There’s no way we could categorize this as an “official” guide to San Francisco. We came in way too hot for that. And every time we go we do it a little different anyway. And it’s hard to bundle a city like SF into a guide anyway, but after all that we packed into our weekend in the city, it’d be silly not to show you what we found and hopefully send you on your way with a few ideas to get the ball rolling. But we recommend you put your own remix on these every time.
To begin: We don’t like to begin any day without good coffee. And when you’re on a turn up tour, we take it with an Irish kick. There really isn’t anywhere better than The Buena Vista. World famous Irish coffee, it’s near the bay so you can take in some fresh air and chat with the friendly waitresses who look like they’ve been working their since 1955 and have the stories to prove it: http://thebuenavista.com/index1.html
Coit Tower: The view from the Hilton in Chinatown, overlooking Coit Tower. Coit Tower was built in 1933 exclusively to “beauitfy” the city. It was funded by Lillie Hitchcock Coit and built by architects Arthur Brown and Henry Howard. Its located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood.
Eat: Pizza. You just will. Any big city, a slice of pizza will pull you through on a budget. But if you’ve got time and money, here’s what we’d do:
Nopa (www.nopasf.com): The highlight is the porkchop and that’s usually all we need to hear.
Suppenkuche (www.suppenkuche.com): Brats and beer in a boot.
Live Sushi (www.livesushibar.com): Freshest sushi we’ve maybe ever had. The rad girls at Compound Butter Magazine (@compoundbuttermag) recommended it, and seeings how they’re local, and run the raddest food mag, it had to be good — and it was. It’s next to an old SEGA building, which is somehow a thing still.
Vesuvio: There’s really only one reason we all go to SF, and it’s the bar Vesuvio. It sits directly on Columbus and Jack Kerouac Street, directly next door to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s famous independent books store City Lights. It is basically the watering hole and epicenter of the Beat generation, a group of artists and writers that included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, William Burroughs among others. The place still reeks of artistic brilliance. It’s the kind of bar you can attend alone, read a good book for hours, sipping a variety of cocktails, or gather a large group around a big table upstairs and debate the world, much like the heavy-drinking artists of the day did. Chances are your group will grow and the conversations will careen into the night. Curious and clever art and photos adorn the walls and outside the windows are all sorts of characters.
The Beat Museum: While touristy, the museum is a must stop for a fan. You’ll find a variety of Beat literature, books and artifacts. Also, if you’re lucky one of the employees will give you a proper education of the crew. Just ask.
Chinatown: Walking through Chinatown in any city is always one of the best ways to feel far from home. You’ll see it all strolling through. Don’t be afraid to stop for a meal at a random restaurant for lunch. Look for locals and take photos.
The Tonga Room: Inside the Fairmont Hotel (which we felt like a bunch of hood rats walking through) is a place where the drinks are way too expensive but the vibe is way too good to pass up. It is kitchy and cliche and cheesy and totally awesome. Order anything with rum in it. And if you don’t know rum, go Mount Gay, always. Also, utilize the length of the straws. Dillon Perillo was able to drain one of Kai’s 14 dollar rum drinks from 10 feet away while Kai conversed with someone else.
Hangover cure: I ordered this Frittata the morning after a long night on the town, singing and dancing at a variety of bars and karaoke joints. I can’t say I recommend it for every day consumption, but if you need to fill the void and need a greasy sponge to take care of what is leftover from the night before, well, this is about as good as you can do…I got mine at The Blue Front Cafe near Haight and Ashbury.
The Frittata at The Blue Front Cafe.
Walk: San Francisco is a city that is both a nightmare and a dream to walk in. The hills make it a trek, but they also deliver the occasional breathtaker. We walked more than ever on this trip, just getting lost on the hills, stopping for the occasional coffee, beer or snack, and then continued to walk it off. You get views like this every couple blocks.
Nature and the city: When it comes time to walk off that Frittata, the Golden Gate park trail is a pretty damn good option. It shows how diverse this city is, showcasing it’s range of both city and nature. Great views of the bay and bridge and you might even start to feel fit. Watch out for field mice and the secret left peeling into the bay on the right days. Shhhhh….
-Mr. Bings: If your’e like us and trying to get mileage out of your drinks, try out Mr. Bings (201 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133). It’s little more than a closet of beer boxes, but the no nonsense bartender (son of the owner, single TV, cash only and jukebox) make this a great starter kit for cheap beers and a good spot to get awesome Thai food recommendations.
-Murphy’s Pub (murphyspubsf.net): Dive downtown that we went to because the Rum Bar across the street was closed. Great place with flirty waitresses, greasy food and a place to sink an early evening Stella.
-15 Romolo (www.15romolo.com): Walk in here, order a Pimm’s Cup, get in the photo booth, laugh your face off and move on. It’s expensive, but worth a stop. Especially because if you walk up the hill, turn right and look left, you’ll run into a karaoke place you’ll want to spend the rest of your night at.
-Elbo Room (www.elbo.com): A good hip bar in The Mission. Good music, pretty rock ‘n’ roll girls with red lipstick and attitude. You can play pinball and hit the juke box and then there is an upstairs dance club once the buzz kicks in.
There is no greater city in the world than SF, and here’s why: as landlocked and claustrophobic as you can feel in a big city — and we sometimes do — at any point in your heater you can roll down any number of hills and be into some icy and humbling surf. And then once you’ve cleansed and refreshed and dodged all the sharks you can — you can peel that frozen wetsuit off and climb your way back into the city for a night of it with that “I just fucking surfed” look in your eye.
*(We’re always looking to make these better, if you’ve got any recommendations for spots to check out in SF, email them over to Hello@whatyouth.com)
*Reader Submitted Additions:
–Arinell Pizza in the Mission (16th and Valencia)
–Whiskey Thieves in the Tenderloin.
-Bitter End in the Inner Richmond.
–Trad’r Sam’s: a classic punch bowl bar in the Richmond on Geary.—Rayan Mustafa
–Woods Polk Station: “This is my favorite place in the city right now, and it could use more love. It’s a half room with 3 tables serves 7 beers and 3 types of empanadas. Simple and epic.— Jack Ostler