I’m often asked which are my favorite restaurants to eat, and it’s sometimes hard for me to name them because I rarely get to go to a restaurant more than once. Sure, there are the reliable places I go to for convenience around my home, but for favorites, it’s challenging because I’m always trying someplace new for the blog so I rarely have what I would consider a regular hangout.
So this list contains places I wish are my regular hangouts because they’re places I would eat at again and again and again. My criteria for this list (unlike my Buzz Plate that lists where it’s hot to eat right now) are places that have solid food and make me feel at home because of the decor and/or the friendly and engaging service.
2325 Broadway Auto Row
Oakland, CA 94612
Oakland has a slew of beer gardens, but one of my favorites (and conveniently located near work) is Drake’s Dealership in the HIVE complex. The food is solid, the beer interesting, but really I love the welcoming space with the large garden with fire pits or open indoor space. Read my full review.
55 Cyril Magnin
San Francisco, CA 94102
Now this is a place I’ve been to more than once and would easily go again if I want to show friends great Thai food with a modern sensibility. Owner Pim Techamuanvivit (a former food blogger) gets it right, with the casual but sophisticated decor and the quality food that elevates her childhood favorites. Read my full review.
1830 Fourth St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
While a bit pricey, the food tastes amazing and the plates are gorgeous at this elegant-but-casual modern Japanese restaurant in the Fourth Street Shopping District. Read my full review.
East Ocean Seafood Restaurant
1713 Webster St.
Alameda, CA 94501
This is my go-to dim sum restaurant on the East Bay, for having a large space (makes the line go faster), a nice variety of dim sum dishes, efficient service (servers wear headphones) and, of course, solid tasting dim sum. Read my full review.
1299 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
This favorite brunch spot is notorious for its long wait times, but I would willingly wait for a table here because of the bright space, friendly service, and amazing brunch options, including a unique twice-cooked house potatoes. Read my full review.
500 Brannan St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
This new version really takes advantage of the sunny weather in SOMA with the bright space reflecting off white tiled walls, and the food is fresh and comforting in an elegant way. They also recently started offering brunch. Read my full review.
Hillside Supper Club
300 Precita Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110
This quaint neighborhood restaurant between the Outer Mission and Bernal Heights have a welcoming environment and tasty dishes from the duo chef-owners. I wished I lived around the corner from them. Read my full review.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Whether I want solid cocktails or comforting California food, NOPA is a place I go back often when I can. It really makes me think of what California cuisine is all about. It’s still popular after all these years, so I always make reservations first to avoid the fuss at the door. Read my full review.
1525 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
This hot spot from the people behind State Bird Provision is also a place I’d go back often because of the interesting dishes and fun family-style tasting menu. It has a more relaxed feel than the crazy crowds next door. Read my full review.
242 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Another classic North Beach institution that got new life with Chef April Bloomfield. The new Tosca is warm and comforting while still retaining San Francisco’s history. Read my full review.
4063 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
There’s really no excuse to not make this spot a regular hangout since it’s just a 15-minute walk from my Oakland apartment. The burgers are solid but I love all the extra stuff like freshly baked danish or orange cream soda. Read my full review.
3859 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
I’ve also been here a few times because it’s near my home and I always feel relaxed dining in the high-end playground of Chef James Syhabout. You’re treated to an amazingly delicious but locally represented meal in a serene environment with first-rate service. Read my full review.
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