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Besties Food: Take a bite of your favorite eateries

by Jim Gladstone

Orphan Andy's won the Best Breakfast and Late Night Eats awards. Photo: BARtab
Orphan Andy's won the Best Breakfast and Late Night Eats awards. Photo: BARtab  

Out of the dozen categories in our dining Besties, only one has a different winner than last year (and many #1s are multi-year repeaters), our diagnosis? Reflux. Is this a sign of blind LGBT loyalty or of an oddly narrow palate?
The winners list also leaves the impression that virtually all San Francisco's best eating opportunities are all located within a half-mile of the Castro. Perhaps it's time we consider moving multi-year winners to a Hungry Hall of Fame to make room for new meat.

Meanwhile, the ranks of old favorites will be thinning of their own accord this year, with two frequent runners up -Sweet Inspiration and Grubstake- having recently announced plans to close up shop (The latter perhaps temporarily, but don't keep your fingers crossed).

Here are your Besties, along with a few "Try it, you'll like it" suggestions for adding a little variety to your diet at similarly modest prices.


Best Breakfast: Orphan Andy's (3991 17th St.)
Runners-up: Stacks (501 Hayes St.), Plow (1299 18th St.)
Orphan Andy's wins again and not just because it was made more famous via a scene in the TV show Looking.
But there's a rare newbie among the breakfast runners-up this year, and while its name is not as ripely poetic as our perennial Best Brunch winner (below), Potrero Hill's Plow (1299 18th St.) suggests both how you'll scarf up their famous lemon ricotta pancakes and how you worked up your hunger the night before.
Try it, you'll like it: Howard's Café (1309 9th Ave.) is as old school as it gets: a dimly lit, cash-only diner with a U-shaped counter. Huge omelettes with home fries and toast go for under $10.


Best Brunch: Squat & Gobble (3600 16th St.)
Runners-up: Dottie's (28 6th St.), Breakfast at Tiffany's (2499 San Bruno Ave.)
It's nice to see folks stepping out of the Castro to try runner-up Breakfast at Tiffany's. But if there were a dry cleaner called Mommie Dearest in Potrero, we'd be there too.
Not to be overlooked is Me & Tasty (3970 17th St.), in the heart of the 'hood, has brunch seven days with lots of creative surprises: Thai-accented pork belly grits, French toast with caramel-coconut sauce, and fried avocado with mint crema.


LEFT: Burger from Super Duper, RIGHT: Pastries from Tartine  

Best Lunch: Super Duper (2304 Market St. and everywhere else)
Runners-up: Café Flore (2298 Market St.), Harvey's (500 Castro St.)
Tasty burgers, fresh French fries, tangy lemonade and free pickles are among the popular menu items at the popular mid-Castro eatery, now with an expanded airy dining area.
Try it, you'll like it: City Counter (115 Sansome St.), the surprisingly fast and affordable FiDi spot is like a Woolworth's luncheonette that rubbed up against Alice Waters.


Best Dessert: Tartine (600 Guerrero St.)
Runners-up: Sweet Inspiration (2239 Market St.), Tout Sweet (Macy's Union Sq.)
This popular favorite may be getting even more fans since the closing of frequent winner Sweet Inspiration.
If you're gonna Tartine, check out their Tartine Manufactury (595 Alabama St.), which offers full restaurant service in addition to the bakery, which shares its building with the beautiful Heath Ceramics showroom and one of SF's better magazine stands.


LEFT: Chow is great, then and now. photo: BARtab RIGHT: GrubHub has got your grub.  

Best Dinner: Chow (215 Church St.)
Runners-up: Firewood Café (4248 18th St.), Finn Town (2251 Market St.)
The longtime favorite serves up classic American food and pastas.
Don't miss: Fiorella (2339 Clement St.) is smartly designed (check out the
wallpaper), moderately priced and serves classy Cal-Italian antipasti, pizza, and pasta.


Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt: Bi-Rite Creamery
Runners-up: Mitchell's Ice Cream, Castro Fountain
Are the long lines worth it? If you're a dessert fan, yes. If standing in line for food is still trending, you're with the 'in' crowd.
Don't miss: Garden Creamery (3566 20th St.) where Hawaiian-born Erin Lang's intense flavors include Butter Mochi Toasted Sesame, Banana Salted Caramel and plenty of delicious non-dairy options.


Best Restaurant Outdoor Patio: Flore (2298 Market St.)
Runners-up: Foreign Cinema, Zeitgeist
With expanded hours, including nightlife events, Flore keeps evolving, while enjoying the central location popular with locals and tourists alike.
Also, Hallelujah! The Patio patio is back, renamed as a tribute to the old Hamburger Mary's (521 Castro St.)


Best Coffee Shop: Philz (549 Castro St. and everywhere)
Runners-up: Peet's (2257 Market St. and everywhere), Dolores Park Café (501 Dolores St.)
Regular, with milk or not, Philz remains a favorite as a social space as well as being popular for their coffee.



Best Late Night Restaurant: Orphan Andy's (3991 17th St.)
Runners-up: Grubstake (1525 Pine St.), DNA Pizza (371 11th St.)
It could be said that hungry late-night patrons aren't picky, but they know what they like, and we love the old-fashioned cozy atmosphere of Orphan Andy's.
After your last bottoms-up (or your next bottom's up), It's Tops is open until 3am Wednesdays through Saturdays (1801 Market St.).



Best Happy Hour Bites: Hi Tops (2247 Market St.)
Runners-up: Nopa (560 Divisadero St.), Azucar Lounge (299 9th St.)
Sportsing! Winning! Whether you're an athletic supporter, a team of celebrating jocks, or you like the mixed crowd, the popular bar's snacks will go great with your favorite beverage and Warriors or Giants game.
For a game change, try the generously extended happy hour at Unicorn (191 Pine St.; 4pm-8pm Mon-Thu, and until 1am on Fridays) for fifteen different $7 snacks including lemon grass mussels, samosas, and furikake fries.



Best Bar Menu: Hi Tops (2247 Market St.)
Runners-up: Harvey's (500 Castro St.), Lookout (3600 16th St.)
Hi Tops' longstanding record in this category beats that of some of our favorite local sports teams. The bacon-beef burger, Buffalo wings and tempting fried foods can be healthfully countered with the Ahi tuna burger and kale Caesar salad.


Best Food Delivery App: GrubHub
Runners-up: Eat24, Caviar
Too tired to go out? Your favorites can be sent to you via this popular phone app.
Looking for something else? Try the wide range of meat specialties available through Grindr.


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