The Insider’s Guide To San Francisco

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

Photo by Kassie Borreson

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

Photo via @mrbrandonmiguel

“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

Photo by @bradystarkpenn

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.

Golden Gate Park

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!

Earthy hues and natural textures rule for Micaela Greg this Fall

We asked a few of our favorite designer friends to share their mood boards for Fall. This week, the sister duo behind Micaela Greg shares their inspiration for the season.

“The theme is called ‘Flourish’. This theme is very natural and earthy with a rustic feeling.  It embraces a mood, a way of living, a call back to nature. There is a concentration on elements in nature and the way they relate to each other. The contrast between hard and soft, light and dark and study of luminance.”

Meet the Designers: Micaela Greg

Growing up around master crafters, the sister duo behind the award-winning, San Francisco knitwear label Micaela Greg is a fashion force to be reckoned with.

Geometric patterns, intermingling textures and inventive silhouettes feature on Marie and Karen Potesta’s designs. Influenced by Italian grandparents, a dressmaker and shoemaker, they found fashion design by way of fine art and engineering. A schooled beginning that shows. Marie’s Master’s from the Academy of Art University earned her a CFDA Scholarship for emerging talent and the chance to show at New York Fashion Week. Karen spent seven years as a Senior Designer at Levi’s before joining her sister in the knitwear game to create their own label. We had to find out more.

Shop Micaela Greg >

 

 

Watercolors and shopping with San Francisco artist Emily Proud

Life just looks way more beautiful through the lens of painter Emily Proud. The San Francisco-based artist translates horizons, nature and every day inspiration into abstract watercolor paintings that have the perfect balance of depth and simplicity. She exhibits her work regularly, mentors young artists and has collaborated with brands like AirBnB and One Kings Lane. We fell for Emily’s work instantly, but have since found out she also has enviable style, a gorgeous husband and an Instagram feed of dreams. We had to find out more.

WHAT DREW YOU TO WATERCOLORS? It just feels right. I’ve tried a lot of other things but I always come back to watercolor.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH WATERCOLOR? Watercolor is very honest. Once you make a mark you cannot erase or paint over it like you can with other media. It also has a bit of a life of its own. No matter how much I study watercolor, there will always be ways the paint behaves that I cannot control.

WHAT HAS BEEN INSPIRING YOU LATELY? I’m inspired by the California landscape, weather, current events and culture. Sometimes I paint in my sketchbook outside and then develop parts of those paintings into larger abstractions in my studio.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING PAINTERS? Let your work develop on paper. Paint all your ideas really quickly in a sketchbook until you have no more ideas. Then step back and see which ideas works the best. Decide what in the work is your strength and own it. Make work you want to live with both physically and emotionally, and that will continue to provoke you ten years from now.

WHAT THREE THINGS ARE ON YOUR SHOPPING WISH LIST RIGHT NOW? 1) Right now I’m eyeing sheer blouses with delicate floral prints. They look great under a blazer or a leather jacket with jeans. 2) Rachel Comey Mars Boot. I wear booties year-round in SF so I can never have enough. 3) Dresses with sleeves, like the Linter Dress by Osei-Duro. I just feel weird when my arms are bare I don’t know why!

emilyproud.com

Meet the Boutique: Legion

When a former fashion writer and stylist opens a boutique, you know you’re in for something good. San Francisco’s Legion is a case in point. Having the inside track and a killer eye for new labels helped owner Sydney Pfaff stock her shelves with cool, hard-to-find brands and a bunch of exclusives. The doors to her Chinatown space have only been open a few months and she already has Refinery29 calling it “SF’s coolest new store”. She thinks it might be the beer fridge, but we’re pretty sure a bit of a buzz isn’t the only thing that makes us want to buy everything. We love her taste in pretty much everything so we quizzed Sydney on all of her favorite things.

Shop Legion >