After 9 years of living in San Francisco, I’ve collected a list of favorites and must-sees. Whether you’re new to the city, been here a while, or just visiting, I highly recommend all of the places below. Ladies and gents, I present to you Year of the Ratty’s Best of SF 2012.
Favorite Hotel: The Huntington
I love everything about the Huntington Hotel which sits on the top of Nob Hill overlooking Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park. Having been around since 1924, it’s got the old-school charm and glamour that I love so much, especially it’s dim-lit restaurant and bar The Big 4. They also happen to have what I think is the nicest spa in the city. You really don’t have to leave this hotel to have a good time.
Favorite Restaurant and Cocktails: Aziza
Located somewhat off-the-grid in the Outer Richmond, Aziza has amazing food, decor and cocktails unlike any I’ve had before. I suggest doing the tasting menu and ordering the “red bell pepper” cocktail (bonal, cocchi americano, rye) or the “celery” (sage, agave nectar, gin). Other favorite restaurants: Bix, Tekka, Kokkari
Favorite Park: Golden Gate Park and Alamo Square
Favorite park is Golden Gate Park. I’ve been posting it in front of the Conservatory of Flowers (pictured above) since I was a Freshman at USF. Whether it’s the Japanese tea gardens, the rose garden, Stowe Lake or the DeYoung, this park is always a magical escape for us city-dwellers. Next on the list is my frontyard Alamo Square. I still can’t believe that I live on this wonderful park that overlooks like famous Painted Ladies or as most of us know it “The Full House houses.”
Best Place To Treat Yourself: Earthbody
I can’t get enough of this day spa located in the heart of Hayes Valley. I went for the first time back in April and it was an incredible experience- hands down the best massage of my life. I became a member and I’ve been coming back to get my Earthbody fix each month. I love everything about this place from the not pretentious yet not too hippie vibe to their skincare line and website. Before you get a massage, you are greeted with a hot towel, an amazing elixir and a mini envelope with a proverb/quote. Sometimes ya just gotta do you and treat yourself to a wonderful experience at Earthbody.
Best Brunch: Zazie
I finally went to Zazie this past weekend and OMG. I’m not one to wait in lines so we got there 15 minutes before they opened and I knew something must be special once I saw that I was joined by 13 other people waiting to get in. We were taken to the wonderful outdoor patio where we enjoyed the best eggs benedict ever. We also got got their housemade cream cheese coffee cake to go and it was sinfully delicious. Not too sweet which I appreciated. Dave and I agreed Zazie made for one of the best meals of our life. I now get why people are so into brunch.
Best Neighborhood: Alamo Square
Again with my love for Alamo Square. I’m still in disbelief that I get to live in one of the 35+ buildings that line Alamo Square Park. The view never gets old and I feel so fortunate to have snagged my apartment on the park back in 2008. I love having my local corner store, nail spot, bar, diner (Eddies whattup!), music venue, coffee shop and restaurants like Nopa, Little Star and Nopalito just around the corner. It just doesn’t get much better than Alamo Square.
Best Bar: The Burrit Room
So you have to walk through a boutique hotel’s lobby and then up some stairs to get to The Burrit Room. Once you’re there, you enter the dim-lit speakeasy-esque bar that I love so much. The drinks are strong, the walls are dark, and they often have a LIVE jazz band. In short, it’s awesome.
Best Museum: The Walt Disney Family Museum
Located in the Presidio, it’s not easy for tourists or even locals to get to. It looks like a quaint, humble museum from the outside but you could spend an entire day here. My mom and I were blown away by this place. Whether you are a super Disney fan or not, this museum paints the Disney picture brighter than I could have ever imagined. I especially loved the miniature model of the original Disneyland that took up half of one of the museum’s rooms.
Best Freebie: City Guides Walking Tours
SF City Guides is San Francisco’s free neighborhood walking tours. I first learned about this nonprofit when we did an ad project for them in my college advertising class. It’s a great way to spend the day if you want to be active, save a little money, and learn a great deal about the wonderful city of San Francisco. I’ve done at least a handful of them: Mission, Victorians, North Beach…. I love being transported back in time and picturing what it was like to be in the city all those years ago.
Favorite Movie Theater: Sundance Kabuki
This theater is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon. It’s also the best place to see a movie in town. Where else can you drink cocktails and eat decent food at the movies? It’s not cheap but this unique San Francisco gem is well worth it.
I have so many more SF favorites that I would love to share with you so keep your eyes peeled for a second installment of Year of the Ratty’s Best of SF 2012!