San Francisco has been a good food town as long as anyone can remember. Starting with the Italian and Chinese immigrants who fed Gold Rush prospectors and Barbary Coast revelers, SF restaurants have been filling gullets and comforting souls through windswept winters and even windier summers for most of the city's 167-year history. There are the classic SF foods we can definitely call our own but that you may or may not still want to eat — chop suey or Hangtown fry, anyone? — and then there are the newer classics, at places like Zuni Café and Delfina, signature menu items immortalized in cookbooks, travel guides, and on TV, that make up the current pantheon of quintessential San Francisco foods. Below we bring you our favorites, but no doubt this list could go on much longer.

Lobster Risotto at Gary Danko
Although known for many things including its old-world service and standout foie gras, the lobster risotto at the 17-year-old Gary Danko is a signature and perennial favorite. The (rather pricey) California-French spot does slight variations on the dish every now and then to keep things fresh, but it is always perfectly cooked, rich, and memorable. — Jack Morse
800 North Point Street at Hyde


Garlic Fries at AT&T Park
OK this one is a bit of a no-brainer, but very few things say "San Francisco" like the super garlicky fries at AT&T Park. With chunks of garlic and parsley, this dish is a must-have on visits to the ballpark (so much so that McDonald's ripped it off). Leaving a taste of garlic in your mouth that can seemingly only be washed out with overpriced beer, they're the perfect go-to for all the non-calorie counters out there. And although they can tend to get a bit greasy, they're such a classic SF dish that we're willing to overlook it. — Jack Morse
24 Willie Mays Plaza

Photo: Facebook

The Marlowe Burger at Marlowe, Park Tavern, and The Cavalier
Created first six years ago by chef Jennifer Puccio at the then nascent Marlowe, in its original Townsend Street location (currently Popson's), the Marlowe burger has become an entity unto itself, now available at three of Big Night Restuarant Group's restaurants. It all started with a blog post by Michael Bauer declaring it his new favorite burger, because of Puccio's mix of beef with a bit of ground lamb in the patty, and the combination of cheddar cheese, bacon, and a horseradish aioli. It is, no doubt, a damn fine burger — despite this being a town with many great ones — and its notoriety alone makes it one of the city's new classics. — Jay Barmann
500 Brannan Street at Fourth, 1652 Stockton Street, or 360 Jessie Street

Photo: Yelp

Pappardelle with Pork Sugo at Delfina
There are a few items at Delfina that don't leave the menu, like the tri-color salad and the marvelous roast chicken, which all help to make this eighteen-year-old 18th Street spot an essential part of any SF culinary tour. But the always perfect and comforting pork sugo served over pappardelle — created by James Beard Award-winning chef-owner Craig Stoll, and available most times of year, sometimes made with duck — is the must-try that's most often canonized on lists, and for good reason. This is soulful, rustic Italian food at its best — simple but deeply satisfying in its slow-cooked richness. (And if you want to try to recreate it at home, you can be my guest.) — Jay Barmann
3621 18th Street between Guerrero and Dolores

The Ramirez sisters with Willie Brown. Photo: Yelp

Beef Chile Colorado at Don Ramon's
Walk into Don Ramon's and you're going to feel like you're stepping into a very old-school Mexican-American joint, straight out of tourist-y Old Town San Diego or many other places in the country. The huge, windowless SoMa spot has some history though, having opened in this spot in 1982 by Ramon and Guadalupe Ramirez, and staffed ever since by their children and grandchildren. Sisters Leonila, Lucy, and Nati were left with only clues how to make their mother's famous Chile Colorado when Guadalupe died several years ago, but Nati, who manages the kitchen, says through trial and error and the spice lists their mother would request their dad to order, they think they've recreated it. "She went to the grave with that recipe," Lucy says, suggesting her mother may have even wanted it that way. But go taste the rich, chocolatey, incredible Chile Colorado they serve daily, and I'd wager you're enjoying the real thing — akin to mole but darker and a bit spicier. It's a homemade, grandma-style San Francisco staple no one should miss. — Jay Barmann
225 11th Street at Howard

The Henry VIII Cut Prime Rib at House of Prime Rib
You may not consider yourself a prime rib guy/gal, but neither am I, and I can tell you that the prime rib at this Van Ness Avenue institution is seriously tender and delicious. The place is such a throwback that the setting almost upstages the food, with its red leather booths, salty waiters, and a giant stainless steel zeppelin on wheels that ferries the beef around the dining room. There's virtually nothing to order here besides prime rib — though consult the "secret" menu for a few little known options — and it comes with Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and creamed corn, just as it should. — Jay Barmann
1906 Van Ness Avenue between Washington and Jackson

Dorado Style Super Taco at La Taqueria
Yes, that's correct, we're saying skip the burrito at La Taq and go for the tacos. Honestly, one or two at most will do you, provided you get the super version prepared dorado style — that's one tortilla wrapped around another that's been crisped on the grill with cheese. I really don't want to get prescriptive when it comes to meat, but I can't emphasize enough that you need this SUPER and DORADO style. Got that? —Caleb Pershan
2889 Mission Street between 24th and 25th Streets

Chicken Parm at Original Joe's
The original Original Joe's, on Taylor Street, was a truly divey throwback before it was gutted by a fire in the last decade. But the spiffed up, reimagined but still nostalgic version that opened several years ago in North Beach — with a second location newly renovated in Daly City — has been a hit from the get-go, especially with the denizens of Old San Francisco, most of whom don't live in North Beach anymore. If you want a taste of that bygone, red-sauce era, this is a perfect place to do it, with reasonably priced martinis and some excellent spaghetti and meatballs to boot. For my money, you want the chicken parmigiana ($26), though, the breaded, fried, sauced, and cheese-laden version that's a staple of the east-coast Italian joints I grew up going to. It's Italian-American food to be sure, especially with all that cheese, but you can't hate it. — Jay Barmann
601 Union Street at Stockton

Photo: Joey DeRuy

Meatball Sandwich at Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
This unassuming little cafe that claims to have introduced SF to the espresso also boasts some of the best sandwiches in town, if you have time to sit a spell. They're one of the only businesses with a vendor relationship with famed Liguria Bakery across Washington Square Park, and with Liguria's fresh focaccia they make delicious, drool-worthy meatball and sausage sandwiches that are the stuff food dreams are made of — and if I had to pick one iconic sandwich to represent San Francisco, the meatball on focaccia would be it. Find your way there on a rainy lunch break, and you'll wonder how you never made it there before (assuming you haven't already, many times). — Jay Barmann
566 Columbus Avenue at Union

Salt and Pepper Crab at R&G Lounge
When you get to this Chinatown mainstay, order the "live battered crab deep-fried and sprinkled with salt & pepper" right away. That's because it takes about an hour to arrive, and then eating it isn't quick, either. It's huge and deep fried in its shell, which does mean some breaking into, with tons of extra batter for your enjoyment. Have fun with it: Your neighboring tables will be jealous, or more likely, chowing down on their own order of the stuff. —Caleb Pershan
631 Kearny Street between Commercial Street and Clay Street

Any Seafood Cocktail at Swan's Oyster Depot
Anthony Bourdain has several times given his televised stamp of approval to this always bustling seafood counter on Polk, which is right up his alley for some obvious reasons. It's unadorned, relatively inexpensive, old-school to the core, and they serve incredibly fresh fish and shellfish daily, the amazing quality of which belies the tiny spot's humble surroundings. Go for some shrimp, or crab, or better yet a plate of oysters followed by any of the seafood cocktails or crudos, and you will walk out happy. — Jay Barmann
1517 Polk Street

Cioppino at Tadich Grill
Going to Tadich Grill, a Gold Rush-era relic that claims to be the oldest restaurant the state, is a San Francisco rite of passage. A crucial part of that rite is ordering the ceremonial cioppino, an Italian-American classic. While Alioto's claims to have served the dish first, Tadich's equally classic take includes clams, prawns, scallops, bay shrimp, crabmeat, mussels, and white fish cooked in a tomato-based sauce and served with garlic bread. Consider it part soup, part ritual. —Caleb Pershan
240 California Street between Front and Battery Streets

Morning buns at Tartine. (Photo: Janice C. /Yelp)

The Morning Bun at Tartine Bakery
Slightly denser than a croissant but with the same butteriness and a touch of orange flavor, Tartine's morning buns are worth the interminable wait in the bakery's seemingly-endless line. Lighter than a cinnamon roll, sweeter than a muffin, and fattier than a green juice, the buns are a perfect compliment to coffee — or to another bun. And another. And another. Sure, you could just make your own if the line's too long...or if you're feeling super lazy, at least one of SF's zillions of food delivery services will bring them straight to your door. — Eve Batey
600 Guerrero Street (at 18th Street)

The Super Burrito at Taqueria Cancun
Though it didn't triumph in the headline-making burrito bracket of 2014, Cancun's super burrito is, if we had to pick, the one people seem to talk about the most when they're mooning over the iconic Mission burrito. For starters, the al pastor is, as they say, "everything," with just the right touch of pineapple sweetness. (Their carne asada and grilled chicken get raves, too.) Then, in a few simple steps, they elevate the burrito form, with delicious, well seasoned beans, a sour cream, rice, and avocado interplay, and a nicely blistered tortilla. This is where you take guests who say they want to eat like a local. Those folks will never be able to stand Chipotle after they get a taste of Cancun! — Eve Batey
2288 Mission (at 19th Street); 1003 Market Street (at 6th Street); 3211 Mission (at Valencia)

Behind the bar at Tosca. Photo: From Tosca's website

The House Cappuccino at Tosca Cafe
When April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman took over the always wonderful, often empty, and rarely profitable Tosca Cafe back in 2013, San Franciscans worried that iconic drinks like their boozy House Cappuccino would fall by the wayside. Instead, the beloved drink was revamped, from a steamed chocolate milk and brandy concoction to one that, while still coffee-free, is made with Dandelion Chocolate, local milk, armagnac, and Buffalo Trace bourbon. Even the crustiest regulars of the joint will admit that the newer version is an upgrade, a fitting and place-appropriate rehab of a classic. — Eve Batey
242 Columbus Avenue between Broadway and Pacific

Photo: Ashley G/Yelp

The Cinnamon Toast at Trouble Coffee
A Pacific Standard story from early 2014 told the world what Outer Sunset residents already knew: That Trouble Coffee, a slender, unassuming coffee shop on a foggy stretch of Judah Street, was Patient Zero of SF's pricey toast epidemic. Since 2007 owner Giulietta Carrelli has been serving fat cinnamon-buttered bread to locals as well as folks from around the world who've heard about Trouble from the PS story and subsequent This American Life segment. Though you'll hear devotees say that the thickly-buttered and sugared slices are "life changing," I believe that if your life needs toast to change it, you have bigger problems than bread can solve. But, screw it, it's worth a shot. — Eve Batey
4033 Judah, between 44th and 45th Avenues; 1730 Yosemite Avenue, Near Third Street; and 1545 Willow Street, Oakland

Xiao Long Bao at Yank Sing
As we mentioned back in March, the xiao long bao at Yank Sing are shining examples of the form. Though there are a few great spots to find them in SF, including Dragon Beaux in the Richmond and Kingdom of Dumpling in Parkside, Yank Sing is perhaps the most renowned and the liveliest of them all. Their version of these traditional Shanghainese soup dumplings is spot on, not too doughy and bursting with hot liquid. And although on the pricier side (six dumplings cost $12), you'll be hard-pressed to find anything else like them anywhere near downtown. — Jack Morse
49 Stevenson Street at Ecker Place

Photo: Steph L./Yelp

Roast Chicken With Bread Salad at Zuni Café
No list about classic SF food is ever complete without Judy Rodgers' beloved, simple, but utterly brilliant preparation of wood-oven roasted chicken. While roasting, the bird's juices are used to soak and dress fat croutons that are then served, with seasonal greens and a bright dressing, underneath the finished chicken. It's a dish that never gets old, and once you've tried it you'll never want a chicken roasted in anything but a wood oven. Still that hasn't stopped many thousands of home cooks from recreating the dish, via the famed Zune Cafe Cookbook, in their own ovens — something I still won't do because I know where to get the real thing, and mine won't match it. — Jay Barmann
1658 Market Street near Gough

Related: The 10 Best Classic Restaurants In San Francisco

Photo via Yelp.