Filipino food near the Cow Palace.

Tom's expert tip: Try the Tosilog, the Filipino version of American jerky.

Read more about Nick's Kitchen →


Meet 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.

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