How To Do San Francisco Like a Local

If you're new to San Francisco, just visiting, or you've been there for decades there's plenty to do, see and fall in love with. After over 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's strange to not call it home anymore. Of course it will always hold a special place in heart. Or wait, did I leave my heart there?

Anyway, here are just some of my favorite spots in the city by the bay.

Brunch: The best (but also most touristy) brunch spot is Mama's. There's a reason why people wait hours for it. It's freaking delicious. If you're like me, you don't like waiting in line for brunch. But if you're like me you also really love brunch. My go-to spot has to be Hog and Rocks. You can make a reservation, it's reasonably priced especially for the quality of the food, and you're in the heart of the Mission with lots to explore when you're done. If you want something cheaper, messier and want bottomless mimosas then make your way over to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem instead. If the fried chicken jelly donut sandwich is on the menu, order it. Make sure you sit on the back patio. It's one of the few beer gardens in the city.

Bar: Best cocktails? Bourbon and Branch (especially if you love gin). Another favorite bar but I'd only go if I could get there early: Smuggler's Cove (especially if you love rum). Just want to grab a really good beer and chill? Southern Pacific Brewing. If you don't have a United States issued ID, make sure you take your passport. Since they brew onsite it needs to be a government issued identification. Novela is another great spot (and you can reserve a table). Want a great wine bar? Check out Jamber or Yield Wine Bar.

Shopping: You can't go wrong at any of the thrift stores and boutiques in the city. I would recommend staying clear of Union Square because it's all the same shops you have wherever you're visiting from. The Haight Ashbury area is a must if you want a more unique/very San Francisco experience. One of my favorite spots to shop in the Mission is Cary Lane. If you wear a size 6 shoe then this will be your new shoe paradise as they carry designer samples. You can find a lot of incredible pieces (if you're a size 2-6) at even more incredible prices.

Coffee Shop: I have been in many long and heated debates over the best coffee in the city. I am through and through a Four Barrel fan. Philz is also a must and they have locations all over the city. There are a lot of choices and they're all pretty damn good, but definitely try a Tesora and get it "Philz way." Honestly, you can go to Ritual, Blue Bottle, or pretty much any spot and get a great coffee. Make sure you hit up Dynamo Donut and Coffee if you like donuts. Grab an extra maple bacon for me while you're there.

Entertainment & Outdoors: If you're on a budget check out for activities! If you have time take a trip to the Muir Woods or go get oysters from Tamales Bay. If you have the opportunity check out a show at The Independent, The Fillmore, The Warfield or any of the city's iconic venues. If it's a sunny day (get outside and enjoy it!!) go to Dolores Park then stop at BiRite Creamery for some of the best ice cream you've ever had. Long line? Skip it and grab a pint inside or down the street at BiRite Market. Who wants just one cup anyway? Salted Caramel and Strawberry Vinaigrette are my faves.

Tourist Attraction: If you want to go on a tour of SF, take a Vantigo tour in an old school VW van.
image via Vantigo

And always remember these tips: A Cheat Sheet for Tourists and 29 San Francisco Tourist Commandments.

Also sure to check out my list of San Francisco adventure spots which includes some well known tourists attractions and some hidden and lesser known gems.
Anyone who doesn’t have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to me. 
-Anthony Boudain

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