Best Breakfast, Best Late-Night Restaurant
Night owls and early risers cross paths at the Castro's 24-hour diner Orphan Andy's, which has welcomed patrons since 1977. This greasy spoon is one of the last surviving eateries from the gayborhood's heyday, when Harvey Milk was galvanizing a movement and a new generation of LGBT people were making San Francisco their home.
Jammed after the gay bars close down in the wee hours of the night, it fills up again with a pre-work breakfast crowd. Sundays often find a line out of the door during brunch hours.
Orphan Andy's Restaurant, 3991 17th Street, San Francisco, (415) 864-9795.
Best Brunch, Best Outdoor Patio
Another stalwart from the 1970s is the corner eatery Cafe Flore that serves as a gateway between the Castro and Duboce Park neighborhoods. With a Parisian flair to its decor and an indoor area reminiscent of an oversized glass greenhouse, it has been serving up caffeinated drinks and down-home cooking for decades.
Its sidewalk tables and outdoor patio seating beckon an eclectic clientele on warm San Francisco days. At brunch try the Hawaiian French toast and dream of whiling away the day in the island state.
Cafe Flore, 2298 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 621-8579. http://www.cafeflore.com.
Diners have been enjoying the comfort food at Chow since 1997. Its menu changes with the seasons, but lunch favorites include the Cobb salad, any of its wood-oven pizzas or the organic veggie burger with tzatziki and avocado. At the Church Street location next-door bar the Pilsner Inn doubles as the restaurant's waiting area on busy days.
There are also Chows near Golden Gate Park on 9th Avenue and in the East Bay cities Lafayette and Danville.
Chow, 215 Church Street, San Francisco, (415) 552-2469. http://www.chowfoodbar.com/index.html.
Opened in 2002, Catch is known for serving fresh, affordable seafood in its historic perch on Market Street. The building is considered a local landmark, as it was the home to the AIDS Memorial Quilt back in the early days of the epidemic. It was also the first site of Harvey Milk's camera shop before he relocated to Castro Street.
The restaurant's fireplace in a heated patio area is a major draw on warmer evenings, while a jazz piano indoor beckons on colder nights. If dining alone, grab a seat at the bar and make yourself home for the evening.
Catch, 2362 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 431-5000. http://www.catchsf.com/.
Tempting the taste buds with its array of sweet and savory snacks is perennial favorite of Bay Area Reporter readers Sweet Inspiration. From its berry tarts to its wide assortment of cakes, this locally owned bakery is the perfect place to treat a date, cheat on a diet, or just indulge in a moment of pure sugar bliss. It's also a great go-to source for a birthday cake or last-minute dessert for a dinner party.
Sweet Inspiration, 2239 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 621-8664. www.sweetinspirationbakery.com.