“According to a Local” is a series of straight-to-the-point guides for different cities around the world. For each guide, we ask a local for all the best things to do, see, eat, and more! This time, we asked a fellow travel blogger about the city she calls home, San Francisco, California! Paroma (over at Year of the Monkey) has graciously provided us with some great advice to make your trip to San Francisco, CA perfect. Living there for almost eight years now, she knows the city inside and out! We’ve even included a map so you can gather all your “must-do’s” for this bucket list city in one place. Enjoy and happy travels!
1. Favorite Bar:
Mr. Tipples Recording Bar in Hayes Valley. Great retro vibe, amazing cocktails and drinks, plus good bar food/small plates.
2. Favorite restaurant:
This is a tough one because San Francisco is a culinary paradise. I have several favorites, but for the sake of naming one I will go with Octavia, Chef Melissa Perello’s stylish Californian-American joint. If you are wondering what “Californian-American” is, it is our take on a particular cuisine by using seasonal, local, sustainable and farm to table products.
3. Favorite coffee shop:
Again, another curveball since this is a caffeine-fueled city (hello West Coast!). I have a soft spot for my neighborhood cafe YakiniQ, which is a Korean American cafe serving not only coffee but unique concoctions such as sweet potato latte. A must try when in San Francisco.
4. Favorite local foods/drinks & where to get them:
San Francisco has the largest Chinese population in USA and so it is imperative that you try some of our famous Cantonese dumplings at Hong Kong Lounge in Richmond (psst…the best dumplings in San Francisco are found outside of China town in the Sunset and Richmond neighborhoods). Other culinary attractions include our famous clam chowder in sourdough bread bowl which you can get Alioto’s and Scoma’s at Fisherman’s Wharf, Woodhouse Fish Co. in Lower Pacific Heights and Swan Oyster Depot in Nob Hill. Also, try our famous mission-style burrito at La Taqueria in the Mission district (voted best Burrito in USA in 2014). Finally, visit the mega farmers’ market in the Ferry Building on Saturdays to get a taste of the best of Bay Area’s food, produce and drinks. Try some old-fashioned espresso at Caffe Trieste, the oldest cafe in North beach or Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe.
5. Best spot for a view:
Tank Hill Park or Bernal Heights Park or Kite Hill Park are great places to get a sweeping view of the city. You can get a grand view of the Golden Gate bridge from either Marshall’s Beach or Baker Beach.
6. Favorite thing to do outside:
There are several hiking trails in the city itself such as Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve or Mt. Davidson where you can go on urban hiking. Besides, San Francisco is ideal for day trips to wine country (Napa and Sonoma), exploring Marin County (north of Golden Gate Bridge) and it’s cute towns such as Sausalito and Tiburon or visiting the famous Muir Woods, a haven for Redwoods. Islands near San Francisco such as Angel Island, Alcatraz, Alameda and Treasure Island are also good for short day trips and can be accessed by ferries.
7. Best local sweets & where to get them:
California is a melting pot of so many cultures and countries that it is difficult to pinpoint a “indigenous” sweet. Egg tarts at Eastern Bakery in China Town or anything from B. Patisserie is a good start. Not many know this, but truffles from XOX Truffles in North Beach are the real thing and you can sample mochi (Japanese dessert) at Benkyodo in Japan town.
8. Fun “local” activity for tourists to try:
9. Best time of year to visit:
September and October. Our summers are cold.
10. Favorite neighborhood:
11. Local or regional recipe you recommend cooking up:
I would go for anything with a touch of California. Add some arugula to your pizza or some avocado to your salad. Try your hand at a Mission style rice burrito, wrap up some tacos or simply fold some shrimps and chives dumplings.
12. What you wish tourists knew coming to your home:
That there is more to San Francisco than Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli square, riding the Cable Cars and China Town. Three-fourths of San Francisco is left undiscovered by most tourists and that is indeed a shame.