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    Dine and Drag: Where Do San Francisco’s Drag Artists Dine?

    By David Landis–

    We all know that drag artists have great taste. Witness the sartorial splendor of such local celebrities as Donna Sachet, D’Arcy Drollinger, and Sister Dana, to name a few.

    But what about their taste in restaurants? The Gay Gourmet asked some of the Bay Area’s top drag queens/artists for their favorite foodie haunts. Here’s what they had to say! Drop by some of these culinary gems and you might just catch a glimpse of one of our glamorous stars.

    Donna Sachet
     on Market is my choice for wonderful, personal service, inviting seating both inside and out, and incredible cuisine specializing in seafood. My go-to dish is the always reliable and delicious fish and chips, but be sure to check for tempting daily specials. This is where I go to meet and get business done. Whether nailing down a contract, negotiating a charitable donation, or fleshing out an upcoming event, one can linger over a glass or two of wine from a considerable list while soaking up a lovely setting. The historic connection to the AIDS Memorial Quilt is significant with a rotating display on the front wall evoking important memories. Harvey’s at Castro and 18th Streets is the place to be seen! We recently joined Bruce Vilanch and Patrik Gallineaux, sitting at the corner table inside, visible to all and welcoming visitors. During the day, a Bloody Mary is the only way to go, while the evening offers more selections, many festively named after gay icons. The comfort food is perfect for the location with French fries (in a variety of versions) not to be beaten anywhere and burgers of every description, bound to please any palate. The Sausage Factory on Castro Street is a guilty pleasure for that night when calories simply don’t count and one hasn’t eaten substantively in days. This historic family-run restaurant deserves mention for its long association with the neighborhood, often offering its back room for meetings and special events. If it’s Italian pasta you crave, this is the place.

    Sister Dana
    Lately there has been very little dining out for me. But when I do, my top fave has been Orphan Andy’s for decades now. It’s open all day and all night, almost always. Secondly would be Osaka Sushi, a couple doors down from my apartment on the 400 Castro Street block. Third is the Anchor Oyster Bar—also in the Castro. I am very Castro-centric, having proudly lived in the heart of the Castro forever! 

    D’Arcy Drollinger and Snaxx, from OasisSF
    Starbelly: We both have many, many a meeting there and everyone is so kind and generous with the space. Get the pâté! Dumpling Time: Dumplings are perfect after a night at the Oasis! Square Pie Guys: Gourmet pizza that is so delicious—locations in San Francisco and Oakland! 

    Kylie Minono
    My favorite steakhouse is Osso Steakhouse. My favorite breakfast spot is the Pork Store Cafe, the 16th street location. And I love the Dancing Yak, which has Nepali cuisine. 

    The Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy
    For casual comfort food, I have always loved La Méditerranée on Noe. It’s a staple, with consistently good food, a charming staff that makes you feel like family, and a friendly neighborhood vibe. As a San Francisco native, The House of Prime Rib holds a special place in my heart! Yes, getting a reservation is a task of Herculean effort, but the payoff is always there. The place has a magic that’s hard to find in a city of fine dining and fads. Whether dining in or taking out, I have had a long love affair with Hayes Valley staple, Il Borgo. This family run Italian restaurant knows exactly who it is, from the murals on the walls, to the fresh pastas, and charming owner who always remembers my order (the fettuccine il Borgo). It’s divine and definitely worth a visit! Runners up: queer (and drag queen owned) Little Star Pizza on Valencia, best pizza in town. And Cafe Mystique: it’s not fancy, but it always makes me happy! 

    I love Starbelly, Zuni, and Tu Lan.

    Sister Roma
    Roma’s Ristorants Italiano. Roma’s is my first choice and it’s not just because the place is owned and operated by one of my best friends and is named after me. It’s a cozy and inclusive queer-owned and operated business that rose from the ashes of the pandemic and is thriving while so many of our sacred spaces are closing for good. And if that’s not enough, check the Yelp reviews. The food is next level delicious. Rocco’s Café. You may have seen me on Check, Please! Bay Area a few years ago raving about my love for Chef Don and Rocco’s Cafe. Well, nothing’s changed. Rocco’s remains one of my favorites for homemade comfort food in a friendly and historic San Francisco landmark. Chisme Cantina and Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers. It’s a TIE! Gotta give a shout out to my two local favorites. Chisme and Pearl’s are both less than a block away from me and have been lifesavers during the pandemic. Lucky for me, they serve up some of the best Mexican and the best burgers in San Francisco!

    Bobby Friday
    The Vault Garden: Okay so maybe I’m a little biased since I have done a brunch show at The Vault Garden, but the food is always DELICIOUS! Your meal usually starts out with house-made Parker rolls with sea salt and whipped butter, and honey; there is no better way to start a meal than with … bread! It is set in a posh and lovely environment, the staff is always wonderful, and it makes for a truly special experience in the fabulous financial district. The Blind Butcher: My favorite place for eats in The Castro is definitely The Blind Butcher. They have a filet mignon that is so good! Now some people might gasp, but I don’t really like octopus—it’s definitely a texture thing for me. However, the way they cook it, there is nothing squishy about it. Not only is it cooked to perfection, but it also comes with a sauce that is to die for. To round off the experience, they seem to hire the cutest boys to be on their staff. I’m a drag queen eating in the Castro; I notice these things! Turtle Tower: So, my third choice is going to be Turtle Tower. They have two locations: one in the Tenderloin and SOMA. One of my go tos is soup. Especially when the weather has been chilly, like it has been the last couple months. My favorite type of soup is Pho. I absolutely love the stir-fried beef and pan-fried noodle soup they have. My go-to, however, is the Pho Ga. It’s a delicious chicken noodle soup that is great for any occasion. But if it is lunch time, I am definitely finishing it off with one of their delicious Vietnamese iced coffees for a little extra pep in my step.

    Juanita MORE!
    I cook almost every day, and because of that, I find that I like to go to familiar places and eat the things that I’ve loved for years and don’t have the time to cook at home. Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Plaza Building is at the top of that list. The view of the Bay Bridge and the simple service are an excellent combination. They have kept me satisfied with yummy things from their larder throughout the pandemic. One thing I have never walked away without is the lemon curd tart. Co-owners Lori Regis and Executive Chef Amaryll Schwertner are thirty-year veterans in the Bay Area Food community and are working hand-in-hand with local farmers. I have been following them from restaurant to restaurant since the mid-80s. I’m also a big fan of Zuni Cafe. I’ve also been eating there since the mid-80s back when all I could afford was a margarita and the guacamole—which our server would prepare tableside in a molcajete. Nowadays, I stop by for lunch and sit outside with my French bulldogs, Jackson and Macho, and have the legendary Zuni Burger, shoestring fries, and a Caesar salad. I will mention that this last place I frequented regularly pre-pandemic—the Slanted Door, which closed its doors soon after the lockdown in San Francisco. From its first inception on Valencia Street, I was a regular and addicted to Chef Charles Phan’s signature dish, Shaking Beef. The tender cubes of filet mignon—sautéed with red onions and vinaigrette and then served with a lime, salt, and pepper dipping sauce over tender watercress—still makes my mouth water. I once got a strict pescatarian to lean over my plate and take a bite. I recently read that they would try and reopen. I hope we don’t lose this gem of a place to the list of restaurant closures in our beautiful City by the Bay.

    Miss Rahni
    Lolinda for dinner: oxtails are everything! Foreign Cinema is amazing for brunch or dinner! NOPA: get the pork chop if they still have it!

    Bits and Bites
    Good news for The Castro: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently approved allowing new bars to open in the Castro. Previously, there was a ban on new bars in the neighborhood. Hopefully, this is good news to help alleviate many of the vacated storefronts in the hood.

    Kowbird, a family-owned and soul-infused fried chicken joint from barbecue guru chef Matt Horn, just opened in Oakland. The second idea from the chef that created the popular Horn Barbecue, Kowbird pays homage to Horn’s Southern comfort food roots.

    Cheesemonger Box is a unique artisan cheese subscription service that offers cheeses freshly cut-to-order and delivered straight to doorsteps monthly. Every cheese lover will delight in the offerings, curated in small batches from artisan selections to traditional offerings.

    Healthy juice and smoothies brand Karuna just released a new wine alternative called Karviva Unwined. This new Malbec inspired non-alcoholic beverage doesn’t go through the labor-intensive and wasteful de-alcohol process. Carefully blended with tart and powerhouse fruits, this burgundy-colored drink tastes like the well-loved Malbec, minus the alcohol. The drink pairs well with meat, fatty fish, dark meat poultry, and aged cheese.

    Club Feast, a San Francisco-based delivery service that lets restaurants keep 100% of the price of their meals, is expanding beyond the Bay Area and New York to 8 new markets. Consumers can save up to 40% over competing delivery services and pre-schedule their deliveries.

    To celebrate American Heart Health month in February, why not substitute ground turkey for ground beef? Crafted using only butcher-quality, whole-muscle cuts, Diestel’s organic fresh ground turkey provides a lean and flavorful alternative to high-cholesterol meats. The thoughtfully raised, 100% vegetarian-fed, pure ground turkey is also non-GMO project verified and completely free of antibiotics, hormones, growth stimulants, artificial ingredients, preservatives, and gluten. Available in white and dark meat varieties, Diestel’s organic ground turkey products are sold at select independent and natural food stores across the country.

    Having family in Alaska means that the Gay Gourmet is a big salmon lover—but getting it fresh is paramount. So, I was pleased to hear about Sitka Salmon Shares, the subscription box for wild-caught Alaskan seafood delivered right to your door. These make for excellent gifts for any seafood foodie in your life or a perfect solution for holiday entertaining this spring. 

    Oakland-based Voyage Foods is launching a nut-free peanut butter alternative that’s natural and sustainable. It’s creamy (not nutty) and delicious. The Gay Gourmet gives it four out of four snaps, recommended especially for those in your circle with nut allergies. 

    And, finally: Split, purveyors of “finger licking real food” and owned by the folks who run Mixt, just opened its new location on Broadway in Oakland.

    Dumpling Time:
    Square Pie Guys:
    Osso Steakhouse:
    Pork Store Café:
    Dancing Yak:
    La Mediterranee Noe:
    House of Prime Rib:
    Il Borgo:
    Little Star Pizza:
    Café Mystique:
    Zuni Café:
    Tu Lan:
    Roma’s Ristorante Italiano:
    Rocco’s Cafe:
    Chisme Cantina: 
    Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers:
    Boulette’s Larder:
    Slanted Door:
    Orphan Andy’s:
    Osaka Sushi:
    Anchor Oyster Bar:
    Foreign Cinema:
    Sausage Factory:
    The Vault Garden:
    The Blind Butcher:
    Turtle Tower:
    Cheesemonger Box:
    Karviva Unwined:
    Club Feast:
    Diestel organic fresh ground turkey:
    Sitka Salmon Shares:
    Voyage Foods:


    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer and a retired PR maven. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF or email him at: Or visit him online at:

    Published on February 10, 2022