What are the best places for dessert in San Francisco?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Maria Hunt

Great dessert is never far away in San Francisco as the city is boasts some of the best artisanal ice cream shops in the country, bean-to-bar chocolate makers and fine restaurants with talented pastry chefs. Here are a few of the best places for dessert in San Francisco:

My current favorite is Tout Sweet Patisserie, the deliciously cute and modern pastry shop by Top Chef pastry winnery Yigit Pura. Tucked away on the 4th floor of Macy’s Union Square, the shop with a bird-eye view of Union Square offers well-executed classics like St. Honoré, pastel-hued macarons and the chocolate ganache tartlets spiked with salted caramel. But you'll be just as happy with an original creation like a citrus panna cotta topped with Negroni gelée, brown butter bread pudding or the bright  passion fruit and lemon Tesla tart topped with a housemade marshmallow.

Tartine Bakery in the Mission makes wonderful sweets throughout the day and more than lives up to it’s reputation as one of the best bakeries in the city. Start your day with a sugar-and-cinnamon morning bun or almond croissant, nibble on a meringue studded with toasted almonds after lunch or dig into a lemon meringue layered cake after dinner: Tartine is open until 8 p.m.

While you’re in the Mission, it makes sense to head around the corner to Bi-Rite Creamery for a scoop or an upscale ice cream sandwich. There’s usually a line of people waiting for their favorite housemade flavors made from Straus organic milk, eggs and cream like honey lavender or roasted banana. The best of the bunch is the intensely flavorful salted caramel ice cream; it has a faint bittersweet note from the burnt caramel that balances the swetness so you can’t wait for another taste.

I’ve also enjoyed truly decadent desserts at Spruce, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant in San Francisco. Pastry chef Robert Vallejos last worked at the acclaimed Manresa and creates desserts that are as divine as they are beautiful. The dish that turned my head was a plum tart with razor thin layers of fruit, crumbly topping and buttery crust so short it defied imagination.

Marianne Wong
  • Marianne Wong

  • Concierge, Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

  • San Francisco, California

Tartine Bakery in the Mission District has received much acclaim since its inception, receiving a James Beard Award in 2008 for Outstanding Pastry Chef.  Located in a district fast becoming the dining destination of San Francisco, the lines curl along the block on most days.  My favorite is the divine banana cream tart, I buy the smaller one, a sop to my conscience for over indulgence.  The patrons are mostly local and if there isn't a seat in this small space, bring your treats to Dolores Park a block away to enjoy it.  After the sugar rush, walk off your calories on Valencia Street and plan to enjoy a great cup of organic coffee at Four Barrels at 14th Street. 

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