San Francisco days, San Francisco nights

Monday, 2 May 2011 | Tags: , , ,

A recent weekend in San Francisco reminded me how beautiful and picturesque the city is, definitely one of my favourites in the United States. Not only is the architecture straight out of a story book, the restaurants, shops and sights are enough to satisfy even the most jaded traveler.

(Savannah, Georgia, comes in a close second to San Francisco in terms ofbeauty. I wrote all about it in a previous blog last Spring: “Hello, Y’all!“)


After much searching on the web and in travel books, I decided on The Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill. Initially, I had booked a hotel in the Financial District, but at the last minute, I found a deal at TabletHotels.com and made the change. I’m very glad I did. (TabletHotels.com is my go-to web destination for hip hotels around the globe.)

The Huntington Hotel, San Francisco


The Financial District looks and feels like many downtown cores and doesn’t hold nearly the charm and character of the Nob Hill.

The Huntington sits perched at the top of Nob Hill, with magnificent views of the city. It’s also a very central hub for exploring the city. The hotel is definitely old school, built in the 1920s as apartments and converted into a hotel in 1947 after a two year renovation. The rooms are a bit dated, but they’re much bigger than industry standards. Ours was actually HUGE, bigger than most Yaletown (Vancouver) apartments. (Seven rooms at the hotel have a small kitchen,including ours.) It’s also the site of the luxurious Nob Hill Spa.

Nob Hill Spa in the Huntington Hotel

Just down the street you’ll find the Fairmount and the Mark Hopkins , an Intercontinental hotel. I recommend heading to the restaurant at the top, aptly named The Top of TheMark, for a martini and almost 360° views of the city. Particularly spectacular at sunset.

View from the Top of the Mark


San Francisco tourist literature boasts that you can eat at a different restaurant every breakfast, lunch and dinner for a year and never eat at the same place twice. This makes narrowing down your dining choices quite the challenge!

Our first dinner was at Zuni Café, a city institution that has been serving up Mediterranean inspired fare for over 32 years! Zuni is famous for its roast chicken for two, which takes an hour to prepare. I was so hungry that I couldn’t wait that long, but friends who have sampled it tell me it’s divine.

We tested the A16 cookbook on Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag, so I was looking forward to a visit to this Italian eatery. That darn gluten-free diet resolution (see my previous blog) got in the way of ordering pasta or pizza, though I confess, I did have a bite of my boyfriend’s. I washed it down with some burrata cheese, roast chicken and sautéed sunchokes. So delicious.

The Slanted Door came up in all my searches as one of the places to eat in San Fran. Itdidn’t disappoint. Located in the Ferry Building, this Vietnamese restaurant was burstingat the seams with patrons. Though the idea is to share, the portions were quite large, sowe only made it through four dishes. The Slanted Door springs roll were great, anunconventional combination of prawn and pork. I also recommend the scallops in currysauce, great over some jasmine rice. And I can’t forget the Mai Tais!

Golden Gate Bridge


After all that eating, it was time to burn the calories doing my second favourite activity,shopping!

Union Square and environs is home to most of the big name department stores and chains. There you’ll find Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks and Barney’s. Bloomindale’s is nearby. I recommend a walk down Maiden Lane, just off the Square, for some smaller boutiques like Tory Burch and London Sole. The latter is one of my favourite makers of ballet-style flats. After much oohing and aahing over the adorable shoes, I went with a pair of red suede ballet flats that wrap up the leg.

Not to be confused with the above, Union Street in Cow Hollow is very picturesquemulti-block strip, home to many smaller shops and restaurants. We took a stroll toadmire the Victorian architecture and window shop. I gazed longingly through the glassof the cream puff store but held strong.

Fillmore Street is one of my favourite neighbourhood haunts. This street in Pacific Heights is home to blocks of boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Check out Jonathan Adler’s 60s-chic homewares here; Athletica, a large workout and swimwear store à la Lululemon; and Heidi Says, three separate boutiques in a two-block stretch, one for shoes, one for casual wear and one housing higher-end collections.

More Eat

On Fillmore, I had a seriously kickass coffee at Jane and was determined to come back to Citizen Cake next door, but we ran out of time.


Many guidebooks advise against renting a car because parking is so bloody expensive.($45 to $50 a night at many hotels!!) We didn’t listen as we love booting around andexploring cities in this way.

A few more must stops:

  • Crissey Field for a nice stroll along the water and an up close look at the marvelousGolden Gate Bridge; 

  • Sausalito, a quaint marina town just on the other side of the bridge(though it is overrun by tourists); 

  • And Alcatraz. The guided tour is fascinating and the “Rock” provides excellent views of the city.

Braving the crowds in Sausalito

Be Back Soon!

I’ll definitely be going back to San Francisco again. Any must-visits I should add to my ever-growing list?

Touring Alcatraz – eek!


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