Cable Car Ride: Gioia Pizzeria
If you're a first-time visitor to SF, or maybe you're traveling with kids, it's likely that you'll end up on the cable cars. The lines run between heavily-touristed areas, and that often means slim pickings when it comes to good food. We suggest hopping off the Powell-Hyde line a little early, when it crosses Green Street, and walking a few blocks to Gioia Pizzeria. Will Gioia prides himself on being more than just a pizza guy, and so he makes some cheffy touches to his pies. His crisp, NY-style crust often arrives with California-style toppings, like the asparagus-ricotta pie above. Here's a re-run of the full story.
Coit Tower/North Beach, Part 1: Liguria Bakery
If you're a tourist that likes to walk, San Francisco will test your stamina with its many hills, and then reward your effort with stellar views. We're big fans of the walk up to Coit Tower, which offers not only a panoramic vista of the Bay, but some pretty cool murals in its lobby. At the base of the hill, you'll find the hundred-year-old Liguria Bakery (full review), which serves some of the best focaccia we've ever had. They usually run out by noon, so it makes perfect sense to have a breakfast of their pizza focaccia as fuel for your walk. You'll have no trouble eating a whole slab of this light bread that's been slathered with a rich, deep-red tomato sauce and studded with green onions.
Liguria Bakery: 1700 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 (map); 415-3421-3786
Coit Tower/North Beach, Part 2: Tony's Pizza Napoletana
You can hit up Tony's Pizza Napoletana on the way back from Coit Tower, or as part of a walking tour of North Beach. You'll find loads of other pie shops along nearby Columbus Avenue, but this pizza emporium takes top marks for quality and its mind-boggling selection of pizza styles. The Margherita with sausage made our own list of the best eight pies in San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge: A16
At last check, they had not installed a pizza oven anywhere along the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead, a visit to the big red bridge likely involves a meal in the Marina, where you can get standout wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pies at A16. This place runs upscale, so while family lunch is one option, it would also work for a nice meal after a sunset stroll. Check out the full review here.
SF Museum of Modern Art: Zero Zero
If you're the museum-going type, then the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will likely end up on your to-do list. A few blocks deeper into the SOMA, you'll find Zero Zero. The mind behind this operation, Bruce Hill, gets credit for coining the term Cali-politan, and this aptly describes his wood-fired pizzas with barely crisp, blistered crusts that get topped with all manner of local produce. When we tried his brunch pizza, pictured above, it came with escarole, coppa, calabrian chili, roasted garlic, and a poached egg (full review).
A Food Truck Tour: Del Popolo
The food truck trend in San Francisco has gone from interesting side-story to fully-established. The city plays host to multiple food truck meeting grounds each week, and even a permanent food truck park. If you want to look in on this part of SF's food culture, we recommend seeking out the Del Popolo pizza truck. With its massive front windows, you can look into the truck as Jon Darsky fires pies in his 5000-pound Stefano Ferrara oven. It's just pretty darn cool. We also like that Darsky tries to stay true to the Del Popolo moniker—it means of the people in Italian—by keeping the prices on his tasty Neapolitan-style pies near the ten-dollar mark. Read more here.
Del Popolo: A mobile pizza operation, check the website for locations; 415-967-1853; delpopolosf.com
Shopping Day: Cupola Pizzeria
Finding good food while you're shopping can be particularly difficult. San Francisco's Westfield Mall, however, is better than most mallscapes in this regard, and if you leave the food court for Cupola Pizzeria on the fourth floor, you'll barely know you're in the mall at all. Their VPN-certified pies boast a flavorful crust that achieves a crisp-chewy-tender trifecta. Yep, really good pizza... in the mall (full review).
Alamo Square Park: Little Star Pizza
Any Full House fans out there? If so, then you should probably make a visit to Alamo Square Park, where you can get a look at the Painted Ladies, the classic Victorian houses that appear in the show's opening sequence. Those houses, and the views, make for a nice afternoon even if you don't get excited by television esoterica. There's also good pizza nearby, with the deep dish pies at Little Star Pizza only a few blocks away. We get particularly excited by the Brass Monkey, with its combination of sausage, spinach, mushrooms, ricotta, and feta cheese, all packed inside a crisp, cornmeal crust.
People Watching: Delfina Pizzeria
If you find yourself in San Francisco on a sunny weekend day, then its time to go people watching. Make your way to Dolores Park, where good weather brings all walks of life out to the grass for an afternoon of fun. A good day will include hippie hula hoopers, amateur tightrope walkers, bongo drummers, scantily-clad sunbathers, often some variety of musical act, and a bunch of folks who find ways to inebriate themselves as the afternoon wears on. Before you join them, stop off at Delfina Pizzeria down the block. The pizza runs towards NY-style, with a crisp crust and thin undercarriage. We particularly like their "Magic Pie" (above), which gets sloshed with cream, melding the flavors of the tomato and the sausage also on top.
A Foodie Night Out: Flour + Water
Flour + Water is one of those restaurants that people seek out on a visit to San Francisco. The food has earned rave reviews in national publications, but the price tag doesn't get so big that it means Cup-a-Noodles in the hotel room for the rest of the trip. The kitchen excels at making interesting pastas, but they also get plenty creative with the pizzas that come out of their wood-fired oven. How creative? Take a look at their bone marrow pizza above, which came with rapini and horseradish (full review).
A Trip North of the City: Pizzeria Picco
For those of you that plan to load yourself into a car to go hiking on Mount Tamalpais or in Muir Woods, Pizzeria Picco provides an excellent way station. We love their leopard-spotted Margherita, but also like to make room for Bruce Hill's more interesting creations, like the potato pie above (full review). Hill has named all of his pies after bicycles, and if you choose to pay homage, you can skip the hike and instead get your exercise by riding to Picco—the little restaurant represents only a slight detour off the well-traveled Paradise Loop.
The Pizza Pilgrimage: Una Pizza Napoletana
We can't think of any tourist attractions close to Una Pizza Napoletana. Go anyway. Anthony Mangieri's pies are an attraction on their own. Our own Carey Jones put it this way: "This is Neapolitan pizza of a level I've never seen surpassed."