Every visitor to San Francisco must eat at least one meal in the city's still-thriving Chinatown; as the name implies, the specialty here in the district's main thoroghfare is the clay-pot cooking that is far more sophisticated than typical Cantonses fare.
In a city that takes fine dining very seriously, one of the most acclaimed of the "nouvelle" high-end restaurants is right in the Castro. It ain't cheap, but the locally sourced, fresh-from-the-farm fare lovingly prepared and gorgeously presented are worth the price — and the wait (make a reservation far in advance).
When in Rome, eat like the Romans do. Which means in San Francisco having at least one vegan meal. Why not kill two birds with one stone and have Mexican as well? Yes, vegan Mexican: Not only can it be done, but done deliciously.
Vegan and health food may be synonymous with San Francisco, but so are sumptuous baked goods. No place embodies the "artisinal" approach to baking than this super-popular hangout, where the coffee is strong enough to wash down pastry treats.