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THE BEST SPOTS IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR PALEO-FRIENDLY EATS

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CASSANDRA PISONE

JUL 14, 2020

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IMAGE VIA @KITAVAKITCHEN | INSTAGRAM

San Francisco has a number of vegan and gluten-free restaurants — but what about those who are abstaining from grains, sugar, and really, anything our ancestors didn’t eat? Luckily, if you’re following a paleo diet, there’s a number of options for dining out in SF.

Whether you want to entice your taste buds with South African cuisine, bite into a juicy burger (in a lettuce bun, of course), or lighten up with a salad made with all the veggies, there’s a place where you can score your caveman noms nearby.

You don’t have to prep all your lunches for the week in a world where Sweetgreen exists (and really, we don’t want to live in a world where Sweetgreen doesn’t exist). At this East Coast (and LA) staple in the Financial District, you can build your own salad or choose one of their chef-created salads for a fresh, quick and tasty paleo meal. Don’t let the line out the door on a weekday at noon scare you away, though — it moves fast.

One of our favorite fast-casual restaurants, Souvla in Hayes Valley, NoPa, The Mission, and the Marina makes clean eating inexpensive, easy, and above all, delicious. Skip the wrap in favor of their insanely-good rotisserie chicken, lamb leg, or pork shoulder. Just ask them to hold the cheese and yogurt-based dressings if you’re strict paleo (much respect to you).

We’re just gonna put this out there — Roam has our favorite burgers in the city, especially because they can all be wrapped in a butter lettuce bun. The best part? They source all of their produce from area farms. Stop by their three locations in the city—the Marina, Pac Heights, Oakland—for all your burger and sweet potato fry needs.

There’s always a line out the door for barbecue at 4505 Burgers & BBQ in NoPa. 4505’s barbecue style is all their own — a mix of Kansas City, Texas, and North Carolina influences come together for one incredible and unique taste. They sell their brisket, smoked chicken, and sausage by the pound to pair with sides like coleslaw, posole, and chicharrones. Keep an eye out for their Oakland restaurant coming soon.

The Plant Cafe Organic has locations around the city (the Marina, Embarcadero, FiDi, and the Dogpatch), making finding a paleo meal a cinch. To switch things up, go for their yellow curry and add chicken (be sure to ask for extra veggies, no rice). It’s bright, light, and sure to satisfy.

Just because you can’t partake in pancakes and french toast doesn’t mean you can’t brunch with your buds. No one has ever turned their nose up at steak and eggs, crispy pork belly hash, or a burger (just ask them to hold the bun) for brunch, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Serpentine. Since it’s in the Dogpatch, you don’t have to prep yourself for much of a wait. Win-win.

Setting up shop in Hayes Valley, Little Gem is a great brunch or dinner option — their menu is very paleo-friendly with small bites like Salmon Tartar and mains like Smoked Wagyu Beef Brisket. But if you’re craving something simpler, their chicken broth pairs nicely with a Gardens Green salad.

Even if you can’t partake in the rice-filled rolls, everyone knows the best part of sushi is sashimi anyway. This Mission go-to also has hot dishes (we love all the meat skewers) and fresh Japanese salads. They also take reservations, making ICHI Sushi a great date night spot (hint, hint).

Belcampo is the famed butcher shop of the Bay Area. With locations in Marin, Oakland, and at The Yard by AT&T Park, you’re set. But they also have a restaurant in Russian Hill on Polk St. Head to any of their locations for a full steak, grilled pork chop, or melt-in-your-mouth lamb shank for lunch or dinner. Fitt Tip: They have a grab-and-go section in their butcher shop — we love stopping by here for provisions for a picnic in the park.

This FiDi hidden gem is the answer to the paleo meals that have been boring you. When you can’t imagine (or stomach) one more grilled salmon filet, head to Amawele’s for the Peri-Peri Chicken, Lemon & Herb Chicken, or the Sweet Potato Chicken Curry, all served on a bed of vegetables with a side of pickled beets. YUM!

Blue Barn is always our go-to salad place (sorry Sweetgreen, they were here first) but especially so when we’re doing a Whole30 or just want a yummy paleo meal. Make a “U-Choose It” salad with all the fresh veggies and top it with grilled skirt steak, grilled salmon, or chicken. Fitt Tip: if you want grilled chicken (their normal is poached), ask for “Rooster Chicken”. Find that and more at either of their two Marina locations in Russian Hill on Polk St. or Steiner St.

“Take spaghetti and meatballs but make it paleo” might be a mantra we just made up for Kitava, but it’s not far from the truth. All your comfort food faves — General Tso’s Chicken, spaghetti bolognese, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes are given a healthy paleo makeover at Kitava in The Mission. Don’t live close by? No worries — you can find them on all your go-to delivery apps.

If you didn’t think rotisserie chicken could be addicting, you might want to think again. This Hayes Valley fast-casual spot makes the best rotisserie chicken of your life (or roast cauliflower, if you’re feeling that). Add a couple of their seasonal veggie sides and make it a meal. Just don’t forget to get the chimichurri as one of your sauces — you can thank us later.

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