THE KALEJUNKIE DISH: SF HEALTHY-ISH CASUAL EATS
the kalejunkie dish: A GUIDE TO
healthy-ish casual eats
It’s FINALLY here, the long awaited KALEJUNKIE San Francisco healthy-ISH CASUAL food guide!
San Francisco is the mecca for all things food related – it’s a true foodie heaven. We are lucky to have access to all the freshest ingredients, pretty much year-round. Farmers come from all over the Bay Area to showcase their beautiful produce at the farmers markets. If you visit the Ferry Building CUESA Farmers market on a Tuesday morning, there’s a high chance you will see the city’s top chefs trolling the markets in search of the first-of-the season goods to serve up in their restaurants. We like to think we are one step ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to cutting edge food options.
If it’s a foodie heaven, then why is it so hard to find the casual, more healthy-ish spots to eat and drink? When I moved to the Bay Area a few years ago and turned to my pal Google to help me find the best food, coffee, smoothie, and dessert spots for a health & fitness minded gal like myself, I was totally underwhelmed. Of course I’d scan Eater SF and 7x7 to see what was trending, but often these recommendations didn’t have what I was looking for – simple, healthy, casual eats.
So I spent a lot of time exploring and eating everywhere, in order to find my own go-to spots. Say hello to your one-stop-shop for healthy dining in San Francisco. Here you will find all the spots that I visit on the regular. From matcha, to the perfect almond milk latte, the most perfectly thick and delicious smoothie, bone broth, to the OG toast spot, and the best salad around town, don't worry, I’ve got you covered.
If you live in SF or are visiting San Francisco, you know that picnicking in Dolores Park is a must. Finding the perfect foods to take along is easy. Bi-Rite is known for their amazing sandwiches, gourmet food items, and of course, their famous ice cream. But note, if you are going for the ice cream, be prepared to stand in a line; not to worry though, it moves rather quickly.
It's all super casual. In fact, no matter which Bi-Rite grocery store you visit, you will first note how small they are and they have that mom 'n pop vibe going on - I love it. Then you walk inside, and your tastebuds and senses are piqued in every single way possible. The shelves and aisles are packed with local, organic produce, hard to find gourmet food items, and even your every day items, like Simple Mills crackers and Coconut Cult probiotic yogurt. Finally, if you like artisan chocolate and local wines, their selection is just phenomenal.
WHAT TO ORDER
If you are shopping at the grocery stores, just pick up a hand cart and let your imagination run wild. Grab your goods for the picnic and walk over to Dolores Park for an afternoon in the sunshine. On a hot day, don't miss the ICE CREAM. The chocolate flavor is made with TCHO chocolate and the black sesame is the best I've ever had. Dairy free? Yes, there are always a few dairy free options too, so trust me when I tell you, there is something for everyone!
The toast trend started in San Francisco at a coffee shop called Trouble. Trouble is an odd little spot tucked away in windy Ocean Beach. They have since opened locations in Bayview and Oakland, but I always venture back to the original.
The original location is an institution. It’s super tiny and no frills, so don’t think you are walking into the super adorable Toast Society Café that recently opened in Las Vegas, but there is something intriguing and also magical about this place. What you get, in addition to the best darn cup of coffee, a fresh Thai coconut, and the most comforting slice of toast this side of the world, is them. I never find the people there to be particularly friendly; in fact, I sort of feel out of place every time I’m there – maybe because I show up in fresh P.E. Nation workout gear, and they just rolled out of bed. I’m not sure. But whatever it is, just roll with it. They aren’t pretention, they are just them.
WHAT TO ORDER
Coffee. I personally love their almond milk lattes. The coffee is strong, the latte art game is strong, and gets the job done.
Toast. You have two super basic options, neither of which are earth shattering because they are so basic, but they are both so good, they will teleport you into a different time zone. Neither of which fit my definition of “healthy” per se (because I avoid white bread and sugar), but if there is one time in your life that deserves a splurge, it’s here.
Grab yourself a peanut butter + honey slice (my personal fave), or the signature slice, which is butter, cinnamon, and sugar. There are no gluten-free toast options, so don’t even ask.
A Whole Coconut. Don’t forget to grab a young Thai coconut on your way out. They chop it open and serve it with a straw and a spoon for digging out the meat. You will feel really hipster and it makes for a great photo opp OUTSIDE the shop.
The Trifecta (Build Your Own Damn House). Here you get the whole shebang. The coffee. The coconut. The toast.
Ah, The Mill. Where to start about The Mill. The Mill is a collaboration between Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread. Josey makes the best bread I’ve ever tasted, with the finest and freshest ingredients around. It’s always perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft as a pillow on the inside. This is the institution that put Josey on the map, making his famous breads available to the masses. Come here and expect to stand in a line any time of the day, but don’t worry, it moves fast. Order yourself a slice of toast (my personal fave is the Country Bread with house made almond butter and sea salt), any of their fresh pastries from the case, a coffee, maybe a loaf to take home, hand over a $20. While they are preparing your order, get ready to fight for one of the window seats – there are only two, and they go fast.
The space is gorgeous. The décor is modern and minimal. The people aren’t the friendliest bunch, but that is kind of a theme in these hip and trendy spots. In fact, it’s my speculation that hashtag #hipstertoast originated here.
WHAT TO ORDER
Toast. Whatever you do, don’t leave without ordering toast. There are always seasonal toppings, so if you are feeling that on a given day, but all means. I’m more of a classic kinda gal, so I typically go with the Country Bread with house made almond butter and sea salt. Sometimes I’ll add their seasonal jam. In the fall, I’ve seen pumpkin butter as a topping. Other options include house made Nutella, cream cheese, and more.
Gluten Free? No problem. Josey makes a bad ass Adventure Bread. And here’s the recipe, in case you want to make it at home. It’s a dense seed and nut bread that, when toasted, will tantalize your taste buds. When I order the Adventure Bread, I love it with their local butter and sea salt on top, but you can customize and add anything you’d like.
Coffee. I’m a basic girl and when I’m here, I get an almond milk cappucino. I don’t find their espresso shots to be particularly strong, so I find that a latte is just too much milk. But you might beg to differ, so by all means get what your heart pleases!
I was ecstatic when Bluestone Lane opened in San Francisco. I first discovered their gloriousness during my most recent New York trip, and could not believe my eyes when I saw it in SF. The menu has a wide range of breakfast and lunch options, and they are super healthy and delish.
The vibe at Bluestone is laid back. Whenever I stop in, I see the local downtown working crowd hitting up Bluestone for lunch, or an afternoon pick-me-up. It’s totally not pretentious, which means it’s MY KIND OF PLACE.
WHAT TO ORDER
Toast. By all means get the toast. My typical go-to order is the avocado toast, and then I add a poached egg and some crispy bacon on top. All of the ingredients are quality, so you won’t walk out of there feeling like bloated and overly full. The last two times I’ve been, I’ve changed things up and ordered the toast with smashed sweet potato on top and added some smoked salmon. And if you want extra protein, go for a few poached eggs on the side.
Not feeling the toasts? No problem. They have salads, bowls, and so many other options, it’s a definitely must visit if you are in the area, and have a group with differing diet preferences. They can accommodate.
Matcha. I always down my toasts with an almond milk matcha, and it’s solid. Not the best matcha I’ve had, but a super solid option. Feeling like something decadent? Go for the Hot Milo, which is malted chocolate made with steamed whole milk – and yes, they can do it with almond milk, and it’s DIVINE.
I say RUN, don’t walk over to Stonemill Matcha located on Valencia in the Mission. This place opened a few months ago, and it is, hands down, my favorite place in the entire city to grab a matcha. Their food menu? SPECTACULAR. Oh, and their matcha-infused pastries? EVEN MORE SPECTACULAR.
The space is minimal and truly gorgeous. It’s decorated in true Japanese-style, with lots of wide-open space, plants, and plenty of tables to sit down and enjoy your eats/drinks. The place gets busy, but not SO busy that it’s annoying and you can’t find a place to park it. When you walk in, you stand in line and place your order, the whole time glaring at what pastries from the case you are going to order (hint – go with the matcha croissant!)
WHAT TO ORDER
Matcha, obviously. I always order a hot matcha with their oat milk, but the iced matcha is fantastic, too. They do use a touch of cane sweetener, but you can easily tell them to omit or go light.
Chicken Okayu. This is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, period. This is a warm bowl of rice porridge, with nori, egg, pickled wakame, mushrooms, and green onions. It might sound strange if you haven’t eaten anything like this before, but trust me, it’s heaven. It’s also light, so don’t worry, you won’t feel like you ate a heavy meal.
Other fantastic menu items are the Barley & Veggie Bowl, and the Shokupan Toast (matcha butter + jam on top!).
Pastries. Don’t leave without grabbing a matcha infused croissant to go. It’s light and flaky and has the ever so slight taste of matcha. They use real butter and real ingredients, so I’m ok indulging in a croissant once in a while. And don’t forget to take home a matcha cookie. Don’t ask questions, just thank me later.
Project Juice is one of my favorite smoothie shops in San Francisco. When they first opened their retail locations a few years ago, they sold ready-to-go beverages and snacks only (which they still do), and I was hooked from day one.
But now they are even better! They have evolved into SO. MUCH. MORE. At certain Project Juice locations, now you can go and order toast, smoothies with all kinds of extra superfoods to add, fresh made waffles, elixirs, and so much more. My favorite weekday activity is to take a Barry’s Bootcamp class in the Marina, and then walk less than a block over to Project Juice on Chestnut street and refuel with a killer smoothie.
The stores are clean, beautiful, and happy! You can’t help but walk in and feel the happiness. A few locations have outside seating, so pull up a chair and get your chat on with your pals. I’ve also had the pleasure of becoming friends with the owners of Project Juice this past year, and I can tell you that their commitment to quality and freshness is legit. They put so much love into each menu item, that makes me happy to support their business and I want everyone else to, too!
If you can’t get to a Project Juice location, but want to experience Project Juice for yourself, you can order their ready-to-blend smoothies here, and if you use code KALEJUNKIE, you can get 4 smoothies free.
But back to what you need to order during your SF visit…
WHAT TO ORDER
Toast. Their golden toast is currently a fave! It’s served on Bread Srsly gluten free sourdough and topped with turmeric hummus, pickled hummus, avocado mash, micro greens, and black sesame seeds. Don’t leave without getting one of these, I promise you will love me forever.
Acai Bowl. Pick your base and your toppings, and you can’t go wrong. The acai base isn’t too sweet, which is nice, and I always go for the Paleo toppings! Pictured here is their seasonal Watermelon Bowl, and it’s LIFE CHANGING. You can taste summer in your mouth!
Smoothies. You legit can’t go wrong with any of their smoothies. My current obsession is the Blue Moon; it is made with homemade almond milk, blue majik (a fabulous superfood!), coconut meat, cashews, dates, and vanilla. It tastes like a vanilla milkshake, and I often times add collagen for an extra protein boost.
Cashew Mylk. Don’t leave without grabbing a cashew mylk on your way out. I always have about 3-4 bottles in my fridge at any one time, because my husband steals (I mean DRINKS) them every time I turn around. The creaminess factor is unreal and it’s hands down the best I’ve found in the Bay Area.
Native Co is a super solid spot for lunch in downtown SF. Like Asha Teahouse, it isn’t super convenient to get to if you are driving a car, though there are parking lots nearby, so don’t let that deter you. Native caters more to the working crowd searching for the healthiest and freshest meals in the city. You can walk up to the case and pick up a ready made salad, some veggie spring rolls, and juice to go, or you can order a meal off the menu and they will make it while you wait and call your number when it’s ready. It’s also super easy to cater to almost any diet here, whether Vegan, Paleo, etc. I also love that it’s a woman owned business, and I’m ALL about women supporting women!
The décor is simple and beautiful, and you can leave with a full and happy belly. Note, I’ve been known to put my salad bowl on the floor for my photos because I love the cement flooring.
WHAT TO ORDER
Smoothies. If you are a matcha person, go with the Matcha.com; it’s spinach, matcha, mint, banana, dates, and coconut water. It’s super thick and creamy and the matcha taste is not overpowering. If you aren’t a matcha person, no probs. Another fave is the Smooth Lavendator, which is banana, date, lavender-infused coconut milk, and coconut water. Oh, and don’t forget about the Sunshake, that’s my toddler’s fave, and it’s nut-free!
Salads. Their toasts and soups are always a solid choice, but when I come here, I come for a nice big bowl of greens. My standard is the Native Salad (baby lettuces, herbs, beets, pickled red onion, avocado, hard boiled egg, crispy quinoa, and mustard lemon dressing. If I’m super hungry, I’ll add some Mary’s chicken.
Ahhh, where to start with Jane? There are two locations, one on Larkin Street and the other one on Fillmore, both with equally amazing food, but the location on Fillmore is my favorite. It’s in the heart of Pacific Heights, and you can get some breakfast or lunch and then walk up and down the street and window shop. And, if you haven’t been to Credo Beauty, my favorite non-toxic skincare store, it’s right across the street from Jane on Fillmore, so that’s another reason to visit that location.
This is no doubt a trendy and popular spot, and they are small. So my recommendation is to go at slightly off-peak hours so you can avoid the ungodly lines and snag a table. I’ve made the mistake at going right at 12 pm for lunch and the line was out the door, couldn’t find a table, and then stood there like an ass with my plate of toast in my hand and no where to sit; so take my advice.
WHAT TO ORDER
You really can’t go wrong with your order here, but I’m a creature of habit and go for the same 2-3 things every time I go.
Warm Quinoa Bowl. Whether you go for breakfast or lunch, I am in love with the Warm Quinoa Bowl! The ingredients are simple: quinoa, roasted brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and kale, and I always have them add a soft-boiled egg on top. Make sure to do that, because when you cut open that yolk and mix it all in with the quinoa, you might as well have died and gone to heaven.
The Cobb. Who doesn’t love a good old classic Cobb Salad? I do! This one is simple, but bursting with flavor. The ingredients? Just romaine lettuce, roasted chicken, tomato, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, hard boiled egg, tossed in a red wine vinaigrette. I don’t get the cheese because I’m not a cheese person, and honestly, there are so many flavors going on, you really don’t even need it.
The Green Queen. Looking for a salad? My go-to salad here is the Green Queen, because yes, it has lots of GREEN! The ingredients are simple: arugula, quinoa, cauliflower, asparagus, snap peas, mint, soft egg, tossed in a sorrel vinaigrette. It’s light, fresh, and that mint takes it to the next level.
Toast. I know I have a whole category dedicated to toast, but I always think of Jane as more of a lunch spot, so just bear with me. But let me tell you something, Jane is home to the best avocado toast in the city. The ingredients are simple, like everything else on their menu: just avocado, cracked black pepper, poached egg, pickled shallot and jalapeño. It’s large and in charge, beyond gorgeous, and tastes amazing. They do have a gluten free bread that you can ask to substitute, but if you don’t need to, don’t touch a single thing!
You guys know that my obsession with bone broth is REAL. And there's only one place worth mentioning in SF that deserves your attention - and that's Belcampo. Belcampo is a meat market, with all locally sourced, organic, grass fed and finished meats, a restaurant, and gourmet store all in one. They also happen to have a Bone Broth Bar, which is not to be missed.
It's all super casual. Walk in and head straight to the meat counter to place an order for the best meats in town, or grab a seat at the restaurant and order a burger. Or just make yourself a cup of bone broth and sip it while scanning the store for all the chocolates and gourmet goodies to take home.
WHAT TO ORDER
Bone Broth. I drink bone broth every single day, and when I can, I always drink Belcampo bone broth. Their broth is nice and thick and gelatinous, the way bone broth should be. It's slow simmered for over 24 hours, and it's hard to describe other than to say it's HEAVENLY. You can add a variety of salts and condiments to alter to your taste buds, but I like it plain.
The Belcampo Burger. Note, you can also get a Keto Burger as well, but I like to get the Belcampo Burger. The beef here is unlike any beef you've tried elsewhere, and be sure to order a side of fries. They are made with duck tallow, and they are perfectly crispy and perfectly salty. This, my friends, is real food, made with real ingredients. You won't find canola oil here!
Nourish Café is a wonderful little breakfast, lunch and smoothie spot in San Francisco. The entire menu is plant-based, and they have amazing salads, juices, smoothies, sandwiches, healthy baked goods (their cookies are OMG-good!), desserts, soups, and more. The menu is 100% organic and made from scratch with whole, fresh foods and ingredients that are sourced from local farms and purveyors. There are now two locations, one on 6th Ave, and the newest one on Hyde. They are tiny and no frills, but please – don’t judge a book by its cover. These gems have some of the best healthy eats in the city. It’s also a woman-owned business, which makes me OH. SO. HAPPY.
These are casual spots. You order at the counter, then go find a seat, and they will bring over your food. I like to go during off peak times to avoid the lines and so I can find a seat easily. It’s also the perfect spot to meet a friend after a workout. Parking can be tough at both locations, but just be patient and the parking gods will eventually answer your prayers.
WHAT TO ORDER
The Nourish Bowl. They have a great selection of large salads on the menu and really you can’t go wrong no matter what you order. But my favorite bowl is The Nourish Bowl. What makes it so amazing? The simplicity of the ingredients all mixed together in the most tasty combination of flavors – it’s quinoa, yams, avocado, sprouts, hummus, cucumber, mixed greens, tomatoes, beet sauerkraut, sunflower seeds, with an oil- free creamy dill hemp dressing poured on top. It’s legit amazing.
Cookies. The best healthy chocolate chip cookies in San Francisco can be found here. Yes, each cookie is a whopping $5, but it’s big, dense, moist, and will transport you to heaven – it’s that good. The ingredients are super clean, and if you know me, you know I’m the KWEEN of baking my own cookies, but these are unbeatable and even I can’t replicate them!
Souvla is one of my favorite places in San Francisco. In fact, when ever someone asks me where they can grab a casual lunch, I ALWAYS say Souvla. Souvla is located in Hayes Valley, and there is another location opening soon in the Marina. It’s a Greek inspired restaurant with locally sourced ingredients and the best salads, pita sandwiches, fries, and yogurt this side of the country. Exaggerating much? Maybe, but I love it. They can also customize a salad to make it dairy free, and if you are vegan, you can replace any of the meats with their delish sweet potatoes, so do that.
The décor at Souvla is adorable. You place your order at the counter and then go find a seat. I like to sit at the bar, watching the rotisserie chickens, but that’s just me.
WHAT TO ORDER
The Chicken or the Veg. There are four main course items to choose from on the menu–pork, chicken, lamb, and veg, and once you’ve decided on your protein, you then choose between having it made into a sandwich (the meat and veggies stuffed in the homemade flatbread) or into a salad. I always go for the Chicken salad or the Veg salad. The best part of all this is that you can customize and ask them to withhold items – I love accommodating places, don’t you?
Greek Fries. These fries are the best French fries this side of town. They are made with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and sprinkled with Greek cheese on top, but don’t worry, if you don’t do dairy, you can hold the cheese. But what ever you do, don’t forget to order the fries.
Frozen Greek Yogurt. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Yes, it’s made with dairy, so if you are lactose intolerant, it’s worth taking a digestive enzyme so you can enjoy this treat. There are many toppings to choose from, I always go with the sour cherry compote. It’s also worth mentioning that the yogurt isn’t too sweet to begin with, so don’t worry about your body going into sugar shock—thank gawd.
If you make your way to Hayes Valley, make sure to stop at Little Gem. Little Gem is hands down, one of my all-time favorite places in the city. It’s casual enough to stop in wearing your workout clothes, and at the same time, you can clean up a little (i.e., get out of your leggings) and head over for date night. Everything is locally sourced, free of additives, preservatives, and GLUTEN-FREE. Yes, you read that right. The entire menu is gluten-free! You don’t need reservations, but if you are going at night, then it’s a good idea to make them just in case.
It’s casual, modern, and “understated trendy”. When you walk in, you will see a beautiful bar, so plop on down and order yourself a glass of wine. Then meander on over to a table for the full Little Gem experience. The staff is always super kind, informative, and willing to make any and all adjustments to cater to specific dietary needs.
WHAT TO ORDER
The question here is more like, what shouldn’t you order! You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but my favorites are:
Bibimbop Bowl. I get this 99% of the time. It’s a big bowl of seasonal veggies, brown rice, chili garlic sauce, and a fried egg – I also add salmon tartare on top, as well as an extra fried egg when I’m feeling extra hungry.
Spiced Hummus with NON Bread. They make their hummus in house, with the most decadent and chewy gluten-free flatbread around. It’s a must-order FO SHO!
If you are hanging around in the Mission and looking for a strong cup of joe and the most beautiful pastries you’ve ever seen (made with real ingredients), make sure to stop in at Craftsman & Wolves and stay for a while. I like to go during off peak hours and bring my laptop; they have free wifi, and it’s nice to get things done while people watching. This is the official home of the “REBEL WITHIN.” If you don’t know what that is, you are about to find out.
The vibe is cool. The space is modern and edgy, and the selection of croissants, pastries, and baked goods is second to none. I kid you not, they look like pieces of art.
WHAT TO ORDER
The Rebel Within. The Rebel Within is a muffin made with asiago cheese, local sausage, green onion, and a soft cooked egg. When you slice it in half, yeah...it’s an orgasm in your mouth. Get ready for it. I never feel guilty about eating decadent foods like this once in a while, and that’s because they are made with real, quality ingredients. No faux shit here.
Oh, As Quoted. This place is just so pretty, and there's really no other way to describe it. It's located in the Presidio Heights, on Sacramento Street, tucked discreetly among a few fashion boutiques, and directly across the street from Mighty Pilates. So what I usually do is hit up a pilates class, and then walk over to As Quoted to refuel.
The decor is pristine and white, and trust me when I tell you, there are a lot of mamas pushing strollers and enjoying mommy dates with other moms. Heck, when I was home on maternity leave, this was my all-time favorite place to come and hang with other mamas, because a post partum mom needs two things: bone broth and a nutritious meal, both of which this place offers.
If that wasn't enough to convince you to check out this place, the entire menu is gluten free. Therefore, if you have a gluten allergy or are simply looking to avoid the bloat, this is your place!
What to Order
Bone Broth. There is something special about this broth. It's creamy, thick, perfectly salty, filled with plenty of chives, and it's OH. SO. COMFORTING. It's slow simmered for over 48 hours, so you know it's got to me good. Sure, it's pricey at over $5 / cup, but it's worth every penny, trust me.
Toast. My favorite toast on the menu is the "Breakfast" toast. It's a thick piece of their gluten-free bread topped with pasture raised bacon, greens, pasture raised poached egg, just mayo, chives, and shallot vinaigrette. I'm not a mayo person or a just mayo person, so I just omit it all together.
They also have a delicious Beet Latte that I hear is pretty darn delish too.
If you've been in San Francisco for any length of time, you might be wondering WHY and HOW Mixt made it into the KALEJUNKIE Healthy-ish SF Guide. Not because it's not healthy, it is - but because it's a chain, and typically chain restaurants don't have the highest quality ingredients, they lack attention to detail, and let's be honest, they rarely offer anything special or leave a lasting impression. And to be totally honest, back in my days of practicing law, I used to hit up Mixt every single day, stand in a long line, and bring my salad back to my desk and plow through it. I didn't think Mixt was special; but to their credit, I was so miserable in my career, I wasn’t tasting the food I was eating anyway.
BUT, let's fast forward here. Over the last year or so, this place has done a complete 180, and I am in AWE. Sure, you can still be a busy working person and come here for the convenience factor, but they have really upped their offerings. They craft their menus around what’s fresh in season. They don't just serve salads. They serve innovative (AKA, NOT BORING) salads, sandwiches and grain bowls. And no matter what "diet" you follow, whether vegan, paleo, keto, pescatarian, Whole30, or what not, this place can accommodate your specific needs, and they do it with a smile on their face. And finally, I love their mission to make healthy eating options more accessible for everyone.
The vibe depends on the location. Some locations cater more to the working crowd - e.g., stand in line, walk up to the counter, order your meal, and be on your way. Then there are other locations, with lots of open seating, so sit down and stay a while! They recently opened their location in the Mission, and the space is gorgeous. The people that work there are always friendly and happy to tell you what the ingredients are in any dish (and trust me, I can get annoying sometimes, but they never make me feel that way). They also don't give me the stink eye when I ask for my food to be prepared "extra pretty" so I can snap a pic for the 'gram, because #priorities, everyone, priorities. And finally, they aren't stingy when it comes to their portion sizes. And that’s important to me, because I like to eat, and I like to get my money's worth. I live closest to the Marina/Cow Hollow location, so you can find me there at least 2x per week, either lunching with a friend, or bringing home dinner for the family. Anyone want to join me?
What to Order
DIY Salad. Some days I don't feel like thinking, and that's when I go for a salad straight off their menu. One of my favorites is the Orchard Salad, which is a mix of kale, mixt greens, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, seasonal apple, sharp cheddar, avocado, toasted almonds, savory herbs, and balsamic vinaigrette. Other days I'm feeling picky (i.e. most of the time) and I want to pick every single ingredient, so on those days I build a DIY salad around all their seasonal veggies and the proteins I’m feeling that day.
Market Plates. The market plates are my FAVORITE. They are warm. They give me all the FEELS. My typical go-to plate is the grilled broccoli with lemon and chili flakes, either the butternut squash mash or seasonal quinoa, and for protein, I go with their incredible steelhead or flat iron steak. Last time I was there, they added a cauliflower mash with parmesan, and although I didn't try it, you better believe I will next time.
Drinks. They serve kombucha and beer on tap, and wine by the glass. Therefore, when I bring the fam for a casual dinner, mom and dad are happy to have an adult drink and somewhat feel like we had a big night on the town. I mean not really, but you parents feel me, yes?
Asha Teahouse is located in the Financial District of San Francisco and if you are driving in this area, parking can be a real pain. So take an Uber if possible, or otherwise just find a nearby parking garage and suck it up. Because good matcha is worth the price.
Asha is a tiny little hole in the wall spot, so don’t come here expecting all the frills of some trendy SF spot. But walk inside and it’s legit the cutest place ever, and for a second you might even feel like you are in Japan. You’ll see people hand whisking matcha (the way it should be done), and everyone from gals like me walking in after a sweaty workout, to people dressed to the nines in fancy suits and dresses. There are just a few coveted tables, so you’ll be lucky if you snag one, so it’s best to grab your drink to go and walk around Union Square taking pictures of it.
WHAT TO ORDER
Cold Matcha. Their signature menu item is their matcha latte over ice. I always get one with almond milk and ask for it to be lightly sweetened. Then I proceed directly outside the storefront and hold my hand up and take a picture of my iced matcha latte and post it immediately on Instagram. You know you’ll be doing that too.
Samovar is not new to San Francisco, but their new Tea & Chai Lounge on Fillmore in Lower Pac Heights is, and it's FANTASTIC. This location is a tiny, and seating is limited. I like to think of it as the place where I can run in, place my order, and take it to go. They also have a limited selection of small bites if you are so inclined, but the brews are the main attraction here.
Note, Samovar has two full-service, restaurant locations in the city, one at Yerba Buena, and the other in the Mission district. So if you are in the mood to sit down, eat some yummies, by all means check out the restaurants! They both have a zen-like atmosphere and you will walk out feeling stress-free, guaranteed!
The décor is simple at the Tea & Chai lounge is simple and tasteful. While you wait in line, you can not only see the big steel pots of chai and golden milks, but you can smell them. It's just delightful.
WHAT TO ORDER
Turmeric Golden Milk. The spice factor is unreal, and for once, someone knows how to make a real Chai in this city. Don't miss it. You can get this with almond milk. My second favorite choice here is the Masala Chai. They do have Matcha here as well, but I've ordered it three times, and it's underwhelming. What ever you do, don't leave without the Turmeric Golden Milk.