Cheesy as it might sound, I’ve left my heart in San Francisco more than once. After ten years of calling the City by the Bay home, I continue to visit this growing mecca-of-industry for its innovative shops, authentic food and breathtaking views.
Since it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, it can be hard to keep tabs on the best shops, restaurants and hangouts of the moment. Here are some of my tried and true favorites (with a few new places mixed in, too):
Image by @papalotesf
One of the main things you can expect from a visit to San Francisco is really, really good food. For a traditional dim sum experience I go to Yank Sing, where you pick and choose from the dumpling carts that move around the room. The market dining at newer China Live (think New York’s Eataly, but the Chinese version) has an incredible seasonal tasting menu that blends traditional Chinese cuisine with California culinary style. And if you like Vietnamese, a trip to the famous Slanted Door is a must.
For a taste of the California farm-to-table scene, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Among my musts is Frances in the Castro district. Frances changes its menu every day, focusing on sustainable and local ingredients. Nopa is another local favorite (their cocktails are amazing), but it can be hard to get a table without a reservation.
If you ask me, no trip to San Francisco is complete without grabbing a burrito. My absolute favorite is from Papalote in the Mission - fans loved their salsa so much, they ask for it by the jar. Now the owners sell it throughout the city. La Taqueria is also a classic choice for San Francisco-style tacos and burritos.
Another fun stop is the farmers market at the Ferry Building. It may be more touristy than other markets around the city, but the view of the bay is hard to beat (and the vendor selection is always great).
Image by @ritualcoffee
Ritual is one of my favorite local roasters. They have locations all over the city, but their Mission coffeehouse is the best for people watching.
If you’re looking for a slightly different caffeine experience, try Philz. The baristas craft your cup exactly to your taste (including any cream or sugar you take with your coffee), so be sure to give them every detail when ordering.
When I’m downtown I’ll stop by Coffee Cultures. Their approach is unpretentious and their espresso, house-made chai and affogatos are always exceptional.
Image by @rutherfordhillwinery
Redwood Regional Park is another favorite, and a must-see if you’re looking to see some of the region’s most breathtaking redwoods. Plus, it’s more peaceful and manageable than the more frequented Muir Woods.
Image by @unionmadegoods
My favorite store in SF is Unionmade. It was started by Todd Barket (a former colleague of mine from GAP) - and it’s my favorite menswear store in the country. Everything is very well curated, so simply walking around the store is an inspiration.
For nature-made inspirations, visit the oasis of plants from around the world at the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park. The Chinese Magnolia collection in early spring is particularly special. Or take in the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the beach at Crissy Field. It’s a great spot to see the Marin Headlands, Angel Island and Presidio Park all at once - even on a fog-drenched day.
Image by @eltecho
The views at El Techo are incredible - but it can be hard to find a table after 5pm. Go midday and be sure not to go on a foggy day!
After meetings downtown I’ll grab a cocktail at Local Edition in Yerba Buena. The menu is expansive, and there is lots of leather seating. For the most creative cocktail list, go to Trick Dog. Their pairings are completely unexpected and always delicious.
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