Sadly Pablo and I’s road trip was coming to an end. Instead of staying two nights and making our way back to Los Angeles with our travel companions (Calum and Ayesha) we had decided to stay in San Francisco and Oakland for 7 nights to try and experience the city properly instead of our usual drive by style.
San Francisco is filled with energetic and diverse neighbourhoods that are separated by invisible borders. Instead of writing a novel sized city review I am going to break down my experience and highlights from the ‘hoods that I visited.
Mission District – Known for its Hispanic and Latino population. The Mission District is culturally diverse and has a wide variety of independent restaurants, bars, shops and vibrant art work. This neighbourhood is not polished and still has a gritty feel. I pretty much ate and drank my way around The Mission.
Local Mission Eatery – Provides fresh seasonal food from as local a source as possible.
Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen – Serving up traditional Jewish comfort food with amazing customer service.
Tartine – Beautiful baked goods made with organic eggs and flour – a wonderful place to share brunch.
Craftsman and Wolves – A Contemporary Patisserie with a twist.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill – 27 beers on tap, 40 bottled, a large variety of sausages (including vegan options) and all the condiments you could ever dream of.
Philz – Offering unique coffee blends created like a show whilst you wait.
Castro – One of the first gay neighbourhoods in America. Castro is free-spirited and fun, do not be shocked if you see naked people with only a sequinned sock to cover their modesty going about their daily business.
Café Flore – Sunny cafe with an awesome atmosphere – great place to chill with a cocktail.
Castro Theatre – This is way more than your average cinema, with stunning architecture and fun events.
Hot Cookie – Sweet treats to eat and to look at with yummy baked goods and a photograph wall of underwear clad customers.
Marina District – A pretty middle class area, with the Palace of Fine Arts, marina views across the bay and good shopping, bars and restaurants on Chestnut Street.
Tipsy Pig – Gastro pub with a good beer selection and changing seasonal menu.
California Wine Merchant – A wine shop and bar specialising in Californian produce.
Blue Barn – Creative seasonal neighbourhood delicatessen.
Nearby is also Fort Mason which has an awesome street food market and is home of Greens Restaurant which offers quality vegetarian food with sublime bay views.
Ashbury – Haight – This was another one of my favourite areas due to its eclectic style, with scatterings of a hippy past mixed with boutiques, tattoos shops, cafes and diverse clientèle, it was a perfect place to shop and people watch.
Amoeba – The World Largest Independent record store; a must for any music fan.
Wasteland – A mecca of vintage and vintage inspired clothing.
San Francisco’s waterfront neighbourhoods have stunning views and something to entertain every taste, from touristy to trendy.
Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Alcatraz landing – obvious tourist spots however I think grabbing a bread bowl of chowder, watching the sea lions and taking a trip to Alcatraz are all must dos as a first time visitor to San Fran.
And the rest
Union Square is one of the central hubs of SF, and was brimming with locals and tourists. Though a great place for shoppers, in the shadow of this glossy area is Tenderlion where hundreds of homeless dwell in piss stained streets; many struggling with addiction or mental illness. Though homelessness is an obvious issue throughout the city this area was particularly shocking. I found it hard to comprehend how it was possible for a city with so much wealth and the booming dot.com industries that provide their employs with benefits such as free meals can sit by and not attempt to assist those who struggle to survive on the edges of the society. I would encourage people not to avoid areas such as Tenderloin when in San Francisco not only because it is crucial that such desperate social issues are not simply swept under the rug because they are hard to look at but also because there are some nice places worth checking out. Also nearby is South of Market, a cool area with some great night-life especially on Folsom and an awesome StrEat truck park.
Mikkeller Bar – Specialised Beer Bar (Union Square.)
Tempest Bar – A dive bar with a rockin’ atmosphere (SOMA).
Rye – Cocktail bar with a laid back attitude (Tenderloin).
Blue Bottle Coffee – Oakland and Brooklyn based speciality coffee roaster that have cafés throughout San Francisco.
San Francisco was an enjoyable place to visit with quirky shops, a phenomenal food scene and great nightlife. With so many unique and independent places to choose from it was difficult being on such a tight budget, next time would start here, stay less time and splurge!
If you have any San Francisco suggestions please post them below.