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A Guide to Eating and Drinking in San Francisco

Dungeness Crab

As a vibrant, culturally diverse sort of place, eating out in San Francisco is suitably excellent. There’s a dizzying variety of dining options on offer – from Chinese and Japanese to Italian and Mexican – that cater to virtually every taste and budget.

North Beach (the city’s Little Italy), which stretches from Telegraph Hill to Russian Hill, has a wealth of excellent eateries and pleasingly scruffy neighborhood joints complete with red and white checked table cloths.

Facing out across the Atlantic, San Francisco has always had close cultural ties to Asia and the city center has an enormous Chinatown at its heart. Indeed, even most Californian food tends to lean towards the light and creative with an Asian twist.

Over to the west of Union Square, Japantown - a slightly more recent addition to the city - offers a tempting alternative. Centered on and around Post Street, there are any number of good, well-priced noodle parlors and sushi houses worth investigating.

San Francisco also has a large Mexican community. For a cheaper night out, the Mission (to the south of Downtown) has a number of taqerias ideal for a quick and filling meal.

They’re often self-service and specialize in simple but delicious Mexican standards such as tacos, burritos and quesadillas. These can be washed down with a Mexican beer or agua fresca (fresh fruit punch) in relaxed cantina-style surroundings.

The city also has a number of culinary traditions of its own. With California's abundance of organic produce, seafood and free-range meats, San Francisco is undoubtedly one of the healthiest places to eat in the USA.

At seafood stalls in the pleasantly touristy Fisherman's Wharf, clam chowder and boiled Dungeness crab are definitely worth a try. The latter is usually served in the form of tasty crab cakes accompanied by sourdough bread.

San Francisco also has more organic, health food, vegetarian and vegan restaurants than practically anywhere else in the world. Which is, of course, very much in keeping with its status as the spiritual home of all things New Age and alternative.