Where to Eat During Dreamforce
According to a Huffington Post article from 2012, San Francisco had more restaurants per capita, than any other city in the U.S., coming in at over 39 restaurants per 10,000 households. That’s twice what the second place city of Fairfield, CT, has. That’s a lot of food choices. Good thing for you, the choices have narrowed some in the past 5 years as restaurants are emulating the tech industry mantra of “fail fast” with several closing in their first year. In addition, several tech companies with headquarters in Silicon Valley are hiring up chefs to staff in-house cafeterias and restaurants. This should make it easier to decide where to eat when in San Francisco.
Or, maybe not.
There are still over 4,400 restaurants in San Francisco – 54 of them have Michelin Stars. So how do you decide where to eat when in San Francisco for Dreamforce?
The most important meal of the day. And my personal favorite meal – I have been known to eat traditional breakfast foods at every meal, no matter what time of day. Generally, breakfast is considered the meal you eat at the start of your day. Here’s my 2 favorites in San Francisco.
Mel’s Drive-In, 4th and Mission Streets.
It’s hard to go wrong with a classic diner. Located in the heart of SoMa, Mel’s Drive-In has been serving the crowds that visit Moscone since 2000. Unlike the original Mel’s Drive-In, located at 140 South Van Ness Avenue, opened in 1947, the 4th and Mission location is clearly a sit-down restaurant. They are open 6am to Midnight, Sunday thru Thursday, and till 3am Friday and Saturday, with breakfast served anytime. My favorite: The Elvis Scramble, featuring chorizo, green chili peppers and monterrey jack cheese, scrambled with 3 farm fresh eggs. Image source: Mel’s Drive-In.
Sears Fine Foods, 439 Powell Street.
Located just slightly up the hill from Union Square, Sears has been an institution in the San Francisco food scene since 1938. Serving an old family recipe, inherited from one of the founder’s Swedish mothers, they quickly grew in popularity for their Swedish Pancakes. They are open from 6:30am to 9:30pm, Sunday thru Thursday, and till 10pm Friday and Saturday, with the World Famous 18 Swedish Pancakes, and all the breakfast items, served until 3pm. I try to stop in for breakfast at Sears every time I’m in San Francisco, and yes, the World Famous Swedish Pancakes are that good, with a side of bacon, crispy, of course, and you’ve got quite the meal. But don’t worry if you eat all 18 pancakes. They’re small – only about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Image source, Sears Fine Food.
Chicago has it’s battle of the pizzas between Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s and Gino’s East. In Phliladelphia, it’s all about who has the best cheesesteak: Pat’s King of Steaks or Geno’s Steaks. In San Francisco, there’s a similar rivalry in the hamburger arena. Many people say In-N-Out Burger is best, while just as many claim the title goes to Super Duper Burgers. Both great choices, in my opinion, so give them a try. If you want something slightly different, but still in the burger family – read on.
Zuni Cafe, 1658 Market Street, in Hayes Valley
While it is a 30 minute walk from Moscone Center, and a little pricey, a burger with cheese and fries will set you back about $26, it’s worth the trip if you are up for a delicious burger. They use fresh, grass-fed beef that they grind in-house, then cook it to perfection, and place it on grilled focaccia with aioli and Zuni pickles. Now I know what you are thinking, a burger on focaccia? Yeah, right. I know, it sounds like an odd choice, but when combined with the juicy, somewhat salty patty, the aioli and pickles, it works. Just trust me, and give Zuni Cafe a try. They are open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30am to 5:30pm, and if you want the burger, you’ll have to go there for lunch because it’s not on their dinner menu. Image source: Zuni Cafe.
Garaje, 475 3rd Street, between SoMa and South Beach
Garaje, is just a few blocks away from Moscone – a 15 minute walk, tops. They describe themselves on Facebook as a Mexican / Burger Restaurant and a Dive Bar. I’ve always been fond of Dives – sometime they have the absolute best food! And in this case, the Crazy Dave’s Double Drive-In Cheeseburger really makes that ring true. It’s two 1/3 pound, certified Angus beef, with double American cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, pickles and tomato, topped with Thousand Island dressing on an Acme bun. Wow. It’s not good for your diet, but who eats a a Dive Bar when they are dieting? One thing to note, when you go there: bring cash – that’s all they take. Image source: Garaje.
You’ve survived another day at Dreamforce. You need some food and energy to make it through the night’s festivities. Or maybe you want a quiet dinner and a good night’s sleep instead. Here’s my two top picks for a classic San Francisco dinner.
Hayes Street Grill, 320 Hayes Street, in Hayes Valley
It may be a 30 minute walk from Moscone Center, and after a long day of Dreamforce, I would suggest Uber or a Lyft, as your transportation. If you like local, fresh and sustainably harvested fish and shellfish, certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, then the Hayes Street Grill is for you. Opened in 1979, primarily to serve dinner to opera, ballet and symphony goers. (Davies Symphony Hall and Nourse Auditorium are across the street, while the Opera House is one block away.) Hayes Street Grill boasts some serious longevity in their cooks, dining room staff and Maitre d’s, with many working there for 25 years or more. Hayes Street Grill is open for dinner from 5pm to 9pm, Monday to Thursday, till 10pm, Friday and Saturday, and only till 8pm Sunday. I strongly recommend booking a reservation. Image source: Hayes Street Grill.
The Front Porch, 65a 29th Street, in Bernal Heights
If you are looking for some good, old-fashioned comfort food, and by that I mean fried chicken, look no further. The Front Porch offers up not just a dinner serving, but also a bucket to share with your friends. Add whatever sides you want, and make it a meal. Of course, my side dish of choice at The Front Porch is, of course, the Bacon Creamed Corn with Truffle Oil. You just can’t go wrong with bacon in any dish, and the addition of the truffle oil, is like, well, the icing on the cake! The Front Porch is open Sunday to Thursday, 5:30pm to 10pm, Friday till 11pm. And if you are in the mood for something slightly different, and in the City before or after Dreamforce, the Front Porch also offers a weekend Brunch from 10am to 2:30pm, Saturday and Sunday. Image source: The Front Porch.