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A Foodie's Guide to San Francisco’s Fillmore

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Balboa Cafe PicmonkeyThere's high energy at the Balboa Café

By Marcia Gagliardi

February 19, 2016 - Fillmore Street is known for many things: its jazz history, its famous music venue, its very steep grade (near Broadway) and also its extensive shopping. Fillmore stretches all the way from the Marina to the Haight, crossing through many neighborhoods—here are some restaurants to note along the way.

Balboa Café (3199 Fillmore St.)This American mainstay dates back to 1913 and has a San Francisco saloon style. It’s known for its burger and offers other classics like a Cobb salad and a good Bloody Mary. (It also has quite the pick-up scene at its long bar.)


Atelier Crenn (3127 Fillmore St.)
This high-end dining destination is tucked in an incongruous part of the city (the neighborhood has quite a rowdy nightlife scene on the weekend) but is like an oasis of natural chic once you’re inside. Chef-owner Dominique Crenn is the first female American chef to win two Michelin stars, and is known for her poetic tasting menu here, and memorable dessert courses.

Elite Café (2049 Fillmore St.)
A longtime standby on Upper Fillmore, the Elite has been open since 1981. Its menu is focused on dishes from New Orleans, but now has an updated menu featuring more seasonal ingredients and a California lightness. Live music, oysters and Monday night fried chicken are other big draws.

Bun Mee (2015 Fillmore St.)
Fans of Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches will find a variety at this fast-casual spot (the sloppy bun with an egg is a fave), plus salads, rice bowls and noodle bowls.

ROAM Burgers (1923 Fillmore St.)
The well-made and sourced burgers here are made with grass-fed beef, or you can go for free-range turkey, bison or vegetarian. There are eight kinds to choose from (try the Tejano), plus shakes with a bunch of flavors like salted caramel.

Florio (1915 Fillmore St.)
A San Francisco bistro with a bit of an Italian accent, this longtime restaurant (since 1998) is like a second dining room for many folks in Pacific Heights. It has a handsome style, with white tablecloths and a classic look (and cocktails). The roast chicken is one of the city’s best.
6 SPQR PicmonkeySPQR offers diners a Roman take on wine

SPQR (1911 Fillmore St.)
Chef Matthew Accarrino offers a unique style of Italian cuisine at this Upper Fillmore spot: it’s elegant, complex, and luxurious, with California seasonality and technique each playing a big role. Owner Shelley Lindgren’s Italian wine list is deep and curated—at least come in for a glass at the counter and the chicken liver mousse (and one of the fantastic pasta dishes).

DOSA on Fillmore (1700 Fillmore St.)
For flavorful Indian dishes that have their roots in the South of India, like the namesake dosa, DOSA delivers. Ingredients are mostly organic and sustainably sourced—it’s also an ideal place for people with dietary restrictions since DOSA has a binder that outlines the ingredients in each dish. The space is swank and lively—brunch and dinner always draw a lot of guests, and there’s a popular bar and communal tables too. www.dosasf.com

The Progress (1525 Fillmore St.) and State Bird Provisions (1529 Fillmore St.)
It’s almost impossible to get into the world-renowned State Bird unless you are willing to line up way before they open (or get lucky with a reservation made in advance). The Progress is the newer sister restaurant next door, equally stylish and innovative, with a banquet-inspired menu that is ideal for groups of people to share—there’s also a bar and lounge where you can swing by for cocktails and a menu of bites.

Bumzy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (1460 Fillmore St.)
When a craving for a fresh, well-made chocolate chip cookie strikes, here’s your spot. It’s a family-run business, with a recipe that has been passed on from three generations. www.bumzys.com

1300 on Fillmore (1300 Fillmore St.)
You’ll find this Southern supper club in the Jazz District, with a handsome space, busy bar and lounge, historic jazz pictures, and free live music Friday-Saturday. Favorites include the cornbread, hushpuppies and fried chicken, but new dishes have a lighter and seasonal touch. Brunch is also popular. www.1300fillmore.com

Indian Oven (233 Fillmore St.)
This Lower Haight Indian restaurant has been open since 1988 and often has a line of people waiting for their tandoori dishes, plus samosas, and other crowd-pleasing favorites. It has a nice atmosphere, which is a big part of its appeal. www.indianovensf.com

Editor’s note: Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the San Francisco dining and drinking scene, get all the latest news at www.tablehopper.com. Also, Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory includes links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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