San Francisco’s hottest restaurants and bars: Where Lyft riders are going now

Charley Locke - May 15, 2024

Whether you dream of a crispy carnitas burrito or a steamy bowl of ramen, San Francisco is a foodie’s paradise. We looked through Lyft data to find the spots most visited by riders — to help you explore your city and find your next meal.

The best burrito in San Francisco

San Franciscans love debating which local burrito spot is the best. The following taquerías in the Mission district — San Francisco’s historic Latinx neighborhood — are most beloved by the city’s Lyft riders.

For a burrito to start your day, look no further than Breakfast Little. Opened by a San Francisco native, Andrew Perez, in 2019, the storefront made it through the pandemic to become a new local favorite. Reviewers rave about the breakfast burritos’ satisfying lightness: not too big, not too greasy, just right

If you’re looking for a classic, head to La Taquería, an institution beloved since its opening in 1973. Indeed, FiveThirtyEight, which evaluated 67,391 burrito establishments across the U.S. in 2014, selected La Taquería as its favorite. Pro tip: Order your burrito dorado style, or seared on both sides, for an extra-crispy experience. If you’re lucky, the mariachi band will make an appearance too.

Nothing tops off a night of music and dancing (or staves off a hangover) quite like a fully loaded burrito. Two local favorites to turn to in the wee hours: Taquería Cancún and El Farolito. The chaotic ambience is just part of the vibe. 

Had your fill of carne asada, rice, and beans? Try Señor Sisig, a Filipino fusion chain with three SF locations. They serve up burritos with sisig — a traditional Filipino dish — made from pork, tocino, chicken, or tofu, all with plenty of slow-cooked flavor.

Most popular restaurants

In a city with so many restaurants — Trulia once found SF to be the most restaurant-dense city in America — it can be hard to know where to start. But you can’t go wrong with these classics, which reliably draw in the most Lyft riders. 

Topping the list for most dinnertime rides is a San Francisco landmark: House of Prime Rib, which has been serving tender beef and dry martinis to diners since 1949. It’s the kind of old-school, white-tablecloth restaurant where they take service seriously: The corn-fed prime rib is carved to order tableside.

Another beloved San Francisco fixture makes the shortlist: Original Joe’s. While the original Original Joe’s was founded in 1937, its current iteration opened in the city’s Italian neighborhood, North Beach, in 2012. The menu and the vibe are unpretentious: picture spinach-artichoke dip, creamy shrimp scampi, and seared veal milanese, all while sitting in leather booths arranged around an open kitchen. 

For a mixture of traditional and innovative cuisine, try China Live, which Eater SF described as “a Chinese version of Eataly,” and was its Restaurant of the Year in 2017. The 30,000-square-foot space has food and sundries from across China and Taiwan, including a hyper-seasonal omakase spot; a speakeasy replete with tuxedoed bartenders; an enormous dining hall where you can watch chefs prepare your soup dumplings; and, of course, a gift shop, so you can take some souvenirs home.

For an only–in–San Francisco feel, head to Foreign Cinema. The menu changes daily and offers classic Californian-Mediterranean cuisine, clearly inspired by the farm-to-table movement. Each night, Foreign Cinema projects a film on the courtyard wall. If you time your reservation right, you can finish your Fuji apple and huckleberry crostata dessert just as the credits roll.

Most popular bars

San Francisco has an affinity for the quirky and offbeat, which is reflected in the city’s most popular bars. 

Balboa Cafe, hands-down the most popular bar in San Francisco among Lyft riders, has been continuously operating since it opened as a saloon in 1913. (That’s right — the bar made it through Prohibition and the Covid-19 pandemic.) In 2017, it developed a new house specialty: the Balboa Espressotini, a mix of cold brew and spirits, shaken together in a nitro tank.

If you’re looking to game while you imbibe, head to Emporium Arcade Bar SF, where they offer a long list of draft beers, house cocktails and mocktails, and games galore, including foosball, air hockey, pinball, Dance Dance Revolution, and more. There’s plenty of live entertainment, too, from musical performances to DJ nights to wrestling matches. 

For a different kind of entertainment, head to Madrone Art Bar, home to a legendary San Francisco event: Motown on Mondays, when locals come together to enjoy creative house cocktails and dance the night away. Madrone also regularly hosts art openings, open mics, spoken word, and sketch-drawing classes. 

San Francisco is known for its LGBTQ+ nightlife, and Lyft riders flock to two gay bars in particular, one legendary and one new. El Rio opened in 1978 as a “Brazilian leather gay bar” and has stayed a go-to for the queer community ever since. Come to enjoy a margarita in the shady backyard, take a same-sex salsa class, or hang with the regulars. Over in the Castro, San Francisco’s historic gay neighborhood, Beaux is a more recent favorite, offering up a lauded happy hour, go-go dancers, and drag shows.

Favored by locals

Looking to avoid tourists? These spots primarily draw SF locals. 

Since it opened in historic Chinatown in 2016, the Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s has become a beloved bridge between old and new San Francisco. Chef and founder Brandon Jew grew up eating Cantonese cuisine in nearby restaurants; his recipes are inspired by his grandmother’s Cantonese cooking and the culinary influences of the Bay Area, including sourdough and Meyer lemons.

Tucked away at the northern edge of the Mission, you’ll find Standard Deviant Brewing, beloved for its craft brews, friendly bartenders, and pinball machines. The airy warehouse is a great spot to watch a Warriors game or celebrate a birthday party. The staff are known for being very welcoming, especially Murph and Beans, the canine employees. (Feel free to bring your own dogs too.)

Located in Hayes Valley, at the edge of San Francisco’s theater district, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar is a local pre-show favorite. (Dress smart for your reservation.) Think French bistro food: Fries cooked in duck fat, beef tartare, and sweet potato agnolotti all get rave reviews.

If you walk along Valencia Street, a main thoroughfare in the Mission district, around dinnertime, Beretta is unmissable. You’ll see families and friends enjoying thin-crust pizza; upscale, in-season specialties (like crab arancini and asparagus milanese); and desserts like profiteroles and affogato. It’s worth making a reservation ahead of time — or, if you prefer the spontaneous approach, people-watch at the bar while you wait to be seated.

Half a mile down Valencia is Taishoken, an offshoot of the 1950s vintage Japanese noodle house where they first dipped leftover noodles in broth to invent tsukemen. Today, the son and grandson of one of the original Taishoken founders keep the tradition going.


The San Francisco food scene is ever-changing. Here are the restaurants and bars that are taking off right now

It’s no surprise that diners have flocked to Kin Khao this year; the Union Square eatery has been around since 2014 but recently won a Michelin star. Chef Pim Techamuanvivit serves up traditional Thai recipes with fresh Northern California produce and ingredients — like a housemade green curry made with rabbit meat sourced from a Marin County farm. Its 2023 Michelin review reads, “Expect bold, unapologetic flavors” and “spice levels not for the faint of heart.”

Liholiho Yacht Club has undergone a similar glow-up since its recent Michelin review. The menu draws on Chef Ravi Kapur’s heritage — incorporating flavors from his native Hawaii, China, India, and California — and is heavy on the seafood, with options like swordfish katsu and ocean trout sashimi. (Also shaved pig head with chili-fish sauce, if you’re adventurous.) For the full Liholiho Yacht Club experience, book the Ohana table: a family-style feast for 8 or 9 guests.

Natural wine also seems to be having a moment, as several specialized bars have seen a big uptick in Lyft drop-offs. In the Cow Hollow neighborhood, Roaming Goat offers Mediterranean wines, specializing in vintages from Georgia and Armenia. Pair a glass with some small plates, including stuffed dates, grilled halloumi, and lamb loin kebabs. El Chato is a Spanish-style taverna in the Mission, specializing in Spanish wines and other beverages, including vermouth, sherry, and madeira. Enjoy some pintxos and tapas and try some wines by the glass — or by the “chato,” a smaller glass ideal for tasting. 

One more up-and-comer: Hazie’s. What accounts for its quick rise? Likely its genealogy. The neighborhood corner spot, which opened in Hayes Valley in 2022, is the latest venture from Hat Trick Hospitality, the team behind San Francisco favorites The Brixton and Rambler. The wide-open space and menu encourage a meal shared with many friends; order small plates and try some of their eclectic “shareable drinks,” like the Go Ask Her, a tequila-based cocktail that serves three to four.