San Francisco is the birthplace of some of this country鈥檚 signature staples 鈥 sourdough bread bowls, cioppino seafood stew, and Its-Its ice cream sandwiches. While there are so many more delicious tastes associated with the city by the bay that are worth the trip for a bite, if a flight to San Francisco isn鈥檛 in your budget, cookbook author Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen has put together a collection of simple recipes called A Little Taste of San Francisco ($12). Klassen talked with us about her favorite sights and tastes of San Francisco and how she pulled it all together in one book.

Brit + Co: What鈥檚 your favorite spot to dine in San Francisco? Did it appear in the book?聽

Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen:聽Delfina has been聽a聽favorite since they first opened. The聽service is great, and I could eat their insalata del campo every night. I never stand in line at Bi-Rite Creamery聽鈥 I go straight down聽the street for popsicles and soft-serve at their second window. And while I love聽a聽fancy wood-fired pizza, sometimes you just need聽a聽good cheap slice, and for that, Arinell Pizza has聽the聽most New York-y of New York style slices.

I didn鈥檛 include many restaurant-specific recipes, because those dishes are often pretty complicated, and聽the聽recipes in this book had to fit on two small pages, max. We wanted to focus less on specific restaurant creations and more on dishes that you might find in any number of places around聽the聽city 鈥 like cioppino, carnitas tacos, and shrimp dumplings.聽The聽one exception is聽a聽simplified version of聽the聽roast chicken with bread salad from Zuni Caf茅. It鈥檚 iconic, and also聽a dish that鈥檚 brilliant in its simplicity.

B+C:聽San Francisco has so much to offer in terms of neighborhoods and foods characteristic of each, how did you decide what to include?

SRK:聽A聽big part of聽the聽audience for this book is visitors, so we did have to focus on聽the聽parts of聽the聽city that visitors would love and recognize, so, Fisherman鈥檚 Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, [and]聽the聽Mission all got representation. I鈥檓 pleased that we got Ballpark Garlic Fries in there, too!聽聽The聽beautiful illustrations by Courtney Jentzen do聽a聽great job in bringing聽the聽city to life, from places that everyone knows like聽the聽Golden Gate Bridge to local treasures like聽the聽tiled steps of 16th聽Avenue.

B+C:聽What sights and smells distinctly remind you of San Francisco?

SRK:聽Rosemary and lavender, since they grow everywhere around聽the聽city. Riding聽the聽22 Fillmore to Potrero Hill, there was always聽a聽moment when聽the聽bus started crawling up聽the聽hill near聽the聽Anchor Brewing Company, and聽the聽air filled with聽the聽smell of burnt toast. Weed, of course, which used to be聽a聽Haight Street thing and is now ubiquitous.聽A聽particular tree 鈥 I think it鈥檚 escallonia 鈥 that grows all through Golden Gate Park and smells like maple syrup.

I love聽the聽Bay Lights at night, which turned our workhorse bridge into聽a聽really cool piece of abstract public art, but mostly, my favorite parts of聽the聽city are聽the聽everyday neighborhoods where so many different people live and work.聽The聽fact that anyone can hop on聽the聽N-Judah and be walking next to聽the聽ocean in less than an hour still makes me think we are so, so lucky. San Francisco has聽a聽particular clear light that鈥檚 unique to this city.聽The聽very first day I arrived here, I sat up in Buena Vista Park and watched big white clouds scudding across this brilliant blue sky, surrounded by this amazing light and聽the smell of trees and聽the聽ocean, and thought, 鈥淚 could be happy every day here.鈥 And that鈥檚 pretty much been true.

Try your hand at one of Klassen鈥檚 San Francisco recipes below and bring A Little Taste of San Francisco into your own kitchen.

ballpark garlic fries

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)



  1. In a deep fryer, Dutch oven, or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil to 375掳F on a deep-frying thermometer.
  2. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon and working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the fries to the hot oil and cook, turning once, until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes total.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and garlic.
  4. Using the skimmer, transfer the fries to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Transfer the drained fries to a large bowl. Pour the olive oil mixture over the fries, tossing to coat evenly. Add the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss again and serve right away.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.聽

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(Illustrations by Courtney Jentzen /聽Weldon Owen Publishing )