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My Best of the Bay Area

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My favorite restaurants, sights, and experiences in San Francisco and beyond.
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400 Gate 5 Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA
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Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 by Edith Heath. Today it is one of the most lasting examples of midcentury American design. Heath is famous for its tableware collections, as well as its tile. The colors are amazing, and their bud vases make for...
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8 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Hotel Vitale is right at the corner of Mission and the Embarcadero. Most of the rooms have nice views, particularly the corner rooms. But some of the the rooms on higher floors have decks with amazing views, like this one from 808. And this is...
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Ferry Building, One San Francisco Bay Trail #8, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
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Blueberry Boy Bait may sound like a B-side song from an alternative band, but it's actually just an ice cream flavor offered by Humphry Slocombe, a small shop in the Mission District. Owner and former pastry chef Jake Godby has made the name...
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155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
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A San Franciscan watering hole since 1907, Comstock Saloon serves up classic cocktails (think Negronis and Manhattans) in the buzzing North Beach neighborhood. The bar is run by the bartending duo of Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin, previously of...
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101 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
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Most dim sum places in the San Francisco Bay Area are pretty typical of what you can find in Asia, culture and all. And while I love authentic as much as the next person, there is a place that has elevated the art of the dumpling. I am not alone...
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Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA
Just a little highlight of my day, and not related to exotic foreign travels: the Reveille truck serves great espresso. The hordes of North Beach tourists will miss this hidden spot, and that's too bad (for them).
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3316 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
The chef behind the open-hearth fire at Saison described this nasturtium wrap as the best taco in San Francisco. He could be right. The wrap may have been the most beautiful dish from Josh Skenes's tasting menu, but my highlight was a tuna...
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Mission Dolores, San Francisco, CA, USA
San Francisco is a city of micro-climates, which means that the weather changes from neighborhood to neighborhood and fog is always a possibility, especially in the westernmost neighborhoods. Spring and fall offer sunshine and warmer temperatures;...
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424 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
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THE place to gather outside in Hayes Valley and soak up the classic biergarten/beer garden experience. The food is delicious and the setting encourages you to talk to everyone at the communal tables. This spot is a fantastic way to enjoy some...
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355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
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If their New American–style brunch and dinner menus don’t tempt you to Bar Agricole, in SOMA, maybe their recent James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Bar Program will. Cocktails run at $11 across the board, and head bartenders Thad Vogler...
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375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
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A key player in the "third wave" coffee movement is Four Barrel Coffee, founded by Jeremy Tooker—who has a particular love for light roasts and the bright, acidic flavors that come with this method. Don’t let that description deter you, though;...
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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
is an amazing time to go. Rent a bike and meander around. You can be in there for hours, there is just so much to do and see.
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824 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Stepping into Paxton Gate is like entering a wonderland. What began as a small store in an alley off Market Street in 1992 has since grown into their location on Valencia Street, a mecca for those interested in the oddities of the natural world....
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3431 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Can't beat a buck for an Oyster! Hogs and Rocks is a great happy hour haunt in the mission. Super lively and fun. I shouldn't be telling you all this!
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Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA
A ramble along the Embarcadero provides time to admire the powder blue sky of a damp San Francisco morning. Warm coffee and friends await inside the Ferry Building. But don't walk too fast; you've got time.
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One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Outdoor markets always tell a story about their city: what goods are for sale, what foods are locally grown and how the residents interact with one another as they buy and sell their wares. San Francisco's Saturday Market at the Ferry Terminal...
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104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
This museum does so much more than tell you about Walt Disney's life—it reminds you of the struggles that all creatives face throughout their careers. The experience is unexpected, interactive, and current for kids and adults alike. The view onto...
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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
Golden Gate Park was formed out of an expanse of sand dunes to the west of the city in the nineteenth century—a history that is still discernible in the rolling topography of much of the park’s more than 1,000 acres. Over 13 million...
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4500 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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Mollusk is a neighborhood surf shop that sells clothing and great boards. They carry my surfboards and handplanes [for body surfing]. They occasionally host art shows and live music. The shop is sort of like the cornerstone of the Sunset. 4500...
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3940 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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They do their own blend of beans called Elbow Grease, and it’s high-octane stuff. 4033 Judah St., troublecoffee.com. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
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4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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Outerlands is an Outer Sunset institution. The small restaurant near Ocean Beach serves local, organic cuisine in a rustic-chic setting. Covered floor-to-ceiling in warm, rough-hewn wood, the interior invites lingering over an artisan cocktail or...
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1529 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
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Nicole Krasinski describes the novel concept of her restaurant State Bird Provisions as “dim sum and a great hors d’oeuvre party morphed into one experience.” She and her husband, chef Stuart Brioza, prepare beautifully executed...
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2601 Monarch St, Alameda, CA 94501, USA
At St. George Spirits, a liquor distiller located inside a huge hangar on the decommissioned Alameda Naval Base, you can learn all about alcohol production—and you can taste all-natural vodkas, gins, Eau de Vie, whiskeys, and more. The tour lasts...
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560 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
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There are a handful of stores in San Francisco that sell quirky and distinctive clothing, jewelry, and homewares. Eden & Eden is one. The brother-and-sister owners stock some vintage pieces and a nice selection of funky jewelry from the U.K. I've...
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490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
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Cotogna is dangerously close to the AFAR Media offices. This rustic sister restaurant to Quince opened last year, and the roomy bar is a cozy place to sit mid-day with a double espresso served neat in a Heath Ceramics cup. The pastas are all...
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Local Cafe opened last year, offering a fresh brunch option on a sleepy stretch of Piedmont Avenue. Oakland-based Starter Bakery provides the pastries, which come served with fruity INNA jams. There is a nice, simple selection of egg dishes and...
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3400-3416 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Bernal Heights is one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco. It's a little off the beaten path, but on a clear day the park at the top of the hill offers an amazing view of the city and the bay. On a foggy day, the park feels like the...
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3308 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610, USA
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Boot and Shoe Service is the spinoff restaurant to Pizzaiolo, which has been my favorite spot in Oakland since it opened in 2006. Boot and Shoe, its slightly more casual little sister, serves the same pizza--a blistery and crisp crust topped with...
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560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
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At the restaurant Nopa in San Francisco's Western Addition, the long bar and communal tables are perfect places to perch on a weeknight. Go early, order an elderflower gimlet or a sparkling, minty Old Cuban (both off-menu). Don't miss the Mission...