OK fine you could go to Mexico City for day of the Dead and I imagine it would be insane. But San Francisco with it's vibrant Mission District puts on an amazing show. Garfield Park is filled with altars made by the community, there's a walking procession, music, dancing and a lot of dressing up. Grab some amazing Mexican food at Gracias Madre on MIssion Street and go get involved.
San Francisco itself is a great city in autumn - mainly because it's no different to summer. The fog still rolls in, you still need a jumper, but there are less tourists and the colours are beautiful. The sun here just seems softer.
I love sushi and I would rate Ozumo as one of my favourite sushi restaurants. It's contemporary Japanese cuisine so I would recommend trying their specials. We asked the waitress to choose for us and we were very happy with the selection. The cocktails are delicious and they have a great selection of sake for those of you who like sake (I don't!).
161 Steuart St
San Francisco, CA 94105
+1 415 882 1333
In the heart of San Francisco's vibrant Mexican district, the Mission, simply named La Taqueria is a bastion of authenticity in an increasingly yuppified area that remains popular because of its sheer quality and value for money. In traditional, homely surroundings you can order some of the finest Mexican food on offer in the Bay Area, either to eat in or take out. No airs and graces, just good quality food in generous portions and at low prices. And what's more, the guacamole is to die for.
2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110. Nearest BART: 24th & Mission Station.
A short walk from downtown Berkeley and the famous university campus, Cheeseboard might be a trek from the city but the pizza is justly famous throughout the Bay Area. Only serving one kind of pizza per day (and they're all vegetarian), their offerings range from highest-quality Margherita to more out-there combinations such as Blue Cheese and Pear but the pizza is invariably delicious. Served by the (huge) slice, a slice and a drink can be an inexpensive light lunch, or a whole (giant) pizza could be shared by several for a heartier meal.
1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709. Nearest BART: Downtown Berkeley.
Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay, which is on Hwy 1 just a short drive from San Francisco, serves some of the best Italian food to be had anywhere.
It is not cheap but for Brits with the exchange rate as it is now, it is very inexpensive. Go for the seafood/fishy options. Seafood risotto is superb.
I could go on and on, but if you appreciate great Italian cooking - GO THERE! It made a great start to our Pacific Coast Hwy trip.
This restaurant is linked with Green Gulch Farm, a Zen centre and farm which provides organic produce. The restaurant serves outstanding vegetarian haute cuisine. The cookbooks by two of its cooks, Deborah Madison (Greens, Vegetarian Cooking for everyone) and Annie Somerville (Fields of Greens) have been my best friends in the kitchen for many years.
On the waterfront in San Francisco
This restaurant has the most amazing views of San Francisco. Perched on top of the Hyatt, across from the Ferry Building in the Embarcadero area, Equinox offers stunning views of the bay, the financial district and the Bay Bridge. But this is not all, for not only is the view fantastic, but the restaurant does a 360-degree rotation in about 45 minutes; whilst you’re savouring your meal you can enjoy the beautiful skyline of the city.
The food at the Equinox is of very good quality. For starters their crab cakes and their oysters are simply superb. Their filet as a main is tender and it melts in your mouth; their salmon is simply-cooked and yet it has a taste of uniqueness. The desserts come in big portions, or bigger than you’d expect at such a restaurant; and by the time you’ve got to leave you feel just right and not in need of any extra nibbles. Prices are a bit high, but if you’ve got the chance to set some money aside before you leave San Francisco, the place is worth a visit.
If money is an issue, we noticed that some people also go in to have a drink and some dessert rather than a whole meal. The one drawback we thought Equinox has is that the menu is not as extensive as one might like, especially if you’re a vegetarian: you might find there’s nothing for you to choose from.
Equinox, at the Hyatt Regency
5 Embarcadero Center,
Equinox Reservations: (415) 291-6619
Cute cafe and wine bar in North Beach run by a Brit. Cold beer and decent wines. Free Wi-Fi, Premiership on the telly, great sandwiches, delicious fondue. On Mondays and Fridays local musicians and poets perform.
700 Columbus Ave @ Filbert
Tel: (415) 392-9290
Just the name would be enough for a recommendation, but this cafe/diner also has locals and visitors queueing down the street on weekends. The pulled pork, bacon and ham is clearly a main feature, but there's plenty on the typically diner style menu for non-pork or meat eaters.
1451 Haight St
The best cheesecake in the world, and the other food isn't bad either. This is a great US chain restaurant, serving damn good food.
Go to Union Square and into Macy's. Hit the button for the 8th floor in the lift and be transported to SF's version of Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory. Watch your eyes get bigger than your belly when you order dessert. Have two of the biggest courses you've ever seen. Feel bad, when you leave half of the best cheesecake you've ever tasted!
Go late on a Friday/Saturday night (open til 12:30) and sit on the terrace or just go late and get a slice to take away!
8th Floor Macy's, 251 Geary Street, just off Union Square;
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