Guest blog by Geerard Siereveld
March this year I visited San Fransisco for a work related event. I asked my US co-workers to show me around their favorite places in the city. This resulted in me visiting local dive bars, hidden gems and … a country dance club. I have experienced life in 5 different apartments of the city: the Mission district, Marina area, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Financial District and the Union square area. These are the spots I can recommend when you’re visiting San Fransisco in California.
Mission district used to be the home of the Latin American working class back in the days. Nowadays, the Latin American history and vibe is still very much alive and blends in with the hipster boutiques and shops, giving the area an eclectic feel.
When visiting Mission, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of great restaurants and cool bars. In my opinion you should not miss these highlights:
La Taqueria – On 2889 Mission Street you will find La Taqueria: a good and affordable Mexican kitchen. You can’t go wrong here. Big portions, great food and low prices.
Loló – family owned restaurant with great food! This is not an ordinary Mexican restaurant. Chef Jorge Martinez gives his own twist to traditional Mexican flavors. On the menu are dishes such as fried Brussel sprouts, tuna tacon, mexiterranean cheese fondue and Ceviche (fish)! Do not miss this place if you are visiting the Mission area.
Zeitgeist beer garden (“warm beer and cold women”) – Probably one of the most popular places in the area. They have 40 beers on tap which you can enjoy in their huge outside beer garden. Come early in the evening, you’ll have to wait to get in, as during the weekend it is always packed. Website: www.zeitgeistsf.com
Address: 199 Valencia street
Mission Dolores park – If the weather is good, there is only one option: grab a sixpack of beer, a bottle of Californian wine, some snacks and a guitar or radio and kick back and relax at the mission Dolores park. You’ll find a mixture of people from all backgrounds enjoying themselves. They drink, listen to music and of course – it is San Francisco – smoke weed. With a beautiful view on the city at the back of the park, this is the place to be on a Saturday or Sunday.
Marina area is an upscale neighborhood for the wealthier yuppies with an active nightlife. During the day it is calm and quite, but in the evening the area gets really lively.
There is a range of restaurants and (cocktail) bars to choose from. Most of them are situated on Union Street.
For a real Marina experience I suggest you check out Jaxson: “If you don’t like country music, get the fuck out”, screams the DJ over the music, followed by an immense” ÿeah!” from the dance floor. Apart from the music (unless you are a country music fan), the atmosphere is great. People are dancing, drinking having fun and interacting. Jaxson Website: http://beta.jaxsonsf.com/
After an evening of drinking, dancing and country music, you might be in for a quick bite:
Go to Tacolicious (www.tacolicious.com), 2031 chestnut street. This small restaurant serves Great Mexican (fast) food for an affordable price. Good chance you’ll have to wait in a line to get served, however the service is fast and worth waiting.
Tip: If you are visiting Marina during the day, walk towards the waterside of the Marina area. Enjoy the fantastic great view on the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. There is a small ‘beach’ where you can sit relax and enjoy the view.
The Financial District is the main business district of San Francisco marked by many skyscrapers. During the weekend the area is deserted. Nevertheless, the financial district offers a range of good restaurants and bars. Locals tend to go out often straight after work for a drink, so during weekdays the area is very much alive.
One of the cooler bars I have been to in that area surely is Rickhouse bar: a dark and crowded whisky house with a wide range of drinks. Especially on a Friday afternoon after work it is packed and buzzing.
Address: 246 Kearny St.
For some nice restaurants, go to Belden Place, also dubbed as the French quarter. A narrow alley full of restaurants with outside seating. During my visit we ate at restaurant Sauce. Here you order social plates: dishes to share with your friends while enjoying a good glass of Californian wine in the afternoon sun.
Union Square & Chinatown:
The area of Union square is the most visited neighborhood in SF. This are is shopper’s heaven: all the big brands have their shops there (Armani,Ted Baker, Michael Kors, Aercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret and more).
There is a also a big Apple store and a huge Macy’s. My favorite store in the neighborhood is Industrie Denim: they sell both women and men clothing, accessories, footwear and jewelry.
Address: 300 Grant Ave
Located at walking distance from Union Square, The San Francisco Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside Asia and the oldest in North America.
it is a great area to stroll around trough the streets and alleys and grab a bite at one of the 200 (!) restaurants in the neighborhood.
More about Chinatown SF: www.sanfranciscochinatown.com
North Beach, also known as Little Italy, is the area to go to at night. Think of live music, jazz bars, strip clubs, restaurants and numerous bars. Famous in the area are the Bimbo’s 365 Club, offering live music and the Hustler club, which is (obviously) an adult nightclub.
For a more local flavor, pay a visit to NorthStar Café, a dive bar with friendly staff and happy crowd. The Saloon Bar was one of my highlights during my SF visit: known to be the oldest bar in SF. They serve the cheapest drinks I’ve seen in SF and they play daily live blues music. A must visit in my opinion!
NorthStar Café, 1560 Powell St
The Saloon Bar, 1232 Grant Ave
Near the waterfront you will find Fisherman’s wharf, undoubtedly one of the major touristic areas of SF. You can eat fresh crab, clam chowder and other fresh seafood in one of the many restaurants. You will also find Hard Rock Café and the cool Wipeout Bar and grill.
What to do:
From Fisherman’s Wharf you will be able to take cruises to Alcatraz, join one of the fishing expeditions or take a sightseeing tour.
From Pier 39 you’ll have a good view on the sea lions and there’s the aquarium of the bay. Also, the 7D experience is located there.
Again, though too touristic for my taste, it is a must visit in SF.
For more information: www.fishermanswharf.org
San Francisco quickly became one of my favorite cities to visit in the world: the city is diverse, people are friendly, open minded and outgoing and there are plenty of good restaurants, bars and clubs.
San Francisco: easygoing and never boring!