10 Great Eats in the Castro
By Andrew Villagomez
Located in the heart of The Castro, Hi Tops, which opened last fall and is the city's first gay sports bar, if you can believe it, serves up the classics (Buffalo Wings, et al.) you'd expect from a sports-centric watering hole, though with a decidedly fancy twist, including a four cheese grilled sandwich (smoked gouda, cheddar, gruyere, and jarlsberg) with dried fruit chutney. One note, this place is poppin and can at times be pretty full.
While Hi Tops of course has burgers, they're taken a bit more seriously a few buildings southwest at SliderBar. This mini California chain (the original opened in Palo Alto) offers a variety of pint-sized sandwiches made of beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, and veggies and many comes with sassy names, such as the Double Trouble (double grass-fed beef patties based sliders), the Hot Chick (fresh ground chicken with various spicy ingredients and add ons), and Italian Stallion (pork patty with Italy's finest added).
Continuing southwest, you'll find long-standing favorite Catch, a cozy seafood spot where Harvey Milk's first camera shop once stood (not to be confused with his later camera shop, which is now an HRC shop). Though most of the dishes are delicious, we recommend the seared halibut, sauteed blue talapia, and linguine with clams. Eat inside or out on the heated, screened patio.
The divier establishment Harvey's also draws on the legendary activist's legacy, and pairs it with Americana fare and a "build your own damn burger" (even soy) attitude. If you're not up to the pressure, choose one of their pre-designed creations, like the Rita Moreno: beef topped with jalapaneos, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, and guacamole. As if that's not enough, Harvey's also hosts comedy acts and trivia games throughout the week.
Another oldie but goodie is La Méditerranée, or "La Med" for short, which serves Greek and Middle-Eastern cuisine. If you'd rather go with sushi, you've come to the right place because there's no shortage of sushi joints by the Bay. Osaka Sushi and Barracuda Sushi are among the best in town, and their Castro-centric location makes the perfect for a light meal before hitting the bars. Both have plenty of fish from the sea and some land options, but fusion rules at Barracuda, where you can enjoy the Hungry Man Loco Moco (katsu pork, ground angus patty, fried egg and more), the Japanese cowboy signature beef roll (crab meat and kobe beef), and the spicy lion king roll (a baked California roll topped with salmon and spicy mayo).
Located near the corner of Market and Castro St., your French go-to is Bisou. Creating traditional French eats from organic Cali-grown products, the options here include the petrole sole roulade (stuffed with crushed pine nuts), pork penderloin, and a cheese souffle for dinner. Brunch is also available with various eggs benedicts and crepes and of course rainbow-flavored macarons. If you're in the mood for Indian food, we recommend a reliable standby, Bombay Indian on Market Street. You can't really go wrong at this long-running favorite.
Meanwhile, The top rated, traditional American restaurant, Frances, features an ever-changing rotation seasonal dishes showcasing local products from Northern California’s farmers. With an intimate, upscale ambiance, previous entrees have included Sonoma duck breast, apple wood smoked bacon beignets, and Gulf speckled trout. Wine by the ounce option is available and so too are market shots, described as "whatever we find at the market gets juiced, spiced, and spiked." Book far in advance for table.