I am frequently asked for recommendations and local knowledge about the city I live in and love. I’ve put it all in one place – just for you!
Walking up and down Valencia St in the Mission is fillllllled with stuff to eat and buy and see.
Coit Tower is pretty, and you can get a great view from the adjoining park without paying to go up in the tower. But! the green space directly to the east of it, between it and Embarcadero, is like being in The Shire in the middle of the city. Magic!
Dolores Park, 20th/Dolores, the southwest corner has the best free view of downtown.
If you go to Dolo, because yolo, it’s fun to grab an ice cream sandwich at Bi-Rite – for which you do not have to wait in line because they are pre-made and since nobody is scooping a thing for you, you can avoid the wait & get the treat in yo mouth sooner.
Inside Golden Gate Park is the de Young (beautiful building, amazing viewing spot that’s free to get into, pretty cool modern art), close to the California Academy of Sciences (arts, sciences, fish), and the Japanese Tea Garden are all pretty cool.
If you walk out that way, the strip on Haight close to GG Park has some fun spots: Parada 22 and The Alembic are great for drink and food), and Free Gold Watch (actually on Waller, about 24 retro pinball games and a few old school arcade games).
Serrano’s Pizza in the Mission, 21/Lexington, is pretty amazing. They make each slice custom for you. Bigger than your average. I’m a fan of the Valencia.
Mau on Valencia is delish and affordable Vietnamese. Get the fried pork rolls with lettuce wraps, Cha Giao or similar. It could be a meal
Mama Ji’s in the Castro is dim sum and delicious and you can sit outside
El Metate has the best burrito in the mission, on 22/Bryant. Don’t come for me, bro, with any other place. They win on price, size, quality, and distribution of ingredients. Seriously, it’s not just a whole bite of beans and then a whole bite of vegetables. Oh, and get the vegetarian burrito – now with real vegetables!
Southern Pacific Brewing on 19/Treat. Lots of their beers, some other folks’ beers, pretty good grub. Recommend the garlic fries with any meal.
Crafty Fox, 13/Mission, another nice brewpub with a wide variety of taps, and a truly truly excellent fried chicken sando. Less excellent if it’s busy, though.
Tacolicious on 18/Valencia has pretty great cocktails and slightly pricey tacos, but the bottomless chips + salsa almost makes it worth it
Humphry Slocombe - very good, local, quirky & amazing flavors
Mitchell’s for ice cream. Especially the pistachio. Some crazy-ass flavors.
A little bit fancy
If you’re feeling a touch upscale, Starbelly is fun and has great cocktails and pizza and pasta. Plus a little patio in the back.
Tartine Bakery. For everything. An institution.
Kahnfections. If you don’t want to wait in line at Tartine and still want some quality baked goods.
Stable Café on 17/Folsom. Cool little joint, amazingly beautiful outdoor space.
Frog Hollow Farm Café in the Embarcadero Ferry Building has a risotto tartlet made with mascarpone, organic currant, and orange peel. That is all.
Mission Cheese – Wine! With cheese and snacks!
Beretta – Delicious modern italian in a lively setting
Bar Agricole – amazing cocktails, amazing environment, amazing food.
Heirloom Café is a delightful, delicious, comfortably upscale spot in the Mission that also has a terrific wine list. Their prix fixe with wine pairings is worth every dollar.
La Ciccia is the best Italian food in San Francisco. Be prepared to dine at an odd hour if you’re looking for reservations close to the day you’d like to experience it.
Central Kitchen – One of the most delicious places in the city, very upscale, beautiful, minimal, lots of smaller & medium plates with amazing nuance & variety
Atlas Café – great cafe with indoor & outdoor seating and a wide menu, plus free wifi (you have to renew it every few hours)
Coffee Bar – I know, I know, silly name. But if all coffee bars were like this one, you’d agree! Free wifi, delicious food, amazing indoor & outdoor setting
Haus – a minimal, quiet coffeeshop with a few pastries, great coffee, and beautiful yard
Getaround – here’s $20 credit to use local cars owned by local people. Best for by the hour or a day. You need to tank the car up and pay for it before you return it.
Turo – here’s $25 credit to use local cars owned by local people. Best for the day or week. You need to tank the car up and pay for it before you return it.
Zipcar – local cars owned by a non-local business – but first to the market. They pay for the gas. Competitive pricing with the above two, once you compare multi-day.
Ford GoBike – ad-hoc bike by the hour, or by the day. Even better for those hills if you can get an electric bike. Don’t forget to turn it on!