Friday, February 27, 2015

A Libertarian Guide to Eating Out in San Francisco

By Robert Wenzel

From time to time, readers who plan on visiting San Francisco contact me and ask me what places they should visit and where they should eat, so I thought it would be a fun idea to contact libertarians I know, who live in the San Francisco Bay area, or are familiar with the area, and ask them for their favorite restaurants.

Lew Rockwell, chairman and founder of the Mises Institute, who also runs the must-read daily libertarian web site,, told me
his favorite is Greens Restaurant, which is located in the Marina district.

Lew emails to add:
 Bob, I should have mentioned that Greens is part of the San Francisco Zen Center, and most of the food is grown at their nearby farms. Indeed, the food is so good it could almost make one a vegetarian. I also like the view of the marina, and the huge, un-PC redwood furniture in the waiting area. 
I also love Tadich Grill in the financial district. Spectacular fish in an old-fashioned setting that includes old-fashioned service.
Justin Raimondo of writes:
Katsu, "Sushi on North Beach," where we always go when we're in SF! Quiet, largely unknown, great service, and authentic Japanese food. Also it's in North Beach, my favorite SF neighborhood.
TL contributor Victor Ward sent in a long list:
 If we are talking fancy and over priced: Gary Danko. San Francisco

A good, fun place to go is Jack's Restaurant and Bar. Salmon Salad and Spaghetti Carbonara are fantastic. Locations: San Mateo, San Bruno, and Pleasant Hill

Brenda's French Soul Food is fantastic for breakfast. Great beignets and other breakfast fare. Location: San Francisco

Excellent, nouveau Chinese food: Mandarin Roots in Palo Alto.

Caribbean barbecue: Back-a-Yard in Menlo Park. I am surprised that the health department hasn't shut them down, but the food is great.

Town in San Carlos. Good American cuisine. Young, hipster, liberal feel.

Iron Gate in Belmont. Older crowd. Much older crowd. Good food. Awesome Caesar Salad.

In-N-Out -- Great burgers. Great service. All over California

A good, solid chain: Chipolte. Great service. Great food.

Aijsen Ramen -- fantastic noodle house in San Mateo

Arizmendi Pizza -- bunch of socialist types run this place, but the pizza is wonderful. They only serve vegetarian pizza, but if I'm in he area, I must have several slices. San Francisco and Oakland.

Also: Thanh Long serves great garlic crab noodles. Awesome. San Francisco. But, the last time I was there, it had started to develop a bit of the feel of the urban primitive. Not that that is a bad thing if the restaurant is going for that feel. But, I was under the impression that they were trying to go for a more upscale persona.

One more: John Bentley in Atherton. Not as fancy as your top end places, but very good. The sticky, toffee pudding cake is wonderful.
 Jeff Deist, who is president of the Mises Institute and lived for a time in SF, emailed:
Bob- easy: ChouChou french bistro, right by the Forest Hill muni station. Or of course Delfina, but everyone will say that. Plus Delfina is a $$$$ special evening kind of place, unlike ChouChou.
Dr. Michael Edelstein, who is a vegan, sent this list in:
David Gordon spent some time up here in San Francisco a very long time ago, when he was at the Cato Institute, with Murray Rothbard, before Murray's split with Cato, he emailed:.
Murray liked Trader Vic's. I used to like an Italian restaurant called The Iron Pot. I think that both of these are closed now.
David is correct. The Iron Pot is closed, and the San Francisco Trader Vic's is closed but there is one in nearby Emeryville that is still open.

BTW,  Murray apparently had a fondness for Denny's. Richard Ebeling once told me the story that Rothbard, a notorious night owl, when he spent some time in Los Angeles, would occasionally call up the economist Yuri Maltsev, between 1;00 AM and 2:00AM. He would ask Maltsev, if he was up.

Maltsev, would reply, "I am now."

Murray would then say, "Great. Let's me at Denny's."

As for my recommendations, in the high dollar category my favorite is the seafood restaurant Farallon's , located right downtown. Another high dollar place with great food is the North Beach Restaurant which is an Italian restaurant that serves authentic Tuscan cuisine, It is also the location of Milton Friedman's North Beach Confession.

If you want to try something different, there is a neat little Czech restaurant in the Mission district (a short taxi ride from downtown), Paprika's. It's run by an owner originally from South America, who went to school in Washington D.C. but she didn't like the political environment in DC, so she moved to SF and somehow ended up opening a Czech restaurant. The menu is pretty much Eastern European, as you would expect, but somehow tomato soup ended up on the menu---and it is the best tomato soup I have ever tasted. And reasonable prices!

The best pub hamburger in San Francisco can be found at Eddie Rickenbacker's.

There is a great pizza joint in downtown SF called Blondie's. All the locals know it, but it is the kind of place that, if you weren't tipped off to it, you would pass by thinking it just a hole-in-the-wall joint. But the pizza is great. You order upstairs and there is plenty of room downstairs where you can sit and eat. I generally order the vegetarian pizza.

For those of you who might want to do something a little more adventurous, there is a ferry that goes across the East Bay from San Francisco to Jack London Square in Oakland. Scott's Seafood Restaurant is right there on the water. Go for brunch during the weekend so that you can see the sailboats and ships pass by. Also a block up from the water in Jack London Square is Yoshi's, which is an awesome high end sushi restaurant, which is connected to a jazz club where all the big jazz names pass through.

As for places to visit, I am not much of the tourist type so I can't help too much here, but, I did, with some coaxing, actually once take a ferry out to Alactarz, and found it, of all things, a peaceful, calming place. Be sure to get the audio tour, which has actual commentary from prisoners who spent time as Alactraz when it was an operating prison.

Pier 39 - Fisherman's Wharf  is, of course, a must see.

Depending how much time you are going to be in the area, you might want to rent a car and drive down to the heart of Silicon Valley. It's less than an hour's drive and the headquarter's of Google, LinkedIn and Facebook are within a 10 minute drive of each other. You won't be able to do much there, but it will for sure provide a different picture in your mind of the settings from which these companies operate from.

And if you do go to Jack London Square, and go during the day, try and coordinate it when tours are being given of FDR's yacht, the USS Potomac. It is docked at Jack London Square. I can't imagine the evil plotting that must have gone on, on that boat, but I have personally tried to exorcise the evil spirits that I am sure live there.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. Wait - no El Farolito? 24th and Mission. As a libertarian, it's not only the best burritos around, but it's open until 4pm, they have private security, and the war on drugs has definitely called a cease fire with their high-flying staff. If we are talking libertarian joints, that has to be the place.

  2. This is not 'thin' libertarianism.

  3. Taqueria Puentez in San Rafael is owned by a hard working libertarian Ron Paul supporters. Great burritos.

  4. What about libertarian-anarchist "Top Dog" for hot dogs? Two locations in Berkeley.

    1. Guess I am not the only fan.

  5. I can't believe Burma Superstar is not on this list. My number #1 hands down.

  6. There's also an awesome band out of Oakland called The Riot Professor. They're not really a political band, but some of their members are libertarians. They plays bars and clubs on either side of the bay. Worth checking out if you're into good live music.

  7. If you come on a weekend night, be prepared to wait, as Las Vegas restaurants will be crowded. I had the crab cake here – which was quite fantastic. Seriously - if you haven't been here, you need to go right now.