Monday, December 22, 2008

BIN 38

3232 Scott St (between Chestnut St & Lombard St)

In my opinion it is hard to combine elegant as well as somewhat "homey" but BIN 38 manages to pull it off. If you're in to wine, this is your place. The food also lives up to expectation. The french fries are excellent and while I am not really a steak person at all, even I have to admit that the thin kobe strips are out of this world. I can't recommend it enough. One of the best wine bars in San Francisco, though I will admit, it does tend to attract something of a yuppie clientele so just something to keep in mind. Excellent nonetheless.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Stinking Rose

I'm sorry, but this place is terrible. My H had some old friends in from out of town and they really wanted to go here and in the end, I was out voted. Tourist trap aside, you must really, really love garlic to even have half a chance of getting through a meal here but even then, the food just isn't good. I mean garlic ice cream? I love garlic but yeah. Not here. The service sucks and you may as well end up at Olive Garden or something of the like. The place was crowded, the wait was long and the waitstaff were all inattentive and completely indifferent. Simply put, more proof of the tourist trap that it is. I've even had better service at some restaurants in the Wharf area which is saying something.If you really hate the party you're going with or, god forbid, your date, take them here. Why tourists flock to this place and say that they MUST try it is still beyond me. Of all the great places in the City, why this one?!

Kan's Restaurant

Screw this place. Take my advice and RUN far away as fast you can! I came here for an early lunch and only because I work nearby and just wanted something quick. Since you're visiting, there is a very good chance that you'll find this place because a) it is on Grant Avenue and b) they often have people out front luring you in for food. It wasn't busy so I braved it even if it was smack in the middle of Grant Ave. Big, big mistake! Food is very, very greasy and unmemorable. I expected the unmemorable, but the grease was extreme. Ick. I had a stomach ache after that. The worst was that I ordered take out. Thought everything had gone smoothly, paid for it and left a very small tip (in cash though I'd paid with a card) and started on my way. One of the minions that works there had the audacity to chase me on my way out and when she finally caught up to me, she said, "Was something wrong? You didn't leave a tip. Gratuity is NOT included!" Uh... I ordered take out. You didn't do anything other than take the order and bag up my food. On top of that they were rude the entire time and acted like I was putting them out. I explained that I had left a tip on the counter, in cash. I was about 2 seconds away from walking back in and taking their "gratuity" with me. The jerks who work here don't deserve your business. I definitely won't be back, no matter how close my office is. Avoid at all costs.


Simply put, this is the land of STUFF. The clothing is just packed in and it's always busy beyond belief. I find the staff to be pretty pushy and I feel as though Ambiance can't decide as to what type of store it really is. There is quite a range of clothing, some very expensive, some cheaply made stuff that you could buy at H&M or Forever21 for a fraction of what they're charging. There is just way too much stuff to go through and (never thought I'd say this!) too much of a range. It's almost overwhelming to attempt to shop here. I'll stop in every now and again, but in general, I think I'll pass.

Bar None

1980 Union St (between Buchanan St & Charlton Ct)

If you want to relive your college days of never ending frat parties, this is your place. Beer pong? Uh, no thanks. Maybe I've just gotten too old for this crap but jesus, it's just not fun. I suppose if you really want someone to hit on you in hopes of boosting your self confidence, you may also check this out. If you're a cougar, you'll probably love this place. I think I'll leave it. I have to say, that staff here must have a high pain threshold because I sure as hell couldn't put up with half of the stuff that goes on here. My hat is off to you.

Yountville Clothes For Children

2416 Fillmore St (between Jackson St & Washington St)

I am not a parent, but I'm at that age where it seems like most of my friends are having kids. I like to come here for really cute, fashionable kids clothes. So much better than places like the freaking Gap or Old Navy. The fact that people seem to love my gifts doesn't hurt either.

The Marina Safeway (aka Dateway)

15 Marina Blvd

Yes, I know this is an odd review but I just have to do it. If you live in San Francisco, you'll get it. And yes, for those who don't know, I really do mean Safeway... as in the grocery store.

It is fun to come to Dateway and make up stories about your fellow shoppers. After you know about the rep of this place, you can't help but see it as a meat market (and no, I'm not talking about food.) You always feel there is some type of ulterior motive on the part of everyone in there. Don't come here for food. Come just to people watch. I swear, this is a bigger pick up spot than most bars. I keep wanting to talk my H in to having a psuedo fight with me in the middle of this place just b/c I think it would be funny... according to him, I'm not funny. :*(

Cielo European Clothing

2225 Fillmore Street (between Clay St & Sacramento St)

Expensive but very much worth it. Great Dries Van Noten selection. Sales staff is professional and friendly, no snobbery here. Great from the aspect that it just isn't ridiculously trendy. It is pricey, yes, but if you love fashion and you're willing to pay for great clothes, come here. Cielo is awesome. If nothing else, I think it is worth it to come in while you're on Fillmore shopping in other places. Just a lovely place to browse in.

Heidi Says

2426 Fillmore Street (between Jackson St & Washington St)

If you're looking for designer clothing but also prefer a more intimate shopping experience to that of Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus, Heidi Says is your store. Plenty of DVF, Milly, Philip Lim, etc... Yes, these are brands that can be found elsewhere, however, if you're more in to supporting local stores rather than large department stores and crave a more intimate experience, this is your place.


2056 Polk Street (between Broadway St & Pacific Ave)

Cris is a consignment store that carries many designer clothes. Finding a good consignment store can be hard to find but I definitely recommend this one if you're a brand whore. They carry shoes that are in nearly new condition and you can score big on a worn once Oscar de la Renta gown. Now that said, if you're looking for more contemporary designers like Marc by Marc Jacobs, while you'll find it here, prices generally aren't that great. It is an interesting place to browse nonetheless. I personally come here on my quest for an impossible to find vintage bag and while I've not had any luck yet, I thought I would pass this along to someone else.


1815 Union St (between Laguna St & Octavia St)

Lovely little local boutique which carries a good percentage of local designers. Many of the clothing sold at Mingle are one of a kind or produced in very limited quantity so you won't see many people, if anyone wearing your new dress. Most pieces are more casual and kind of have a hipster vibe. If you're looking for fairly inexpensive yet high quality gloves, this is your place. I purchased a pair of long fingerless gloves here and they have held up beautifully. The owner, Mimi is very sweet and this is just a great business to support.


1896 Hyde Street (between Green St & Vallejo St)

A nice neighborhood gem with a good local crowd and consistantly excellent food. Most recently while dining here, I tried their ahi tuna tacos (app.) and they really exceeded my expectations. Risottos here have always been wonderful as well... and trust me, I am a huge fan of risotto. The menu does change, but if they have the scallop and truffle ravioli, it was probably the best thing I've ever experienced at this restaurant and others for that matter. Just a good local place. Like other restaurants in the area, take the cable car to save yourself from the madness of getting a close parking spot. You can be dropped off virtually out front.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sushi Groove

1916 Hyde St (at Green)

I love Sushi Groove. It is just a tiny little place in Russian Hill. The fish is always very good here. If you're in to specialty rolls, you must try the "High Roller" roll. It is extremely good. They use a wasabi creme fraiche sauce that I have every intention of attempting to replicate. The sasahimi is always excellent and it really isn't all that expensive. Only thing I've ever been disappointed with here is the eel but everything else, I recommend. Oh! And the butterfish is delectable. Good for a moderately priced dinner out. I personally enjoy sitting at the bar. The one thing I will warn is that if you want a quiet night out with your significant other, this is not the place. It gets extremely loud. Parking in Russian Hill is next to impossible and there is not a valet at this place so if you're visiting, I recommend taking the Hyde Street cable car. Ask the operator to drop you off at Green. They will usually announce the stop, but just to be on the safe side, I would ask.

Fog City Diner

1300 Battery St (on the Embarcadero)

If nothing else, here is a photo op for the So I Married An Axe Murderer fans. Or you could eat here. In all honesty, while they serve diner food, they try to fancy it up a bit. It really isn't bad, though it is a bit overpriced. That said, you must try the truffle fries if you decide to eat here. They are my favorite thing on the whole menu. The rest of it I can take or leave. You get a huge portion with the fries so you could just come here and have them as a snack depending on what you're in the mood for. There is also a really peaceful park next door where I like to sit and read should I find myself craving fries from them on a nice day.

San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade

1800 Market Street

Pride is celebrated in SF every June and is really quite disverse. Obviously you have the GLBT community but many straight people also come out to support it and to just be with their friends. Pride in SF is definitely a crazy, one of a kind experience. Dykes on Bikes. The San Francisco Bears, Gavin Newsom... you get the idea. I have to make it clear that I understand not everyone is comfortable with this, but I thought it was worth a mention nonetheless and if you are, I recommend it if you're in town. Granted, leave prudeish-ness at home because as I said, this is definitely an experience!

For more information see

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Okay, it is kind of dorky but it is fun to try to spot these little guys. They may look like someone's pet but they are wild parrots as the title may suggest. It wouldn't be anything special, however, these types of birds really aren't something you would expect to encounter in a city like San Francisco. They annoy the heck out of some locals who live on the steps and in the area but since I don't, I retain the right to think they're adorable... and since you don't live here, I'm sure you'll feel the same. ; ) Just a simple pleasure to watch these little guys.

Hog Island Oyster Company

Yes, I know I'm talking about oysters but this is one of the highlights of the menu: the grilled cheese sandwich. That is my sandwich in the photo... yes, I took a bite before I thought I should photograph it. I was hungry. If you like cheese, you must try this.
That said, the seafood is also fresh and fantastic. They have some good happy hour stuff if you come in the evening. The oysters have always been fresh and fantastic. Keep in mind that the happy hour line gets insane but still worth it. And yes, I come here for grilled cheese and oysters at least once a week.

Quickly Part Deux

This is one of the menus in Quickly. Yes, I took a picture with my camera phone specifically to post on this blog because I am a dork. You can't read it but it gives you an idea of the large selection. All of those are just the drink menu, no snacks.
Oh and if you're a fan of Biazzar Foods with Andrew Zimmern and you saw the episode when he went to Asia and ate durian, they sell fried durian here if you're brave enough.


1170 Powell Street (location pictured)

Many people have a love it or hate it attitude when it comes to Quickly. I have quickly (lol) become addicted to their strawberry rose tea with tapioca. Boba teas (bubble tea) is really popular in SF in this is just one of the many places you can go to get it. Quickly is all around the city. There are many other boba places in Chinatown so don't feel limited to this one. Other great flavors are thai milk tea, ginger milk tea, taro milk tea. Quickly can be hit or miss but I love their greasy snacks like popcorn chicken and fried mini octopus.

Another fun thing to do is read the menu just b/c the spelling/grammar is terrible. Yes, I'm a nerd.

If you want to avoid this place, check out the Sweetheart Cafe on Grant Avenue

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bay to Breakers

Basically, this is one big city wide block party! Very fun and unique event. If you're under the impression that San Franciscans are rather nuts, well, this is kind of a stereotype at its best but it sure is fun. Join the race (or not) or just come and check out the festivities.

Top of the Mark

The view from Top of the Mark is one of the best in the city. On a clear night, it is truly breathtaking. This bar is a lovely place for a drink after a nice dinner. Top of the Mark has some of the best martinis ever and a very extensive martini list at that. I think there are 101 varieties. All of the drinks I've had here are just excellent though at the price, they should be.

If you want to splurge for brunch, they have an excellent one on Sunday that I would highly recommend. I was there for Easter awhile back and it was truly outstanding.

Brenda's French Soul Food

652 Polk St (between Eddy St & Turk St)

I definitely recommend the beignet. They are extremely tasty. I wasn't a fan of the chocolate but I should also say that I don't care for chocolate in general so don't let that influence whether you order it or not. The plain and the apple were my favorites. All in all, I really haven't had anything on this menu that I didn't enjoy. The po boy is quite tasty. Eggs Benedict is fabulous... Oh and definitely try the watermelon sweet tea! So good. Like Dottie's, the neighborhood isn't real lovely, but Brenda's is a true gem. I highly recommend making the trip. And once again, like Dottie's, you'll want to go early to avoid a wait.

Dottie's True Blue Cafe

522 Jones St (between Geary St & Ofarrell St)

One of my favorite breakfast spots in San Francisco. I recommend the pancakes or french toast. Both are so yummy. This place is super popular so go really early or expect a wait. The neighborhood is not the best so just be prepared. It isn't too far from Union Square but it kind of feels like a totally different world. Just a heads up. Anyway, all in all, I highly recommend it. It has become more touristy over the last few years probably because we all recommended it a little too often but it is still worth it. Just remember, if you love pancakes/french toast, you'll be thrilled!

First Annual Fabulous Food Festival

This sounds promising for the foodies out there. If you're in town, admission is only $10 and may be worth your while if you're in to food. : )

"The First Annual Fabulous Food Festival will feature a festive feast of flavors. Festival goers will enjoy a unique retail marketplace with delicious free samples offered by over 250 exhibitors and sponsors. Specialty and gourmet foods will star, and everything "foodish" will be featured.More than twenty different food categories will be featured, including: Baked Goods, Condiments, Confectionery, Dairy and Eggs, Grains/Cereal Pasta, Lifestyle (including slow, kosher and green), Meat/Game/Pate, Oils and Vinegar, Sauces, Seasonings and Cooking Enhancers, Seafood, Soups, Stews and Beans, Spreads and Syrups, Vegetables, Fruit, Snacks, Stews and Beans. In addition, beverages for sampling and purchase will be provided by prominent local wineries, micro-breweries and producers of non alcoholic beverages. Food-related offerings, including cookware and cooking publications will also be available. The merrymaking will be further enhanced by live musical entertainment and ongoing giveaways."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What (Not?) to Wear

So San Francisco is kind of quirky in general and weather is no exception. The biggest piece of advice that I can offer you is to bring layers! Trust me on this. It will seem as if the temp changes from block to block and you'll want to be able to peel off/put back on your clothing at will. Summer months to the rest of the country are typically chilly in San Francisco. Our "summer" months are more liky Sept./Oct. and even then, 80 is hot to us. Don't think of LA weather when planning your SF vacation. Evenings are always rather chilly, especially the closer you get to the water. I carry gloves in my purse at all times. You don't need ski gloves or anything, but just a pair of lightweight gloves is great to keep the chill off of your hands. Bring a good coat. Again, trust me of this. If you choose not to, you'll be one of the people buying a "SAN FRANCISCO" fleece pull over from one of the vendors at Fisherman's Wharf because you're freezing your tail off and shivering in the middle of July. And aside for a few occassional heat waves, you likely won't need multiple pairs of shorts. Bring a pair but no need to over load the luggage with those, sun dresses, etc... Again, you'll be shivering at the cable car stop in the middle of summer while the rest of us are in coats. Don't get me wrong, short sleeves and such are still good to have but don't pack as though you're going to be spending your days in 85 degree weather. :)
Definitely check the weather on leading up to your visit to see what is going on to help you better prepare. Remember: "layers are my friend!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Union Square Christmas Tree Lighting

If you don't already know, I love Christmas, probably to an annoying degree. I am already in the spirit if you can't tell. Of course I have to mention the annual lighting ceremony of the Union Square Christmas Tree. Typically done on the Friday after Thanksgiving across from Macy*s on Union Square. Crowds are extreme but it is lovely nonetheless. A great family friendly activity.

Dance Along Nutcracker

I happen to think this is really rather cool. The website gives the info because on this one, it explains much more than I could. Very fun if you're here around the holidays and another activity that is fun for all ages. A lovely take on the Nutcracker which is likely a holiday tradition for many.

Dance Along:

And for those who are more traditional,

Chinese New Year Parade

If you're in town and have never witnessed Chinese New Year, I highly recommend checking it out. Good for all ages and likely something that you will find pretty unique... unless you're from Hong Kong in which case you'll probably think our Parade is stupid. ; )

Lombard Street (aka "The Crooked Street")

Lombard Street (between Hyde & Leavenworth)

Unless you're just dead set on driving down, I really recommend taking the Hyde Street cable car (don't forget your Muni pass!) and getting off at Lombard. 99.9% of the time, the cable car operators will tell you when it is coming up. You can look down and take pictures or get off and walk down via steps. I have to say, I feel bad for the people who live on this street. Some guy got pissed when he was taking a photo of the building I used to live in and I happened to walk out of the lobby at the same time and "ruined" his photo. I can only imagine how these people feel! LOL. Anyway, it is worth checking out and it is very picture-esque. A truly unique anad free "attraction".

Golden Gate Bridge

Lincoln Blvd & Highway 101

Not seeing the Golden Gate would be like going to New York and not even glancing at the Statue Of Liberty. It is just one of those landmarks. The Golden Gate is lovely and you can even bike across and ride over to Sausalito and take the ferry back to SF if you're outdoorsy like that. If you merely want to see the bridge, you can do so from Aquatic Park about a block away from Ghirardelli Square. The photo is the Golden Gate view from Baker Beach.

For more info, visit:

For information on renting bikes, try the following:

Red Box Sushi - CLOSED :*(

581 Eddy St (Basically @ Larkin, between Larkin & Hyde)

Firecracker balls = orgasmic. I actually really liked this place thanks to the very creative rolls that they offer. The sashimi is extremely fresh and tasty. I highly recommend sitting at the sushi bar. Adds to the atmosphere and sometimes the chef will give you a few extras. He is really just such a kind man. I think the location is both a blessing and a curse. The food is really good, atmosphere is fun, service is nice... but the location well, sucks. The neighborhood is rather gritty so I would really recommend cabbing it unless you're fimiliar with the area. While the neighborhood is not for the faint of heart, it is well worth the trip. Service is very friendly and the food is good. The place is tiny so I would recommend going early (around 6:00pm) because it will get crowded.

Mixt Greens

White truffle potatoes? You people must be trying to kill me. There is a conspiracy to make me fat. Seriously. That said, on days I can actually stay away from those, they make some great salads. It makes me feel that I'm being healthy. I love this place. If you're trying to eat healthy foods and you can resist temptations and stay away from the potatoes, this is your place. This is really popular with those of us who work in the area for lunch so you may wish to come on the earlier side (before 11:45) to avoid the FiDi crowd. Not super cheap but not expensive.

Spa Vitale

Okay. I actually had a really good experience here. I love this hotel and in all honesty, I'd move in if they'd let me so I decided on a whim to make a spa appointment. I really enjoyed it and the fact that it is so small was actually nice, intimate and relaxing. Keep in mind that this isn't a full service spa so there are certain treatments that aren't available. I didn't mind because I am so utterly anal that I research things before I'll try them. Just know what to expect. If you want more than you see offered on their website, another spa will suit you better. FWIW, I also frequent The Nob Hill Spa and Burke Williams.
The one thing that took away from my enjoyment was the possibility that people in the building across the way were watching me as I was in the soaking tub on the roof. The soaking tub is a great concept but the whole thing made me paranoid so I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cliff House

Simply put, you come here for the view. The view definitely deserves 5 stars. Unfortunately, the food and service at this place are below average and simply put, I don't think it's worth it. It is basically impossible to order what you would typically order for 2 people at another restaurant and get out for under $100. I am all for spending money on a great meal, but this was far from it. For not all that much more money, you could have a pretty decent dinner some place else. I'm not saying you shouldn't ever come here because I truly understand the appeal, however, just be prepared in terms of cost with what you get.


Even if you live here, I think Alcatraz is worth visiting at least once in your life. I think I probably end up here about once a year when out of town friends/family show up and I have to play tour guide. That said, I really don't mind going. I think the history is facinating and on a nice day, you are greated to some great views on both the island as well as the ferry on the way over. One tourist attraction that is worth your time. I also have to stress, buy your tickets well in advance! Alcatraz tours always sell out. I can pretty much guarantee you won't be able to purchase tickets the day or so really, plan ahead on this one!

To purchase your tickets, visit the official website:

Fleet Week

Fleet Week... This can be a very fun time of year for visitors and the weather is typically incredible. I used to live in a building that allowed me to watch the Blue Angels (see photo) air show from my front window. You can wander in to bars at this time and meet some really interesting people. One year I ended up on a cable car with the Marine Corps Band and the played songs the whole ride. Definitely a rather interesting night.

For more Fleet Week info, check out

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Palace of Fine Arts

3301 Lyon Street (at Bay Street)

Beautiful and peaceful. The perfect place to come to just enjoy a nice day in San Francisco. If you're in to architecture or you are in to photography, this is a lovely spot. If you just want a break, I highly recommend making the trip. Useless trivia fact: Charlie & Harriet run into the Russian sailors here in So I Married An Axe Murderer.

You's Dim Sum

675 Broadway (at Stockton St)

If you want to eat on the go, don't want to spend a lot of money but want to try some dim sum, I recommend You's for cheap food and lots of it. None of the menus are in English, the staff don't speak a whole lot of English so get ready to smile, point and nod. Most items are 3/$1.20-1.50 I also have to say that the ladies who work here are always so nice to me and give me extra food so it makes me like them more. Simply put, you could do a lot worse for $5 or so. It is isn't at all fancy but if you just want good, cheap food, try it. Everything is always very fresh when I come here. Cash only.

What I like to order (the short list!):

Char Siu Bao (BBQ pork bun)
Har Gau (Shrimp dumping)
Lou Mai Gai (Lotus rice leaf)
Lo Mei Bao (Sticky rice in wonton skin)
And while my whiteness is showing... I like the egg rolls.

"Thank You" in Cantonese: Mh goi (mmm goy)

Golden Gate Bakery

1029 Grant Ave (between Jackson St & Pacific Ave)

I don't know if you're firmiliar with "Dahn Tats" (aka egg custard tarts) but it is a belief of many that they have the best in the city. This may just be my thing, but I love Chinese bakeries. While I'm technically Greek, I think that there is some Chinese blood in there somewhere. If you enjoy Chinese pastry, this is worth a stop. At the very least, come by and enjoy a Dahn Tat... and a coconut cover mochi ball... and a BBQ pork bun... A tip if you don't know the Chinese terms for what you want, just smile and point. The workers don't typically speak much English. Cash only, so be prepared.

The Ferry Building Marketplace

Simply put, I love food. If you're the same, the Ferry Building is a must visit on your trip to San Francisco. There is a Sur La Table, wonderful restaurants, a caviar bar... the list really just goes on and on. If you're in to cheese, you can't bypass the Cowgirl Creamery (see photo.)
If you can dream it, it is likely in here somewhere. There is also a farmers market which may be of interest.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Parking is a pain in San Francisco even for those of us who live here. Keep this in mind when you're deciding whether or not you should rent a car. Parking is very expensive --$50/day at most of the hotels in the area, potentially more for an oversized vehicle. There are "motor inns" that you can stay at along Lombard street (not in the area as the crooked section) but I generally don't recommend those. Most are extremely overpriced for what you get, even if parking is included. Some people consider doing street parking, however, I don't really recommend this. Many streets require you to have a residential sticker. If you don't, they will tow or ticket you. There may also be time limits on how long you can park, etc... Simply put, if you plan to stay in SF, visit attractions in SF, etc... don't rent a car. It isn't needed. Walking, Muni and possibly taxis will serve you just fine. If you're dead set on driving and you're staying in the Union Square area, you may consider this off site garage for $30/day: This may or may not be great depending on how many blocks away your hotel is but I thought I would mention it anyway.

If you wish to do a day trip, there are many rental car agencies in the downtown area as well as at Fisherman's Wharf. It is often cheaper to just rent a car for the day, take your trip and return the car when you are done.

Getting from the airport to San Francisco

The City of San Francisco is about 15 miles. I would recommend planning at least half an hour to get to/from the airport, however, you also have to keep traffic in mind in your planning. Allow extra time if you plan to take BART. Once you're in the city, you will be able to rely on Muni.

BART: $5.35/per person (to Powell Street if you're staying around Union Square, Embarcadero if going to Fisherman's Wharf... if going to FW, note you will have to either take a bus or taxi the rest of the way to your hotel from the Embarcadero station. Cost is a bit more coming from OAK and you'll have to use a shuttle to take you to BART.) The website also has a trip planner to help you.
Shuttle: $15/per person. ($25/pp from OAK)
Taxi: $45+
Town Car: $55+ (try ExecuCar or ABC Transportation.)

For BART info, visit
Shuttle Services: and

Where Little Cable Cars, Climb Half Way to the Stars

The Cable Cars

Some San Franciscans hate the cable cars but I for one, love them. I ride the California Street line to work much of the time when we have good weather. What better way to get up steep California street from the Embarcadero? The cable cars are one of those things I recommend you ride at least once. It is an experience like none other. There is the California Street line which is typically used more by locals as it runs from the Embarcadero to Van Ness straight up California Street, through the Financial Dist, Nob Hill and to a residential area.

There is another line more popular with tourists that will take you from the cable car turn around on Powell Street @ Market (4 blocks from Union Square) to Fisherman's Wharf. You can take the Powell/Mason Line which will let you off closer to Pier 39 or you can take the Powell/Hyde street line which will end 2 blocks from Ghirardelli Square. My advice if you're just riding to check it out: Take the Hyde line as it is more scenic and longer.

The cost:

The cable car charge is $5/per person, one way. Each time you board, you have to pay another $5/per person. This is overpriced and stupid. They obviously make a lot of money off the tourists. What you can do to cut the cost: buy a muni pass! I can't stress this enough if you're going to be in town and ride the cable car more than once. You have the option of a 1, 3, or 7 day pass. This includes the cable car.

Current prices are as follows:

1 day pass - $11

3 day pass -$18

7 day pass - $24

As you can tell, if you ride the cable car more than once, the cost will quickly add up so this will be worth it. In additon to the cable car, your pass also enables you to ride on any Muni vehicle (buses, historic street cars, etc...)
Cable Car Museum
If you're interested in knowing more about the history of the cable cars and how they work, it may be worth your time to visit the cable car museum which is free to all visitors.

For more Muni info, visit

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Cafe

1 Ferry Building #12

I love caviar. If you're interested in trying it or if you're already a fan, I highly recommend this little cafe. The setting is bar style and unpretentious. The food is creative and while obviously everything is caviar themed, it is unthreatning even to those who may be experiencing caviar for the first time. I highly recommend the caviar napoleon, caviar flight, truffled scrambled egg, and the Parisian sandwich. Prices are moderate to pricey depending on what you order.

Where to Stay: Part 3

Nob Hill

Pros: Residential feel, quiet, close enough to downtown to be a good jumping off point, great views.

Cons: More residential, steep climbs up/down hill if you're walking, hotels can be expensive.

Hotels to consider:
The Ritz-Carlton - name pretty much tells you what you're in for. Great spa. Highly recommend the Dining Room even if you choose not to stay there. The tasting menu is a must for any foodie.

The Fairmont - An original San Francisco landmark! Beautiful common areas, nice rooms, great views from certain rooms. Cable car stop nearby.The Stanford Court - Likely the most "budget" friendly of the Nob Hill hotels. Older. Could likely use a renovation in the rooms, but perfectly acceptable if you get a good deal. Cable car out front.

The Mark Hopkins - Top of the Mark is located here and a great place for drinks even if you choose not to stay here.

The Huntington Hotel -Home of the Nob Hill Spa, which I highly recommend. One of the "big four" hotels.

Where to Stay: Part Deux

The Embarcadero

The Embarcadero is one of my favorite areas in San Francisco. Close to the water, great area to walk or jog, with absolutely stunning views.
The Pros to staying in this area: Beautiful water views without the madness of Fisherman's Wharf, quiet at night, very calm, beautiful area.
Cons: Quiet at night, not as central to downtown as Union Square, not too many hotel choices.

The hotels:
The Vitale - Luxury boutique hotel. Great restaurant and bar and one of my favorite after work spots (I'm sure my stalkers are taking notes. ;) ) Lovely views and amazing suites. I was lucky enough to stay in a panoramic suite (see photo) one weekend and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. It is small and intimate but with the luxuries of some of the more well known chains. Small, but nice spa. Simply put, you can't go wrong here. Cable car 2 blocks, historic street cars and buses stop next door.

The Hyatt Regency - Typical Hyatt hotel. California Street cable car stops right next to the hotel. If you've stayed at one Hyatt (or Hilton, or other similar chain) you know what this is all about.

The Harbor Court Hotel - Not as great a location as the first two mentioned but you can still get around by walking a few extra blocks.

Where to Stay?

Union Square (and nearby)
Pros: Very central to pretty much everything you'll want to see, nice hotels, get more for your money hotel wise than Fisherman's Wharf.

Cons: Extremely busy area, quite a few beggars.

Hotels in the area that are budget friendly:
The Chancellor - this is really one of the best as far as your budget friendly options go. It is an older historic hotel with a great location.
The Powell - Steps from the Powell Street BART station and right next to the cable car turn around. You may want to specify you would like a room facing away from Powell Street or the cable cars may keep you up late and wake you very early. Very basic property. Location is the best thing is has going for it.
Hotel Adagio - Hipster scene, good restaurant, good location.
Westin St. Francis - If anyone is fimiliar with the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, this is the hotel! You can even stay in the notorious suite if you have the funds. That said, to those on a budget, you can often get this property on priceline for a very reasonable rate and you can't be the location.

If you have more to spend consider the following:
Campton Place - Luxury boutique hotel right on Union Square. Lovely on site restaurant.The
Four Seasons - The name pretty much tells you what the hotel is all about.
The Intercontiental - Just opened in 2008 and supposed to be extremely nice. Within walking distance of Union Square.
The St. Regis - Within walking distance but not technically Union Square. Great luxury hotel with spa to match.Don't hesitate to ask for info if you have a specific hotel in mind. It is impossible to list them all here!

Restaurant Gary Danko

800 North Point St (at Hyde)

Anyone who knows me knows that I quite enjoy Gary Danko. If you haven't guessed, I am kind of a foodie. The thing that I really like about Gary Danko is the fact that it is just so unpretentious. The food isn't so over the top that it makes you feel like they're trying too hard. Service is friendly and welcoming. I just haven't had a bad experience here. The menu changes a bit based upon the seasons but they do have standard favorites that appear constantly. I highly recommend the lobster risotto, the glazed oysters with Osetra caviar and lettuce cream and the infamous cheese cart. The glazed oysters have the most amazing flavor, nothing I've tried can duplicate it. Simply put, if you want fine dining without the attitude, I recommend Gary Danko. Portions are generous. Make reservations in advance.

Bar Crudo

603 Bush St (between Burritt St & Stockton St)

Bar Crudo is one of my favorite restaurants. Some think it is overhyped but I love it. If you like raw seafood, this is your place. While cooked foods are also on the menu, I think their strengths lie with the raw stuff. The seafood here is very fresh and the dishes are unique. Think tapas bar meets seafood. Portions are small and yes, you're meant to order more than one plate. Favorites of mine include the lobster salad, seafood chowder and spicy yellow fin tuna cubes. Menu is seasonal however. If you're a hardcore seafood lover, I highly recommend it. All of the plates add up quickly so if you're really hungry, this may be an expensive evening!

Short List to Get You Started

It should get you started. The SFGate link below is one I find to be very helpful to visitors.

Things to do:
Golden Gate Bridge
Fisherman's Wharf
Ghirardelli Square
Union Square
Japanese Tea Gardens
Golden Gate Park
Cable Car Museum
Bike the Golden Gate Bridge
Explore Sausalito (you could bike over) and take the ferry back
Explore the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero
North Beach
Explore the Castro
Haight-Ashbury (Greatful Dead house is there)
Shops on Union, Chestnut and Fillmore streets
Check out Pacific Heights (beautiful old homes)
Ride the cable cars
Chinatown. You may enjoy a walking tour which is done by a local who lives in Chinatown. You'll get some history and see parts of Chinatown that most tourists don't find because they mainly stick to Grant Avenue. There is also a dim sum lunch if you so choose.
Other sites that may be helpful: Muni passes, fares, other info

About Me:

After spending 2 or so years handing out recs. on the Travel board, I thought a blog may be helpful. I was born and raised in San Francisco and still live in the city. It is truly one of my favorite cities on earth and I love helping people to discover a bit more about it. I will post my recs of things to do, short reviews of restaurants I like, where to say... Don't hesitate to comment if you would like to see something else. This is just a long work in progress. I hope that this helps my fellow nesties in their travels. Have a fantastic visit.

Thank you for reading,

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the properties or restaurants. I do not represent them in any way, nor do I work for them. These are merely my opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of the businesses in my entries.