My San Francisco Favorites

Golden Gate Bridge

It’s hard to believe that we’ve now lived in San Francisco for over a year!  In some ways, it felt like home almost instantly.  And in others, it still feels very new.  A few times every week, people will mention a place in the area, and I’ll sheepishly respond, “Where is that?”

Though there are still some holes in my knowledge of the area, a few things are certain:

1.  Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge is always a happy surprise.

2. Driving up a hill in the city, only to crest and see the water, is always breathtaking.

3. Speaking of driving here, the hills are scary at first.  But you get used to them really fast.

4. Drivers in San Francisco are way more courteous than in the other cities I’ve lived.  Case in point: often, when you put your blinker on to turn into another lane, people let you in. . . even if it’s busy!  Crazy, no?  I’ve also noticed that people often wave other drivers ahead, even though it’s their own turn to go at a four-way stop.  Revolutionary, isn’t it?

5.  There’s definitely a different way of dressing in San Francisco (compared to the East Coast).  It’s more casual, but in a way that works with real life.  Because the tech industry is so big here, you can wear jeans most places here (including to work at many offices).  A good pair of jeans and sneakers will take you far here.  Also, you need a coat or sweater on just about year round here (except for the glorious period in September and October when it’s basically summer here).

6.  The food here is seriously good.  And healthy.  At once.  I was kind of nervous when people kept telling me how healthy the food was in San Francisco.  I’m healthy and all, but I don’t take it to the extreme.  So I wasn’t sure what people were referring to.  Turns out they mean that seriously delicious, farm-grown food is available everywhere and year round!  (Not having winter has its– many– perks!)  It’s super-easy to be healthy here.  Everyone seems to eat pretty clean and work out frequently.  Which brings me to my list of favorite things.  I’d never have guessed it before moving here, but my #1 favorite thing here is a salad place!

Blue Barn— This place has the best salads on Earth, hands down.  In fact, I eat the same one (the Tostada) nearly every day of the week, and it never gets old.  It takes a little longer to get a salad here than in some places, because they’re each made by hand.  But it’s totally worth it.  If I ever move anywhere else, I’m going to have to ask to franchise this place!

Susie Cakes— As a cupcake/cake/sweet afficionado, I take my baked goods very seriously.  I always search a city for my favorite, and do extensive research before making any declarations.  So it is no small thing when I say that Susie Cakes has the best cupcakes ANYWHERE!!!  They are perfectly sized (medium, not gargantuan), and generally perfect in every way.  Not too sweet, but just sweet enough.  And their cakes, pies, cookies, etc. are all amazing too.  There are multiple locations on the West Coast too, in case you happen not to be in San Francisco.

–Juicy News– This is a magazine store to end all magazine stores, which caused me to deliver this ode to Juicy News a while back.  Whatever you’re looking for in the way of print (from local magazines to international, newspapers, cards, photography books, Moleskin notebooks. . . ), they have it.  And it’s gorgeously displayed and sold with a friendly and personal touch.

SPQR— If I had to pick a favorite restaurant in San Francisco, I think this would be it.  It’s inventive Italian, done with a California twist (a.k.a. super fresh ingredients and a lighter touch).  I normally have to ask what each thing is on the menu (because of all the inventive ingredients), but I’ve never had a bad dish there (even if I couldn’t pronounce them).  Their pastas are homemade and so delish!

Patxi’s Pizza— This place has really great pizza, and is also an easy place to take a family out to dinner (they also have delivery).  I’ll admit our family pizza night has become a weekly staple, and we always order from Paxti’s (after trying a bunch of SF pizza places to determine a favorite).  Just recently, I discovered their gluten free pizza, which is surprisingly delicious.

–Ferry Building– This is one of my favorite places to take visitors, because it’s such a great glimpse into life in San Francisco.  On Tuesdays and Sundays, they have a huge farmer’s market– where you can find all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies, as well as delicious cheeses, breads, and a million other delectable goodies.  And every day of the week the Ferry Building has awesome restaurants and shops (including a newly installed Humphry Slocomb outpost– my favorite ice cream in SF– which I wrote about here).

Spruce—  This is another place I’ve never had a bad meal, but once I ate their cheeseburger (from their bar menu, but they’ll make it for you in the main restaurant as well), I never ordered a different main dish.  It’s super duper good and comes with a side of aioli which contains either crack or bits of heaven.  I literally cannot go there and order anything else.  YUM.

Park Tavern— This is such a fun restaurant with a great vibe and delicious food.  It has a fab bar which always seems to be bustling.  And the food is crazy good.  Their brussels sprout chips are a must have, and I’ve heard rave reviews of their deviled eggs too.  I happen to love the burger here too (which also comes with a heaven-infused aioli).  You’d think I order burgers all the time, but I don’t.  I do like testing for favorites though.

Books, Inc.— Another great thing about San Francisco is its bookstores.  Though big chain bookstores are closing throughout the country, San Francisco’s small, independent bookstores are thriving.  Books, Inc., which has multiple locations, is my favorite.  Spending some time searching its stacks is one of my favorite things to do.

There you have it.  My San Francisco favorites (so far).  I look forward to getting to know the city even better and discovering more favorites!  Do you have favorites here?  I’d love to know what they are, as I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting places.  Do tell. . . .


  • Callie

    Congrats on your one year(ish) anniversary! I love your list of suggestions and definitely want to check out of few of the spots next time I’m in the city. And I completely agree with you about Susie Cakes. Best cupcake ever!

    • Callie- I hope you’re here before too long! I’d love to see you! And I’m glad we’re on the same page about Susie Cakes. I think they are perfect. 🙂