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My Favorite San Francisco Spots by Neighborhood Guide

This month marks five years living in San Francisco. I remember the first month we moved into the city — it was thrilling and overwhelming all at the same time. Spending the first year hopping from one neighborhood to the next, the time was spent scouring for coffee shops, restaurants, and spaces. The city has changed since the first year I arrived, though a few of my favorite establishments have stayed. There’s constantly new places opening, and a few I’ve added to the routine.

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Here are my favorite San Francisco spots by neighborhood.


The Mission

1. Yamo — Cash only, and the best $10 you’ll ever spend. This 12 seat bar, Burmese fast-food restaurant quickly turned into an addiction after eating their tea salad and house-style noodles.
2. Tartine — the line is nauseating, yet their food never seams to fail. A great place for French-style desserts.
3. Tacolicious — Their street tacos and albacore tuna tostada is an absolute must. Mexican food with a twist and one killer margarita menu.
4. Central Kitchen — A beautiful space, with high-end American style menu.
5. Sightglass Coffee 21st St — Service generally won’t come with a smile (unfortunately) but their iced vanilla iced coffee is a favorite.
6. Foreign Cinema — I’ve gone here almost every year for my birthday, as the space and food is brilliant. Fried chicken (done two different ways depending on the day), oysters, and seasonal ingredients marks a great dinner.
7. Trickdog — One of the best bars, with a playful drink menu based on neighborhoods.
8. Boba Guys — A proper Boba drink with house-made ingredients.
9. El Farolito — My husband’s favorite down-to-earth burrito spot. He eats a lot of Mexican, so I trust it.


Noe Valley

1. Saru — I almost left this one off the list for very selfish reasons — mostly because I don’t want the line to become any longer then it can be at this no-reservations spot. It has become my husband and I’s number one restaurant for 4 years running. I knew we became “frequent fliers” when the waiters started asking if we wanted our usual. This Japanese, sushi-style restaurant brings to life omakase and classic Japanese cuisine. The popcorn roll rules everything, their Nigiri or Salmon tasting is a must, and the Mackerel dish prepared with fried and raw is a delight.
2. Easy Breezy — It may be the best frozen yoghurt in the city.


The Castro / Dolores

1. Bi-Rite Creamery — Their ice cream is great, their soft-serve window my preference (plus there’s usually no lines for soft serve).
2. Reveille Cafe — A great coffee shop and probably the only one with WiFi in the city that’s not a Starbucks.
3. Delfina — Whether you sit down at the restaurant for an elevated experience or stop by the pizzeria, the restaurant really nails Italian food.
4. Aatxe — Chef Ryan brought the best of Catalonia food, in this tapas-style restaurant.
5. Jasmine Garden — This is the best and well-priced Vietnamese restaurant I’ve found in the city thus far for pho and good spring rolls.
6. Churchill — Whenever we meet friends for drinks or pool, we head straight here for a great beer/cocktail menu.


The Fillmore / The Marina

1. Wrecking Ball Coffee — This small place known for their adorable pineapple wallpaper is my favorite coffee spot, time and time again. Everyone is so friendly and it’s honestly the best coffee I’ve had in the city.
2. Jane — A great cafe to grab a good salad or sandwich.
3. Bun Mee — Americanized Vietnamese, featuring really good bun mi sandwiches.
4. Tacolicious — Because you can never have too much Tacolicious.
5. Blue Barn — A go-to spot for on the run, and wanting something decently healthy like a salad.


Downtown / SoMa

1. Elite Audio Cafe — a great space in SoMa where the barista will draw incredible latte art right onto your coffee.
2. Bourbon & Branch — The highly-awarded bar that requires a reservation well in-advanced brings to the tradition of a speak easy.
3. Tradition — Bourbon & Branch’s second spot opened up, in a more saloon style space, drinks are equally as good.
4. Brenda’s French Creole Food — The best in New Orleans-style food, with a menu featuring grits, beignets and chicory coffee. Show up early as it is first come, first serve.
5. Michael Mina — This is the ultimate in white linen, high end dining in downtown that is a classic. Worth a splurge at least once.
6. Leo’s Oyster Bar — The interior is beautifully designed, and their hip menu tasty.


Hayes Valley / Russian Hill

1. Souvla — Casual Greek food, perfected.
2. 20th Century Cafe — An adorable cafe that has the loveliest Eastern European bites.
3. Stones Throw Restaurant — Chef Jason has always been a favorite, dating back to his days at Micheal Mina. Opening up this restaurant, he created a menu with the idea of something your mom would make, but better.
4. Saint Frank Coffee — A good space, plus delicious macadamia lattes.


NOPA

1. The Mill — Avoid it at all costs on the weekends, but be sure to stop by in the mid-afternoon for their country style toast.
2. Nopa — This was my first addiction when I moved to the city, and still remains as oldie but goodie. Their creative menu and bustling restaurant is a staple of San Francisco dining.
3. 4505 BBQ — A casual spot to grab classic ribs or smoked meats before hitting the town.


Sunset / Richmond District

1. Kingdom of Dumpling — Down and dirty, this place cooks mean soup dumpling and garlic green beans. My post-flight tradition.
2. Andy Town Coffee — A friendly cafe with yummy coffee.
3. General Store — This store seems to be favorite by ‘grammars everywhere, and after a look in, it’s become a go-to for picking up gifts or good house hold items.
4. Izakaya Sozai — Their ramen is to die for, reservations definitely needed.

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1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


Xx,
Jessica

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