There’s no shortage of good food in San Francisco. All you need do is avoid obvious tourist traps and eat where the locals eat.
If you ride the F-line all the way to its Castro terminus, you more or less fall into Orphan Andy’s, within yards of the streetcar terminus, where I ate a classic burger and fries for a little over $10, including a properly made pot of English Teatime tea.
Another time I tried the memorably named and nearby Squat & Gobble [http://www.squatandgobble.com] which offered good food (corned beef toasted sandwich) at a very reasonable price served with wit and panache. If I lived in Castro I’d go there for brunch.
I ate Kobe (having first had to ask what it was) at the Market Bar [http://www.marketbar.com], at the magnificent Ferry Terminal on the Embarcadero. Kobe, so Juan Carlo the waiter told me, is a special breed of cattle which the Japanese raise in idle luxury so that the animal does not develop much muscle: apparently, they also massage the animal’s buttocks (while it’s still alive). Once dead it is indeed exceptionally tender.
Wikipedia tells me [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_beef] that Kobe beef is from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, though in the USA it is usually crossbred with Angus to suit the American taste for darker meat.
Market Bar is a splendid lunch venue for people-watching and listening, in my case to a ball-busting lady executive laying into a male colleague in high-pitched staccato: when she left it was, as my Yorkshire friends say, “like t’mill stoppin'”. The restrooms are a long walk across the food hall, however: when I nipped out to take precautions during a kitchen delay, an over-zealous waiter cleared my table and had to lay it again, to his embarrassment.
I also fancied, but did not have time to try, Butterfly [http://www.butterflysf.com] at Pier 33 on the Embarcadero, right next to the Alcatraz Cruise terminal. This is not a recommendation, but a suggested alternative to the perfunctory, cheap and cheerful Alcatraz Landing Café, where I dined with a persistent pigeon that resisted the waitress’s attempts to drive it out with a water-pistol.
My adviser about Italian food in San Francisco, John Rozatti, recommended I eat at the Molinari Delicatessen [http://maps.google.ca/maps/place?oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&q=molinari+deli+san+francisco&fb=1&gl=ca&hq=molinari+deli&hnear=San+Francisco,+CA,+USA&cid=15255183613653254552&z=14] on Columbus Avenue. When I went looking for it, after dark, I missed it because it closes at 5.30pm and I ended up instead people-watching in the front window of Pinocchio [http://www.trattoriapinocchio.com/about.html], eating an excellent fettucine con salmone with a glass of Montepulciano, an attractive red wine I hadn’t previously heard of.
John would no doubt still vote for Molinari: he says, “order a number 8 (Renzo’s Special – request imported meat). You will leave there (1) content and (2) full.” I trust John: he has Italian ancestry and a sister who lives in San Francisco.