Summer of Go: San Francisco
ABOUT OUR “SUMMER OF GO”
In true Tommy Bahama fashion, we're celebrating the season of sun in style from coast to coast. Over the years, we've made friends in all the right places: Boston, Baltimore, Tampa, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco and Kona, to name a few. During this “Summer of Go,” we'll share our favorite things to see, do and experience in each of those locales.
SAY HOORAY FOR THE CITY BY THE BAY
The late journalist Herb Caen once said, "One day if I go to heaven … I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.’” Chat with the locals there and they'll likely echo the sentiment.
Oh, San Francisco, you majestic coastal berg. You’re where Tony Bennett left his heart. You gave us Jerry Garcia, Clint Eastwood and Bruce Lee and were home to the likes of Maya Angelou and Mark Twain. You also ushered the Mission-style burrito and Rice-a-Roni® into the world, for which we’re eternally grateful.
And your famous bridge isn't the only thing that's "golden": you're blessed with panoramic vistas from your Seven Hills, unique historical attractions, trendsetting arts and music scenes, mouthwatering food and some of the best public parks in the nation.
We love you … and we promise not to call you “Frisco” or “San Fran,” either. We know your residents aren’t crazy about those nicknames. Diverse and brimming with energy, you're 49 square miles of pure West Coast gold and one of our favorite places to relax.
SAN FRANCISCO’S BEST: THINGS TO DO
Spend a Day by the Bay
There’s a wealth of places to see and explore in and around the city’s signature body of water. First and foremost is the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, an awe-inspiring, 1.7-mile-long marvel of architecture that launched a thousand vacation photos. (Be prepared to pay the toll if you drive across it, though.) Alcatraz Island is another popular historic destination – but get your tickets early, as they often sell out in advance. South of the Bridge is Golden Gate Park, featuring Segway tours, a carousel, Japanese tea garden and more. And, at over 80,000 acres, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is the largest urban park system in the nation.
Fisherman’s Wharf’s reign as an attraction began with Achille “Fish King” Paladini, a pioneering Italian who made his fortune there. Still home to active fishing fleets, this homage to San Francisco’s waterfront history is a hub of food, events and entertainment. Highlights include the National Liberty Ship Memorial, Musée Mécanique and the Sea Lion Center at Pier 39. You’ll want to get your hands on some Dungeness crab and a big sourdough-bread bowl of clam chowder while you’re there. (Be sure to protect your valuables, though; pickpockets love this spot.)
Ride the Cable Cars
The city’s fleet of cable cars is one of the few mobile landmarks we’re aware of. Since 1873, they’ve rolled up and down San Francisco’s hills, enchanting scores of residents and visitors alike. Of the original tracks, 17 miles remain. Though, truth be told, they now serve as more of a nostalgic attraction than mass transit. For the best bang for your tourist buck, purchase a San Francisco CityPASS®. It gets you a week of unlimited cable car rides plus access to the Aquarium of the Bay, the Exploratorium science museum, and much more.
Go Down to Chinatown
The eponymous setting for the classic noir film of the same name, San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, it’s a city within a city with a rich history all its own. You can eat a dim sum lunch at the Hang Ah Tea Room, pay homage to the Heavenly Queen Mazu at the Tin How Temple or learn about the ornate architecture on a Wok Wiz walking tour.
Be a Good Sport
This city’s passionate about its pro sports teams. And when they’re as storied and winning as these hometown favorites, it’s no wonder. The surging San Francisco Giants continue their quest for a post-season Wild Card berth at AT&T Park. Football fans can watch 49er preseason games at home against the Broncos August 17 and the Chargers August 24. And if your visit takes you south to San Jose, the minor-league baseball club there plays throughout the month as well.
Make the Performing Arts Scene
The best seat in the house is always up for grabs in this performance-loving city. Enjoy the spectacle of Broadway at the Orpheum or dive into risk-taking drama at the San Francisco Playhouse and lauded Marin Theatre Company. Celebrating its 40th season, the California Shakespeare Theater is worth the drive to Berkeley. Since 1923, the San Francisco Opera has enraptured fans with classical and innovative works (they pioneered HD opera video). Knighted, award-winning conductor Herbert Blomstedt leads adventurous, acclaimed performances by the San Francisco Symphony. And for something completely different, magician Peter Morrison wows at the intimate Marrakech Magic Theater.
Explore West Coast Americana
San Francisco’s specialized museums are fantastic places to learn about some of America’s most fascinating cultural touchstones. Get in touch with your inner bohemian hedonist at The Beat Museum, which also hosts poetry readings, lectures and celebrations of the most famous Beats’ b-days. Visit the Cable Car Museum for a look at their history and the machines that keep them going. Get lost in the diversity of Asian art and culture in the grand and opulent Asian Art Museum, whose collection spans 6,000 years. And if you live for comic books, political cartoons or the Sunday funnies, a trip to the Cartoon Art Museum will reward you with thousands of original illustrations.
SAN FRANCISCO’S BEST: PLACES TO EAT
199 Gough St / 415.355.9085 / richtablesf.com
Why we love it: Handily one of the most popular restaurants in town, it has its finger on the pulse of delicious California cuisine. Its innovative menu options and seasonal ingredients are complemented by top-notch cocktails and wines. Must-try appetizers: the porcini doughnuts and sardine chips.
5800 Geary Blvd / 415.752.2222 / aziza-sf.com
Why we love it: Michelin-starred chef Mourad Lahlou channels Morocco via California with his inventive, flavorful and labor-intensive fare (think hand-rolled couscous). With its warm atmosphere and swoon-worthy cocktails, it’s a romantic gourmet treat every time.
1911 Fillmore St / 415.771.7779 / spqrsf.com
Why we love it: Led by Matthew Accarrino, Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef of 2014, this Italian eatery in Pacific Heights has gained a dedicated following. Adventurous culinary creations and an expertly curated wine selection make it a foodie’s dream come true.
373 Broadway / 415.393.9000 / coirestaurant.com
Why we love it: Perfect for a memorable date night out, this North Beach restaurant with a Californian/French attitude delights with every bite. Chef Daniel Patterson's bold, imaginatively crafted dishes boast flavor combinations you must taste to believe. A calm interior and fresh, local ingredients add to its allure.
Anchor Oyster Bar
579 Castro St / 415.431.3990 / anchoroysterbar.com
Why we love it: Owned and operated by Terry Grimm since 1977, this vintage-style oyster bar on the Castro has just five tables. But their New England clam chowder, garlic bread and copious clams and oysters have cemented their status as the city’s best seafood joint.
Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie
510.780.0300 / roliroti.com
Why we love it: This rolling cavalcade of trucks parks at area farmers’ markets and peddles delectable, affordable, slow-cooked deliciousness. The rotisserie chicken and legendary, must-eat-before-you-die Porchetta sandwich keep everyone coming back. Call or visit them online for locations and times.
2252 Clement St / 415.387.4484 / facebook.com/gordotaqueria
Why we love it: Taqueria loyalties run deep here and Gordo’s following is among the most devoted. You’ll never go wrong with one of their monstrous super burritos, which are consistently fresh and served with a smile.
SAN FRANCISCO’S BEST: PLACES TO DRINK
246 Kearny St / 415.398.2827 / rickhousebar.com
Why we love it: This cocktail bar is like all of San Francisco in a nutshell: eccentric, progressive and steeped in history. Whiskey's the big draw, and its wood interiors and so-tall-they-need-a-ladder liquor shelves are a sight to behold. A bluegrass band plays in back as fans sip creations like the Rye Maple Fizz.
3010 20th St / 415.471.2999 / trickdogbar.com
Why we love it: When local bartenders want a meticulously made cocktail, this is where they go. Known for its mixology prowess, as well as its beautifully crafted interior and food menu, it resonates with quality and care in every direction. Try the Golden Fire Hydrant, a tequila cocktail named for one of the city’s little-known landmarks.
The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Bldg #3 / 415.861.8032 / slanteddoor.com
Why we love it: Part cocktail bar and part Vietnamese restaurant, this classy-yet-casual spot lets you enjoy breathtaking Bay views along with your Singapore Sling or Agricole Rhum Punch. And their pho soup and cellophane noodles are local favorites.
547 Haight St / 415.863.2276 / toronado.com
Why we love it: Beer lovers, welcome to your nirvana. Extensive taps focus on local craft brews and seriously rare finds. Bring cash, your tolerance for loud tunes and your thirst for amazing suds.
Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar
950 Mason St / 415.772.5278 / tongaroom.com
Why we love it: Done up in all-out Tiki style, this Asian restaurant and bar in Nob Hill’s Fairmont Hotel is an unapologetically campy hotspot. We recommend (or caution against?) the Scorpion Bowl, a massive cocktail from Honolulu that packs a sting if you’re not careful. Plus, there’s a fake lagoon with hourly “rainstorms.” How cool is that?
Tommy's Mexican Restaurant
5929 Geary Blvd / 415.387.4747 / tommysmexican.com
Why we love it: Nestled in the outer Richmond district, this family-owned restaurant (no relation to our own fine establishments) offers what many locals consider the best margarita in town. And did we mention owner Julio Bermejo’s mind-bogglingly huge tequila selection? The food at this neighborhood hangout ain’t bad, either.
500 Guerrero St / 415.861.2500 / 500clubsf.com
Why we love it: Because every great city needs one perfect local dive. Around since the Beatniks, this Mission institution has quick bartenders, cheap and strong drinks and there are "happy hour” specials, all day, every day.