Although the exact origins of corned beef and cabbage are unknown, we do know that the term “corned” was recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary as early as 888 A.D. “Corn,” is modified from the Old Germanic, “kurnam,” which meant small seed. Kernels of rock salt are comparable in size to wheat or oat kernels and so developed the term “corn of salt.” Corned beef is made by covering beef with “corns of salt” in a pot to preserve its longevity.
Corned beef and cabbage is by no means considered Ireland’s national dish, but instead emerged as an Irish-American cultural tradition in the 19th century. Today, Irish Americans widely celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a meal of corned beef and cabbage. Follow this road map to corned beef and cabbage in San Francisco:
Price: Lunch – $11.50; Dinner – $17.50; Prix-fixe – $19
Hours: Thurs to Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thurs to Sat – 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sun Brunch – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sun Dinner– 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“Nua Gacha Bid Agus Sean Gacha Dighe” (All food fresh, All drink mature) – Old Irish Saying.
A trip to the United Irish Cultural Center Restaurant is well worth the trek to the Outer Sunset. Patrons the globe over are given an Irish welcome by Tommy Clune, that makes you feel more like you’re coming home. The corned beef and cabbage is tender with little fat and served with shredded cabbage and a drizzle of horseradish sauce.
The Irish Bank Bar & Restaurant
10 Mark Lane
San Francisco, CA 94108
Price: $12.95 dinner, $11.95 lunch
Hours: Daily 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Many call The Irish Bank Bar a “true” Irish pub. There is a wide variety of both domestic and imported beers on tap including Smithwicks and Harp, as well as Magners cider from Ireland. Enjoy traditional Irish fare including, corned beef and cabbage, in a relaxing, romantic and lively atmosphere. From the 19th century water pump and whitewashed exterior out front to the collection of antiques, photographs and historical documents inside, The Irish Bank is a feast for the eyes as well as belly.
1940 Taraval St.
San Francisco, CA 94116
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 4 p.m. to midnight.; Fri to Sat 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.; Sun 10 a.m. to midnight
Experience your corned beef and cabbage like a local of Parkside at this clean, friendly and comforting tavern. Reincarnated in 2009, the Parkside Tavern is a one-of-a-kind gastropub in the Parkside neighborhood of San Francisco’s Sunset district. The menu changes seasonally and is influenced by Irish and American fare. The corned beef and cabbage is only served as a special on Fridays, as well as on St. Patrick’s Day.
O’Reilly’s Irish Pub & Restaurant
622 Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Hours: Mon to Sun – 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Only a personal visit to O’Reilly’s can confirm whether it really does serve what many call the best corned beef and cabbage in San Francisco. Stay for a chat with bartenders Deidre (Dee-druh) or Connor and pen some notes on upcoming travels to the mother land. Located off of Columbus Avenue in San Francisco’s primarily Italian North Beach neighborhood, O’Reilly’s proves that the Irish have arrived. If you are bringing the kiddos, be aware that children are allowed in dining room only.
37 New Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Hours: Mon to Fri – 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For a corned beef sandwich that is “melt-in-your-mouth” good, visit The Sentinel for a lunch that will save you enough coin to take another sandwich home for dinner. Located on the corner of New Montgomery and Stevenson Alley, The Sentinel is for those who take their sandwiches seriously. The lunch-only counter is a “beast” of a shop. Be prepared for military efficiency.
1101 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
For a truly eye-opening experience at a landmark address, visit Tommy’s Joynt and get greeted by a cafeteria-style counter with its famous, “wall of meat.” The Joynt’s motto: “There’s no place–any place–quite like this place, so this must be the place.” You can’t miss Tommy’s at the corner of Geary and Van Ness. The corned beef and cabbage is only available on Saturdays.
333 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Restaurant Hours: 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily
In a sandwich or on your plate as an entree, corned beef is on the menu at Lefty’s for less than the price of a movie ticket. Conveniently located off of Union Square, Lefty O’Doul’s is a San Francisco institution. Spacious and kid friendly, the restaurant and lounge is named after San Francisco-born baseball player, Francis “Lefty” O’Doul. What you save on food can be spent in the adjoining stadium store.
The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant
198 5th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Price: Dinner – $10.50
Food Service Hours: Mon to Fri 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sun 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The Chieftain Irish Pub is a cozy and fun place to have your corned beef and cabbage paired with cider or a wide array of whiskeys. If you enjoy a little sports gaming as a side to your meal, The Chieftain is the pub for you. “World Sports Shown Live,” including the Carling Cup Semi-Finals in January as well as a full schedule of games for the NFL.
Related: Bay Area’s Best Historic Restaurants