Dim sum is a traditional Chinese meal that consists of small plates of food, typically served in steamer baskets or on small plates. It is typically enjoyed in a group setting and is often considered a brunch food.
San Francisco is home to the oldest Chinatown neighborhood in the US. For that reason alone, San Francisco is a place to seek out dim sum. Dim sum SF may as well be a national destination. It’s time to enjoy the best dim sum Bay Area style. However, even when you explore beyond dim sum Chinatown sf you’ll find some of the best dim sum in the country. You’re never far from the best dumplings San Francisco has to offer. San Francisco is full of dim sum spots for any type of experience. From casual to high end, from breakfast spots to lunch hangouts, from traditional to experimental. There is a dim sum place for any occasion and any price point. These are the best dim sum San Francisco has to offer, but first, let’s take a look at the cuisine’s history in the city by the bay.
History of Dim sum in SF
Dim sum originated in southern China and has since become popular around the world, including San Francisco. The history of dim sum in San Francisco is rooted in the city’s long history of Chinese immigration and the growth of its Chinese American community.
Chinese immigrants first arrived in San Francisco in the mid-19th century, many of them fleeing poverty and political unrest in their homeland. Many of these early immigrants worked in the city’s gold mines, or as laborers in the railroad and agriculture industries. Over time, the Chinese American community in San Francisco grew, and with it, the demand for traditional Chinese food, including dim sum.
In the early 20th century, Chinese restaurants in San Francisco began offering dim sum as a way to serve traditional Cantonese cuisine in a convenient, fast, and affordable way. Dim sum was served in small portions, typically as bite-sized steamed dumplings, buns, and pastries, which could be easily shared and enjoyed by diners. The tradition of dim sum soon spread beyond the Chinese American community and became popular with a wider range of diners in the city.
Development of Dim Sum Over the Years
One of the first dim sum restaurants in San Francisco was the Hang Ah Tea Room, which opened in 1920 and remains in operation today. This restaurant and others like it were important cultural hubs for the city’s Chinese American community, serving not only traditional cuisine but also providing a place for social gatherings and community events.
Dim sum in San Francisco has continued to evolve over the years, with new dishes and variations being introduced to appeal to a wider range of diners. Today, dim sum restaurants in the city offer a wide variety of dishes, including steamed buns, dumplings, rice noodle rolls, fried pastries, and more. The tradition of dim sum remains a central part of the city’s food culture and continues to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
dim sum has a rich and vibrant history in San Francisco, reflecting the city’s long history of Chinese immigration and the growth of its Chinese American community. Today, dim sum remains a beloved and integral part of the city’s food culture, offering diners a unique and delicious taste of traditional Cantonese cuisine.
How to Find the Best Dim Sum
There are so many things to consider when you are choosing a dim sum restaurant. First and foremost when visiting San Francisco you might be looking for a dim sum place that is located close to you. While it may seem obvious, one of the best ways to find a dim sum place within walking distance of your hotel is to use google. Type “dim sum places near me” into the search bar and viola. This search will absolutely get you to dim sum places close by. However, sometimes the places that are nearest to you aren’t the best places to visit. If you are looking for the best dim sum sf has to offer make sure to read through this guide completely and plan your trip accordingly!
Yank Sing is a popular dim sum restaurant located in the Rincon Center. The classic restaurant is known for its high-quality ingredients and expertly prepared dishes. The dim sum menu includes traditional favorites such as steamed shrimp dumplings and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. The dumplings are often considered the best dumplings in SF. The restaurant also offers a wide variety of vegetarian options. The decor is modern and sleek, with a beautiful view of the city. There are actually two separate locations where you can enjoy this dim sum San Francisco experience, the Rincon Center and one on Stevenson st. Both locations are delicious and will give you an authentic dim sum experience your looking for in SF.
Palette Tea House
Palette Tea House is a newer dim sum restaurant located in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood. The restaurant is in the iconic Ghirardelli square and is only 5 years old. However, it is one of the best new restaurants in SF by Eater in 2019 and there’s a reason!. The restaurant is known for its delicious dim sum, friendly service, and reasonable prices. Make sure to try their Xiao Long Bao sampler platter. If you’re looking for the best dumplings in San Francisco, look no further.
Hong Kong Lounge
Hong Kong Lounge is a dim sum restaurant located in the Inner Richmond neighborhood. This popular spot is a go-to for a vast dim sum menu and the authentic atmosphere. The menu includes traditional dim sum dishes such as bao pork buns and their clay pots are not to be missed. This is definitely considered some of the best dim sum San Francisco has.
Dim Sum Club
Dim Sum Club is a dim sum restaurant located in the Inner Richmond neighborhood. This unassuming restaurant is a wonderful option for Sichuan style cuisine and mandarin style dim sum. When you’re here, make sure to try the crispy garlic shrimp, wonton soup, and cucumber salad. You will love the experience here. Their menu is exceptionally tasty and affordable, easily making it one of the best dim sum restaurants in SF.
New Asia is a dim sum restaurant located in the Inner Richmond neighborhood. This is the perfect place to bring family and friends on the weekends, it also offers areas for meetings, group meet ups, or even wedding receptions. With a wide variety of menu options, there is truly something for everyone. Anything you have here will delight your palate as it is home to the ultimate Chinese comfort food.
R & G Lounge
R & G Lounge is an iconic dim sum restaurant located in Chinatown. Open since 1985, this national treasure has won numerous awards for its food and killer cocktail selection. R & G Lounge also offers takeout and delivery for those who can’t come eat in the restaurant.. What sets R & G Lounge apart from other dim sum restaurants is its extensive menu that includes unique and unusual dim sum items such as the deep-fried taro dumplings and the pan-fried rice cakes. Their market driven menu is always fresh and seasonal with layers of flavor.
Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant
Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant is a dim sum restaurant located in the Outer Richmond neighborhood. What’s unique about this spot is that most dim sum places aren’t open in the evening, but Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant is!Make sure you get their turnip cake and the hot and sour soup. The service is quick and super friendly. Golden Gate Chinese Restaurant is a great option for those looking for a more traditional dim sum experience. The restaurant has been serving dim sum for over 30 years.
Good Mong Kok Bakery
Good Mong Kok Bakery is a dim sum restaurant located in the heart of Chinatown. What sets Good Mong Kok Bakery apart from other dim sum restaurants is the emphasis on freshly made dim sum. The restaurant makes all of its dim sum in-house and serves it hot and fresh. They open bright and early at 7am and tend to be busy until they close at 6pm. Note that this is a takeout only restaurant. It is the perfect place to grab food to go eat in the park. Often recognized for its authenticity, you’re not going to want to miss this spot. Pro tip – get the char sui bao.
Jade Palace is a dim sum restaurant that isn’t in San Francisco at all, but located in Oakland. It’s so good that we had to add it to the list! While they don’t advertise themselves as a dim sum specific restaurant, some of their dumpling offerings are truly the best in the Bay Area. The menu includes traditional dim sum dishes such as shrimp dumplings and BBQ pork buns. What sets Jade Palace apart from other dim sum restaurants is its elegant and upscale atmosphere. The restaurant is perfect for special occasions or for those looking for a more upscale dim sum experience.
China Live is a dim sum and Chinese restaurant located in Chinatown. This spot isn’t just a restaurant, it is a celebration of all things Chinese. Visit China Live and get ready to immerse yourself in Chinese culture. They offer a shop with numerous pantry items, cookbooks, and kitchen products that give shoppers unique insight into authentic Chinese flavors and tools. They not only offer a robust menu for in-restaurant dining, they also offer to-go and delivery. While their dim sum offerings aren’t extensive, everything they do is exceptional. Try their shrimp and scallop Shumai!
In addition to the above-mentioned restaurants, there are many other great dim sum options in San Francisco. Some other notable dim sum restaurants in the city include Yummy Yummy, Emperor’s Palace, and House of Nanking.
Things to Note
When it comes to dim sum, San Francisco is a city that truly has it all. From traditional Cantonese-style dim sum to more unique and unusual dim sum dishes, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a casual and affordable dim sum experience or a more upscale and elegant experience, San Francisco has a dim sum restaurant to suit your needs.
When choosing a dim sum restaurant, it’s important to note that dim sum is typically a brunch hours meal. Plan your visit accordingly. Most dim sum restaurants are open from around 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. It is best to arrive early or make a reservation to avoid long wait times.
When it comes to dim sum, it’s all about the small plates of food, typically served in steamer baskets or on small plates, and in San Francisco, the options are endless. Yank Sing, Palette Tea House, Hong Kong Lounge, Dim Sum Club and New Asia are among the best dim sum restaurants in the city. Each offering traditional favorites or unique offerings, as well as a wide variety of vegetarian options. Dim sum is also a lovely first date idea, looking for some more ideas – check these first date ideas out!
It is worth noting that these restaurants are all popular and may have long wait times. It’s best to make a reservation in advance or be prepared to wait. Also, it is worth noting that the above list is not in any particular order. All the restaurants mentioned are known for their delicious dim sum offerings and friendly service. No matter which restaurant you choose, you’re sure to have a delicious and satisfying dim sum experience in San Francisco.
Dim sum is a wonderful traditional Chinese meal that is perfect for group outings. It is also a delicious brunch food. San Francisco has many great dim sum restaurants, with Yank Sing, Palette Tea House, Hong Kong Lounge, Dim Sum Club and New Asia being among the best of the best. If you are looking for a delicious and satisfying dim sum experience in San Francisco, any of the above restaurants will not disappoint.