Although most locals know where San Francisco’s Nob Hill is, few people can name the actual streets that border this popular neighborhood. Unlike some other regions, Nob Hill fits into a perfect little square whose borders are Broadway, Powell, Bush, and Van Ness streets.
The California Street cable car line is a great way to see Nob Hill in all its glory, but a brisk walk around the region is equally lovely because you can pop into restaurants and watering holes along the way on this Nob Hill Food Tour. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as the hills can be steep, but worth the views from the top.
Begin your culinary walking journey in the afternoon, around 4 pm for happy hour and appetizers and come hungry since you’ll have enough time for dinner and a nightcap. This self-guided Nob Hill Walking Food Tour will take about 3-4 hours.
On this walking food tour, you’ll visit:
- Craftsman and Wolves
- Le Beau Market
- Top of the Mark
- Del Popolo Pizzeria
- The Big 4
Start on Pacific Street between Van Ness and Polk. Here you’ll find a masculine and edgy bakery called Craftman and Wolves. From local bad boy pastry chef, William Werner, Craftmans and Wolves offers up innovative pastries and finger-licking good treats. Grab a cappuccino and a kouign amann, a flaky square-shaped pastry with a crispy sugar-coated exterior and buttery rich interior with a generous dollop of Valrhona dark chocolate ganache. If you’re in the mood for something savory order The Rebel Within, a world famous muffin that’s Werner’s signature pastry. It’s a sausage muffin with green onions, asiago cheese, and a soft cooked egg in the middle. Slice into the warm fragrant muffin and you’ll be delighted to see decadent yellow yolk ooze from the center. Delish! Address: 1643 Pacific Avenue (in between Van Ness and Polk); Phone:(415) 855-1414.
Once you’re feeling energized, walk two blocks up Polk Street to Washington Street. Pull up a bar stool at Amelie, a delightful wine bar that will instantly transport you to the bustling cafes of Paris. The walls are a deep red and the waiters handsome and accented. The wine list is constantly changing, but there’s something for every palate be it a dry French rose or bold Napa cabernet. Most of the wine comes by the glass, so if you’re in the mood for more than one glass you can experiment with different varietals and regions. Order a cheese plate, which comes with a selection of three cheese — I recommend the brillat savarin, manchego, and aged cheddar—accruements like seasonal fruit, honey, nuts, and a linen basket filled with crusty baguette slices accompany the platter. Address: 1754 Polk Street (at Washington); Phone:(415) 292-6916.
Ready to head up the hill? Walk one more block up Polk to Clay Street and then turn left. On Leavenworth you’ll find one of the city’s best corner store delis, Le Beau Market. Le Beau has been serving the fine folks of Nob Hill since 1984 and they’ve got a carefully curated selection of goods. The deli whips up sensational sandwiches and a mean breakfast burrito, but you’re not here for a meal. Instead pursue the shelves for provisions native to the Bay Area. The produce is from Terra Sonoma Produce Company and there’s plenty of snacks from local favorites like Cowgirl Creamery, 4505 Meats, Acme bread, and Columbus Salame. There’s also a unique selection of wine, beer, chocolate, chips, and cheese, so if a picnic is on your agenda any time soon, pick up all the items you need here. Address: 1263 Leavenworth Street (at Clay); Phone:(415) 885-3030.
Continue up the hill and when you hit Taylor Street, turn right. Take in the stunning views of the bay and if the doors are open, run up the stairs to check out beautiful Grace Cathedral. There’s a labyrinth out front and gorgeous stained glass inside the gothic church, so do take ten minutes to explore this piece of history. Turn left on California, walk pass Huntington Park and the Pacific-Union Club, then cross Mason Street to enter the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel. Ride the elevator to the 19th floor and you’ll come out at the restaurant and bar known as the Top of the Mark. You’re literally on the top of Nob Hill here and have unparalleled views of San Francisco’s skyline and both bridges. Get a table in the bar and order a classic cocktail and snack; I’m partial to the thick-cut crunchy housemade potato chips with spicy Cajun buttermilk herb dip. If you’re feeling fancy there’s also torchon de foie gras and caviar on the menu. Both pair perfectly with an icy cold martini or glass of Champagne. Toast to the spectacular views! Address: 999 California Street (at Mason); Phone:(415) 392-3434.
5) Del Popolo
When you’re ready for dinner, walk out of the Mark Hopkins Hotel down Mason street toward Bush. You’re headed to Del Popolo, a happening new pizza place with some of the best pies in town. Del Popolo is a classic SF Cinderella food story. In 2012, Jonathan Darksy opened mobile pizza oven in a retrofitted shipping container on a freight liner truck. The pizza truck was so popular that they opened up a brick-and-mortar restaurant last November that’s already received three stars from the SF Chronicle’s discerning critic, Michael Bauer. The space is centered around the wood-burning oven with a round chef’s counter that surrounds the pizzaiolos at work. Above the oven are shelves and shelves of wood and the grey walls are decorated with portraits of bearded men. Order a couple of antipasti dishes, like the charred Brussels sprouts with turnips and hazelnuts or the wild mushroom ragu with prosciutto and creme fraiche on toast. Then move on to the chewy soft doughy pizza. The toppings are simple and minimal, but the pizza really shines. The winter squash with bacon, rosemary, mascarpone, and green onions is a personal favorite. Address: 855 Bush Street (in between Mason and Taylor); Phone: (415) 589-7940.
6) The Big 4
Why not finish your whirlwind of feasting with a nightcap? Walk out of Del Popolo and up Taylor Street. It’s back up the hill, but the cocktails waiting at the top are worth it. The Big 4 at the Scarlet Huntington Hotel is a beloved industry hangout with expertly crafted cocktails and an old school vibe. The space feels like an old men’s club with dark wood, white tablecloths, green tufted leather chairs, and a piano player on some evenings. Order a classic libation like a Martinez, which predates the martini and consists of gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters, or a traditional Hemingway Daiquiri with fresh grapefruit, aged rum, and lime juice. Sit back, relax, and soak up the old worldly decor. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to another era of San Francisco. Cheers! Address: 1075 California Street (at Taylor); Phone:(415) 771-1140.
Other noteworthy mentions:
*Acquerello serves up handmade pasta dishes in an exclusive and upscale environment. Address: 1722 Sacramento Street (at Polk); Phone:(415) 567-5432.
*Mason Pacific is an excellent neighborhood bistro that has a scrumptious burger and wonderful wine list. Address: 1358 Mason Street (at Pacific); Phone:(415) 374-7185.
*Basik cafe offers locals fuel to power through the day with their acai bowls. Address: 1958 Polk Street (in between Pacific and Jackson); Phone: (415) 655-3283.
Enjoy our San Francisco self-guided Nob Hill Walking Food Tour? Join one of our Mission Food Tours next. Come Eat with Us!