The first question you may be asking is: What is dim sum? Dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine that is similar in many ways to Spanish tapas. Traditionally, your brunch or lunch group will be seated at a table while servers navigate the dining room, pushing carts piled high with dumplings, buns, xiao long bao, and other authentic favorites. When you see something you like, you simply point it out, share and enjoy!
In San Francisco, dim sum is flourishing. We have a mix of traditional spots complete with carts and bao buns, bakery-style take-out counters, and approachable, dim sum menus. So whether it’s your first time trying this Chinese dish or your thousandth time, there’s a place in the city for you.
Take a tour of SF’s best local spots, then share your favorites in the comments below!
Get directions: 1039 Stockton St
At this local joint in Chinatown, you will most likely have to stand in line, but it’s definitely worth the wait. In fast, bakery-style fashion, you’ll order your dim sum dishes from the case to be packaged and taken with you on-the-go. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the available dishes — the staff is more than happy to give suggestions!
Get directions: 101 Spear St + 49 Stevenson St
Photo courtesy of Yank Sing and Kingmond Young Photography
At Yank Sing, they serve dim sum the old-fashioned way. While seated at your table, servers will push trays of dishes through the dining room and you simply point to the one you want. You’ll find a sampling of their steamed, baked, grilled, stir-fried and deep-fried items on the website, but you can always ask a server for a specific item if you don’t see it on the carts. With multiple shout-outs from The Michelin Guide, the San Francisco Chronicle, Zagat and the James Beard Foundation, you know you’re in for a delicious meal at Yank Sing.
Get directions: 3300 Geary Blvd
This Laurel Heights spot was opened by Annie Ho after she stepped down from Hong Kong Lounge to open a smaller place where she could keep closer tabs on both the food and the service. They offer traditional dim sum between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and similar “Asian Tapas” on their dinner menu. We definitely recommend stopping by to find out for yourself why Hong Kong Lounge II has been heralded by The Michelin Guide and the San Francisco Chronicle for multiple years in a row!
Get directions: 365 Gellert Blvd + 4288 Dublin Blvd + 768 Barber Ln
This family-owned dim sum favorite is set up for big groups interested in eating in traditional family style. With shallow koi ponds weaving between the tables, you’ll have plenty to admire while you wait for shareable dishes like roasted suckling pig or sticky rice noodle rolls surrounding shrimp, sesame oil and minced ginger. Stop by next time you’re in Daly City, Dublin or Milpitas!
Get directions: 5322 Geary Blvd
Hong Kong Lounge in the Richmond District has been a long-time San Francisco favorite. Served in traditional style, the menu includes brunch buns, dumplings and cakes, as well as banquet and dinner options.
You can also stop by the team’s Lai Hong Lounge in Russian Hill which got a Bib Gourmand on the 2018 Michelin Guide!
Get directions: 4416 18th St
Photo courtesy of Mama Ji’s
It’s no coincidence that Mama Ji’s shows up on nearly every San Francisco dim sum roundup. Lily (Mama Ji) and Marv Wolpa serve the homestyle Chinese food Lily grew up eating with her family in Sichuan. Alongside a great selection of Belgian beers, wines and traditional teas, you’ll find steamer baskets full of shrimp dumplings, mouth-watering steamed BBQ pork buns, deep fried meat dumplings, and so much more!
Get directions: 11 Division St
Dumpling Time is another stand-out restaurant from Omakase Restaurant Group — the team behind Okane and Michelin-starred Omakase. When you walk in, you’ll see a glass-encased room where you can watch dumplings being made fresh. Then, grab a seat, take a look at the local-packed beer and wine list, and get ready to have a new favorite lunch spot.
Get directions: 662 Commercial St
It’s all about the dim sum at this Financial District hotspot. In traditional cart style, you’ll choose from steamed buns, cakes and turnovers, fried dumplings, skewers, and other savory or sweet dishes. And we think you’ll love every single one!
9. Good Luck Dim Sum
Get directions: 736 Clement St
The secret is out about this authentic, Inner Richmond dim sum spot. Though there are a few tables, the no-frills restaurant is most popular for dim sum take-out. With most options (including huge steamed BBQ pork buns) offered under $2, you can stock up on multiple dishes and leave with an inexpensive, shareable meal.
Get directions: 5700 Geary Blvd
Geary Boulevard has been dim sum central for years so nobody was surprised when the team behind Koi Palace decided to open Dragon Beaux right here in Outer Richmond. Serving a mix of contemporary and traditional, their dim sum menu has everything from sweet and savory to fried and in a hot pot. Served alongside tea, wine and sake, we definitely recommend a stop here on your dim sum tour!
11. Dumpling Kitchen
Get directions: 1935 Taraval St
This locale doesn’t serve dim sum in the traditional way, but their menu is full of shareable dishes like famous pan-fried dumplings, braised pork, xiao long bao and potstickers. No matter what time you stop in, there will likely be a wait, but you’re always in for a treat!
Get directions: 2550 Van Ness Ave
This no-frills hidden gem on Van Ness is located inside da Vinci Villa hotel and serves some of the best dumplings in the city. Because this spot manages to stay under the radar for most tourists, you’ll likely find a less crowded dining room and more time to savor xiao long bao, sticky rice in lotus leaf, steamed spare ribs, and more.
Get directions: 726 Clement St
Chili House’s executive chef, Chef Han, has been cooking since 1988 and has served his authentic fare to Chinese Presidents and Foreign Ministers. With a little bit of Szechuan, a little bit of Northern Chinese, Beijing dim sum and entire Peking Ducks, everyone will find something they love. Check out the dim sum gallery to start drooling over egg rolls, fried prawns and scallion pancakes before you even arrive.
Get directions: 5821 Geary Blvd
Another Geary Boulevard standby, Ton Kiang has been said to have the most unique Chinese food in the city. Because their menu is primarily Hakka cuisine, it’s inspired by travel and made up of dishes and ingredients from each of the regions through which the Hakka people traveled over 1,000 years ago. The dim sum menu may seem overwhelming, but you can’t go wrong with anything you choose.
Share your favorites
If we missed your favorite dim sum spot in San Francisco, let us know in the comments below!