Chef Picks

The Square Pie Guys Share Their Favorite San Francisco Restaurants on Caviar

Where the pizza-preneurs love to eat in the Bay Area.

15 min read
6/14/2022
square pie guys

The guys behind the Square Pie Guys pizzeria, also known as Danny Stoller and Marc Schechter, brought their brand of Detroit-style pizza to town in 2019. Since then, San Franciscans have enjoyed Motor City’s famous square pies at two locations, with a third in the works. Danny is a trained chef, while Marc is a self-taught pizzaiolo. Their best-selling pizza is the 6x8, which features 48 pieces of pepperoni arranged eight across and six down, hence the name. “If you dreamed about a pepperoni pizza, this would be it,” says Marc. Both are fans of their fellow local restaurateurs, and they shared some of their favorite spots to hit when they’re not expanding their pizza empire or working with celebs and other chefs on special collabs.

Danny’s Picks

Square Pie Guys - squash carbonara pie

Square Pie Guys

Think the guys ever tire of their own product? Think again. They’re regular consumers, if not customers, at this SoMa spot. Square Pie Guys has a whole roster of Detroit-style pizza from which to choose, from the regular, with red sauce and fresh mozzarella, to the offbeat, such as the new Souvla collab pie that is the popular Greek spot’s chicken salad in pizza form. Their classic buffalo wings are among Danny’s favorites. “Even when the pizzas are delivered, they  stay crunchy,” says Marc. In fact, they test every version of their pizzas to be sure that they will retain their crunchiness for at least 40 minutes. 

Dynamo Donut & Coffee

Since 2008, pastry chef Sara Spearin has been making artisan cakes and classic donuts at this shop. She offers flavors like passion fruit milk chocolate and chocolate star anise. Dynamo also serves killer coffee — perfect for dunking these high-end creations. Like Danny, Marc is also a fan, calling out the donuts’ light texture and crunchy glazes. They have vegan and gluten-free options as well as doggy donuts for your four-legged friend. 

Dumpling Time

From the team behind two Michelin-starred restaurants, it’s all about freshly made dumplings with locally sourced ingredients. They come in many forms, from delicate siu mai and steamed or seared bao to pan-crisped gyoza and juicy xiao long bao. The full menu here is available from 11 a.m. to nearly 9 p.m., which suits the schedules of these busy restaurateurs. 

Hawker Fare - blistered green beans

Hawker Fare 

Local, organic Asian street food is the mission at this tiki-themed restaurant in the Mission from owner James Syhabout. The dishes here are served family-style, so text some friends and family to join you. Even if you’re not big on vegetables, the blistered green beans here will absolutely make you reconsider that stance. This popular dish is tossed in homemade prik khing curry paste with smoked bacon. (You can leave the bacon off, but why would you?) The fried chicken and satay beef short ribs have also been hits since the doors opened in 2015. 

Mamahuhu

At Mamahuhu, they believe in affordable, sustainably sourced food — particularly Chinese American food. Local chef Brandon Jew of Mama Jiu’s and his partners have created a menu of beloved favorites with fresh twists, like the broccoli and beef, featuring grass-fed sirloin and dinosaur kale. The sweet and sour chicken is another house specialty, but, like Danny, you’ll find that everything here is special. 

Media Noche

Opened in 2017, Media Noche, from owners Jessie Barker (Nopa) and Madelyn Markoe (Tacolicious), serves Cuban food with a Miami accent. They have an authentic Cubano sandwich, but you’d be remiss not to try the eponymous Media Noche, which is a Cubano served on a sweet brioche bun. And any of the empanadas are a great way to get your meal underway. 

nopalito - totopos con chile

Nopalito

Californians love to debate the very best Mexican fare. Danny is here to end all that for you by shining a light on Nopalito. Many years before opening Nopalito in 2009, chef-owner Gonzalo Guzman developed an interest in all things food, from farming to cooking, in his native city of Catemaco in Veracruz, Mexico. His cuisine here is the real deal. There are tacos and bowls — all sublime—but whatever you get, slide a side of frijoles pinquitos into your cart. 

Oren’s Hummus

Restaurateur Oren Dobronsky opened Oren’s because the Tel Aviv native missed the genuine article. There’s a full menu of Israeli cuisine, but Danny was first drawn here by its now-famous hummus creations. You can build out your meal with the fresh Israeli salad and some grilled skewers or kebabs for a healthful spread. 

Pakwan Restaurant

Nearly 25 years ago Pakwan was born out of a dream — that of partners Khalid Amin and Mohammad Shahbaz — to serve Pakistani Indian cuisine to diners in the Bay Area. They’re all about authenticity here — and at any of their other locations. They’ve got all your favorite curries and some off-the-beaten-path ones, too, such as the karahi chicken, a north Pakistan speciality. Order now

Pho Dong Huong - pho ga

Pho Dong Huong

Also known as “World of Noodle,” this unassuming late-night Vietnamese restaurant is a great go-to for Danny after a long day and night at one of his restaurants. They’ve got over a dozen versions of pho, and there’s a special Hong Kong Kitchen menu, served from 5 p.m. until just after 1 a.m., where you’ll find craveable fare, like the baked pork chop and stir-fries. 

RT Rotisserie

This is rotisserie chicken done right. Culinary power couple Evan and Sarah Rich of Rich Table expanded their food footprint with RT Rotisserie, bringing perfectly cooked, juicy chicken to folks on the go. The chicken comes with a choice of two of their inventive side sauces, like chimichurri or chipotle yogurt. Sandwiches, salads, and bowls abound as do vegetable-driven sides, like the roasted cauliflower with red beet tahini. 

Señor Sisig

Way ahead of the curve, more than 12 years ago partners Evan Kidera and Gil Payumo identified a gap in the local offerings — Filipino street food. Señor Sisg is named for the popular Filipino pork dish of the same name that they later began making with a splash of Mexican influence in the way of burritos, nachos, and tacos. There are other proteins available, including tofu, but someone in your party is culinarily obligated to pick a Señor Sisig burrito with pork. 

spices - Deep Fried Fish Fillet with Explosive Chili

Spices

Spices is an under-the-radar spot that is most definitely on the radar of Chinese-food fans in San Francisco. Known for its modern interpretations of classic dishes and its insistence on only using high-quality fresh ingredients, Spices serves spicy Sichuan specialties. The deep-fried fish filet with explosive chile may sound daunting, but its heat level is actually in our sweet spot: medium. The menu is expansive and offers many dishes not seen at other run-of-the-mill Sichuan spots, such as spicy beef tendon and pig ear in red oil. 

Marc’s Go-To’s

Glaze

Running a restaurant group takes energy. Enter Glaze, which offers small-batch, housemade, and healthy Japanese fare, including delicious gluten-free teriyaki options. When Marc wants to power up and keep things clean without sacrificing flavor, he heads here. The teriyaki and salad plates are customizable (including the heat level), and feature proteins like grass-fed steak, chicken thighs, and salmon. 

Omakase

It’s easy to understand why Marc heads here when he wants an authentic sushi experience (but can’t make the time to travel to Japan). At Omakase, they source their fish from Tokyo’s world-renowned fish vendors in Sakasyu who fly their best selections to Omakase three times each week. Chef Jackson Yu and his team build a superb omakase experience at home with the Premium Nigiri Box and the Bluefin Nigiri Combo, both of which feature hard-to-come-by cuts. 

Pizzeria Delfina - the 4 formaggio pizza

Pizzeria Delfina

Just because Marc operates his own pizzerias doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate all pizzas. One of his faves is Pizzeria Delfina, from the team at the James Beard Award-winning Delfina. Serving some of the city’s best pizza since 2008, its pies are inspired by the pizzas of New York City and Naples, and they measure up — and then some. They’ve got more than a dozen pies, white and red. The 4 Formaggi, with tomato, fontal, provolone, and pecorino, is an understated masterpiece. 

Shalimar

If you like Indian-Pakistani fare, you probably already know about this gem tucked in the Tenderloin. There are big flavors in every dish and budget-friendly prices across the board. They serve tandoori specialties and naan, curries, and vegetable-centric selections. With just one bite, you’ll understand why the chicken tikka masala is overwhelmingly popular. 

Shanghai Dumpling King

You’re ordering here for the dumplings (and the BBQ pork buns!), and understandably so. But don’t overlook the other offerings at Shanghai Dumpling King. The menu is expansive and features an array of Chinese specialities, from orange peel beef and sesame chicken to glazed walnut prawns and egg foo young. 

souvla - chicken salad

Souvla

This fast-casual Greek concept was founded in 2014 and grew to several locations around the Bay Area. Marc’s go-to order is the chicken salad with chicken marinated in feta brine, expertly roasted, and adorned with fennel, navel orange, pickled red onion, pea shoots, and mizithra cheese over kale and romaine lettuce. This is like a San Francisco icon,” says Danny of the dish. “So delicious, so juicy,” Marc adds. 

Taqueria Guadalajara

Located in the Excelsior District, this is where you’ll find one of the city’s best Mission-style burritos. Their Super Burrito, rated the heaviest burrito in town by Buzzfeed in 2015, comes with a choice of seven proteins (and a meat-free option as well) and will satisfy even the biggest appetite. If you’re not ready to tackle that, there are terrific tacos, quesadillas, and nachos, too. 

The Snug

At The Snug in Pacific Heights, they specialize in upscale bar fare and California comfort food. The housemade pickles and beer nuts will pair well with any of your homemade cocktails. There are more shareable dishes, such as the Brussels sprouts with togarashi and honey mustard or the sesame naan with shiitake hummus. Heftier plates include a Wagyu cheeseburger and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. 

wesburger - hot wes zoomed in

WesBurger ‘N’ More

WesBurger 'N' More brings classic burgers and Southern fried chicken to the Mission with this riff on the American diner. Chef-owner Wes Rowe tops his hand-packed patties with delicious yet quirky combinations of top-quality ingredients, like the Hot Wes, topped with onion rings, queso, and pickled jalapeños. Beer and wine are also available to add to your cart. Order now

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen

If a native New Yorker says they’ve found good bagels in Los Angeles, listen up. Marc, who grew up in Great Neck, New York, just outside of Manhattan, knows good Jewish delis — and he’s found one here at Wise Sons. The bagels here are boiled and baked, and beyond that, Wise Sons has everything you’d expect to find at a Manhattan Jewish deli: latkes, a chopped liver plate, and an epic turkey club. 

beit rima - baba ganoush

Beit Rima

If you’re like Marc, you need a mezze spread in your life on a regular basis. When he gets the itch, he heads to Beit Rima from chef Samir Mogannam. Influenced by his Jordanian and Palestinian heritage, Mogannam has been serving welcoming Arabic comfort food since 2019. Just as we do, Marc enjoys the Things to Dip With menu section, all of which pair well with the mezze options like baba ganoush and muhammara. 

Casey’s Pizza

Marc’s an East Coaster, so it’s not surprising that he would seek out a taste of home at Casey’s Pizza. San Francisco’s first pizza truck back in the day, Casey’s serves Neapolitan-style East Coast pizza that would transport a pizza-phile like Marc back to his time growing up in New York. There are more than a dozen pies to choose from, but we’re betting Marc goes with the aptly named East Coast Pie, made with red sauce, fresh and aged mozzarella, pepperoni, garlic, basil, and thyme. 

4505 burgers & bbq - pulled pork sandwich

4505 Burgers & BBQ

Marc and Danny say 4505 serves “the best damn cheeseburger” — and they’re not wrong. The grass-fed burger is a deliciously messy two-hander. The pair also highly recommends the pulled pork and smoked brisket, dishes they would order when they frequented 4505 before beginning service at their pop-up in 2019. They have remained regulars ever since. Have extra napkins on hand when you order any of their burgers or build-your-own barbecue plates; you’re going to need them. 

Author

Caroline Potter