As someone who lives on the West Coast and loves exploring new cities (with a particular obsession with fashion and food), it was a wonder why I’d never been to San Francisco. The anticipation for this trip was insane, and it was a fun weekend spent wandering (and eating our way through) a few of the city’s neighbourhoods with my boyfriend Phil and a few friends. So here is, yet another city guide to add to to the books. If you have any reccos to add to this list, please feel free to add them in the comments below — I’ll def be looking for new places to try next time I visit.
Anyone close to me knows this is one of my favourite stores, EVER. Known for making modern essentials with radical transparency, Everlane is a company to watch. The retailer has slowly been growing and creating really great product (including their new sustainable denim collection that clocks in at prices as low as $68 US). The prices are fair, the quality is pretty good for what it costs and the majority of the clothes are essentials you’ll keep for a long time. While they’re primarily online, they currently have shops in SF and NYC.
Le Point gets five stars in my books. You know when a boutique carries a one or two brands you like, but miss the mark on the other half of its product? This is not one of those places. I wanted E V E R Y S I N G L E T H I N G. Phil had to stop me since I’d already thrown away most of my money at Everlane and Reformation. They carry brands like Ganni, Opening Ceremony, Tibi, Tôteme and Creatures of Comfort. The store décor literally made me weep and I had to be dragged out to carry on with our day.
Reformation was my first stop in the Mission district (after brunch, of course). I think I almost cried when I walked in (what a basic b). The interior is super minimalist and cool, but what really got me was their new innovative shopping experience. You can browse the product on the floor and then walk over to one of the big touch screens on the wall and request the colour and size of each style you’d like to try. One of the girls who works there will let you know when your fitting room is ready and when you walk into your room you’ll find adjustable light settings (cool, golden or sexy time), a dock to plug your phone in and play your own music — and, the best part is, your clothes are there waiting for you in a little wardrobe. When you need a different size or style, there’s another touch screen in your room you can put the request into. Once you’ve selected the styles you need, the screen will instruct you to shut your wardrobe drawers. Minutes later, a message pops up letting you know you can open the doors — and voila. Your product is sitting there waiting for you. (I could honestly talk about this forever, hit me up if you want to hear more.)
Trust me to find a great boutique book store everywhere I go. Dog Eared Books is no exception — they curate a selection of books so awesome, there’s no way you could go wrong with any of them. I added Goodbye Vitamin, A Novel by Rachel Khong and Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette) to my bookshelf. I highly recommend both!
Visit Away if not for their beautifully minimalist luggage, then for the major interior design inspiration. Known for their fool-proof hard-case luggage, each piece comes equipped with a built-in charger for all your electronics because we all hate when our flight gets delayed or the outlet on the plane is busted. The boutique also showcases a number of beautiful guidebooks, travel-friendly products and stickers to customize your new luggage. Opt for one for one of their signature carry-ons in a classic hue like Navy or Black, or wait for one of their cool collabs (they’ve paired up with Rashida Jones, Suki Waterhouse, as well as Gray Malin for a number of cool custom colours and artful linings).
This primarily digital retailer opened its first permanent shop in SF in August. Modern Citizen has been described as the minimalist lover’s version of Zara. And also deemed quality fast fashion. Founder Jessica Lee is making an argument for clothing made in China. She stands proud of her product as she secured hard-to-make relationships with high quality factories in Hong Kong — she claims that you’ll see and feel the quality when you have the chance to see the product in real life. The shop focuses on a personalized experience — you can book a personal shopping experience, RSVP to one of their pop-in shops (they recently hosted Outdoor Voices), or attend one of their store events (including meditation talks, fundraisers and more).
The Riddler is a cute Parisian-inspired champagne bar that’s great for charcuterie and a glass of bubbly in the late afternoon. I’m a sucker for the teeny tiny French bistro tabletops and chairs that line the exterior — plus, something about the term “Champagne Bar” just seems super extra and great, so why wouldn’t you want to come here? It’s walk-in only, so be sure to come at a reasonable hour. Oh, and they serve brunch too (which sadly, I didn’t have enough time to try). If you go, please let me know how it is.
Leo’s is my favourite restaurant in San Francisco. A vintage champagne and oyster bar that resonates back to the 1950s, this is for sure a 10 out of 10, cannot-miss spot. Whether you come here for the full meal deal, or a raw bar and cocktail experience, I promise you won’t be disappointed. The décor emulates a sort of tiki bar type scene, and the people-watching here at night is too good to miss. I recommend the Bubble Bath cocktail and the salmon entrée tasted pretty nice (it had bacon in it).
We came to Marlowe on the premise that it has the best burger in San Francisco. We weren’t disappointed. The burger features your classic caramelized onions, bacon, cheddar and a horse-radish aioli. We all ordered the burger, so I can’t say anything about the other menu items, but I’m sure they’re good too (but why you would order something other than the burger, I don’t know). The décor was a crowd-pleaser, with marble tabletops and white washed brick walls and a beautiful metallic backsplash bar. It’s located in a random area, so I don’t recommend walking around before or after, but it’s an easy 10-minute walk away from the main Market district.
Come here for the coffee and a casual, very instagrammable brunch. The décor at Café Réveille features a beautifully-tiled bar backsplash and millennial pink tabletops that rival Café Henrie’s in New York. The menu is made for Gen Xers, with a coconut chia bowl and orange blossom water waffles. If you love the colour pink and aren’t hanging out with a bunch of dudes, this place is a must-do (if not for the food, at least for the sake of your Instagram grid).
You will probably think I’m fucking with you when you arrive at the entrance of Foreign Cinema, but didn’t someone ever tell you not to judge a book by its cover? Walk down the long dark hallway and you’ll find a sunny wide open courtyard filled with string lights and a giant white wall at the back that they use for screening films. The interior is even better (see proof below), and the vibe here is equal parts laid-back as it is extra. Every single person had a glass of wine (if they didn’t have an entire bottle), before noon on a Saturday. If I were to ever move to SF, I have a feeling I would fit in great. Anyway, come here for brunch or try to catch one of the movie screenings (it’s on my list of to-do’s next time I visit).
Park Tavern is located in SF’s Little Italy neighbourhood in the North Beach district. It’s a cozy spot that we went to for brunch one morning. We ordered the banana walnut bread to start, and I ordered a mimosa and avocado toast (these, albeit being extremely basic, were no joke). If I lived in SF and had a go-to brunch spot, this would be it. All the stafff would know my name and my signature order (avocado toast + a mimosa). My friend Meryl would be making fun of me for how White Girl this restaurant description sounded. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
I would say Coqueta had the best food of all the places we tried. Sadly, Phil ended up getting food poisoning and didn’t make it out the night we came, but I liked it so much that I promised we would go back the next time we visited. The menu offers an array of Spanish tapas and family-style options — we opted for a series of appies, including the croquettes (win), every type of skewer they offered (win) and the paella (also a win). The cocktails were delicious, and I don’t even like cocktails that much (more of a wine girl). The restaurant is also located at Pier 5 (the eastern side of SF), so you can walk along the water and take in the views before or after dinner.
We ended up staying a boutique hotel straight smack in the middle of downtown (two blocks from Union Square). While it was very central and easy to get around, I would recommend finding an AirBnB in a more quaint neighbourhood such as Hayes Valley, Haight-Ashbury or Cow Hollow.
Getting around SF is pretty easy. I would recommend taking the BART to-and-from the airport or if you’re taking a long trip within the city (say from Mission to somewhere more north). The trolley usually has a line up and seemed like a tourist trap. Uber was pretty seamless, except if you’re downtown there is a lot of traffic. Also, don’t be afraid to walk! There are so many beautiful houses and buildings that you won’t want to miss (but do know that there are a lot of steep hills you’ll have to conquer).
If you have questions or other SF recommendations to add, shoot me an email or comment below.