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Bestie Dining :: Your Fave Places to Eat, Drink and Be, Mary

by Jim Gladstone

Orphan Andy's winner of Best Breakfast and Best Late Night Restaurant
Orphan Andy's winner of Best Breakfast and Best Late Night Restaurant  

What is San Francisco famous for? Ask anywhere in the world and among the answers, you're sure to hear "queers" and "cuisine." And yet, here in Bestie Land, it seems that rarely the two shall meet. Perhaps the voting process has been gummed up by gerrymandering. Not a one of our winners falls outside a tiny one-mile Castro radius.

There's no shame in digging into hearty booze-absorbing grub in the Gayborhood, but in addition to our Besties, we're serving up some "Test"-ies, spots worth trying a little outside your comfort food zone (but still in the modest price range of the winners).


Best Breakfast: Orphan Andy's (3991 17th St.)

Runner up: Stacks

Little OA's deserves a prize this year and every year; not necessarily for serving the best breakfast, but for serving a solid rendition -along with lunch and dinner- around the clock. For a city teeming with nightlife and folks on flexible schedules, San Francisco's dearth of late night and 24-hour options is flat-out disgraceful. And Orphan Andy's is a saving grace. Also: Patty melts and people-watching.

Testie: Devil's Teeth Baking Company (3876 Noriega): Two scrambled eggs, pepperjack, bacon, avocado, and lemon-garlic aioli on a home-baked biscuit the size of a toddler's head, $6.75. Also: Cute surfers.


Best Brunch: Squat & Gobble (3600 16th St.)

Runner up: Dottie's (28 6th St.)

Holy crepe! It's a filling, functional choice with a name made to sell t-shirts. That said, in a city where making salad often appears to require tweezers, this is one spot where a salad makes an ample meal in itself.

Testie: Dragon Beaux (5700 Geary St.) The best dim sum in town, served in snazzy modern dining rooms.


Best Lunch: Cafe Flore (2298 Market St.)

Runner up: Super Duper (2304 Market St. and everywhere else)

Over the past few years, Cafe Flore has gone through ownership shuffles, menu reorgs, and noticeable price hikes. And yet, its ideal location, sunny patio, and town-square ambience have helped it maintain an irresistible lure. Who knows what's next though? The new gay owners have floated plans to revamp it as a marijuana-infused tapas joint. Cafe Weed?


Best Dinner: Chow (215 Church St.)

Runner up: Firewood Cafe (4248 18th St.)

Chow brings consistent, house-made quality to a surprisingly wide range of menu items, making it a reliable place to become a regular. The lamb burger with yogurt, mint, and tzatziki is super satisfying and most salads are offered in three sizes (so you can bring mama bear and baby bear along).

Testie: Brenda's Meat & Three (919 Divisadero) Choose your meat dish from the blackboard specials (fried chicken, barbecued brisket, blackened snapper), then gussy it up with your choice of three phenomenal sides from a huge roster, including cauliflower gratin, gumbo, greens, and cornbread stuffing. You will not leave hungry.


Best Dessert: Tartine Bakery (600 Guerrero St.)

Runner up, close second: Sweet Inspiration (2239 Market St.)

It's tough to argue with Tartine's mouth-puckering lemon bars, distinctive chocolate salted rye cookies, and brioche bread pudding. The always epic lines however, can turn their famous morning buns into afternoon ones.

Testie: b. patisserie (2821 California St.) Two words: Kouign Amman. One explanation: A sweet, muffinesque butterbomb with origins in Brittany; think crispy, carmelized croissant. Also: Lines here too.


Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt: Bi-Rite Creamery (3692 18th St.; 550 Divisadero St.)

Runner up: Mitchell's Ice Cream (688 San Jose Ave.)

Yup. We're good with this one! Double scoop of salted caramel and roasted banana please. What the heck, throw in a side of peanut butter soft serve (generally available Fridays only).

Testie: Shakedown (835 Geary St.) Ridiculously under the radar, this Wonka-worthy ice cream kitchen comes up with genius flavors like pistachio-studded Meyer lemon and Jacker Crack: popcorn flavored ice cream swirled with dulce de leche and peanut brittle bits.


Best Outdoor Patio: Cafe Flore

Runner up: Zeitgeist

Testie: At The Ramp (855 Terry Francois St.), it's hard not to hum a few bars of "Dock of the Bay" as you sit in the sun with a cold beer and a platter of oysters.


Best Coffee Shop: Philz (549 Castro St., et. al.)

Runner up: Peet's (2257 Market, ad infinitum)

Tenacious Philz has somehow grown stronger in the wake of the green mermaid, opening more locations for its pour-over wake-up calls. Philz a need for local product in a Starbucks world.


Best Late Night Restaurant: Orphan Andy's (see Breakfast)

Three-to-one over runners-up DNA Pizza and Grubstake

Testie: Toyose (3814 Noriega, open until 2AM daily) a cheerful, gabby labyrinth of Korean-speaking college students and in-the-know others. Order wings and kim chee fried rice.


Best Bar Menu: Hi Tops (2247 Market St.)

Close second: Harvey's (500 Castro St.)

Nearby third: The Lookout (3600 16th St.)

Pulled pork nachos with the Niners. Pork chop on a stick with the Giants. Warm soft pretzel with the Warriors. Score!


Best Happy Hour Bites: Hi Tops (See Bar Menu)

Two-to-one over runners-up Azucar Lounge and Nopa


Best Food Delivery App: GrubHub

Runner up: Eat24

Your cubbard is bare and your cooking skills nary worth mentioning? These apps help you get fed, delivery-style.