5 Great Places to Eat in Hayes Valley, SF

Lucky me! My boyfriend, Sam, recently moved to Hayes Valley and since I’m over quite often, I’ve gotten to eat my way around the foodridden neighborhood.

Here are 5 places I highly recommend if you’re wandering around in this area:

DOMO SUSHI 

511 Laguna St
San Francisco, CA 94102

This sushi joint is a gem on Laguna. Seating is lined against the wall and bar and there are some seats outside. I would recommend coming a little earlier to get a good seat because the place can fill up quickly. We ordered three items: the Domo roll, the Dragon roll, and the fried octopus. I thought it was pretty phenomenal. Since I’m not a huge sushi fan, it takes a lot for me to give my approval. They also have Japanese sake, which would be a good companion on a Friday night.

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CHEZ MAMAN

1401 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94107 

I’m a brunch babe. Why? I love the concept of combining breakfast and lunch, so you can have a pig-out session in one go. When Sam’s friends came to visit during Comedyfest, we had brunch at Chez Maman, which is a French creperie and restaurant. Brunch there is well within $12-14 range.With over 1700 reviews on Yelp and an average rating of 4.5, Chez Maman is killing it on the food reviewing platform. That speaks volumes within itself.

I ordered the chicken apple sausage omelette, which came with tomatoes, bell peppers, and jack cheese. On the side, it was salad with vinaigrette and salt seasoned potatoes. Everything was delicious and flavorful with each bite. They also sell crepes and paninis for brunch, while at night, they have burgers, bass, steak, french onion soup, veal, escargot, and moules frites (mussels and fries).

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MAZZAT

501 Fell St
San Francisco, CA 94102

A Mazzat platter is the way to go! You are able to choose 3 cold and 3 hot Mazzat. However, if you choose this option, everyone at the table has to get it and it’s $20 per person. I honestly don’t remember which options we chose, but they were all delicious. If you need help choosing, ask the waitress there. The staff is helpful and can give you the best options, which is basically what we did since we had no idea what we were doing. The restaurant is Lebanese/ Mediterranean styled, so there’s a lot of hummus, olives, olive oil, nuts, and cheese. The pita bread was also free, so you could keep asking for more.

I would try and go earlier than the 6-7 pm crowd since it’s a popular place. We went around 6 pm and still had to wait a good 15 minutes to get a seat for three people.

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SOUVLA

517 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102

I’ve walked past this restaurant multiple times and it has always been packed. People are always lining up and chatting outdoors because it’s a popular joint. I finally had the chance to try it on a Wednesday morning around 11 am, where there were only 3-4 other people ordering food. The place is cute and quaint, with grey and white high tables and chairs. There’s also a rotisserie oven that bakes the chicken in front of you–they cook it for 1.5 hours.

They sell Mediterranean and Greek styled foods, which I’m particularly fond of. I ordered the chicken sandwich with additional fries ($0.50), which has fennel, navel oranges, pickled red onion, pea shoots, and mizithra cheese. It was savory and all the taste elements blended together well. I only wish they had some sort of sauce I could dip it in. Next time, I think I’ll try the greek yogurt, which is something everyone on Yelp has raved about.

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SMITTEN ICE CREAM

432 Octavia St
Ste 1A
San Francisco, CA 94102

Like an average 5 year old, I scream for ice cream. How can anything possibly taste this good? I am straight smitten with this ice cream brand. Nestled in the neighborhood of Hayes Valley, Smitten Ice Cream’s store is similar to the likes of a bungalow. They sell interesting flavors, ranging from Blueberry Lavender, Almond and Coconut Macaroon, Lemon Gingersnap (seasonal), Brown Sugar with Cinnamon Shortbread, and much more. I settled for Cookie Dough and Pretzels & Chocolate Chip, the best one in my opinion.

The story behind Smitten is inspiring. The owner, Robyn, Sue Fisher, used to drag around a wagon, making ice cream with liquid nitrogen in a machine powered by a battery pack she built out of an old motorcycle battery. Talk about entrepreneurship! With liquid nitrogen, she’s able to produce the soft, creamy result that everyone loves about Smitten. I highly recommend trying Smitten Ice Cream and sitting in the grassy area outside. A lot of locals hang out in that area or bring their puppers over to play.

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