If you’ve read my bio you’re aware of the fact that I’ve lived in the SF Bay Area for most of my life, so I am no stranger to “the city”, its inner workings, and its inhabitants. I’m still a frequent visitor to San Francisco as it’s like a second home – I love that warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia I get while revisiting my favorite haunts and my latest visit this past weekend was no different.
I must admit it’s been a trip viewing SF through my LA eyes the past few years; I’m always going to be a little bias but the bigger of a fan I become of LA the more I start really analyzing these two cities differences, nuances, and most importantly… their insanely striking similarities. Ohhhhhmygod we are so similar it’s almost hard to admit. We’ve both got good food/celebrity chef owned restaurants, sketchy hoods, lots of gay pride, hipster (like ultimate hipster) hoods, crazy people, plastic people, weird obsessions with fancy coffee, shopping, rich people areas, and hardcore struggles with the absurd cost of living. Yeah LA is all spread out and shit and SF is all tiny and shit, I’m sure we could find plenty of “differences”, but when you really boil it all down, they’re prrreeeeetttttyyy damn similar.
The only major difference I was able to deduce was the fact that girls in SF have uniforms (yoga pants, flip-flops/tennis shoes, and North Face jackets) that they’ll straight up wear anywhere, yes, even to bars and to work (wtf is that) and lastly… it’s kind of creepy how obsessed everyone is with said North Face jackets. NO ONE can honestly say that shit is cute, comfy as hell oh sure, I’m with ya, but… that’s one thing I’ll never understand. Dudes, babies, dogs, chicks, old people… all North Face all day for San Franciscans.
Something else that’s had me scratching my head inquisitively for years is a question of why LA seems to be much more accepting of SF than SF is accepting of LA; in LA we’re all like “oh SF! So fun! Fuck the Giants but besides that I love that city!” In SF the consensus seems to be “I hate LA.” So BECAUSE most Angelenos are just so damn accepting and so apt to travel and have a good time, I’ve enlisted the help of one of my best friends of 13 years who is an SF resident to help me write a list of things Angelenos can totally appreciate and experience in SF, should any of you ever visit. It’s pretty effing on point, and fortunately I think you other SF residents will concur, have a look!
10 Things For Angelenos To Do in SF:
Go Hang at Dolores Park.
Why? Because LA doesn’t have a park as cool as this one. (What we lack in parks we make up for in beaches, I suppose.) My friend who is an SF native also thinks you should go, here’s what she has to say about Dolores Park:
“I recommend this park first and foremost because it is a quintessential San Francisco experience that most guidebooks don’t tell you about. It has the best weather in SF, plus the most beautiful view of downtown and the Bay Bridge (especially on a clear day, especially from a plateau at the park called Gay Beach where all the gay dudes wear speedos and hit on each other) and it’s a goddamn PARTY on any Sunday when it’s above 75 degrees. During those party-like Sundays, when the sun is out, you have people openly selling weed and other drugs without fear, and in all forms. Examples: weed chocolate truffles, brownies, cookies, lollipops, etc… and acid and ecstasy and pizza and water. It’s packed with more hipsters than you can imagine, getting drunk and high while wearning some delightfully awkward tanlines. It’s so, so fun. I brought my Atlanta uber-hipster friends a couple weeks ago and she described it as a music festival minus the stage. Make sure to grab some line-out-the-door delicious ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery”
** And they host outdoor movies screenings during the summer months!
Go do some shopping and eating on Valencia Street in the Mission District.
Go do what you do best, LA has taught you well. Recommendations (from several sources, local and not) include:
Shopping: Afterlife, Dema, Therapy, Harrington’s, Good Vibrations
Restaurants: Range, Locanda, Bar Tartine, Limón
Eat, Drink, Lounge, Repeat Around Washington Square in North Beach.
Mary the native Franciscan says this is what you gotta do:
“A picturesque park in the Little Italy of the West with about a million great Italian joints in the surrounding area. Caffe Delucchi is great for lunch and dinner. Rogue is a great beer pub. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, which won a major pizza competition in Naples a few years back. Comstock Saloon is an ABSOLUTE MUST. This was a bar reopened a few years ago and has reestablished itself as a part of San Francisco history. The ode to Emperor Norton (long story), their old-timey suspenders, live music, crazy delicious old school cocktails, and 1800s parlor vibe make you wish you could go back in time.”
Thursday nights at the California Academy of Sciences.
This one just pisses me off how cool this is.
… it’s kiiind of a big deal. You basically get to walk around a major natural history museum at night with a cocktail in hand with a DJ spinning. Great for an impressive and unique date night. Or just an average Thursday night outing in SF.
wtf is a Sutro Bath you say? Mary the Franciscan will tell you:
“Featured in HBO’s Looking. Back in the 1800s, there was a massive indoor, old school pool right next to the Pacific Ocean. It burnt down in the late 1800s (I think), and now looks like ancient ruins. It’s incredibly picturesque and fun to walk around. A true SF experience.”
Gotta Have Coffee.
If you are a fan of Intellegentsia, Coffee Commissary, Andate, Handsome, G&B, Caffe Luxe, (etc, etc, etc hip coffee places)… you must try:
Blue Bottle in the Mint Plaza, The Mill on Divisadero, Saint Frank’s Coffee, Ritual Coffee on Valencia, Fourbarrel Coffee on Valencia, Jane’s on Fillmore (their homemade pastries are worth the trip alone), and Philz on 24th (best known for it’s thick, flavorful Turkish or American coffee and eclectic funky shop).
Looking for high-fucking-end dining?
Like on par with Providence, Patina, and all dem other Michelin Star rated LA restaurants? Then these are your top options:
Quince, Gary Danko, Jardiniere.
Looking for new/hot/popular restaurants?
Always. Duh. Me and my SF pals agree this is where you need to go:
Rich Table, Coqueta, Alta, State Bird Provisions, 1760, Verbena, Lolinda, Foreign Cinema. Advanced reservations required.
Looking for places that may be in guidebooks but TOTALLY worth seeing/experiencing?
SF actually HAS sights to see unlike LA, take advantage, why not, it’s cool shit with history:
Coit Tower, Ferry Building, the incredible view of the whole city from Twin Peaks, the Transamerica building, walking the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day, Chrissy Field, Land’s End.
Looking for brunch? Of course you are.
Good luck. Just kidding. Kind of. The brunching scene in SF is about as competitive as its rental market. Prepare to wait forrrreeevverrr, but the wait will always be worth it:
Boogaloo’s (aka hipster paradise), Foreign Cinema, Red Door Cafe (warning do not wait anywhere near this establishment with a chain brand cup of coffee, you will be hilariously publicly shamed by the owner), Dottie’s (prepare to wait, but it’s everyone’s fav for a reason), Plow, Mission Beach Cafe, Nopa, Top of the Mark ($$$ but the VIEW), and of course Saint Francis (oldest diner in SF – very, very beloved).