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Saturday, April 21, 2012

GT's Few Favorites in San Francisco

Palace of Fine Arts

I am a genuine urban junkie. My glorious inner elan is evident when I am in the midst of skyscrapers, traffic jams, and hordes of people. Although I occasionally love exploring natural wonders and the great outdoors, nothing makes me happier than gallivanting in big cities.

Recently, I went back to San Francisco and I had another chance to know the Golden City a little more. I have been there multiple times but it has never received a more detailed feature on my blog. I think the reason for this is the virtual familiarity of it all. However, in reality, there's still thousands to cover.

San Francisco does not need introductions so I've decided to share some of my favorites in this wonderful and hippie-driven town. San Francisco's liberal atmosphere, stable weather, rich history, and unique landscape have easily made it one of the most appealing cities in America.

1) Where to Stay. More often than not, most travelers choose big and ubiquitous hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt) since they know what expect. All these hotels deliver a standard level of service and that was quite unappealing. It was necessary to try something different. The Fairmont San Francisco was initially the most obvious luxury accommodation but I wanted to stay in a smaller, less popular hotel.Without much trepidation, we booked Huntington Hotel in Nob Hill, thanks to its excellent reviews and location.

The Huntington Hotel is a member of the Small Luxury Resorts of the World (SLH). If you ever thought of living in a fancy old school San Francisco apartment, the Huntington Hotel will graciously cover that dream.

The courteous doorman is always at your service.

The humble yet elegant lobby of the Huntington. As we entered, we were immediately greeted by the amiable staff at the reception. And guess what.. They were happy to give us a room upgrade.

Aside from the hotel's world class service, it is also known for its an award winning spa: The Nob Hill Spa. You can pamper yourself endlessly but the massages come with a steep rate (around $200 for a massage). If you are used to relatively less expensive massages back home, this might be a bit much.

We were given a spacious room with a decent living area, desk, and mirrored bar.

I devoured all the travel magazines while I sat on that chair.

L'occitane bath products. Im obsessed with these things.

Some rooms have a gorgeous view of the Grace Cathedral (San Francsico's own Notre Dame). The Grace Cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California.

Before sunset, you'll see some local residents walking their dogs at the Huntington Park. Another plus is that the famous Cable Car stop is conveniently located near the hotel. A few blocks from the Huntington, you'll also find Chinatown and Union Square.

For a lavish culinary experience, you should try the Zagat-Rated Big 4 restaurant at the Huntington. Its club like ambiance with its green leather seats is the perfect dinner date after a tiring day. Expect to spend at least $50 dollars per person.

Location: 1075 California Street, San Francisco.
Contact numbers: 415-474-5400
Website: http://www.huntingtonhotel.com/

2) Where to Eat. San Francisco is a foodie paradise and it will take forever before you can try all the blog-worthy food here.

For Breakfast/Brunch, Try Mama's near Washington Square (1701 Stockton Street). Be patient because you might have to wait for an hour or more if you are not early. Anticipate the long lines.

Must Try: The Monte Cristo. You must be crazy not to like this one. I swear this food is heaven. Yhe jam's sweetness added to the salty turkey, baked ham, and cheese would seriously make you forget your name. The bread just melts in your mouth.

What else should you get: The Dungeness Crab Benedict. With its perfectly poached eggs, crab and spinach, this is food-gasmic!

The French Toast Sampler is an excellent way to start breakfast..or end it. It has three breads: Banana nut, Kugelhopf and Swedish Cinnamon. One word: Divine.

The Damage here: $10 dollars per person.

Best Sandwich/Snack. Ike's Place in Castro.

This place won't disppoint you.  I absolutely love everything about Ike's: the location, presentation, taste, and quality. They serve the finest bread and ingredients.With over 4,000 reviews on Yelp alone, I probably don't need to make my own review.

Sandwiches range from $9 up.

For dinner, why don't you try some foreign cuisines since San Francisco has a variety of them. I read a lot of good reviews about Burma Superstar (309 Clement Street, San Francisco) so we decided to try it. My cousin Pauline and her boyfriend also recommended this place.

Tea Leaf Salad would be the best way to start your meal. It has special fermented tea leaf straight from Burma. As a solid institution here, it lives up to its hype. They don't accept reservations though. The Key here is: if there's a line, then it must be good, right? Well, it depends on you. (Price: $$)

Best French Macarons. My unabashed love for French Macarons is unrelenting. I did not expect that San Francisco would have a French Macaron place comparable to Laduree and Pierre Herme. What a treat fro me!

Introducing Chantal Guillon. The establishment is unpretentious and it brings you a taste of Paris in San Francisco.

I bought 24 pieces for 40 dollars, which was reasonable compared to the established French Macaron maison.

My favorite would definitely be the Red Velvet, Coconut and Salted Caramel. The Lavender reminded me too much of L'occitane products.

3) Favorite Parks.

For People Watching: Dolores Park.
When the sun is out, all the hippie and cool locals hang out here to bond and do crazy activities.

This guys was obviously enjoying his "smoke" while lining up for the restroom.

Head out to Golden Gate Park after for a more relaxed atmosphere. If you feel a bit intellectual and curious, the California Academy of Sciences has an expansive collection of natural history in the world. The last time I went there, they had an exhibition of the Philippine Sea.

I could not believe there were actually bisons in the Park.

4) For the Best Cocktails, try the Mai Tai at the Tonga Room in Fairmont Hotel).

This would usually be served in a classic plastic coconut cup but the Tonga Room was packed that night.
Source: Tonga Room

My cocktail in a glass did suffice. Even Anthony Bourdain recommends this cocktail drink at the Tonga Room.

However, for the best place to get a cocktail with a view, go to the Marriott Marquis. The cocktails are good but the 360 degree view of the city and the bay is even better.


Leaving San Francisco was bittersweet but I am certain I'll find myself roaming its streets sooner that I think.

For comments and suggestions: Feel free to share.


Marie said...


deobaraanmd said...

Always thankful marie.

Micamyx|Senyorita said...

Love the pics! How I wish I could visit SanFo soon. LOL at the pic of the guy lining up =))

deobaraanmd said...

Thanks Mica! San Francisco is honestly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Always love going back there.

joan m. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Hilston said...

In the very first click, loved the sunset view and that beautiful red shade that the sky is giving.
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