A city guide to San Francisco (The City). I lived in San Francisco for about a year and a half straight out of College. It was an exciting time, moving countries, living with some new friends from school, and starting my first full-time job. I made it a goal of mine to discover something new every weekend I was in the city and these are the results.
- Mexico Tipico $ - SF is known for terrific Mexican food, and while there is a delicious burrito within 200 ft of you at all times (citation needed), there was no greater Mexican meal in the city than the unassuming Mexico Tipico. Located in the middle of nowhere relative to the city (Outer Mission) I actually used to live a few minutes away from here. So it was my go-to as well as the best I found across the whole city. If you go I recommend the Super Quesadillas and the Super Tacos, they are out of this world.
- Brenda’s French Soul Food $ - Be prepared for long lines for this tasty Southern cuisine. Casual and delicious what more could you want? Oh and they deliver too (check out the various apps). Standouts include fried chicken (obviously) and the beignets.
- Hinodeya Ramen Bar $$ - A refreshingly light ramen centered in the cute neighbourhood of Japantown, be careful there are bound to be long lines at peak hours
- Cuisine of Nepal $$ - One of my absolute favourite curry dishes I've had anywhere in the world. The unassuming joint located in Bernal Heights is a classic must-go when friends come to the city. The owner is often seen around chatting and drinking with patrons. I've only ever gotten the Cashew Chicken Curry because it's that good.
- The Italian Homemade Company $$ - Cute classic Italian spot in North Beach. The make loads of fresh pasta daily and if you're looking for a quick lunch spot while exploring North Beach this is the spot for you. I've never had a bad meal here.
- Kazan $$ - Kazan isn't one of the trendy Sushi restaurants and you won't find the long lines that are typical of San Franciscan restaurants but what you will find is reasonably priced sushi that has never disappointed.
- Baonecci $$ - Classic North Beach Italian spot. Tasty pasta's one of the better restaurants in an area so saturated with mediocre Italian restaurants.
- Z & Y Restaurant $$ - Get ready for the tingles. This is a Sichuan restaurant located in the heart of Chinatown. Huge menu so be sure to ask for recommendations, boiled fish and Sichuan noodles were standouts for us. As with most great restaurants in the city there's bound to be a line.
- Chez Maman $$ - Located in Hayes Valley, Chez Maman offers a deliciously fresh brunch here. This is one of the best places to start a lazy weekend day.
- Farmhouse Thai $$ - Thai food located in the Mission that has never disappointed. Amazing spring rolls and all of your classic Thai dishes.
- Le P’tit Laurent $$$ - This probably comes in as my favourite restaurant in the entire city. A little gem in Glen Park, step inside and you've been transported into a little cafe in Paris. Friendly staff, great wine and delicious French entrées.
- The North Beach Restaurant $$$ - Upscale Italian spot in North Beach. The price tag matches the quality.
🍬 Sweets and Treats
- Boba Guys $ - My favourite bubble tea in SF. Delicious boba pearls and nice tea. There is probably a line out front, but the line usually moves pretty quickly. There are a few locations across the city.
- Arsicault Bakery $ - Amazing croissants and baked goods. You must get the chocolate almond croissant, it is to die for.
- Bob’s donuts $ - I kid you not, the first time I ate a donut from Bob's I cried a little. I may have been slightly intoxicated, but nevertheless I've been countless times and had a similar experience. When you go, be sure to get whatever if freshest out of the deep fryer. There's bound to be a line, but it's well worth it. Oh and they're open until 4am 👀.
- Mitchell’s Ice Cream $ - There's a lot of trendy ice cream in SF (Bi-Rite, Smitten, Salt & Straw, etc), but there's something about Mitchell's that is refreshing and simple.
- Anthony's Cookies $ - Located towards the end of the main Valencia strip, this tiny cookie shop has amazing cookies.
- Craftsman and Wolves $$ - Small bakery located in the heart of the Mission with an amazing savory muffin called The Rebel Within, you must get this.
- Tartine Bakery $$ - If you haven't caught the trend by now, most of the good things in SF have long lines, Tartine is no exception. I'd be surprised if I didn't see a line around the block every weekend. But where there's crowds there's usually tasty food, visit Tartine for small cakes and desserts.
- Stable Cafe $ - Quaint coffeeshop in the Mission. Huge outside patio/garden, great for working.
- Ritual Coffee $ - Hip, communist vibes coffeshop in the Mission. One of my favourite brews in the city. Not a great work spot however.
- The Coffee Movement $ - Cute, tiny coffeeshop located in Nob Hill. Beautiful aesthetics and delicious coffees.
- Blue Bottle $$ - Bougie coffee, but it is pretty tasty. There's a few locations across the city. Would not recommend for working.
- Revolution Cafe - Really chill space with live music occasionally
- Trick Dog - Trendy and sleek bar with an interesting menu. Lots of unique cocktails.
- Brewcade - A huge arcade with alcohol
- Smuggler’s Cove - Cool to see once, expensive but decadent cocktails
- White Chapel - Feel like getting transported to a Steampunk dungeon while drinking tasty cocktails, check this one out.
- If you're looking for a rowdy street filled with bars and young people, Polk street is the destination. This is your classic bar crawl street.
Note: Watch out for the Tenderloin District (things/people get super sketchy).
🕶 Sites to see
- Twin Peaks - The highest vantage point of SF, spectacular views of the city but be prepared for it to be packed with tourists.
- Bernal Heights - In my opinion the best view of SF is from Bernal Heights. If you like sitting on some grass, watching the sunset, all without huge crowds this is the place to go.
- Dolores Park - Fun park in the Mission, usually crowded, but there's great views of the SF skyline.
- Palace of Fine Arts - Beautiful area to walk around, close to the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Golden Gate Park - Enormous park on the west side of the city that spans almost half of the city. You could spend many days here before seeing everything. There's a botanical garden that is beautiful, a Japanese Tea garden, multiple museums and even a buffalo paddock (you can see real live buffalo).
- Chrissy Fields - Park right beside the Golden Gate Bridge, nice to relax by and see the bridge from a cool viewpoint.
- Haight-Ashbury Neighbourhood - This is the historically hippy/bohemian area, now it's mostly touristy but still a cool area to walk around.
- Embarcadero Farmer’s Market - Farmer's market right on the water (bay-side), look up hours beforehand.
- Exploratorium - Science center, mostly for children, but on Thursday nights they host an after-hours night for adults and serve alcohol.
- Land’s End Labyrinth - Small little hike with beautiful views of the bridge and the bay. At the end there's some patterns made out of stones on the ground.
- Chinatown - One of the largest Chinatown's in the US, this is a pretty fun street to walk down. Lots of great Asian restaurants, markets and shops are here.
🎪 Touristy things that are worth seeing briefly
- Golden Gate Bridge - You can really miss it. There's a parking lot on each side of the bridge if you want to stop and check it out. On the north side of the bridge there are some streets that climb up the mountain and give great views of the city and the bridge together.
- Lombard Street - Super curvy/steep street with expensive houses lining it. Don't drive here. Just park and walk around for 10 minutes.
- Ghirardelli Square - Really touristy, but tasty chocolate.
- Fisherman’s Wharf - Musee Mecanique - This old school coin operated arcade is located near the end of the wharf and is maybe the only redeeming thing at Fisherman's Wharf
- Painted Ladies - If you watched Full House growing up this will probably be on your list to see. Now they're just regular people's homes, but there's a park across the street you can hang out and wonder why anyone would ever live there.
🏞 Leaving SF
- I tell everyone to drive down Highway 1 from San Francisco until they get bored, but this was my typical, I have nothing planned, let's go on a drive day. Such a peaceful drive with gorgeous views the entire time.
- Santa Cruz: Larger city but still coastal vibes. There's a boardwalk and the area is known for surfing.
- Pescadero - Tiny coastal town, must go to Duartes for Artichoke soup and Olliliberry pie
- Half Moon Bay - Quaint coastal town, nice to walk around.
- Humboldt Redwoods State Park - The tallest trees in the world are here, lots of gorgeous hikes and camping.