It may feel more like summer than fall, but that doesn't stop chefs from taking full advantage of harvest's autumnal bounty. Here are 12 exceptional dishes to try this season.
Beef heart at One Market
Chef Mark Dommen continues to showcase his knack for farm-to-table elegance and simplicity at this Embarcadero mainstay with this new dish. Thinly sliced Marin Sun Farms beef heart mingle with the seasonal pickled mustard seeds, kohlrabi and green apples.
1 Market St.; 415-777-5577
Grilled octopus at Lolo
Octopus is on virtually every menu throughout the city, but Lolo’s striking, artful rendition screams Halloween, thanks to the burnt-orange tentacles (owed to a garlic and paprika adobo rub) and purple potato purée. Eat this wild, savage-looking treat to kick off a bewitching night in the Mission — Lolo’s Dia de los Muertos–inspired vibe and offbeat, curious knickknacks further set an enchanting mood.
974 Valencia St.; 415-643-5656
Pork belly at Liholiho Yacht Club
Aromatic fennel and rich, impossibly tender twice-cooked pork seem made for San Francisco’s perennial fall chill, while chunks of pineapple and fresh Thai basil keep true to Liholiho’s island vibe. The result is a dish that perfectly sums up why this white-hot spring opening in the Tenderloin still hasn’t cooled.
871 Sutter St.; 415-440-5446
Johnny cake donuts at Stones Throw
While pastry chef Tara Lewis’s johnny cake donuts are a favorite on the decadent brunch menu all year at this exceptional Russian Hill Italian spot, the filling is a seasonal surprise. Right now chef Lewis relies on late-summer corn for a balanced sweet-corn mousse filling. Huckleberry jam adds more seasonal sweetness, further recalling Indian summer harvests.
1896 Hyde St.; 415-796-2901
Tajarin at Perbacco
This FiDi hot spot's fresh, hand-cut, paper-thin tagliatelle is perennially delicious, but when it meets tender five-hour pork and earthy porcini mushroom, it’s autumn on a plate.
230 California St.; 415-955-0663
Mushroom risotto at Reverb
Earthy, creamy and totally dreamy — a soft-poached egg melts into the rich mushroom risotto, while crispy kale offers a pleasant crunch to balance out the dish. Meanwhile Reverb's warm lighting, spacious interior and more sophisticated ambiance offers a welcome respite from the narrow party-centric spaces of its Polk Street neighbors.
2323 Polk St.; 415-441-2323
Burger at Scotland Yard
If you haven’t tried our latest favorite burger yet, well, what are you waiting for? The double-decker size, dual-cheese topped, umami flavor explosion pairs well with long days of beer-drinking and football-watching in the Marina.
3232 Scott St.; 415-872-6853
Cinnamon chocolate cake at E&O Kitchen & Bar
For the final installment of E&O Kitchen and Bar’s limited-edition menus, highlighting a different spice each month, executive chef Sharon Nahm is focusing on cinnamon, creating three new dishes with the fall spice front-and-center. This month diners can get an delicate cinnamon chocolate cake with Vietnamese coffee. Pair it with the new Cinnamon Sazerac, which features a spritz of St. George Absinthe, Rittenhouse rye, cinnamon simple syrup and bitters, for a delightful after-work FiDi treat.
314 Sutter St.; 415-693-0303
Crispy togarashi chicken sandwich at The Ramen Bar
Spicy mayo, pickled veggies and fried chicken dusted with Japanese chile pepper on a black sesame bun are what weekday lunch dreams are made of. If you can resist the array of traditional and modern ramen, Michael Mina’s revamped menu includes this must-order weekday pick-me-up.
101 California St.; 415-684-1570
Pork ribeye at Sessions at the Presidio
The mustard fruit that tops this dish brings a round, sweet-and-savory component and lovely autumnal color, while the Berkshire pork ribeye, polenta and broccoli provide the essentials for a comforting cold-weather meal. The fact that you eat it in the gorgeous, industrial log cabin–inspired space tucked into the lush Presidio completes the experience.
1 Letterman Dr.; 415-655-9413
Truffled egg at 1313 Main
It doesn't get more decadent than an egg poached with black summer truffle oil, set in a buttery potato moussaline at this Napa stunner. Crispy potato and pickled red onion add color and texture, while toasted brioche is the perfect vehicle for soaking up every last bite. Not only is 1313 Main bucket-list-worthy, no harvest time is complete without a trip to the wine country.
1313 Main St., Napa; 707-258 1313
Conserva flight at Aatxe
For San Francisco's inevitable 90-degree "fall" days, you need a reliable spot for chilled light bites, and Aaxte's Basque tapas deliver — especially the conservas, featuring clam escabeche verde, mussels escabeche and smoked tuna confit. Pair with one of the effervescent txakolina wines to take advantage of SF's delayed summer.
2174 Market St.; 415-471-2977