January 4 is National Spaghetti Day, but San Francisco offers this classic Italian comfort food all year long in glorious variations from fruit of the sea to spicy. Enjoy a hearty plate whenever you get the craving. These following spots are the absolute best for indulging in the Italian classic. Find your favorite among the offerings.
601 Union St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Original Joe’s turned 75 in its elegant new location in North Beach in 2012, after the Tenderloin neighborhood spot which opened in 1937 during the Depression burned down. The clientele epitomizes San Francisco whether dining in the signature red booths or solo at the counter. Patrons dress for upscale dining or casually to watch sports in the bustling lounge with a crackling fire and loud conversations. This third-generation, family-owned restaurant features Italian-American comfort food including spaghetti with meat sauce for $13.95, spaghetti with meat balls for $16.95 and spaghetti carbonara for $17.95.
1042 Kearny St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Tommaso’s tells a colorful story full of celebrities like Francis Ford Coppola and Herb Caen as well as starving artists and jazz musicians. Seventy years old and aged to perfection, this warm and friendly family treasure remains in its original North Beach location with its historic wood-fired pizza oven. It’s one-of-a-kind, small and family run with Carmen Crotti and Anna Crotti welcoming guests and speaking to each other in Italian. The family comes from Lake Como on the Swiss border and uses more butter, less garlic and less red sauce than most Italian spots. Also, Tommaso’s bottles its own marinara. Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and parsley costs $14.50. Tommaso’s remains Neopolitan with murals of Napoli all around and serves spaghetti with marinara or meat sauce for $14. Spaghetti in a meat sauce with mushrooms, meatballs or sausage costs $15. Spicy spaghetti dishes come with either calamari for $16 or shrimp for $18. If you would like to enjoy the perfect glass of wine with your spaghetti, Tommaso’s has various family wines to offer.
69 W. Portal Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94127
Mozzarella di Bufala serves just about any kind of spaghetti your heart desires including spaghetti frutti di mare. It’s $16.35 for a plate with not just clams but also prawns, fish and mussels in marinara sauce with white wine and herbs. Spaghetti fresh clams comes with clams and mussels in a white wine clam sauce for $14.45. Simple spaghetti and meatballs in marinara sauce is $12.95. This 25-year-old, family-owned restaurant caters, delivers and fills orders to-go and online.
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330 Gough St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Stelline feeds the opera, ballet and Davies Symphony Hall patrons with a good value menu, making its own pesto for the spaghetti pesto with pecorino cheese at $10.50. Unpretentious, Stelline serves spaghetti with marinara and meatballs at a palatable $11. If you like your marinara with black olives, capers, tomatoes, basil, garlic and pecorino, try the puttanesca for $11. Spaghetti gamberetti means bay shrimp with crushed red pepper and white wine lemon sauce for $13.
18 Virginia Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack serves families in the early hours before the cool and casual locals start to party with some loud music and tasty drinks. If you don’t make it in early, enjoy dinner until 11:30 p.m. on weekends if planning a late meal. Ten bucks gets you a plate of Emmy’s spaghetti with marinara and $13 gets you the meatballs. A mere $2.50 gets you a side of marinara or an extra meatball and $3 gets you garlic bread. The small additional charges for add-ons are worth it.
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