Today, I’m excited to bring you a guest post from Amna Alam. She is freelance writer based in London and enjoys art, culture and of course, travel. You can follow her on twitter!
Although we’ve been to San Francisco a bunch of times, I love Amna’s insight. I hope you enjoy too…
I’ve been to San Francisco three times in the last three years but my most recent visit had me living like a local. I experienced San Francisco in a different light by trying out local cafes, exploring various neighbourhoods and visiting art galleries. The city is immersed in colourful art deco and Victorian style villas lined along steep and curvy roads but the tall bridges, ocean views, cuisine, fashion, art culture and local markets only add to the grandeur.
Here are a few hidden gems I came across during my visit to San Francisco.
Cafés and Bakeries
Start your day with a breakfast at the local favourite Lakeside Café, 2529 Ocean Avenue. Grab a milkshake at St. Francis Candy Store or the delicious but calorie-heavy, Nebulous Potato Thing, a mound of fries with onions, melted cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. San Francisco’s Thai food is quite possibly the best in the country; I was convinced after ordering the Tom Yum and Chilean Sea Bass for lunch at Marnee Thai on 2225 Irving Street.
I love the coffee culture in San Francisco and there are loads of stand-alone cafes serving unique blends. I enjoyed so many café lattes at various cafes and bakeries but my favourites include the hip and casual Philz Coffee, Kara’s Cupcakes and Arizmendi (1268 Valencia Street), a local favourite specializing in chocolate chip cookies, muffins, scones, crunchy breadsticks and a variety of garden-style pizzas.
Philz Coffee has a selection of light to dark roasts and locally made pastries. I love their Mocha Tesora, a silky dark roasted coffee that is punctuated by dark chocolate. Although they don’t serve espressos you can ask the barista to customise your coffee as light, medium or heavy. Their ice mint mojito is also great for non-coffee drinkers.
Another high-concept coffee shop is FourBarrell Coffee, an industrial-looking café serving Colombian, South American and African espresso blends.
If you’re craving sweet and savoury delights, I’d recommend the Belgian Art Tea House. They are known for their famous Frjtz fries, moules and crepes and they’re located on 590 Valencia Street.
Also known as ‘Little Mexico’, the Mission district is one of San Francisco’s coolest neighbourhoods and is a great place to grab a burrito. You can pick one up from Pancho Villa on 16th followed by a salted caramel ice cream at Bi-rite Creamery.
Boutiques and Shopping
While Union Square is famous for its shops and flagship designer boutiques, I found alternative shopping streets offering unique fashion accessories and clothing. I spent most of my time in indie design shops and creative outlets along Valencia Street such as Little Otsu.
Music and Art Culture
It’s best to have your own car to leisurely roam around town so I booked a car deal from alamo.co.uk/usa to discover art galleries and local music bars.
I visited Z Space on 450 Florida Street where I saw a play for under $25. Z Space is a contemporary arts gallery and theatre that features visual arts, dance, and musical productions by local artists. Other galleries worth checking out are Shooting Gallery and MOMA.
In the Mission district you’ll find Revolution Café, a local hangout for music lovers that hosts local and touring bands. Drive down to 3248 22nd Street for a night of music, sangrias and a great atmosphere.
Still want more? No problem!
Here are some links to our trips to San Francisco!