Food & Drink

21 Food Things Only San Franciscans Would Understand

If you’ve ever winced at the suggestion of Chipotle to fulfill a burrito craving, been laughed at for thinking it’s normal to wait hours for artisanal ice cream or felt taken advantage of whenever a Rice-A-Roni commercial airs, this list is for you -- and every San Franciscan who’s left these “49-square miles surrounded by reality” only to find that the rest of the world is a scary place where “Sushirrito” is a foreign word and people assume you eat every meal out of a bread bowl. Behold, our list of the 21 food things only San Franciscans could possibly understand.

Childhood tastes like an It’s-It ice cream sandwich.
Followed up by a pleasantly stale brick of pink popcorn.
Cranky Old Mission Guy via Flickr
A treat best shared with the ducks at Stow Lake.
It’s totally acceptable to wait in an hours-long line for Burmese food.
While this Southeast Asian cuisine can be hard to come by in other cities, San Franciscans know what’s up and keep local spots like Burma Superstar in (too much) business.
Or wait an entire day for a scoop from Bi-Rite, no matter how foggy it is.
No line is too long for honey lavender ice cream.
Baked goods purchased in Dolores Park are to be consumed at your own risk.
Those brownies are NOT the stuff of school bake sales.
Open container laws are pretty much disregarded in city parks.
Especially if you’re making your way to a free concert in Golden Gate Park.
Irish coffee from the Buena Vista is your favorite combination of booze and caffeine.
You have a love-hate relationship with Fernet.
By some estimates, as much as 70 percent of U.S. Fernet sales take place in San Francisco.
The Tamale Lady is the best purveyor of drunchies.
And we started an IndieGogo campaign when the Man shut her Zeitgeist operation down last summer.
And pho the next morning is the best hangover cure.
When you’re down and out, free samples at a farmers market make a fine breakfast.
Burritos are a sacred San Francisco institution.
L.A. can claim the title of best Mexican food, but you know the “Mission style” burrito belongs to San Francisco, and you’ve given up trying to explain to outsiders how these differ from tortilla-wrapped creations outside city limits. Burrito snobbery is a way of life.
But we’re also at the forefront of burrito innovation.
Behold, Sushirrito.
Subway doesn’t serve five-dollar-footlongs here, because the cost of operating in the city is too damn high.
Not that you eat at chains anyway.
There’s only one way to satisfy your sweet tooth in the Castro.
Danielle Chang via Flickr
Hello, Hot Cookie.
There are sandwiches, and then there’s Ike’s.
Eating Ike's via Flickr
A delicacy best smothered in Dirty Sauce.
You never realized how superior San Francisco sourdough was until you tried imitations somewhere else.
You don’t have anything against clam chowder in a bread bowl, but you might describe it as “a little bit Pier 39.”
Rice-A-Roni is not “The San Francisco Treat.”
And you have no idea where that tagline originated.
The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco, not China.
And you probably learned that on a school field trip to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory.
No Giants game is complete without garlic fries.
Wally Gobetz via Flickr
The tradition Gordon Biersch started may have spread to other stadiums, but the pungent ballpark fare will always remind you of a night at AT&T park.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Burmese food as South Asian. It is Southeast Asian.

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