The Best Mall Food And Union Square Eats For Last-Minute Shoppers

You’ve been shoved and spritzed, and have been schlepping all day. And suddenly, you find yourself in front of a table of sweater options for Aunt Tammy, starving and in a low-blood-sugar lull, unable to make a decision. No one should be expected to go with her gut when it’s entirely empty. Well, standing by, is your personal concierge (ahem, us!) re: what to eat in S.F.'s holiday-shopping epicenter, aka the Westfield Mall and Union Square. From a banh mi cafe to an authentic Neopolitan pizzeria, we've got 8 hotspots (that aren't Subway or Starbucks) where you can catch your second wind before conquering that sale rack.
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Why go: The pizza here is legit. For starters, the sign outside reads, “Verace Pizza Napoletana,” authorizing Cupola as practitioners of traditional Neopolitan pizza. Even more telling, in our foodie-obsessed town, is its endorsement from the Chronicle’s Michael Bauer, who praised the thin-crust pies as some of the best in the Bay Area. We’ve been, twice, and we kind of agree.

What to order: The eight pizzas on the menu live up to the hype. Our favorite is the sausage.

Where: Cupola, 845 Market Street (on the 4th floor of Westfield Centre); 415-896-5600.

Photo: Courtesy of Cupola
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Why go: This posh hideaway, overlooking Union Square, is an institution for the well-heeled, who come to nibble on canapés under the soft-focus light of a magnificent glass dome. For the rest of us, it’s an always-available alternative to the insanely crowded Cheesecake Factory at Macy’s. Bonus: the complimentary popovers also happen to be the best bread in town.

What to order: Sip on a glass of the Rotunda's new champagne cocktail, a refined concoction of Veuve Clicquot and orange bitters. Then go luxe and order the signature Lobster Club. Or, treat your best friend to high tea, from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m., and kill two birds with one stone.

Where: The Rotunda, 150 Stockton Street (4th floor of Neiman Marcus); 415-249-2720.

Photo: Courtesy of Rotunda
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SC Asian

Why go: You’re trapped inside the belly of the department store, and there it is, the all-new SC Asian, short for “Stir Crazy Asian,” with its expansive 160-seat dining hall, beckoning you to take a load off and to succumb to its generously-sized portions of pan-Asian favorites.

What to order: With an open kitchen of steaming hot wok stations, our vote is for the made-to-order stir fry. Tempting, too, are the Asian flat breads — certainly not authentic — but you can’t go wrong with anything freshly baked in a wood-burning oven.

Where: SC Asian, 170 O’Farrell Street (Cellar of Macy’s); 415-296-8888.

Photo: Courtesy of SC Asian
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Super Duper

Why go: Fast food done ethically is the philosophy at this rare (ha!) burger joint. The meat is sourced from Niman Ranch, the shakes are whipped from organic Strauss cream from nearby Petaluma, and all packaging is compostable.

What to order: A mini burger, with a quarter-pounder patty, might be just enough to hit the spot. Splurge on all the fixings, including the can’t-miss garlic fries, and an extra helping of the complimentary homemade pickles. For the red meat-adverse, the portobello mushroom burger is just as juicy and smoky.

Where: Super Duper, 721 Market Street (between 3rd and 4th streets); 415-538-3437.

Photo: Via Facebook/Super Duper
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Why go: Sample a creative gourmet sandwich from Top Chef host Tom Colicchio at his only casual San Francisco outpost.

What to order: Cheese lovers should go to town on the hot paninis, oozing with the good stuff. Our favorite is the sweet and savory ham sandwich with poached pears, smothered in cheddar on cranberry bread. Don’t forget dessert — an ice cream ‘wich, featuring the flavor of the day.

Where: 'Wichcraft, 868 Mission street (at 5th Street, next to Bloomingdale’s); 415-593-3895.

Photo: Via Facebook/'Wichcraft
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Loving Hut

Why go: A no-brainer choice for vegans, and anyone who prefers to dine low on the food chain. Its location, inside the Westfield food court, means you can eat and get back to your list, stat.

What to order: Dig into one of the refreshingly crisp salads or get your protein allowance with a marinated soy sandwich. Wash it down with a non-dairy Thai iced tea with soy creamer.

Where: Loving Hut, 845 Market Street (Lower Floor at the Westfield Centre); 415-362-2199.

Photo: Via Facebook/Loving Hut
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Why go: The Mission comes to you at this authentic taqueria and restaurant. It’s an airy oasis that's worlds away from the pretension of its fancy neighbors.

What to order: Margaritas and anything with shrimp are stellar; also, well worth it: an extra order of chips, to give you a reason to make another trip to the zesty salsa bar.

Where: Tropisueno, 75 Yerba Buena Lane (between 3rd and 4th streets); 415-243-0299.

Photo: Via Facebook/Tropisueno
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Cafe Dolci

Why go: Marinated protein, perfectly pickled root vegetables, and a generous slathering of pate, on a toasted, flaky bun — it all adds up to the best banh mi in these parts. The spot's banker hours, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., make this a must-stop on weekday shopping excursions. We suggest skipping the lunch crush and calling ahead of time.

What to order: You’ll be in a happy place with the roasted pork banh mi and a Vietnamese coffee. For pescatarians, the giant fresh shrimp rolls will keep you powered up. Take it to go, for a picnic at Yerba Buena Gardens, or scarf it down on your walk back to the mall.

Where: Cafe Dolci, 740 Market Street (between 3rd Street and Grant Avenue); 415-392-9222.

Photo: Via Facebook/Cafe Dolci