In a city like San Francisco, it is easy for something like a meatball, which often gets dismissed as a mere adornment, to find its identity and makes its way to center stage. Here, people can sample the best of what each culture has to offer when it comes to meatballs. There are Spanish, Mexican, Italian, Swedish and Japanese meatballs (to name a few) – each that delight in their own way.

220 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 955-1919

Barbacco is the more casual and (reasonably) affordable sister to Perbacco, an upscale restaurant that sits next door. A popular happy hour spot in the Financial District, Barbacco bustles with men in suits and ladies in heels — all who are looking to soak up the modern trattoria environment that is encapsulated within its red brick walls. A perfect accompaniment to its fine wines are the Sicilian-style meatballs. Accented with raisins and pine nuts, the earthy flavor is complimented by braised chard and a thick and hearty tomato sugo. The only thing that can make this dish better is a crusty piece of bread for soaking up the sauce.

3317 Steiner St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 441-2223

Chotto, a Japanese izakaya, is cooking up a casual and warm environment within its contemporary walls with rustic wood accents. With a focus on simple flavors inherent to Japanese food, Chotto highlights fresh, seasonal products from local farms, ranches and fish markets. A playful and tasty addition to any meal at Chotto would be the tsukune, which are grilled chicken meatballs served on a skewer and with a side of homemade teriyaki sauce with a bright yellow egg yolk plopped right in the middle. The velvety yoke envelops the meatball to give it a rich and sensuous flavor. Open for dinner nightly, this Marina spot is a good place for a cocktail and some grilled delicacies.

1320 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 285-0250

Within its ambient walls that are characterized by clean lines and pops of lime green color, Contigo seeks to capture the charisma of Barcelona while bringing patrons the flavors and spices innate to Spanish and Catalan food. Situated in charming Noe Valley, Contigo prepares each dish from scratch with local and organic ingredients. With its tapas-style dining, diners can sample a variety of plates, and one that should not be missed is the albondigas. These Spanish meatballs are made with tender, flavorful pork and jamon and then served in a pool of slightly sweet tomato sherry sauce. Its flavorful food and lively ambiance are evocative of what the European dining experience is all about.

Pizzeria Delfina
2406 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 440-1189

3611 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 437-6800

With two San Francisco locations – one in the Mission and one in Pac Heights – Pizzeria Delfina has transcended hipster to yuppie. The pizzeria uses local, quality ingredients to produce traditional Italian food. It may be all about the pizza here, but the meatballs are worth making room for with one less slice. Made in the pizza oven, these Neapolitan-style meatballs are served to your table piping hot and with a delicate crust. The combination of pork, veal, beef, ricotta and breadcrumbs makes sumptuous meatballs. They are then covered in a zesty and slightly tangy tomato sauce that awakens your taste buds. Its intimate locations capture the Italian spirit that is so engrained in the food. Grab one of the sidewalk tables and enjoy the show.

Related: Best Pizza In San Francisco

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
1570 Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 835-9888

Located in the heart of North Beach is Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. With a maniacal focus on authenticity, all of the restaurant’s ingredients are imported from Napoli. While the pizzas might be the main attraction, the meatball gigante has found its share of fans over the years. This super-sized meatball – made with veal, pork and beef – can hardly be considered an appetizer and is best shared with another person. The succulent meatball then has the option to be topped with any of the following: marinara, sea-salted burrata, wild mushroom, pancetta and robiola or an egg and calabrese. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion as to what is right, but get the burrata. If you are looking to try the meatball gigante, show up early, as there is a limited supply of just 25 a day.

Related: Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

Jenna Broughton can frequently be found exploring the streets of San Francisco looking for her next adventure and gastronomic delight. She has traveled far and wide, from Paris to Savannah, GA, to satisfy her adventurous palate. Her work can be found at