One of the most photographed locations in San Francisco, Alamo Square’s famous “postcard row” at Hayes and Steiner Streets is indeed a visual treat. A tight, escalating formation of Victorian houses is back-dropped by downtown skyscrapers, providing a stunning contrast. The grassy square itself is an ideal midday break.
On the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets sits a beacon that calls to all who visit san Francisco: a street sign marking the heart of the neighborhood where 1960s flower power blossomed. These days, colorful Victorian houses brighten the hillsides and the streets are filled with restaurants and boutiques.
Flamboyant clothing shops, piercing and tattoo parlors, and long-loved stores such as Love on Haight mix with hip restaurants and boutiques along Upper Haight. Downhill on Haight St., alternative bars, consignment stores and music shops with old vinyl records hold forth.
San Francisco’s Japantown has been the center of the Bay Area’s Japanese and Japanese American community since 1906. It continues to an exciting place to explore and find authentic Japanese culture, restaurants and shops. If you’re in San Francisco Japantown, you’re lucky as there are only three Japantown’s left in the U.S. (and San Francisco’s is the largest, and oldest)
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A short walk along the panhandle takes you to Golden Gate Park proper and all that it has to offer whether it’s biking or strolling along winding paths, visiting the buffalo out at the Bison Paddock, feeding ducks or boating at Stow Lake or exploring one of the many other attractions within the park.
Is there anything better than a hot coffee and slab of sourdough bread on a foggy San Francisco morning? Locals flock to this artisan java shop for their daily caffeine fix, where chirpy baristas blend hand-roasted coffees in a vintage steel roaster. “Toast service” runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for most of the year. The molasses brown bread, slathered with a blob of jam, always hits the spot, as does the chocolate hazelnut on country bread. There are the usual coffee options — cappuccino, espresso, Americano — as well as more expensive, exotic blends from Kenya, Colombia, and Ethiopia. If you’re in the area at dusk, sample a slice of classic cheese pizza and dip it in the homemade ranch sauce. It’s a match made in heaven.
This neighborhood namesake serves Californian fare in a modern building on Divisadero St. On weekday evenings, this place bustles with workers who slurp colorful cocktails. Creative concoctions include the Stiff Upper Lip (London gin, the aperitif Bruto Americano, lemon) and the Black Mamba (scotch, lime, tonic). The food menu changes weekly, but expect fresh ingredients from farmers’ markets around the Bay Area: juicy pork chops, orange-glazed sweet potatoes, seared duck breast, roasted black cod, and more. Stop here for weekend brunch after a morning stroll in Golden Gate Park. Meat-lovers can bite into the bacon-wrapped meatloaf served with spicy pickles and gremolata, while custard french toast with seared apples and spiced butter provides a lighter alternative.
A real butcher presides over this buzzy BBQ spot, which serves homemade comfort food and stays opens late. Smoked meats are the star of the show. Thick wedges of pork, beef brisket, and chicken jostle for plate space with fries, ‘slaw, pickles, and a warm buttery parker house roll. Of course, there are veggie options — the grits and egg sandwich comes with roasted green chili peppers, stinky cheese, and a buttery, griddled bun — but, for the most part, diners devour the carnivore cuisine. This place is home to one of San Francisco’s last authentic wood-fired BBQ pits and chefs source their meats from local farmers. It’s worth the visit for that alone.
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