photo credit: Keoki Seu
Getting out of town for the long weekend and headed to SFO? We wouldn't want you to fly on an empty stomach — and you already know there will be nothing tasty or cheap to eat on the airplane — so we've compiled a list of ideal spots to fill your tummy and kill time (i.e. get drunk). SFO has some of the best restaurants of any airport in America, but you're somewhat limited by terminal, so we've broken it down that way to make it easy (no need to go through security multiple times just to find a good meal). Safe travels and send a postcard to [email protected]
photo credit: The Plant
You'll have plenty of choices in Terminal 2, the bright and shiny new home of Virgin America and a bastion of pretty much the bougie-est collection of San Francisco-esque airport food ever. If you're hanging out here for a few hours, you're in great shape. The Plant Cafe is there slinging veggie burgers and solid meal-sized salads if you're aiming for something healthy (and yes, avocado on everything is definitely healthy!). Lark Creek Grill is there if you want red meat and a stiff drink. Vino Volo is a nice spot for a pre-flight wine tasting, a.k.a. a good place to drink an overpriced bottle of something tasty, sure to help with your in-flight coma. There's Cat Cora for hearty comfort items like lobster mac 'n' cheese and stiff cocktails; Wakaba for sushi and sake (and hot items, too), and stalwart Bay Area chains like Burger Joint and Andale (which you can also find in the International Terminal and Terminal 3, respectively).
photo credit: dsleeter_2000
But perhaps my favorite Terminal 2 spot is the Napa Farms Market, where you can get awesome local cheese and bread (hi, Cowgirl Creamery), tasty Bay Area-produced snacks, coffee, and thankfully, more bottles of wine. Make like Dolores Park and have an in-terminal picnic! I once sat next to a guy on a plane who had a baguette and a round of a ripe, funky cheese and, had I not been hungover, would have wanted to be friends immediately. Anyway! There's also hot food (sandwiches, pizzas, beyond) courtesy of Tyler Florence, which is cool. Make it a balanced meal with a Crumbs cupcake, or some froyo from Pinkberry (if you must).
It's a turtle! Made of sourdough bread! photo credit: K. Yasuhara
And then there's Terminal 3. Often passed over for the exciting new-ness of Terminal 2 (guilty), there's a LOT of legitimate food options. It's no Tartine, but Boudin has been making sourdough for a while... and it still tastes awfully good. Their sandwiches will certainly hold you over, and it's a lot healthier than fast-food options. You'll find noodles and dim sum at Fung Lum (it won't be as good as a proper dim sum brunch, but you also won't have to deal with the weekends-in-the-Richmond wait), more sushi and tempura at Sanraku and Tomokazu, and perfectly edible soup at the San Francisco Soup Company (Soup Co.'s gotten many a downtown worker through some tough days, after all).
photo credit: aquababe
Terminal 3 also offers some classic San Francisco nostalgia. Have a sustainable seafood feast (!) at Yankee Pier, where you can find Dungeness crab and lobster (in whole and buttered roll form), chowder, and a pretty solid Louie. Cap it off with an Irish Coffee from the Buena Vista (yes, that Buena Vista!) and some fancy pants frozen yogurt from Fraiche.
photo credit: FlySFO.com
Terminal 1 feels pretty barren, but there's an outpost of the Max's chain of restaurants (unfortunately titled "Eatz") if you want to comfort food, or even better, a Three Twins ice cream with sweet and savory crepes. You also can't go wrong with Perry's, an off-shoot of the Union Street institution that's been serving American fare for 40 years, where you gorge on a burger or feast (slightly) lighter with a cobb salad.
photo credit: yoppy
If you're in the International Terminal, it's worth seeking out Ebisu for sushi, noodle dishes, udon, and appetizers like edamame and miso soup. Or opt for italian at the Il Fornaio Caffe del Mondo with its fine, if not life-changing paninis and such.