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Paleo friendly restaurants in San Francisco, CA?

by (2977)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:22 PM
Created May 10, 2011 at 11:34 PM

I've figured out a few 'tricks' in The City (see below), but I'd love to find an affordable-but-nice restaurant or even cafe that has selections a paleo could enjoy.

My wife is a "let's go out tonight!" addict. It seems like we're going somewhere several nights a week. I actually hate this - the cost, the food I can't eat, served by people who don't give a shit about who I am (even if the menu says "made with love"), in kitchens I know nothing about, for several hours at a time. Hell.

It was fun, oh, a dozen years ago... If were up to me I'd go out a LOT less and have it be a Special Thing once in a while, something to look forward to. But I learned long ago that to avoid a horrible fight (and end up going out anyway), I need to come up with some appealing options I can enjoy too.

So - any restaurant suggestions?

If I go to a cafe I find that they usually have hard-boiled eggs available, and that works in a pinch. The only restaurants I know are pricey - House of Prime Rib (YUM!) comes to mind, and Incanto looks really good but also is 'up there'... Pacific Cafe has been a favorite forever (omg I went there in my twenties!) but it's getting very expensive too - and I can only drink so much wine while waiting in line (mmm - now I'm thinking of going).

When I'm winging it, I'll sometimes have a salad and/or an egg dish, or try to get a vegetable instead of mashed potatoes. One 'trick' has been at La Corneta, a Taqueria in Glen Park: when getting burritos for the family I can get a 'side' of just meat - and it's pretty good!

What are your 'tricks' in SF? And if you're not in SF what sneaky tricks have you invented to get more paleo while 'out'? Is this two questions??

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805 · September 18, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Have you tried Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park? http://www.cooleatz.com/flea-st-cafe/index.html I been eyeing its for quite sometime.

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7660 · January 03, 2012 at 4:39 AM

+1. The Plant Cafe had an awesome vegan macadamia grapefruit salad that I added a fresh, perfectly seared halibut fillet to. *Yum*

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400 · May 12, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Yeah that's true for the ground ones. I stick to the chunks of lamb if I go.

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3885 · May 12, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Depends on the type of kebab - the ones using any type of mince can have quite a bit. Most Indian kebabs require lots of fat for basting to keep them moist.

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400 · May 11, 2011 at 9:46 PM

How much oil could really be in meat grilled on a kebab?

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 5:12 PM

http://www.meetup.com/NorCal-Paleo/ There was a SF group but it was too small so merged with the NorCal one. I think the Incanto thing will be while I'm out of town (Big Sur! Yay!) but I might try to go later.

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78417 · May 11, 2011 at 4:30 PM

I should add that neither of those places I mention are cheap but they aren't super expensive either (by Bay Area standards). You can come out of Pampas seriously stuffed as you can eat as much of the 16 different types of meat as you like.

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3885 · May 11, 2011 at 10:39 AM

just a word of warning, most Indian places use soybean oil, yes Soybean oil for all sauces and kebabs. I have asked at all the places I have visited. In fact they proudly show me multi gallon cans of it and swear that they DO NOT use animal fat, as it is the demon that CW has made it out to be.

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1160 · May 11, 2011 at 7:34 AM

Yeah. They definitely serve it on the side. Order the gordo plate and hold the rice, beans, and tortilla. Extra meat is 1.50 or so.

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400 · May 11, 2011 at 6:12 AM

San Mateo also has Shabuway which is another hot pot place where they basically give you a bunch of raw kobe beef and veggies, as well as some white rice which you can just skip. Also there is a Brazilian Steakhouse called Espetus Churrascaria where they basically bring all kinds of meat around including heart. I haven't tried it myself but heard it is good if a bit pricey. There may be something similar in SF as well.

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400 · May 11, 2011 at 6:08 AM

Where is the info about the SF paleo meetup? I would love to go.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:36 AM

Good to know - I'm not eating corn flour either, but they might sell their meat on the side. Thanks!

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:34 AM

Fantastic list, Steph! I signed up and will peruse later.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:21 AM

Hehe - I'll takes pictures for you t!

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:20 AM

Kebab - another good idea! I had checked out Naan's Curry once but had no idea what was in the sauces.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:19 AM

You're right - will add to the list (which I should summarize for local folks later!) I worry about the gravies but I bet they have a variety.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:17 AM

Writing those down now... :-)

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:17 AM

Oh yeah - and there's always Hahn's Hibachi for a plate O'Meat cheap. Though you're right about the marinade.

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3315 · May 11, 2011 at 12:39 AM

Some of the traditional Korean BBQ marinades are sweetened by boiling apples, but I'd be surprised if that's still practiced in restaurant kitchens.

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5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:47 PM

and CaveRat, *that* is the meeting you should make it to

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5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:47 PM

oh man, i wanna go w/ you guys.... too bad I'm in the midwest. a friend is getting married soon in SF so i will have to go then!

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5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:46 PM

oh sorry, just noticed you already have Incanto mentioned.

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2977 · May 10, 2011 at 11:45 PM

I think the local Paleo Meetup is going to go there. I probably can't make it (I have yet to make a meeting) but it looks really good!

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:43 PM

maybe the whole pig dinner is now a "leg of beast" dinner... here's their sample menu http://incanto.biz/food-wine/sampler-menu/

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16 Answers

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333 · May 11, 2011 at 6:15 AM

The Plant Cafe, a few Peruvian resaturants (meet and ceviches), Squat & Gobble and the Grove have good salads w/meat

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7660 · January 03, 2012 at 4:39 AM

+1. The Plant Cafe had an awesome vegan macadamia grapefruit salad that I added a fresh, perfectly seared halibut fillet to. *Yum*

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1997 · May 11, 2011 at 12:55 AM
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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:34 AM

Fantastic list, Steph! I signed up and will peruse later.

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3315 · May 11, 2011 at 12:35 AM

Korean food works well if you're not too much of a stickler when it comes to what they put in the marinades. You can order the BBQ meat dishes or the whole fish without the side of rice. My favorite is to order Bi Bim Bap without the rice. A bowl of grilled meat and pickled vegetables topped with a fried egg is pretty much my ideal meal. But the potential for msg and other additives keeps me from doing this most of the time. Also Japchae is made with yam noodles.

For all the reasons you mentioned above, I haven't eaten out much since going strict paleo. I feel like it's too expensive to risk all those variables and end up with only half a dish of food.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:17 AM

Oh yeah - and there's always Hahn's Hibachi for a plate O'Meat cheap. Though you're right about the marinade.

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c
3315 · May 11, 2011 at 12:39 AM

Some of the traditional Korean BBQ marinades are sweetened by boiling apples, but I'd be surprised if that's still practiced in restaurant kitchens.

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5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:40 PM

not sure how affordable it is, but I've always wanted to eat at Incanto in SF. Chris Cosentino loves offal and you'll definitely find it on the menu. Should be plenty of paleo options and maybe some goodies you've never even tried before to test out! If you get enough people together, you can do a whole pig dinner. He also has a very good blog called "Offal Good"

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 5:12 PM

http://www.meetup.com/NorCal-Paleo/ There was a SF group but it was too small so merged with the NorCal one. I think the Incanto thing will be while I'm out of town (Big Sur! Yay!) but I might try to go later.

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400 · May 11, 2011 at 6:08 AM

Where is the info about the SF paleo meetup? I would love to go.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498
2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:21 AM

Hehe - I'll takes pictures for you t!

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:47 PM

and CaveRat, *that* is the meeting you should make it to

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:47 PM

oh man, i wanna go w/ you guys.... too bad I'm in the midwest. a friend is getting married soon in SF so i will have to go then!

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:46 PM

oh sorry, just noticed you already have Incanto mentioned.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498
2977 · May 10, 2011 at 11:45 PM

I think the local Paleo Meetup is going to go there. I probably can't make it (I have yet to make a meeting) but it looks really good!

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5146 · May 10, 2011 at 11:43 PM

maybe the whole pig dinner is now a "leg of beast" dinner... here's their sample menu http://incanto.biz/food-wine/sampler-menu/

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11682 · February 19, 2013 at 5:48 AM

The popular Australian restaurant chain of "Outback" has a little known gluten-free menu! Many of the items there are Paleo. I have to specifically ask for that menu, but it exists!

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10 · January 02, 2012 at 8:35 PM

i recommend super duper burger (grass fed meat!) you can get a bunless lettuce wrapped burger there. i also LOVE hog and rocks they serve bone marrow, duck heart, bacon wrapped oysters. it's paleo heaven. B

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1160 · May 11, 2011 at 3:09 AM

Gordo's Taqueria in Outer Richmond (http://www.yelp.com/biz/gordo-taqueria-san-francisco-2) uses real lard for their carnitas, which are incredible. You can get a triple serving for about 7 or 8 bucks. Tortillas are corn if you're only concerned with avoiding wheat.

There are multiple locations across the Bay.

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1160 · May 11, 2011 at 7:34 AM

Yeah. They definitely serve it on the side. Order the gordo plate and hold the rice, beans, and tortilla. Extra meat is 1.50 or so.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:36 AM

Good to know - I'm not eating corn flour either, but they might sell their meat on the side. Thanks!

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78417 · May 11, 2011 at 12:41 AM

If you are willing to drive 20-30 minutes down to San Mateo or Palo Alto, I have a couple for you.

1) Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot in San Mateo. This is your best place for fresh lamb, which you is brought raw to your table and you cook in a hot pot.

2) Pampas in Palo Alto has a 16 course meat menu (16 varieties of meat cooked on a spit). This is as Paleo as it gets and they serve some offal sometimes. I had chicken hearts as one of my courses.

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805 · September 18, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Have you tried Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park? http://www.cooleatz.com/flea-st-cafe/index.html I been eyeing its for quite sometime.

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78417 · May 11, 2011 at 4:30 PM

I should add that neither of those places I mention are cheap but they aren't super expensive either (by Bay Area standards). You can come out of Pampas seriously stuffed as you can eat as much of the 16 different types of meat as you like.

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400 · May 11, 2011 at 6:12 AM

San Mateo also has Shabuway which is another hot pot place where they basically give you a bunch of raw kobe beef and veggies, as well as some white rice which you can just skip. Also there is a Brazilian Steakhouse called Espetus Churrascaria where they basically bring all kinds of meat around including heart. I haven't tried it myself but heard it is good if a bit pricey. There may be something similar in SF as well.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498
2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:17 AM

Writing those down now... :-)

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2435 · May 11, 2011 at 12:28 AM

I believe San Francisco has a Harry's Hofbrau. They have a cafeteria set-up with lots of meats and salads. Easy to leave off the starches. Runs fairly cheap, too. Usually a meal for 2 with non-alcoholic drinks runs me $25.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:19 AM

You're right - will add to the list (which I should summarize for local folks later!) I worry about the gravies but I bet they have a variety.

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400 · May 10, 2011 at 11:46 PM

You can always go to an Indian Restaurant and have Lamb Boti (kebab) and a salad with raita. I've done this at Urban Curry, not the best place but open until 3am so good for a meal after a night at a club.

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400 · May 12, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Yeah that's true for the ground ones. I stick to the chunks of lamb if I go.

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405
3885 · May 12, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Depends on the type of kebab - the ones using any type of mince can have quite a bit. Most Indian kebabs require lots of fat for basting to keep them moist.

Fff58a1fd1e29d93fd6a25d3fdebbade
400 · May 11, 2011 at 9:46 PM

How much oil could really be in meat grilled on a kebab?

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405
3885 · May 11, 2011 at 10:39 AM

just a word of warning, most Indian places use soybean oil, yes Soybean oil for all sauces and kebabs. I have asked at all the places I have visited. In fact they proudly show me multi gallon cans of it and swear that they DO NOT use animal fat, as it is the demon that CW has made it out to be.

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2977 · May 11, 2011 at 3:20 AM

Kebab - another good idea! I had checked out Naan's Curry once but had no idea what was in the sauces.

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15 · October 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Try Roam Artisan Burgers on Union or Fillmore! You can get a lettuce wrapped grass-fed beef burger with a wide variety of toppings and they've got incredible sweet potato fries. A full meal's around $10

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0 · October 13, 2013 at 6:38 AM

so smug

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8057 · February 19, 2013 at 2:09 AM

NomNomPaleo.com is a foodie blogger who reviews restaurants on her blog. She lives in the South Bay but does come up to SF from time to time.

We're going to Greens for our anniversary dinner next weekend (going to see the Girl with the Pearl exhibit at the De Young, first). I know it's vegetarian, but looking at the menu it seems like I'll still be able to find grain-free food--hopefully it will work out because Saturday nights there is a prix fix menu, so choices are limited. I did the reservation on Open Table, and put in a special request for grain free options. For one night a year I don't worry too much about what oils are used. I'm also LC, but I'll "indulge" in more than the usual "safe starches" if necessary.

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10 · February 19, 2013 at 1:45 AM

Roam!! grass fed, organic...amazing!!!!

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120 · January 03, 2012 at 3:39 AM

Richmond district focused:

Roadside BBQ on Geary and 2nd Ave. I usually get a 1/2 rack of baby back ribs and double veggies (cooked in butter). For sides, they also have sweet potato fries, coleslaw, mixed green salad, etc.

Eats on Clement & 3rd. All the omelettes can come with a mixed green salad. There's a Bacon, Avocado, Tomato omelette. Salads are OK, but I'm assuming that you're able to get a salad w/ meat anywhere.

Layaly on clement & 26th-ish. Mediterranean kebabs. Skip the rice and double up on veggies.

Hard Knox Cafe on Clement & 26th-ish. Awesome fried chicken for your wife or if you're having an "open" meal or whatever. They also have spare ribs, BBQ chicken, blackened catfish on the menu. Also, some paleo-friendly side (collard greens, stewed cabbage, etc.)

Beach Chalet out on Great Highway. A couple of steak entrees, a couple of fish entrees, etc.

Also, Thai food in general, just skip the rice if you're not doing rice. I like Bai Som on Clement the best.

Across the park in the Sunset: Pacific Catch has huuge salads with fish. There's usually a grilled fish as a special, as well.

Cleo's in San Bruno is a Brazilian steakhouse that's cheaper than Espetus in the City. Pricy, but you can basically have an all-meat meal. :)

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0 · August 02, 2011 at 7:50 PM

For Peruvian - Limon Rotisserie, S.Van Ness & Fresca, 3 locations, I go on Fillmore

For Korean BBQ - I go to Brothers on Geary

Burmese - Burma Tea Leaf on Clement at 9th (I get green papaya salad and cashew chicken, may be a little sugar in the chicken sauce, but it's paleo enough for me)

Salads - Cafe Venue in the financial district (loaded venue salad with chicken bacon and avo, prob. my favorite 100% paleo option in sf). Pluto's is ok. Mixt is overrated, but ok.

Beautifull (3 locations: laurel heights, inner sunset, and castro I think) - this place is very paleo friendly, but the food is flat out bland. Still eat here frequently because they have so many paleo options. I get the half chicken with 2 sides and I make them give me salad for both of my sides so I end up with 1/2 chicken and nice sized salad. The turkey meatballs are also legitimately great (but don't feel very lean in my belly)

Home Plate (on Lombard) Great brunch destination. Not really paleo friendly, but very accommodating. I get the roasted chicken omelet with no cheese/toast and a salad instead of hash browns. It is definitely a will power test though, they give everyone house made scones and house made jam with their meals. If you can stay strong this place is great.

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