In the course of doing this series, we’ve discovered some revelatory things about the social media habits of diners in three major American cities:
• Angelenos love trashy vodka punch bowls
• Chicagoans are bonafide comfort-food enthusiasts
Recently, we dug into the geotags of San Francisco, hoping to unearth some truths about the dining scene in the West Coast’s most European-like metropolis.
When it comes to the food, we wonder: Where do notable S.F. institutions like Ghirardelli and Tartine rank? Will one of the best burritos in the world, La Taquería, crack the top-5? Is the list dominated by tourist attractions and Silicon Valley employee haunts, or the dive-y established restaurants that more closely mirror San Francisco’s pre-tech past?
To get some answers, we again teamed up with MyFab5 to attempt a bit of semi-scientific analysis and uncover the 20 most-Instagrammed dishes in San Francisco, just as we did to determine NYC’s, L.A.’s, and Chicago’s favorites. Here’s the breakdown:
- We used data provided by MyFab5 to find out which restaurants had the most food-related Instagrams over the 365 days.
- We found the restaurant’s geotag for its most well-known San Francisco location, then looked at the photos to see which dish drives the most ‘grams (sample size: ~100). In most cases, the star of the show was pretty obvious.
- We ranked each dish’s popularity based upon MyFab5’s ranking of the restaurant where it’s served.
Here’s what we found out about what food San Francisco ‘grams the most.
20. “Everything” Plancha Bread at Outerlands
Let’s get this out of the way: San Francisco, more than the other cities whose dishes we’ve documented, loves to brunch. And if a San Franciscan chef is going to recommend a brunch spot, more than likely it’ll be Outerlands—the restaurant’s “everything” plancha bread being a big reason why.
19. The Snowy Plover at Andytown Coffee Roasters
Andytown’s the Snowy Plover is more signature drink than it is gimmicky beverage. The Outer Sunset coffee spot combines sparkling water and ice with two shots of espresso and brown sugar to create it, which lends to a surprisingly photogenic cold treat.
Oh, OK. #snowyplover A photo posted by A.B. Heimlich (@kokomobo) on
18. Millionaire’s Bacon at Sweet Maple
Sweet Maple’s a brunch spot, so Instagrammers took photos of the restaurant’s nearly endless menu. Its thick-cut millionaire’s bacon, however, was the one constant in every photo.
17. Ube Ice Cream at Mitchell’s
When you offer a purple-colored, out-of-left-field ice cream flavor like ube (“purple yam”), it’s bound to be a social-media star.
Halo there, Mitchell. #halohalo #ubeicecream #mitchellsicecream #sfeats #chublife #thumbsup #tbt A photo posted by Matthew Tan (@suntannedmatt) on
16. Latte at Saint Frank Coffee
Word of warning: Get used to lots of coffee appearing on this list. It’s almost as if locals survive solely on the caffeinated beverage based off the amount they Instagram it. Saint Frank’s latte is just the first of many.
15. Prime Rib at House of Prime Rib
Think of Nob Hill’s House of Prime Rib like the Peter Luger of San Francisco: the O.G. paragon for amazing steak in the city.
Living my life like its golden! #lastfewweeks #3rdtrimester #hopr #sanfrancisco #sf #mostamazing #mostdelishmeal #expecting #pregnantlife #houseofprimerib #meatlover A photo posted by Mary Sem DiRuocco (@merrsem) on
14. Green Tea Ice Cream Crepe at Belly Good Cafe & Crepes
Super-cute Japanese-influenced sweets—that’s all there is to Belly Good Cafe & Crepes.
13. Ribeye Omurice at Kitchen Story
Kitchen Story’s Ribeye Omurice is the perfect breakfast/brunch item: It essentially wraps up everything you could ever want in a dish, including ribeye steak, jasmine rice, eggs, and veggies, and comes topped with sauce. Also, its location lends itself to being a rich fuccboi brunch haven on weekends.
Brunching and munching our way through San Francisco. A photo posted by Jen Chin (@jenchin) on
12. The Earthquake at Ghirardelli
It’s the most extravagant-looking sundae at the world’s O.G. Ghirardelli shop. The Earthquake was tailor-made for the ‘Gram.
11. Margherita Pizza at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
Tony Gemignani creates some of the best pizza in all of Northern California, so his pizzeria off Stockton Street has become a mecca for those seeking A+ ‘za in the Bay Area. His award-winning (and delicious-looking) margherita is the photogenic stand-out.
Only serve 73 per day…. This is one of the 73 ! Haha A photo posted by Alexandra Yip (@alexandraykp) on
10. Chef’s Tasting at Dandelion Chocolate
When you want to spend an unreasonable amount of money for artisanal chocolate, Dandelion is your spot.
9. Dungeness Crab at Crab House at Pier 39
Big-ass crabs at a restaurant that thrives off foot traffic from the Wharf makes sense as an Instagram sensation.
#lazypeoplearenotgoodforcrab #crabhouse #pier39 A photo posted by Iris (@_iris_koala) on
8. Toast at The Mill
The Mill is largely responsible for popularizing one of the least-sensible food trends recently: $5 artisanal toast. However, Josey Baker does make some excellent bread, so we can’t fault all of the hype surrounding the spot’s signature dish.
7. Strawberry White Balsamic Ice Cream at Smitten Ice Cream
Smitten Ice Cream has a couple of things going for it. It’s lodged squarely in a yuppie neighborhood called Hayes Valley and houses itself inside an old shipping container. Both things combined make for a potent ‘Gram candidate.
PLACE: SMITTEN ICE CREAM, HAYES VALLEY @smittenicecream . Made to order ice cream – literally fresh cream, chocolate, fruit etc. frozen in front you with liquid nitrogen. It looks like a science lab and tastes like heaven. Flavour above is STRAWBERRY WHITE BALSAMIC. Pic by @breadbunnie (who will be getting their own SFXSF feature shortly and worth a follow now) #smittenicecream #sfbysf #sanfrancisco #icecream A photo posted by SF X SF (@sfbysf) on
6. Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co.
Another seafood hotspot, Hog Island Oyster Co. dishes up the quintessential S.F. meal: oysters on the Bay with an Anchor Steam in hand.
5. Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista Cafe
The Buena Vista Cafe lays claim to being the innovator of Irish Coffee in the U.S. Because of this distinction it reports that it serves “up to 2,000 Irish coffees per day,” many of which are apparently ending up on social media—most likely from rubes and tourists.
Nothing like some world famous Irish Coffee in the morning! #buenavista #sf #trolleyridesfordays A photo posted by @tomfoto on
4. Croissant at Tartine Bakery
Few other dishes are more San Francisco than a croissant from Tartine Bakery.
3. Latte or some sort of coffee at Four Barrel Coffee
Experiencing a bad case of déjà vu? Brace yourself.
Almond latte. #VSCOcam A photo posted by Ryan Lee (@tumblerfamous) on
2. Cheesecake With Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery
This high-end ice cream shop benefits from its location near Dolores Park, where natives frequently lounge outside on its grassy hills. When the sun comes out, the lines begin to wrap around the block.
1. Latte at Sightglass Coffee
This is the cup of coffee for people in the up-and-coming neighborhood of SoMa who don’t mind paying a premium for their joe. Of course, all of these people are probably involved in the tech industry in some capacity, so we’re assuming they don’t.
And now for some analysis…
As both a tourist destination and a symbol for modern American urbanism, it figures that Irish coffee from places like Buena Vista Cafe rank right alongside uber-trendy lattes from Sightglass Coffee. These are the tentpoles upon which the city’s food Instagram posts have built themselves: lots of pictures of places near the wharf that draw out-of-town rubes, as well as hip coffee shops where some of the Bay Area’s most powerful tech members refuel.
In any case, we were surprised at both the lack of Asian and Mexican cuisine on this list. S.F. has long held the reputation of serving some of the best dim sum in the country—and what’s more camera-ready than dumplings being pushed around in carts? As for the latter, one would think that La Taqueria, which arguably serves the world’s best burrito, would chart in the top-20 (it was listed at no. 25). Late-night Mission favorite and post-munchies haven El Farolito didn’t make the cut, and neither did doughnut stalwart Dynamo. #dafuq
Then again, we have to think about the people primarily using the app in the city. If handsomely compensated techies are the ones most often snapping pics, then $5 toast and trendy coffee—not Mission-style burritos—are the easiest symbols to convey status.