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The Best Food in the Bay Area
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The Best Food in the Bay Area

Wondering where the hottest dining spots in the City by the Bay are? Read on to discover the best food in the Bay Area now.

Ella Zamani

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4 min read

May 15, 2021

Freshly baked sourdough, a steaming bowl of clam chowder, and a crab louie salad...can you think of anything more iconic than this divine Bay Area feast? From hearty meals and fresh seafood to açaí bowls and avocado toast, it’s easy to leave your heart in San Francisco. After exploring one of the best Bay Area hikes, indulge in the City by the Bay’s local specialities—following your scrumptious meal, munch on a fortune cookie. Who knows it might just bring you good luck.

What Food Is the Bay Area Known For?

When exploring the Bay Area, sampling local specialties is an absolute must. San Francisco—named the "Best Food City" by Bon Appétit in 2015—is a world-renowned restaurant haven, recognized for its authenticity, diversity, and superb dining experience. From top-notch ingredients to rich culinary history predating the California scene of cuisine, you won’t be disappointed when feasting in the Bay Area. Here's a list of the best Bay Area foods to check out the next time you're in town. 

Sourdough Bread: Native to San Francisco

Does anything sound more appetizing than munching on freshly baked sourdough bread?

Craving a loaf of freshly baked savory bread? Originally invented in San Francisco, scrumptious sourdough bread is airy and tangy, with a crunch (yum). Is there anything more delightful than dippin’ warm pieces of sourdough in cold pressed olive oil?

During the Gold Rush Era, French bakers introduced sourdough baking techniques to Northern Califoria’s Gold Rush towns. Sourdough is still considered a food staple in the Bay Area today. The next time you’re driving through San Francisco, head to the iconic Tartine Bakery for a taste of divinity (pro tip: carve out time for this adventure, you might have to wait in line).

San Francisco’s Clam Chowder

While sourdough alone is quintessential San Francisco fare, you have to try Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread bowl.

Rich New England clam chowder served in a bowl just doesn’t cut it. If you haven’t already, it’s time you tried clam chowder San Francisco styleserved in a warm, fluffy sourdough bread bowl. The sourdough bread is the distinguishing factor between this west (ahem, best) and east coast dish. Take a break from admiring the misty bay and savor this iconic San Francisco seafood dish at Boudin. This San Francisco landmark is known for inventing the first clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl.

Fortune Cookies: Famous Bay Area Food

Try your luck and head to the Bay Area to snack on delicious fortune cookies. You won't regret it.

What’s San Francisco’s claim to fame? Having the best fortune cookies in the U.S., of course. The modern version of the cookie was first served in the 1890s or early 1900s. Landscape designer Makoto Hagiwara served the first fortune cookie at the Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden. Benkyodo Company, a San Francisco bakery, created the fortune cookies.

In the mood to snack on this delicious dessert? Head to Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory—which has been baking handcrafted cookies since 1962—for green tea and strawberry cookies. Chocolate lovers, worry not, for chocolate glazed and chocolate dipped fortune cookies are also quite the treat. The Bay Area’s Golden Gate uses only the best ingredients while ensuring their cookies stay fresh for a maximum of three months.

Açaí Bowls: One of the Healthiest Foods in the Bay Area

Is there any food more revitalizing than an açaí bowl complete with slices of banana and strawberry?

Invented in the Brazilian states of Pará and Amazonas, açaí bowls made their way into the heart of the Bay Area’s healthy food scene. Freshly concocted açaí bowls—full of antioxidants and healthy fats—are perfect for any occasion, especially during summertime. San Francisco is all about the toppings, so make sure you feast on banana, granola, and strawberries to your heart’s content. If you’re craving this healthy treat, Acai R is here to save the day. Choose between açaí, coconut chia pudding, or matcha and overnight oats for a delectable treat that will have you feeling replenished and rejuvenated.

Crab Louie Salad: A San Francisco Seafood Delicacy

Mmm, keep your meals healthy and delicious by enjoying a fresh crab louie salad.

The best combination of crab and greenery, the Crab Louie seafood salad made its first appearance in San Francisco in the early 20th century. Feast on fresh Dungeness crabs, which live off the coast of the U.S., and savor the taste of their sweet meat, which is best consumed raw. Though the dish's exact origins are unclear, it’s believed that Crab Louie was first served in San Francisco in 1914 at Solari's. If you’re looking to enjoy this coveted San Francisco delicacy, head to Betty Lou’s Seafood and Grill for a mean Crab Louie.

Avocado Toast: A Staple Food in the Bay Area

What better way to start off your day than with an avocado toast crafted to perfection? Photo courtesy of Toasty.

With 86% of the country's avocado coming from California, avocado toast is undeniably one of the best staple foods in the Bay Area. In 2010, it became a Golden State food trend, but has been eaten in San Francisco since 1885. In 1915, the California Avocado Association officially included small squares of avocado toast as a part of its hors d'oeuvres. Visit Toastythe world's first avocado toast bar—in San Francisco’s iconic Marina District. Mix it up and munch on hummus, veggie, or prosciutto toast for a twist on the classic dish.

Cioppino: One of the Bay Area’s Best Seafood Stews

If you're in the Bay Area, indulging on cioppino is an absolute must so gather your friends and prepare for a feast.

This scrumptious seafood stew originated in the Bay Area during the late 1800s. Cioppino was invented by Italian immigrants who fished off of Meiggs Wharf and lived in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Using the leftover seafood from the day’s catch, cioppino was created and is essentially the S.F. version of Marseilles bouillabaisse (traditional Provençal fish stew from France) or the Tyrrhenian Sea "cacciucco.”

This Italian-American dish is similar to various regional Italian fish soups and stews. For the true Bay Area experience, opt for a cioppino served with flaky, warm sourdough bread. Wondering where to try the best cioppino? Reserve a table for two at Cioppino’s.

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