2 days agoKatie Sweeney answered the question:The best skiing in Northern California is arguably found at Lake Tahoe. Located roughly three hours north of San Francisco, Lake Tahoe is home to seven ski resorts: Kirkwood, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Sierra, Northstar, Mt. Rose, and Squaw Valley. Combined, there are over 100 lifts located in Tahoe and many of the mountains have stunning views of the lake.
My favorite place for skiing in Tahoe is at the Northstar Resort. Northstar has 93 ski trails spread across 3,000 acres of land, snow sports, and summer activities like golfing and mountain biking. Also, the Ritz-Carlton and its luxurious restaurant Manzanita, are located in the middle of the Northstar mountain. The hotel has many wonderful amenities for avid skiers.
Tahoe is accessible by plane as the nearby international airport at Reno serves over 170 flights per day. Due note that during the winter season, on peak holiday weekends, the traffic getting to Tahoe from San Francisco can get pretty bad — plan accordingly.
2 days agoKatie Sweeney answered the question:Union Square, in the heart of downtown San Francisco, is a great place for fine jewelry shopping. There are plenty of big name jewelry stores like Tiffany and Co., Bulgari, and Cartier. There are also department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Macy's, and Saks Fifth Avenue that have a wide selection of fine jewelry. However, if you're looking for a one of a kind piece made by a local jewelry designer, head to the Gallery of Jewels on Post Street.
A San Francisco chain, the Gallery of Jewels offers a curated assortment of limited-edition jewels made by Bay Area artisans. From stone pendents on delicate chains to dazzling dangling sapphire earrings to stacked golden rings, the Gallery of Jewels has something for everyone. The Gallery of Jewels also has special promotions that run throughout the year, so plan on making your purchases accordingly. For example, from June 28 - July 14, 2013 is their Endless Love Bridal Event. The ring extravaganza features collections by both local and national designers.
2 days agoKatie Sweeney answered the question:From the Legion of Honor to the Exploratorium, San Francisco has it's fair share of exceptional museums. Although the majority of them charge some sort of admission fee, the best museums are open once a month for free. The aforementioned Legion of Honor is free every first Tuesday of the month as is the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park. The Exploratorium is free only five days a year: on September 29th Engineering Day, October 13th Founder's Day, February 2 Groundhog Day, March 14th Pi Day, and Mother's Day. The Conservatory of Flowers is free on the first Tuesday of the month as is the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Yerba Buena Center for Arts. The Asian Art Museum is free on the first Sunday of the month. In 2013, the California Academy of Sciences is free on one Sunday per quarter and also June 2, September 29th, and December 8. Also worth noting: the SFMoma is closing on June 3, 2013 for a three year renovation.
2 days agoKatie Sweeney answered the question:Although San Francisco is not known for being a super fashion city, there are plenty of local clothing boutiques to choose from. MAC or Modern Appealing Clothing has been around since 1980. It has two locations and offers an assortment of clothing for both men and woman by international designers like Dries Van Noten and Comme des Garcons, as well as featured Bay Area designers. Azalea in Hayes Valley is a wonderful little shop that has its own collection of clothes along with a selection of contemporary designers like Alexander Wang, Nudie, and Acne. Therapy is a local chain that offers festive women's clothing, such as printed dresses and playful tops, at affordable prices. They have nine different locations and a home store in the Mission District. Another boutique chain beloved by San Franciscan women is Ambiance. It has four locations in different neighborhoods, and each store is filled to the brim with clothes in every color, style, cut, and price imaginable.
On April 17Katie Sweeney answered the question:From the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge to the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco is filled with spectacular views. If you wish to enjoy a meal while taking in all the city has to offer, head to one of the following restaurants.
The Top of the Mark, a restaurant located at the top of the Mark Hopkins International Hotel, has stunning 360 degree panoramic views of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area. The restaurant serves everything from brunch on Sunday mornings to light snacks and cocktails on Friday afternoons, so there is something for everyone.
For a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Greens restaurant is an ideal spot. It's at Fort Mason, a stone's throw away from the base of the Golden Gate, and has been a pioneer of the local, sustainable, vegetarian movement since 1979.
The restaurants along the Embarcadero are an excellent spot to take in the Bay Bridge and its nightly light show, The Bay Lights. Waterbar, Epic Roasthouse, La Mar, and Michael Chiarello's newly opened Coqueta, all offer views of San Francisco's other bridge.
The Cliff House is the perfect place for watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. It's a historic landmark with a rich history and classic San Francisco cuisine like crab cakes and clam chowder.
On April 17Katie Sweeney answered the question:A good way to find the restaurants with the best selection of wine is to look for the restaurants with top sommeliers. Rajat Parr is arguably San Francisco's most well known sommelier. He is the director of wine at the Michael Mina Group, a winemaker, and author of Secrets of the Sommeliers. Parr is responsible for selecting the wines at Mina's flagship Michael Mina and his high end urban wine bar, RN74. At both restaurants the wine lists are long and detailed. Parr tends to favor French and lesser known varietals.
Shelley Lindgren is another well-respected sommelier. She is the owner of two beloved San Francisco restaurants A16 and SPQR. Both specialize in luxurious Italian cuisine and Lindgren is an expert when it comes to Italian wines. Her wine lists feature rare Italian grapes as well affordable highly drinkable varietals.
Lastly, there is David Lynch. A former sommelier to New York's Babbo and San Francisco's Quince, Lynch is the wine contributor to Bon Appetit magazine. His Mission district restaurant, St. Vincent, only opened last year, but it's known as one of the new hot spots for wine.
On April 17Katie Sweeney answered the question:When it comes to the best bakeries in San Francisco, it really depends on what kind of baked goods you are seeking. For bread, my favorite spot is Acme Bread Company. Their baguettes are sold at local grocery stores and markets, but their flagship store is at the Ferry Building. Other bakeries that make exceptional sourdough, which is a specialty native to San Francisco, are Boudin Bakery and Tartine Bakery. Boudin is known for their creation of the famed San Francisco bread bowl (for clam chowder) while Tartine's daily loaves of sourdough are so coveted by locals they must be ordered three days in advance.
For French pastries, you can't beat La Boulange. Although there are several locations around the city, the best one is found on Pine Street in Pacific Heights. Pick up exceptional macarons or delicate tarts. Specialty's Cafe, a local chain in downtown San Francisco, is known for their massive and delicious cookies. For other baked goods like birthday cakes, you can't go wrong with Miette. Their store at the Ferry Building has a delightful selection of small cakes and cupcakes. For specialty pastries like Italian amaretti cookies or Swedish Princess Cake, Victoria Pastry in North Beach is your best bet.
On April 17Katie Sweeney answered the question:For sushi, I head to one of three places. The first is Tataki in Pacific Heights. Tataki is a small, intimate, quiet, and upscale sushi bar. The menu is 100 percent sustainable — this means that all of the seafood is responsibly sourced and environmentally friendly. Their specialty rolls are exceptional, especially the signature tataki with 5 varieties of seared fish, cucumber, avocado, and tobiko. Tatki also has two other locations in San Francisco: one in Noe Valley and another in Glen Park.
Sometimes you're with a large group and you want to have a little fun while eating sushi. When that is the case, head to Tsunami Sushi on Divisadero. It's hip, dimly lit, and always happening. The bar has a large selection of high end Japanese whiskey and there is an adjoining sake shop where diners can purchase a bottle of sake to enjoy with dinner.
Lastly there is Ryoko's. A family owned sushi restaurant in the heart of the Tenderloin, this divvy spot is the place for late night sushi. They are open everyday from 6 pm until 2 am and have a live DJ on weekends.
On April 17Katie Sweeney answered the question:San Francisco is definitely a city that embraces coffee lovers. There's countless local roasters like Sightglass, Philz, Ritual, and Fourbarrel that each have a cult following.
My personal favorite however is Blue Bottle Coffee. You can find their coffee at many locations, but I love their little cafes about town. Their flagship coffee shop is in Mint Plaza and it's open every day of the week.
Home to the nation's first five-light siphon bar, a special coffee maker imported in from Japan, Blue Bottle offers three single origin coffees that change weekly. There's a simple food menu with yogurt and pecan granola and poached eggs for breakfast and warm sandwiches and hearty salads for lunch.
Blue Bottle also has satellite cafes at the Ferry Building, SFMOMA, and Heath Ceramics. There is a kiosk down a side street in Hayes Valley. If iced coffee is your thing, definitely try Blue Bottle's New Orleans style iced coffee. It's creamy and filled with chicory flavor.
On April 16Katie Sweeney answered the question:There are countless restaurants in San Francisco that offer delicious pizza. However, a few stand out for making the most memorable pies around. Tony's Pizza Napoletana in North Beach is my favorite pizza place in the city. The owner and chef, Tony Gemignani, is an award-winning pizza maker with over 20 years in the industry. With a bustling bar and large booths, Tony's feels like an all-American Italian eatery. Everything from the cocktails to the salads are excellent. The menu offers a variety of pizza styles including Sicilian, New York, California, and Romana along with gluten-free and coal-fired options. The only bad thing about Tony's is that they do not take reservations, so there is almost always a long wait. I advise going for date night and scoping out a seat at the bar.
Like Tony's, Pizzeria Delfina does not except reservations, but the pizza is so good I'm always willing to wait for it. There are two locations of the this pizzeria beloved by locals: one in Pacific Heights and another in the Mission. Both spaces are small, but have friendly service and excellent thin-crusted pies. You can't go wrong with the broccoli rabe pizza or the clam pie. Lastly, there is Regazza on Divisadero Street. This small restaurant with a delightful heated patio serves amazing Neapolitan-style thin crust pizzas, seasonal salads, and wonderful baked pasta dishes. My preferred pie? The amatriciana with pancetta, pecorino, and a farm egg.
On April 16Katie Sweeney answered the question:In San Francisco, many restaurants are accommodating to children and families if you dine early. However, the eateries that are especially conducive to kids include Park Chalet, Perry's, Gioia, and Rigolo.
With its huge grassy backyard and live music shows, Park Chalet will feel like one big picnic to children. The kids menu consists of all-American classics like corndogs and chicken fingers. There's several locations of Perry's in San Francisco. It's laid back atmosphere, large booths, and checkered table cloths scream family-friendly. The menu offers a handful of dishes — chili, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese — that kids are sure to devour.
The owners of Gioia Pizzeria on Polk Street have a young son, so they understand what it's like to be parents dining out. What kid doesn't love a good cheese pizza? Laurel Village's Rigolo claims to be the city's most child-friendly restaurant and with its play area filled with toys, a chalkboard, and balloons I agree.
On April 16Katie Sweeney answered the question:Ah, the ubiquitous best burger question! It's quite possible that everyone in San Francisco has a different opinion on this subject, but when I'm craving a burger I head to one of the following places.
Although it's pricy, the burger at Jackson Sqaure's Bix is to die for. The black truffle cheese burger is served open face on rye bread with truffle fries. It's pretty decadent, so it's fun to share, especially if your sitting at the bar and enjoying the live piano player. I recommend washing it down with one of Bix's excellent martinis.
Another great spot for a white tablecloth burger is Spruce. The four-starred restaurant make the buns in house and pickle onion and zucchini for the topping. The ground beef, which is 20 percent fat, comes from Niman Ranch and pairs excellently with a bold red from the stellar wine list.
If you're craving a burger during the lunch hour, head to Boxing Room. The Hayes Valley restaurant makes a classic burger that's jazzed up with creole mustard aioli. It's served with thick, perfectly cooked steak fries.
The best spot for quick, affordable, and extremely delicious burgers is Roam. There's two locations: one in Cow Hollow and another on Fillmore Street. Roam lets diners build their own burger and offers a variety of styles, meats, and toppings. With pepper Jack, jalapeño relish, avocado, tomato, tortilla strips and herb ranch, the tejano burger is my personal favorite. Also noteworthy: Roam's gluten-free bun option.
Finally, for the vegetarians out there, the finest veggie burger can be found at Plant Cafe Organic. The patty is a mixture of lentils, mushrooms, cashews, bulgar wheat, and beets — which give it a vibrant pink color. It comes with roasted onions, tomato chutney, and aioli.
On April 12Katie Sweeney answered the question:The Mission District is arguably the best neighborhood for dining in San Francisco. There's authentic Mexican, cutting edge Chinese, award-winning Californian, unusual ice cream, exceptional pizza, and that's just naming a few types of the places! Here are my picks for the best eats in the Mission.
Hog and Rocks. This hip joint specializes in ham and oysters, hence the name hog and rocks. There's also an inventive cocktail list with a build your old-fashioned bar and plenty of inspired Southern cuisine, like pork filled tater tots and deconstructed chicken pot pie.
Locanda. This always-packed osteria offers an exceptional menu of Roman cuisine. Be sure to order several of the signature pasta dishes — they are so delicious you'll want at least two. My personal favorites? The bucatini all'amatriciana and the radiatore pecora e pecorino (lamb ragu with mint).
Beretta. What's not to love about thin-crusted pizza and superb cocktails? The two come together expertly at Beretta. With its easy to share menu, intimate seating, and low lighting, Beretta is an ideal date spot.
Other notable restaurants include Craftsman & Wolves for breakfast and pastries, Tacolicious for Mezal and tacos, Tartine for sandwiches and bread, and Foreign Cinema for upscale American food and brunch.
On April 12Katie Sweeney answered the question:The next time you find yourself in San Francisco's Nob Hill area, I recommend dining at one of the following spots.
Seven Hills. This lovely restaurant serves excellent Italian cuisine at affordable prices. Although the dining room may be tiny, the food is packed with flavor. The pasta dishes are exceptional and the wine list varied. The staff, especially manager Alex, is friendly and informative.
Swan Oyster Depot. Located on Polk Street, Swan Oyster Depot is a San Francisco institution. Television host and avid foodie Anthony Bourdain has said that every time he comes to SF, he has to enjoy a meal at Swan. This popular spot is counter seating only, open during the day, and almost always has a line out front. The wide selection of amazingly fresh seafood — crab, oysters, shrimp, octopus — is worth the wait.
Parallel 37. If you're looking for something more along the lines of fine dining, head to the Ritz's restaurant, Parallel 37. It was completely remodeled at the end of 2011 and the new decor and menu are top notch. Chef Michael Rotondo creates contemporary dishes with unusual ingredients like lamb belly, veal sweetbreads, and chicken feet.
Katie Sweeney is a Forbes Travel Guide correspondent based in San Francisco who covers the city for Startle. A Bay Area native, she was one of the founding editors of PopSugar’s online food destination, YumSugar. An adventurous eater with a flair for parties, Sweeney is constantly tracking down the city’s newest pizza places, cocktail hot spots and neighborhood dive bars. She chronicles her escapades as a San Francisco girl-about-town on her website, Six Twists. She also writes for Eater, Grub Street and CitySearch.