San Francisco is well known for its fantastic restaurants, but also for its relative hostility to chains. Nonetheless, a number of homegrown chain restaurants and mini-empires have proliferated here, especially in the last decade — and did you know that famed nonagenarian SF restaurateur Cecilia Chiang's son is one of the main people behind the P.F. Chang's empire? While we might not look too kindly on Fuddruckers or TGIFridays taking over our quaint neighborhoods, locals nonetheless chow down on Patxi's Pizza and Super Duper Burger without a second thought, despite both now being legit Bay Area chains, with Super Duper now nearing a dozen locations — maybe because we just like it when things are born here. Below, SFist's picks for the best homegrown, Bay Area food chains, some of which have just arrived in the last few years, and one of which doesn't even boast a San Francisco location. — Jay Barmann

Taqueria Cancun
Though it didn't triumph in that headline-making burrito bracket of 2014, it came in a close second, and 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... and with three locations in SF, there's plenty of opportunities to talk. Their al pastor is "everything," with just the right touch of pineapple sweetness. (Their carne asada and grilled chicken get raves, too.) This is where you take guests who say they want to eat like a local. — Eve Batey
2288 Mission (at 19th Street); 1003 Market Street (at 6th Street); 3211 Mission (at Valencia)


With two locations in SF and a third planned for Oakland in the fall of 2017, the fancier-than-your-typical-Indian-takeout Dosa is definitely edging into "chain" territory. Owned and operated by Anjan and Emily Mitra, their Valencia Street location opened in 2005, and was followed in 2008 with the larger Fillmore location in what was once a Goodwill (and before that, a bank). Focusing on South Indian cuisine, both are known for upscale presentation and Indian-inspired cocktails...and the third one, expected to open at 2310 Broadway, promises to be more of the same. — Eve Batey
995 Valencia Street (at 21st Street); 1700 Fillmore Street (at Post)

Gott's Roadside
San Franciscans might best know Gott's from its anchor spot at the Ferry Building (at one time known as Taylor's Refresher) along the Embarcadero, but the now-chain began as a roadside stand in wine country. Now the burger and beyond purveyor is rapidly expanding to spots throughout the Bay Area and even into SFO. Niman Ranch burgers on toasted egg buns and bountiful salads like the Citrus & Avocado Chop make this a go-to spot that'll please everyone. Gott's make for a great growing chain because the food is big, fresh, delicious, and not crazy expensive. Plus, they have a cute 50s-style vibe going on. It's like a more subtle, sun-kissed Mel's Diner with kale and rosé. Multiple locations. - Beth Spotswood

Andrew Y. via Yelp

Henry’s Hunan
It is with heavy hearts that Henry’s Hunan gets acknowledged here, following the April death of founder Henry Chung at the age of 99. Chung’s legacy cannot be overstated. A 1976 New Yorker review of the then-sole Kearny Street location declared Henry’s Hunan “the best Chinese restaurant in the world" and set off a nationwide craze for the spicy Hunan cuisine (and imitators using the word “Hunan” in their restaurant names). That Henry’s Hunan on Kearny moved to a larger Sansome Street location which has since closed, but there are six other Henry’s Hunans remaining in the city. Their quality and consistency is frankly all over the place, you should come in expecting poor service, and none of the locations are considered legendary anymore. But Henry’s Hunan still merits legacy consideration, thanks to its signature Diana’s Meat Pie (named for Chung’s late wife) and continued elite status in the spicy Chinese food vertical.
— Joe Kukura
Multiple Locations

Shrimp paste fried rice with Thai eggplant and a salted egg. Photo: Derek S./Yelp

Lers Ros
Serving up some of the more authentic — I'm not going to say most authentic because that is always up for argument — Thai food in the Bay Area, and the most authentically spicy, is Lers Ros. The burgeoning chain had humble beginnings in a nondescript hole in the wall on Larkin in the last decade that played Michael Bolton and Backstreet Boys on the stereo while you ate, as Tablehopper noted in 2009. Since then, they've expanded with fancier digs in Hayes Valley and the Mission, serving mostly similar food at each just at a bigger scale now. They get high marks for specialties of founding chef Tom Silargorn like frog's legs with young peppercorn, larb moo (pork), and stir-fried pork belly, but their curries and fried rolls hit the spot too. (A few years back, critic Jonathan Kauffman recommended simply sticking with the section of the menu titled "Original Thai Style," at least if you're adventurous.) By the way, if you want to sound in the know, it's pronounced without either of those s's, like "lairh roh." — Jay Barmann
730 Larkin Street bet. Ellis & O'Farrell
307 Hayes Street at Franklin
3189 16th Street at Guerrero

LIttle Star's offering. (Photo: John)

Little Star / The Star
In my opinion, Little Star and sister East Bay operation The Star make the best Chicago-style pizza in the Bay Area, though you're going to have devotees of Zachary's, Capo's, and Patxi's arguing this point. Little Star, which began with a Divisadero Street location over a decade ago, expanding to 15th and Valencia Street and later to Albany, uses a buttery cornmeal crust that is at least half of the secret to their success — they also tend to make solid salads and spicy wings, and their chunky tomato sauce is always well seasoned. Original partners John Guhl and Brian Sadigursky parted ways a few years ago, with Sadigursky maintaining the Divisadero location and Guhl the Valencia one, along with the East Bay expansions — which now include both Grand Street in Oakland and an upcoming Alameda spot. This is why you won't find the Goddess Salad at the Divis location, and other odd differences in the menus, and why the Divisadero location isn't listed on The Star's website, as if it didn't exist. Anyway, all the pizza is similarly great, and the Oakland location boasts a more expanded starter selection, newfangled combos, and a fun cocktail menu. — Jay Barmann
400 Valencia Street at 15th; 846 Divisadero Street near McAllister; 3425 Grand Avenue, Oakland; 1181 Solano Avenue, Albany; Coming soon to 1400 Park Street, Alameda

Vintage photo of founder Mary Fazio, who died in 1999 at age 85. Photo: Facebook

Mary's Pizza Shack
I'm not going to try to tell you that Mary's Pizza Shack, which was born out of a literal shack opened in Boyes Hot Springs by Mary Fazio in 1959, serves the finest pizza in the Bay Area. The pizza's alright, with the added pleasure of homemade dough and sauce that are theoretically similar to what Fazio used to make 60 years ago. But this place is a veritable heaven for carb-lovers and fans of Italian-American comfort food, with things like Mary's Fresco Pesto Breadsticks, which are twists of cheesy pizza dough that you can dip in ranch dressing; or the delicious giant meatballs, served singly because they are so giant, over a plate of a spaghetti. If you're on a road trip in the North Bay or out near Walnut Creek and at a loss for a food pit stop that isn't Taco Bell, you could do a lot worse than this family-run enterprise, now in its sixth decade. — Jay Barmann
17 Bay Area locations, but none in SF

Original Joe's Westlake. Photo: Jay Barmann/SFist

Original Joe's
To be clear, Original Joe's in North Beach is not the original Original Joe's, and the oldest of the bunch, Original Joe's in San Jose, has actually been under different ownership and management than the flagship since the 1980s. The recently, gorgeously renovated Westlake location and the SF flagship (which relocated from its original Taylor Street digs) are both owned by John and Elena Duggan, the children of original owners John and Marie Duggan, and they've done their best to polish up and revive this SF traditional image of an Italian-American steakhouse, heavy on the red sauce, with extra-large martinis. Nobody's winning any awards here for culinary innovation, or even consistency of execution, but the place wins big-time when it comes to old-school flair and comfort. — Jay Barmann
601 Union Street at Stockton
11 Glenwood Avenue, Daly City
301 S. 1st Street, San Jose (technically unaffiliated)

Impossible to pronounce, delicious to eat. Patxi's deep dish pizza situation is rather spectacular. With five locations in San Francisco, four in the South Bay and three in the East Bay - plus outposts as far away as Seattle - Patxi's is definitely a chain. Like many, many internet companies, the first Patxi's opened in Palo Alto in 2004. Now there pizza is all over my face the place, although one of its best selling point is that Patxi's deep dish delivers beautifully. That cornmeal crust and layer upon layer of sauce and cheese and juicy round sausage (!) is the perfect classy comfort food. Other items appear on the menu but this is a deep dish pizza spot, folks. Don't be weird and order the mixed greens. - Beth Spotswood
Multiple locations.

Pizzaria Delfina (image: Instagram)

Pizzeria Delfina
You've seen the lines, now try the pizza. Pizzeria Delfina comes to us from the gods and also from famed Delfina duo Annie and Craig Stoll. Far more casual than the Mission District restaurant that started it all, Pizzeria Delfina is home to simple, rustic, gas-fired pizzas with blistered crusts and explosively perfect sauce. With four locations, two in San Francisco and one each in Palo Alto and Burlingame, Pizzeria Delfina is worth the wait in line. Look no further than a simple Margherita pie for a perfect experience, although the menu offers creations such as a clam pie and a vegan option, along with an array of salads, sides, and entrees. Plus, they deliver! — Beth Spotswood
Multiple locations

Image: Lizzie G. via Yelp

Super Duper Burgers
Many of you readers will have beef with the fact that we’ve excluded Burger Joint from this list, but Super Duper Burgers has six locations within the city of San Francisco whereas Burger Joint is down to just one (the SFO location, obviously, is in Millbrae), and it's not that good! And Super Duper Burgers brings the old slow-food ethic to their burgers and fries with beef from humanely raised cows, organic cream in the ice cream, and fries cooked in canola oil. More importantly, Super Duper will put an egg on your burger, garlic on your fries, or booze in your milkshake.
— Joe Kukura
Multiple Locations

Photo: Facebook

The fine folks at popular downtown lunch destination Sushirrito claim to have invented the mashup sushi burrito concept, and it is being imitated at some poke places around town. Starting with one FiDi location a few years back, enormous lines led them now to have four downtown, with two more in the South Bay. And what this place has going for it, apart from novelty, is their brash fearlessness in mixing up things like ginger guacamole and tempura shrimp, or "sake-asada" beef with "kimichurri" sauce, in big fat burritos that feel the perfect San Francisco fusion food — this being a city that was built on the backs of Asian- and Mexican-Americans. — Jay Barmann
Multiple locations

Image: Tacolicious via Yelp

Upscale taqueria chain Tacolicious technically has three San Francisco locations, but you could also throw in their Mission District spin-offs like the tequila bar Mosto and sports bar Bar San Pancho. Tacolicious is often packed (particularly the original the Valencia Street location) but it’s for good reason. The cuisine is very creative and pretty healthy on the Mexican food spectrum, the salsa is minty, and your guacamole is made to order. Heck yes Tacolicious does Taco Tuesdays and now also offers rotisserie chicken via delivery.
— Joe Kukura
741 Valencia between 18th Street and 19th Street
2250 Chestnut Street between Scott Street and Pierce Street
1548 Stockton Street between Union Street and Green Street

Related: The 18 Must-Have Classic San Francisco Dishes

Dosa on Fillmore. Photo courtesy of the restaurant