No need to keep looking, we’ve curated this list of best takeout and deliveries in San Francisco, for times like these when we’re mostly stuck at home, longing for some restaurant food to give us a welcomed break from cooking.
We’ve been living in San Francisco for 6 years now, and as avid foodies (I’m a food professional and Omer is my fine dining expert so to speak), we usually love going out to eat at restaurants around the city. Even if it’s just a quick lunch in the neighborhood. The last 4 months have been less of that, obviously, due to the Covid-19 situation, we all stayed at home most of the time. The good thing that came out of it is that we eat so much more these days together as a family. I cook a lot more homemade food, a lot of comfort food, and simple and quick recipes. But we decided to put in our weekly meal-plan at least one takeout/delivery day in a week. It’s been fun exploring what the restaurants came up with to creatively keep the business running without the foot traffic.
Takeouts are hit-or-miss since being a good restaurant doesn’t guarantee it will also be a good takeout option. Food has to be packaged well, arrive in good condition and it all has to be a good value for the money for the customers. The first part of this article is our favorites value-for-money deliveries while the second part focuses on our local neighborhood, the Inner Richmond, and the Takeouts we’ve liked best and keep on returning to get more. I hope they all would keep up the good takeout quality after restaurants re-open.
We got a take out and ate it in the park, with friends. After some mix up with the order pick up, the restaurant made sure to prepare it promptly for us, and I appreciate the good service they give me, even though they served a different menu at the time.
We got a Papaya salad with grapefruit: a nice take on the regular Som Tum. The grapefruit goes well with it. It comes with the dressing on the side. Salt & pepper shrimp: While doesn't look as pretty in a takeout container, it was fresh, not too fried, and spicy.
We got a half sheet, with pepperoni and sausage. We sat in the park and ate it with friends. This was bigger than expected but eaten till the last crumb. The pizza was fresh & hot. Good portions of cheese, sauce, and toppings. The crust was on the thicker side, but overall we really enjoyed it. The corners were my favorites.
We tried a selection of cream puffs, canele, Cheddar gougère cheese puff, and a Pumpkin Biscoff Tarte. I really loved this delivery. The cream puffs were the best part. Specifically, the Lemon was the star, but raspberry and the biscoff cookie cream were also good. The canele was delicious! Chewy and moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside. The cheese puff was tasty but too expensive for what it is. The tarte was nice, very very pumpkin-y. So for the serious fall season fans.
We ordered Hoagie Au Poivre: Pasture Raised Roasted Top Round Beef, Green Peppercorn Aioli, Comte Cheese, Arugula & Sliced Apple, Finished off with a little Parmesan. Added a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
The sandwich was so good! The roast beef was on point. It's also a very big sandwich. Can't wait to try the rest of their sandwiches. The only thing to consider is that you have to order at 10am in advance, or wait in the long line around the block.
With generous portions and many menu options, this is a solid place for a burger. We tried 4 of their most popular items and the quality wasn't consistent. We asked for MR but only one was rare enough. The best part was the Garlic Fries and Onion Rings that were one of the best I've tried.
This was one of Omer's must-try pizzas in the city and he ended up being more impressed than me. He ordered a White Pie of All The Cheese + Sausage. It was on the salty side and very cheesy indeed. I thought the dough was a bit chewy but also hard to stop eating. Meatballs on the side were classic and well made.
Once a month, Birdsong adds a pastry delivery service in addition to their Birdbox delivery. We ordered a variety of things and only one of them left me very impressed: Basque Tart with Almond and Cherry.
El Farolito is an establishment in the Mission neighborhood of SF. It's a late-night cash-only wait-in-line sort of place that delivers huge portions for cheaps. We split two items: Super Quesadilla with Carne Asada and Carnitas Burrito (no rice). The quesadilla was a winner and for next time it's crucial to request refried beans instead of pinto beans (my personal preference) for the buritto.
This is the Korean pop-up restaurant of the Benu family. They offer set menu meals and we opted for this fancier meal to celebrate our first date anniversary at home during the wildfire bad air quality. as the main course, we chose the Garlic Rice Stuffed Fried Chicken and the Short Ribs. Both were good and served with sides like 2 kinds of kimchi, salad, and a broth. Overall I thought it was an interesting experience but I couldn't really appreciate the references to the classic Korean cuisine. I guess if it was my childhood food I would have been able to enjoy it more.
Huge portions and some interesting items that we got from the Hakka Specialty section in their menu. Their dish of pork stuffed tofu was something different than anything I tried before. The two favorites of mine were: Pork Stew (left) and the Spicy Lamb (bottom).
Takeout: September 7th, July 26th 2020
Sep 7th Update: Yet another order from Limonnana was great. This time I ordered the Shawarma plate and we also tried their Sabich in Pita. I just combined the two to make the perfect sandwich.
We were so excited to discover a real "Israeli style" shawarma place is finally opening in SF. I tasted the Shawarma plate and Omer tried the Shawarma in a pita pocket. We also tried their falafel on the side. The shawarma is made from chicken with lamb fat and their spice blend. It was pretty authentic and tasty. The salads were lacking some dressing or seasoning but overall we're definitely ordering again.
Takeout: September 5th, March 30st and April 3rd 2020
Sep 5th Update: We ordered yet another winning takeout from Chili House. This time it was the Noodle Ginger Duck Soup, Twice Cooked Pork with Black Bean and Pork Pancakes. All three were spot on.
Chinese food is undoubtedly the most takeout-able food. But there are a lot of really low-quality deliveries in this sector. Omer has his weakness for “Sesame Chicken” (and the likes). Knowing this is the most Americanized Chinese food, I have to balance out the order with the most Chinese Authentic thing on the menu. Chili house somehow does it all in the best way. It’s not the cheapest, but it is still very affordable, especially if you call them directly to make a pick-up – for a 15% off (and we’re in a short walking distance, so it’s super easy to do). It’s evident that they make the order fresh (which sadly isn’t always the case – we’ve had our sad share of “refreshed” dishes). They have good portions, their lunch deal is a great deal, but side dishes and dim sum are great as well. Their Cumin Lamb is the best we’ve tried, their pot-stickers are something else, and their princess chicken/sweet and sour chicken is a great sesame-chicken alternative. Some other tried and trued: cashew chicken, Beijing beef pancakes, pumpkin with salty egg yolk.
This is just a little neighborhood deli shop. Go there and get their Pastrami Sandwich. It's a really good Pastrami. The bread is fresh and the owners are really nice. We tried the soups as well but I would avoid. They also sell fresh meat and fish here.
This was one great VFM delivery. It's something between a Poke and a Chirashi place so I was intrigued. We choose the 3/4 item bowls ($20/$25) and added Toro (Tuna belly) for extra $10. We didn't expect to get 4 pieces each. It was a lot of food and very good quality. My favorite was the Hamachi. We'd definitely order again.
When we heard of Lobster Roll Thursday at Acquerello - one of the top restaurants in the city, we waited patiently to the next Thursday and ordered. It's $22 each which isn't too far from any lobster roll in the city. After eating one bite we decided to warm it up a bit. What a huge difference! Nice little roll with a generous amount of lobster and a nice goddess dressing. Pickles on the side were a nice touch too.
Thai food works great in takeout and Amphawa's menu has many interesting options. We ordered the Som Tum (top right) which was good and very spicy but next time I'd add the extra charge for fresh shrimp instead of dried shrimp. The Crispy catfish salad (top left) was a bit too fried in my opinion but I loved their Kao Soy (bottom left).
Sometimes all you need is pastries. We really enjoyed this quarantine box of pastries by Jina Bakes ($35 per box). The Black Sesame Cream Puff was my favorite and just oozing with rich creamy filling. The box changes weekly and you can preorder it for pickup on every Saturday.
This place is like the Soup Nazi of Banh Mi. Sandwiches here are fresh and super cheap ($4-$5 per sandwich). Usually, there's a line every weekday lunch that stretches down the block. This is why I was positively surprised they were willing to take a phone order the day before and we just picked it up without any waiting. Pate can be added to any sandwich and it's recommended. Combination Pork and Roasted Pork are my favorites.
We liked our takeout from Dumpling Alley. We tried the Alley Special noodles, Pan-fried pork buns, and the Squid ink dumplings with fish. It was even pretty good reheated for the next day's lunch. You can also see in the back some of our favorite fried chicken from Jijime which turned out to be too much to handle in the same meal.
We ordered brunch from Wise Sons and even though they had a mix up and didn't get the order in for more than an hour, when it finally arrived, everything was delicious. I had the Ruben and also tried the bagel and the French Toast that we ordered for Leanna. Also mentionable is the trout spread and chopped liver. I'd definitely order again.
Omer was the one to tell me about Pakwan cheap skewers and kebab joint, and I just love me some kebab, so I had to try and order from them. As it turns out, it's only cheap when you're actually there, delivery would cost you a whopping 40% extra even before delivery and app fees. We ordered a mix of skewers, 2 curries, samosa, and gulab jamun which is my favorite Indian dessert. The beef and chicken kebabs were great. The rest of the food wasn't as good. The gulab jamun was really bad and I would gladly eat the canned gulab jamun any day so it was probably subpar. I would stick with the kebabs and naan for next time.
We got Combo A which consists of two types of Korean fried chicken and a bulgogi kimbap (Korean marinated beef sushi). The chicken was crispy and tasty but we couldn't tell the two types apart (they were all put in the same container) and the kimbap was pretty similar to the Kimbap I get in the Korean Market.
I guess Mission Chinese is one of these places where you have to order right to get a well-balanced meal. This time I didn't do it right. I liked the lamb dumplings and cabbage with pistachio milk but the Tiki Pork Belly wasn't as successful, and the general Tso pork ribs were too similar in flavor to the pork belly, and too sweet. Next time stick with the Thrice cooked bacon and rice cakes and I have to try the Kung pao pastrami at some point.
Berreta is an Italian bar and restaurant in the hip part of the Mission. This kind of restaurant works better for a sit-down, since it's a bit overpriced for just the food without enjoying the atmosphere. Also, thin-crust pizzas don't work too well delivered. With that said, everything we tried was solid and fulfilling.
I've been craving Ethiopian food for so long, and Omer's not a big fan. So when I had one really miserable day and he offered we'd order Ethiopian, I had to take him up on his offer. Ordering was a bit confusing and I ended up not getting exactly what I was trying to, but I did really enjoy the food. I ordered the veggie sampler and the okra and mushroom dishes as well. Okra was also in the sampler, if I had known I'd order something else. I also added the meat sambusas which were only fine. My favorite were the yellow and green lentil dishes and I had enough food for at least another meal if not more.
We used to live right in front of Pasqual’s, and we still have a warm spot for this place. For pizza delivery, they deliver the goods! It’s not the best pizza in town, but it is a great delivery option since their dough is just the right thickness to hold a delivery well and be almost as good when reheated the next day. Their sizes are pretty big; we get the Medium size for the two of us + Leanna, who eats like a bird, but still, have a couple of slices leftover for the next morning (cold pizza for breakfast!!). When you’re considering which toppings to get, we curated what we call “our house special,” which is marinara + pesto as a base, topped with broccoli, bacon & feta cheese. We eat it with one of our fancy hot sauces or sriracha. Yum! Also worth mentioning is their cheese Ravioli with pesto sauce, for your next cheat day, totally worth it.
Since these guys came into our neighborhood to open a pop up, we had to check it out. The huge beef rib was the best part, came on the bone, great smoky flavors and moist. The Brisket was too dry for my taste. Sides were solid as well.
Our favorite neighborhood Thai joint. Unpretentious, modest, and full of flavor. Don’t confuse them with #2, which is not up to the standards of #1. I think their Pad Thai is one of the best. Not as good in delivery but still very solid. Also mentionable is their Larb, Gai Pad Med Ma-Muang, Yum Talay, and the vegetarian Pra Rarm for your delicious vegetable fix.
The Bird is a great spot for a spicy fried chicken sandwich. Their minimal menu is a testament to how dedicated they are to this one single dish. I will leave the more elaborate discussion on the topic of the fried chicken sandwich to a separate post (this is an obsession with Omer’s). But for the sake of good value for money – this is a good choice! Get the spicy one if you’re up to it, and the curly fries are pretty good too.
Another amazing value set menu that I’m so glad we’ve come across! They send you a huge tray that’s called “Little Lao Table,” rested on top of a banana leaf with a selection of tastings from all of their menu. Everything was amazingly delicious and well balanced. With enough protein, many vegetables, two kids meals (which we ate ourselves since Leanna’s not that into Pad See Ew these days), and two beers or Thai ice tea ALL for $60 (there’s a vegetarian version too!). I hope they keep it up in the long run. We also added an extra dish a la carte the two times we ordered, and it has always been delicious. Couldn’t recommend more, and the best part is, the fried chicken somehow keeps it’s delicious crispiness to our table. This is meant for two adults + a kid but definitely enough as food for our family of three for the whole day and with leftovers for the next day.
Their CHEF'S TASTING FEASTS have proven themselves to be of amazing value. It's a set-menu for family-style meals from their Mina Family delivery menu, combining dishes from all of Michel Mina's sister restaurants. You have to choose a set menu for at least 2 people. We've ordered two menus (they changed it a bit since so take a look at their online menu): the Pacific Menu and the American Comfort menus for 2 people. We got 7-8 different items from their menu, all of which work together into the meal. The first time we ordered was for our anniversary and we were positively impressed with the selection and variety overall. For about $100 per couple, it's a steal! There's also a plant-based option by the way!
Our neighborhood’s Taqueria. I love this place, but not everything travels well from their menu. Skip the ceviche (even though I love it) and get the Cochinita Pibil or Chicken Mole quesadilla or super burrito. Make sure you add in plantain and get some extra mango salsa.
Our neighborhood Indian place. The packaging is not the best here, but the food is delicious and somewhat of a step up compared to the common Indian takeout places. Mentionable items are lamb rogan josh, Bang bang egg curry, Bhindi du Piazza (Okra).
We always get a successful takeout from here. It’s on the pricier side, but everything they make is delicious, and the restaurant (when it was open for dine-in) is always packed, so delivery is the best option to eat their delicious food without having to wait for a table. Our favorites are their Samosa Soup, Mango chicken, Pumpkin pork stew, Fiery Beef with Vegetables, and the wonderful coconut rice.
Renowned for the food truck but now you can order delivery with a wider selection menu. The delivery took much too long to arrive and the food suffered (these buns need to be eaten fresh and warm!). It's still pretty good, but getting the "real deal" right out of the truck is preferred.
Detroit style pizza, which is a bit too heavy for me, but it’s delicious. We tried the pepperoni pie, Plant Square, Mean Green Sausage Machine, and their Kale Caesar Salad. Omer liked the pepperoni best, but I liked the vegetarian and the green sausage pie.
It’s hard to get a delivery from here, you’d have to get it as takeout, but it’s worth it. Probably the best sandwich spot in the city. I usually don’t order sandwiches – it’s too easy to make a better one at home. But this is an exception. I love the deli board; it’s sooo good. “Porky” is my fav, even though its a bit on the salty side (skip the bacon if that bothers you). Recommended etiquette – split two sandwiches with a friend. No need for sides here; their sandwiches hold about a pound of meat (or does it just feel that way?).
In a time when we’re a lot more home and can’t get out that much, I like to mix up the cooking with some ordering-in. That way, I can get a break in cooking every day, and we get to try restaurants around the city. When we decide to order food instead of cooking, we’d like to get a decent value-for-money meal, well-packaged and well-traveled items. Also important is getting what we ordered without mistakes and getting attention to our comments, if any.
Did you try any of these and agree with us on our findings? We keep a bucket list of all the restaurants that we still want to try, so please drop a comment with your best delivery experiences, and we’ll add it to our list!