Photo: Andrionni Ribo, Flickr
Long before Alice Waters turned the Bay Area into a global gourmet hub, San Francisco was a food-obsessed city, even if the often-repeated boast that the city has more eateries per capita than anywhere else is iffy at best (exact stats aren't available).
"It's the weather. Unlike Southern California where they can go frolic on the beach – we're trapped inside our houses a lot, so we entertain, we eat and drink together," suggests Laurel Mays, managing editor of 944 magazine. And the ease of access to high-quality ingredients, which Waters so emphasizes, has been a source of local pride since the start. "That access to amazing ingredients, whether wine country or produce from the [Salinas] valley or seafood, that's catapulted our cuisine onto another level," agrees Marcia Gagliardi, who writes a weekly column on the local food scene.
Eating out is part of the DNA of San Francisco: when Gold Rush miners descended en masse, holed up in rooming houses without their kitchen-savvy wives, they paid for home cooking at impromptu cafés and the city's boom in restaurants had begun. "You hear so many stories of older San Francisco restaurants being boarding houses where the guys would smell the food the wife was making upstairs, she would start cooking for them and suddenly, they had a restaurant," Gagliardi notes. "It's the same now – the big tech community of young, single, unattached people go to restaurants each night to meet and mingle," Laurel Mays chuckles.
Read on about San Francisco's classic treats, after the jump...