I moved to San Francisco right out of college and have lived there for 7 years. To me San Francisco is the perfect city, great weather (its always cardigan weather!), incredible food, interesting + artsy people, and the best shops I've ever been to. I love the Bay Area and plan on living there forever or at least until it falls into the ocean.
When visitors come to town one of my favorite places to take them is the Fortune Cookie Factory on Ross Alley. Did you know that Fortune Cookies were invented in San Francisco? It’s off the beaten path in a little Chinatown alleyway. It’s in a lot of guidebooks so there is usually a tourist or two there but for the most part it is pretty empty. It isn’t well marked and if you didn’t have the address you could easily walk right by. Inside is three or four Fortune Cookie machines. The machine smooshes the little flat cookies and then they are taken off while they are still hot and folded with the fortune inside. Once they cool they stay in their shape. It’s really cool to see. I like to bring my own fortunes and they make them there on the spot for just a few dollars. Even if you don’t plan ahead they usually have slips there so you can hand write your own on the spot. If you can’t make it to Chinatown this site lets you order some online (from another vendor.)
One of my favorite places in San Francisco is Miette. It is a ridiculously cute baked goods and candy store. (They have a few locations but my favorite is the Hayes Valley shop.) When people come to San Francisco its one of the first places I send people. I needed some photos last week and they kindly let us stop in and take some shots. If you get a chance to go some of my favorite things to try are: gourmet whoppers, vanilla macarons, homemade caramels, brown sugar licorice, and the chocolate covered gummy bears. They also have a cookbook and give classes sometimes too!
photos by Aubrey Trinnaman for Oh Happy Day
This is my favorite store ever. Its located in Berkeley, California right across the bay from San Francisco. I hesitate to put up photos a little bit only because its this special place that (usually) doesn’t allow photos so I feel like I’m putting up a spoiler because you ever get the chance to go there it is like another world. I take people here when they come from out of town, and they always ask what kind of store it is and I’ve stopped trying to explain it because its unlike any other place I’ve ever been to. The owner and most of the people that work there are paper artists so the displays are incredible and always changing. It really is the most incredible and inspiring place I’ve ever been to.
All photos by La Dolfina
I’ve been back in San Francisco this week. I’ve been happy to see this city even though I wasn’t feeling homesick quite yet. (Its only been a month or two.) I have a full schedule but have been able to slip out for great meals with friends in between. We were headed out to get lunch when we walked by Mission Cheese a new cheese restaurant right by my studio. We were some of the first customers. It was very good and the owner was great. She left her day job to follow her dream of owning a cheese shop. I love when people take scary risks to follow their dreams.
Mission Cheese | 736 Valencia St. San Francisco
So the last 10 days before we moved from San Francisco we tried to eat at our favorite haunts. The food is one of the best things about that city. I get emails all the time from visitors asking where they should eat and it’s high time I did a post about it. Here is my San Francisco Food Bucket List. The starred ones are my absolute favorites.
1. The Sentinel. This place is such a gem. For $8 you can get a gourmet meal. Go for the Corned Beef Sandwich even if you aren’t a huge fan, it’s life changing. It’s in the financial district so its only open Monday-Friday for lunch.
2. Tartine. Go for breakfast. Get the morning buns and something hot to drink make the person you are with try something else like bread pudding. Avoid the sandwiches, the bread hurts your mouth.
(photo by Nicole Gerulat and styled by Jordan Ferney)
3. Pizzeria Delfina*. This is my favorite pizza in the world. Don’t get fancy, just get the Margherita. And get the brussel sprouts if they have them. Heaven. There are two locations. No reservations, just go and wait.
4. Pena Pacha Mama. The food here is great but you go to Pena Pacha Mama for the music. When you call ask what time the music starts and make reservations 30 minutes before. It is a pretty small place and everyone gets up to dance at some point. Super fun, go with friends.
5. Red Door Cafe. There are 6 small tables in this whole quirky place. The owner/waiter is probably the most charming dude you’ve ever met. The food is art and comes like sculptures. It’s a real San Francisco experience. No reservations, just go and wait. Open for Lunch and Brunch.
(photo by me from my phone)
6. Frances*. Oh I love this restaurant. Small. Cozy. Amazing food. Impossible to get in. Show up 15 minutes before it opens and sometimes you can get a seat at the bar. I wish I was friends with the hostess here.
7. Zazie*. Go for brunch, don’t let the line deter you (on the weekends). And flirt with the host–he will hook you up. Also order the Challa French Toast with fruit, or the Gingerbread Pancakes with Lemon Curd and fruit, or the BLT.
8. Boulette’s Larder*. My favorite breakfast place of all time. Everything here is special. It doesn’t get better than this place.
(photo by Tasty Type)
9. Bi Rite Ice Cream. There are other specialty ice cream stores but BiRite is still my favorite. Even if there is a line ask to try a couple kinds. Then buy some. Salted Caramel rules all.
10. Nopa*. Some of the best meals of my life have been eaten here. Impossible to get in at the last minute. You have to get reservations way in advance or show up ten minutes before it opens and sit at the bar.
11. The Ferry Building*. Where do I start with this wonderful place? This topic needs a whole post of its own on how to do it right. I worked on the third floor of the building so I consider myself a mini expert. Go Hungry, bring money, don’t be cheap, ask questions and be in an adventurous and experimental mood. If it is a day the farmers market is running (Tue, Thu, Sat) take some time to go around the booths. Try every sample that is offered to you. Ask the farmers questions. Buy small bags of the things you like. If it’s Thursday try the Tacos from the Tacolicious booth. Then go inside and try the following:
-Salted Caramels from Recchiuti (ask the employee to recommend 1 or 2 other kinds to purchase.)
-Boulette’s Larder ask the shopgirl to recommend some of their custom spice mixes. I love the African salt for Pizza. Do not leave the Ferry Building without buying at least one.
-Stonehouse Olive Oil + McEvoy Olive Oil Don’t be shy and try every single kind. If you love it buy a bottle. I had never tasted real olive oil before these guys.
-Boccalone Ask for recommendations for “Tasty Salted Pig Parts”
-Sidekick Go to the milk bar and try the steamed caramel milk. So good you’ll die.
-Cowgirl Creamery Ask the shop keeper to recommend a few kinds. Try taste tests of several. Then buy some.
-Acme Bread Ask the employee to recommend a few kinds. Buy some. (these guys only accept cash.)
-Miette I like their macarons the best. Buy one for each person in your party.
-Blue Bottle Coffee Best coffee in SF (though I’m not a coffee drinker.) But I have it on all kinds of authority.
(photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day)
Then go out back and have a picnic with all your treasures in front of the Bay Bridge. If it’s crowded walk a block over to Pier 7. Find a bench and eat some really good food.
What are your favorites and what am I missing?