Creative Commons photo by Marie is licensed under CC BY 2.0
A delectable crab roll from Luke's Lobster.

Readers shared their favorite local eateries, plus the dishes that keep them coming back again and again

Susana Guerrero, SFGate  – April 2, 2019 | Updated May 1, 2019

Burgers with a cheese skirt, check. Savory black garlic ramen, check. Crunchy desserts, yup, got those too.

These are just some of the foodstuffs SFGate readers revealed as their go-to orders at their favorite underrated Bay Area restaurants.

In a recent Facebook post, we asked our readers to tell us about the restaurants they consider true gems and the spots that should be on your radar. Comments poured in, with recommendations for eateries found as far north as Calistoga and as south as San Carlos. The list was full of diverse fare and creative dishes, too.

ALSO: The best thing to eat in every Bay Area city

Tamashisoul Sushi Bar

What to order: avocado bomb
This appetizer was practically made for avocado fanatics. It comes with spicy salmon encased in an avocado shell, served with a special sauce. Find them: 1849 Union St., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 346-1849.

 

Buster’s Original Southern Barbeque

What to order: Tri-tip 

Guests rave about the tri-tip at Buster’s Original Southern Barbeque. They’ve got indoor and outdoor seating too. Find them: 1207 Foothill Blvd., Calistoga | Contact: (707) 709-8356.

 

Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine

What to order: chicken tikka masala pizza  

Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine has been making Indian pizza in SF since 1986, where you’ll find the can’t miss chicken tikka masala pizza. Find them: 3489 Mission St., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 821-3949.

 

Luke’s Lobster

What to order: crab roll (pictured at top)

Luke’s Lobster has locations across the country but just one in SF. They’ve got three different types of seafood fillings for rolls, but readers pointed out that the crab roll is the best. Find them: 92 2nd St., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 483-1580.

 

Back A Yard Caribbean Grill

What to order: Jerk chicken 
Plenty of readers agreed that Back A Yard Caribbean Grill was worth checking out. You can’t visit without trying their jerk chicken either. Find them: multiple locations.

Platano

What to order: revuelta con frijoles pupusa 
Pupusas are the way to go at Platano. Order the revuelta con frijoles, which is made with pulled pork and refried black beans that are stuffed into the pupusa, made from masa (dough made from corn). Top it off with curtido (pickled cabage) and housemade salsa. Each pupusa runs for $3.35.  Find them: 2042 University Ave., Berkeley | Contact: (510) 704-0325.

Scolari’s Good Eats

What to order:  Blueberry bacon blue cheeseburger 
Scolari’s Good Eats in Alameda is a tiny shop but their menu is packed with flavorful options like their blueberry bacon blue cheeseburger. One reader said it was “hands down [the] best burger I’ve ever eaten.” Find them: 1303 Park St., Alameda | Contact: (510) 521-2400.
What to order: chicken bowl 
Q’s Halal is the kind of spot you go to get affordable comfort food without the fuss. They serve Mediterranean fare, like the rice bowls that come with a flavorful sauce on top. Find them: multiple locations.

DJ’s Bistro

What to order: Jaeger Schnitzel

Looking for authentic German and Czech fare? Look no further than Concord, where DJ’s Bistro serves up plenty of classics. Their jaeger schnitzel is one of their crowd pleasers. It’s a breaded pork loin in a mushroom sauce with spaetzle and red cabbage. Find them: 1825 Sutter St. Ste. C, Concord | Contact: (925) 825-3277.

 

Fat Apple’s

What to order: Pumpkin pancakes 

This Berkeley spot is a great brunch option for those that hate long wait times. They also serve pumpkin pancakes year round. A win-win. Find them: 1346 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley | Contact: (510) 526-2260.

Homage

What to order: avocado toast

Homage’s menu focuses on simplicity and freshness. They’ve got an avocado toast on their morning menu that comes with fresh avocado and mousse, radishes, salt, sesame, and lemon on crusty toast. You can also add smoked trout. Find them: 88 Hardie Pl, San Francisco | Contact: (415) 800-8741.

 

Craftsman and Wolves

 

What to order: Stone

OK, this SF spot isn’t underrated but one item on the menu certainly is. The rebel within may be one of Craftsman and Wolves’ signature baked goods, but the stone (pictured above) is right up there. It’s a pastry made with whipped coffee, coconut and yuzu. It might even be too pretty to eat. Find them: 746 Valencia St., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 913-7713.

Crepevine

What to order: Tuscany crepe 
There are 10 Crepevine locations across the Bay Area. They’ve got large portions at a reasonable price too. Find them: multiple locations.

 

54 Mint

What to order: cannolis 

54 Mint has two Bay Area locations, one in SF and the other in Walnut Creek, but the Walnut Creek location offers cannolis for dessert. One reader told us that it’s the only “great cannoli” that makes them feel “homesick.” Find them: 1686 Locust St., Walnut Creek | Contact: (925) 476-5844.

 

Golden Era Vegan Restaurant

What to order: lemongrass deluxe 
Every item on the menu at this Vietnamese restaurant is 100 percent plant-based. Find them: 395 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 487-8687.

Bare Knuckle Pizza

What to order: vegan or regular Margherita pizza 
Oakland’s Bare Knuckle Pizza has the classic flavors plus vegan options too, like the vegan Margherita. Find them: 351 12th St., Oakland | Contact: (510) 463-1524.

 

Borobudur Restaurant

What to order: Otak Otak Panggang
This Indonesian restaurant prepares a tasty dish called the Otak Otak Panggang that resembles a tamale. It’s made with BBQ fish cake that’s wrapped in a banana leaf. Find them: 700 Post St., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 775-1512.

 

Sol Food

What to order: pollo al horno 

This Puerto Rican spot has two Bay Area locations. They offer the ever-popular pollo al horno dish, which translates to oven-roasted chicken. It comes with boneless, skinless chicken thighs that are marinated in oregano and garlic before being baked. It’s also a Bay Area business Guy Fieri has visited. 

Find them: multiple locations | Contact: (415) 380-1986.

 

Yokohama Lekei Ramen 

What to order: black garlic ramen
The black garlic ramen is a fan favorite at Yokohama Lekei Ramen in Union City and it comes with a few extra quail eggs. One reader said, “Hands down better than the hyped up Ramen places everyone lines up for in San Mateo.” Find them: 32136 Alvarado Blvd., Union City | Contact: (510) 675-7433.

Sue’s Kitchen

What to order: Nam Kao
One of Sue’s Kitchen’s most popular items is their Nam Kao, which are crunchy lettuce wraps filled with sour pork and crispy rice. They serve Thai and Laotian fare. Find them: 448 Valley View Rd., Ste. H, El Sobrante | Contact: (510) 222-2312.

Squeeze Inn Hamburgers

What to order: Squeezeburger with cheese 

Is your mouth watering yet? Yup, that burger has a crispy and gooey cheese skirt. Find them: 3383 Solano Ave., Napa | Contact: (707) 257-6880.

 

Napoli Pizzeria

What to order: Tony’s Special
 

Napoli Pizzeria is a Vallejo institution that’s been continuously operating since 1956. There are plenty of pies to choose from, but the Tony’s Special is among the most popular options. Oh, and for an added nostalgic factor, they’ve got a Miss Pac Man inside the shop. Find them: 124 Tennessee St., Vallejo | Contact: (707) 644-0981.

 

What to order: mortazza 
Gusto Pinsa Romana focuses on pinsa, which is similar to pizza, but the difference is in the dough. They prepare their pinsa with plenty of water, flour, salt and yeast. The result is a thin, crunchy (yet fluffy) crust. Order the mortazza pinsa. Find them: 1000 Bush St., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 678-5339. 
What to order: veggie combo with shiro
One reader boasted that Asmara Restaurant is the best Ethiopian restaurant in the Bay Area. Try their vegetable combo. Find them: 5020 Telegraph Ave., Oakland | Contact: (510) 547-5100.

 

Havana

What to order: paella 

The paella at Havana will keep you coming back. It’s topped with plenty of seafood and chorizo. Find them: 1516 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek | Contact: 925-939-4555.

 

Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill

What to order: octopus salad 

One reader said that this spot has a great happy hour and buffet on weekends. Find them: 1 Marina Plz, Antioch | Contact: (925) 775-4862.

 

Gran Milan

What to order: cannoli  

It’s hard to settle on one pastry at Gran Milan but the cannoli is a top favorite. Find them: 5327 Jacuzzi St., Richmond | Contact: (510) 984-0679.

 

Kabul Afghan Cuisine

What to order: kadu 
This restaurant in San Carlos has an expansive menu of traditional Afghan fare. One of their side dishes includes the kadu, which comes with sauteed pumpkin that’s topped with yogurt and ground lamb meat. Find them: 135 El Camino Real, San Carlos | Contact: (650) 594-2840.

 

Taqueria Mi Durango

What to order: fish tacos 

Come in for tacos and stay for the garden that’s filled with succulent plants. The fish tacos are especially worth ordering during the warmer seasons. Find them: 287 El Camino Real, San Bruno | Contact: (650) 588-8810.

 

The Red Grape in Sonoma

What to order: Margherita pizza 

Enjoy the Margherita pizza at The Red Grape’s patio. Find them: 529 1st St W., Sonoma  | Contact: (707) 996-4103.

 

Che Fico

What to order: Squash blossom pizza

This Italian spot near Alamo Square in SF has a local and seasonal menu where you’ll find a variety of pizzas, in addition to a few main courses. Don’t miss the squash blossom pizza.  Find them: 838 Divisadero St., San Francisco | Contact: (415) 416-6959.
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