As the holiday blues wrap around you like that damp, raggedy bath towel you haven't washed in weeks, we suggest hitting the fork hard this season. Here now are our writers' favorite spots for immediate comfort-food highs in San Francisco. *Hugs*

Mac and Cheese
Blue Plate

The secret to this dish, one of probably hundreds of versions you could find around town: "drunken goat" cheese from Spain, specifically Murcia al Vino. Chef Cory Obenour has been making his mac and cheese this way for the restaurant's whole 14 years, and it definitely counts as a signature. He mixes the cheese with a béchamel base that's kicked up by Worcestershire, nutmeg, dry mustard, and Tabasco, and it is a serious cheese-lover's wet dream. Sure, it's not your traditional mac-and-cheese, but you can get that anywhere and very often doesn't have as much cheese flavor as a true connoisseur desires. This is where it's at. And luckily the rest of the menu remains pretty awesome as well, year in and year out, so you can throw some protein and vegetables into your carb feast if you so choose. (PS: here's how to make it at home.) — Jay Barmann
3218 Mission (at Valencia)


Imperial Rolls
Tú Lan

The best way to enjoy Tú Lan's impossibly crisp Imperial Rolls? Cram as many into your mouth as possible, curl up in a ball on the couch, and then cry yourself to sleep. — Brock Keeling
8 Sixth Street (at Stevenson)

Shanghai Dumpling King (Photo: Kevin Lim)

Shanghai Dumpling King
Nothing spells comfort like the warm and brothy pleasures of an excellent dumpling, and that's just what you get at this spot. The standard order is the xiaolongbao: steamed dumplings that come stuffed with crab, pork, spicy chives and more. Throw in some pork buns and potstickers for a true comfort food feast.
3319 Balboa (at 34 Avenue) 696 Monterey (at Gennessee)

Taqueria Cancun (Photo: Scott Beale)

Super Burrito
Taqueria Cancun

No better cure than a Super Burrito, preferably at a tried-and-true outlet like Taqueria Cancun. Stuffed with meat (or without, if you prefer), laden with beans (refried) and cheese, topped with avocado and sour cream and spiced with hot salsa, the super burrito is a food to make poets weep and adults abandon their diets. Just don't even pretend you're going to eat half now and save half for later.

Marnee Thai (Photo: Frank Farm)

Pad Kee Mao
Marnee Thai

Thai will always hit the spot when it comes to comfort food, and nothing gets it done quite like a good plate of warm noodles. Marnee's pad kee mao boasts chewy broad rice noodles and a hint of heat to warm you up on a cold winter's day, plus a sauce that defies descriptors other than "yummy."
1243 Ninth Ave (at Irving) & 2225 Irving (at 23rd Avenue)

Little Star pizza. (Photo: Brad Lauster)

Little Star
Indications: for treatment of depression, confusion, anxiety and loss of interest in food. Side effects: weight gain and joy. Little Star's deep dish is the embodiment of comfort food: cheesy, delicious, and not very good for any part of you but your soul. Order the off-menu Brass Monkey for a signature Little Star (spinach blended with ricotta & feta, mushrooms, onions, garlic) plus sausage. You won't be sorry.
400 Valencia (at 15th Street) & 846 Divisadero (at McAllister)

(Photo: Jeremy Brooks)

Pies and supper
Mission Pie

When you can't make it home for Mom's baking during pie season, Mission Pie has what you need to warm your heart by the slice. The selection rotates by season, but around the holidays that means hot pans of fresh pumpkin and apple in the window. (One caveat: Southern expats in search of pecan pie will find a walnut option instead.) Savory pot pies and quiches round out the menu, but the nightly suppers are what will keep you whole on those days when home feels far away. — Andrew Dalton
(2901 Mission St at 25th Street)

(Photo: Ryan J./Yelp)

The King of Philly
The Cheese Steak Shop

Forget Geno's vs. Pat's, the Cheese Steak Shop on Divisadero has been giving local cheesesteak phanatics a taste of Philly for over 30 years now. Go all-in with a King of Philly: 10" of meat and cheese, loaded up with sweets and hots. If you've still got room, don't forget to ask for a couple of Tastykakes imported from back east. — Andrew Dalton
1716 Divisadero (between Bush and Sutter)

(Photo: Dear Mom)

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
Dear Mom's Kitchen

A good piece of fried chicken, slathered buffalo wing sauce and placed on a bun is surprisingly hard to find in this town, but the kitchen at Dear Mom has a winner on their hands. The heat comes from a coating of Sriracha and sour cream sauce, with red onion and lettuce instead of cole slaw. Trust us when we say it'll have you forgetting Frank's Red Hot in a heartbeat. — Andrew Dalton

Behold, the Marlowe Burger! (Photo: Jeffrey Chiang)

The Marlowe Burger
Marlowe and Park Tavern

The day in 2010 when Michael Bauer first tried Jennifer Puccio's burger — with a mixture of beef and a bit of lamb and topped with cheddar, bacon, and horseradish aioli — was a fateful one for Puccio and owner Anna Weinberg, setting in motion a quick path to restaurant success aided by their own respective talents. They've gone on to open Park Tavern (where the burger is also a hit on the menu), and The Cavalier, both to raves and big crowds, and some could argue that it was all thanks to this burger. It is a memorable one, and though it fights for first place, citywide, with about five others in our mind, it's a classic that's been elevated just enough to be more delicious without trying too hard. And the fries are damn good too. — Jay Barmann

Brick Oven Chicken
Zuni Cafe

Another dish that hasn't changed in over a decade is Zuni's famed chicken for two. It takes an hour, but Jesus is it delicious, roasted to order in the wood oven and served, perfectly juicy and steaming over a warm bread salad. It's been imitated many, many times, but nothing quite matches the comfort of sitting in Zuni's unique, glass-walled, flat-iron shaped front room, or the back room by the kitchen, and tucking into this bird with a glass or three of rose and a good friend you don't mind talking to for the hour while you wait. — Jay Barmann
1658 Market (at Rose)

Animal style is the only way to go. (Photo: Laine Trees)

Animal Style burger and fries

When the communal tables get to be too much. When that craft cocktail-sipping Mission transplant from Omaha, Wherever has judged you one too many times. When you just can't take another high-end fad served to you by a bearded dude with tattooed sleeves. When you can't take it anymore, there's In-N-Out. The backlash is bullshit, folks. This California-based fast food chain still serves up the best animal style burgers and fries. — Brock Keeling
333 Jefferson (at Leavenworth)

Honorable Mentions

Chile Pies & Ice Cream for pies and milkshakes
Jake's Steaks for Philly Cheesesteaks
Citizen's Band for buffalo fried chicken sandwiches
McDonald's french fries (yes huh)

Imperial Rolls await. (Photo: Fei L./Yelp)