It’s hard to not love San Francisco. Sitting on it’s very own peninsula up the northern coast of California surrounded by three bodies of water, it’s pretty much a landscape dream. Not to mention, it’s just a drive away from Silicon Valley, a quick flight (or fun road trip) to San Diego, Los Angeles and Arizona. And, in spite of its 40 rolling hills, you can walk or bike everywhere making exploring all its unique neighborhoods easy peasy. It’s really no surprise this cool city is filled with so much creativity and talent. We happen to know some of the best: the boutique owners and designers. Just look at the six rad ladies above, showing off the gorgeous city. These San Francisco designers make the most beautiful clothing and accessories that we obviously love to wear on the daily. We wanted to find out more about the city and the hidden gems no Trip Advisor would know, so we asked all our SF pals for the best places to eat, drink and people watch. You may as well check your Air Miles now.
Lead image by Robby Durler
From left to right: Danielle Colen designer of Waltz, Sharareh Koehler designer of Lotfi, Anna Chiu designer of Kamperett, Nikki Garcia designer of First Rite, Valerie Santillo designer of Kamperett, and Karen Potesta designer of Micaela Greg
WHERE TO EAT
From drool-worthy seafood to the most comforting Italian dishes, San Francisco has absolutely no shortage of good eats. “I have so many favorites! At this very moment it is Cotogna (above). Such delicious Italian food and a really beautiful space. Plus, their cocktails and wine selection are fantastic,” reveals Sydney Pfaff owner of Legion.
Cotogna, 490 Pacific Ave
Tiffany Tam from Refined also admits that the city is filled with endless gems. “There is so many… it’s hard to pick just one.” But she was able to narrow it down to her top four: Tartine Manufactory, Liholiho Yacht Club, Bellota and Ju-ni. Sharareh Koehler, designer of one of our favorite bag lines Lotfi, also has a soft spot for Tartine. More specifically, “a loaf of Tartine bread.”
Tartine Manufactory, 595 Alabama St
Liholiho Yacht Club, 871 Sutter St
Bellota, 888 Brannan St #110
Ju-ni, 1335 Fulton St
For more Italian treats, designer Danielle Cohn of Waltz suggests “Tosca Cafe for modern Italian food in a bar that’s been around since the 20s.” Sounds like a fun night to us.
Tosca Cafe, 242 Columbus Ave
Mira Pickett, boutique owner of Mira Mira, has two must-go places. “Traditional Dim Sum is always a good idea, I love Ton Kiang on Geary, and Bar Crudo (above) is probably my favorite spot on earth. Can’t come to SF without having seafood.” Okay, that platter looks amaze.
Ton Kiang, 5821 Geary St
Bar Crudo, 655 Divisadero St
Daniel Lee and and Natasha Wong from Seldom Seen also have two top choices: Taqueria and Cala. Both places serve amazing Mexican cuisine so you better prep yourself to eat endless tacos and burritos.
Taqueria, 2889 Mission St
Cala, 149 Fell St
“If I am going to go out to dinner, I love to go out for sushi, and one of my all time favorite places I discovered when I first moved to San Francisco years ago is a tiny place called Sushi Zone. It is a bit of a hidden gem off of Market Street in the lower part of the Mission. With only two tables and a few seats at the bar, you really have to get there right when they open or be prepared to wait, but everything is so fresh and delicious it is totally worth it,” reveals Valerie Santillo, part one of two of the womenswear label Kamperett. The second design half, Anna Chiu, has more than one favorite spot. “Seed + Salt for clean, organic and locally sourced food that’s quick and easy, Plow for brunch, Rich Table for dinner, Taqueria Cancun for the best burritos.”
Sushi Zone, 1815 Market St
Seed + Salt, 2240 Chestnut St
Plow, 1299 18th St
Rich Table, 199 Gough St
Taqueria Cancun, 2288 Mission St
WHERE TO DRINK
“15 Romolo (above), hands down,” reports Sydney. “They make the best drinks around. I’ve lost a lot of hours (maybe more like days) to that bar.” Just by looking at that drink we know that would totally happen to us, too.
15 Romolo, 15 Romolo Pl
Tomra Palmer from Gravel & Gold recommends one of our all time favorite places: “In the park on a blanket on a warm day.” She then added, “But since heat waves are rare here I’ll take a bloody mary at the classic Zuni Cafe or a wildly strong margarita at the dingy but charming Latin American Club. Also, (local tip!) the Local Cellar wine shop has free tastings on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. They sell and serve lots of groovy small batch CA wines.” Meet us there.
“Our street is a danger zone. There are two fun bars within crawling distance of the shop. Latin American is a real old school, legit Mission bar. Their margaritas are lethal weapons,” says Mira. Okay, this bar is definitely on our list now.
Zuni Cafe, 1658 Market St
Latin American Club, 3286 22nd St
Local Cellar, 2801 22nd St
Nikki Garcia the talented designer behind First Rite has two suggestions. “Holy Mountain in the Mission to avoid the crowds or Vesuvio in North Beach is always a classic.” Noted.
Holy Mountain, 680 Valencia St
Vesuvio, 255 Columbus Ave
When looking to grab a drink, Valerie likes to stick close to home. “If I am going to go out for a drink, I usually like to stay in my neighborhood in Bernal Heights. One of my favorite local bars is The Royal Cuckoo. I like the dim, loungey vibe, down to earth atmosphere and their greyhounds are on point. They have a live band (including an organ!) on the weekends and otherwise they only play vintage records which keeps in line with the low-key ambiance.”
The Royal Cuckoo, 3202 Mission St
Tiffany is all about “The Riddler (above) for bubblies and caviar.” Seriously though, who doesn’t love a good glass (or bottle) of champers?
The Riddler, 528 Laguna St
Heading over to the Mission district we have two favorite drink spots. Marie Potesta, co-designer of Micaela Greg, choose the ABV. A trendy bar with all your favorite cocktails, beer, wine, plus a beautiful large-scale mural to admire while you sip on your drinks. Danielle went for the Lone Palm. A nice and cozy bar with the best selection of vodka. Sign us up.
ABV, 3174 16th St
Lone Palm, 3394 22nd St
WHERE TO PEOPLE WATCH
“Dolores Park (above) definitely is the place to be on any sunny day. Kooks from every walk of life, all on the same grass. There is an actual map of the park itself, each area is represented by a different SF crew. It’s kind of funny (and sad) how accurate it is,” explains Mira. Daniel, Valerie and Anna also all noted Dolores as their favorite place to people watch. Must be a gem.
Dolores Park, Dolores St & 19th St
Tiffany heads to Hayes Valley: “the weather is always nice there so grab an outdoor seating at a local cafe.”
Sydney suggests, “Washington Square Park in North Beach. I live nearby and it’s always a pretty entertaining people-watching spot. Such an eclectic neighborhood with a lot of characters.” Tomra also loves this neighborhood. “At first glance you might assume it’s overrun with tourists but it’s full of family run, legacy businesses and old timer residents that have been there for many many years, holding down the alternative/outsider vibe of this city.” She has three spots in North Beach to hit up: Washington Square Park, Specs and Caffe Trieste.
Washington Square Park, Filbert St & Stockton St
Specs, 12 Williams Place
Cafe Trieste, 601 Vallejo St
Marie is also a fan of North Beach. “Mario’s Cigar bar in my hood in North Beach (above) is a nice outdoor corner spot by the park to sit and watch the summer tourists.” Sharaeh loves to go to Four Barrel on Valencia street. A sleek and rustic coffee shop that specializes in drop coffee. Nothing better than a cup of Jo and some good ol’ people watching.
Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe, 566 Columbus Ave
Four Barrel, 375 Valencia St
And last but not least, Nikki’s favorite spot is the iconic Golden Gate Park. You definitely can’t go to San Francisco without stopping by there.
Bonus tip: the West Coast Craft Fair is happening this weekend! Don’t miss this fun exhibition of artists and designers including some of our pals like First Rite, Ace & Jig, and Gravel & Gold. It’s free and totally worth going by!