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San Francisco – a hipsters guide

Dammit, this still isn’t about Seoul despite my promises. Unfortunately work is kicking in and I haven’t had time to grab the pictures I need… Argh.

Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco (SF)

So this one is about SF which I visited a couple of weeks ago for under 36 hours on the way to Rifle Colorado (long story) and like any sensible person who likes a combination of great weather with the backdrop of a smell of pee (if you have visited you will understand), I fell in love with it.

For some reason the visit turned into an ultimate hipster trip despite having done no planning and just thinking I would spend the weekend floating around Golden Gate bridge or something (I didn’t quite realise where it was in relation to the overall city). 

Bluebottle cafe in Hayes Valley in San Francisco (SF)
Bluebottle cafe in Hayes Valley

It began with Bluebottle coffee which I had only vaguely heard of before. Jen said she had a great friend – Tess – who lived in San Francisco and worked at Bluebottle (as a pastry chef) and I could stay with her in the Mission. And I was like “ok”. Little did I realise this was basically like been given a free transferable tattoo, a cool haircut and a really tight pair of skinny jeans. It rocked. Tess’ blog about SF culture and beauty is here.

Bluebottle cafe in Hayes Valley in San Francisco (SF)
The alley Bluebottle cafe squats in

So let’s start with the coffee, as that and the silky relaxed vibe in SF is what wowed me the most. SF has a lot of world class coffee places places and I hit as many as I can find. The best of the bunch were:

  • Bluebottle coffee – the SF MOMA branch has a nice roof terrace but I love the original hole in the wall at 315 Linden St (between Gough St & Octavia St) in Hayes Valley as it is ghetto perfect. That said the SF MOMA branch does super cool “Banquet Events” with alcohol, cake and music which you should try to go to (details here).
  • Four Barrel coffee – the coffee here is plain wow and they have a nice bike rack out front. What topped it off perfectly was the fact that you can get a Dynamo donut at the same time. I would get very fat and caffeinated if I loved near here.
  • Ritual coffee roasters – this is one of the original best in class SF coffee shops. Whilst I liked the shop on Valencia I though the container store in Hayes Valley was better as it wasn’t full of WiFi indulging slow drinking internet leeches.
Four Barrel coffee in San Francisco (SF)
Four Barrel coffee - a donut and coffee win

Thereafter it was The Mission. Well, kinda. Everybody talks about The Mission and how it is such a cool area and they love to hang out there but they don’t mean “The Mission”; they mean “The Valencia”, the parralel street to Mission Street where all the white people and cool stores are whilst Mission Street itself is full of Mexican people and pawn shops (and much better food).

The Mission in San Francisco (SF)
The Mission not The Valencia

Still The Valencia rocks, it is full of small boutique shops with expensive American made products. And right at the start of the Valencia is the ultimate hipster dive bar – Zeitgeist. Basically unless you can skid stop a fixie with no hands or have a f-off big motorbike you probably aren’t cool enough to be in there.

Zeitgeist bar in San Francisco (SF)
Inside Zeitgeist bar. Don't get caught taking a picture as otherwise they will beat you

Still, they do one of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever had in my life so go there anyway. Their burgers, whilst not pretty, are everything a dirt-tastic American burger should be. The other great food options in the Mission can be summed up as:

  • “visit Delfina Pizzeria”; and
  • “eat Mexican”. 
Deflina's pizza in San Francisco (SF)
Deflina's pizza

Deflina is a fairly famous SF pizzeria and I have to say it deserves to be. It is no Lucalli (the height of US pizzas for me) but it is a damn fine effort. This is classy, clever pizza. If you fancy something a bit dirtier, Tony’s Coal Fired Pizzas are inspired on that front.

Tony's Coal-Fired Pizza & Slice House in San Francisco (SF)
Tony's Coal-Fired Pizza & Slice House

We tried a few fancier food options (including Deflina’s new fancy Italian – Locanda) but well, I’m a spoilt European and they were underwhelming. For me with Amercian food is rarely world class apart from when it revels in its base nature or it is… MEXICAN.

La Taqueria in San Francisco (SF)

Mexican food, just wow. And in any US city it is pretty simple to know where to go. Ignore the blogs, fire up Yelp, look at the best starred place, look at the pictures and go there. So to Tacqueria – amazing. Best food I had in over two weeks in the US. 1 millionth of the price of everything else. The Republicans should be damn glad border with Mexico is wide and it is porous as without it…

La Taqueria in San Francisco (SF)

9 Comments

  1. It was such a delight exploring (& eating & drinking) with you and your bike posse! So much fun. And an excellent dress rehearsal for when you come back with Jen.

    And now I am glaring at my raisin bran because all I want for breakfast are donuts, pizzas, tacos, dirty Zeitgeist potatoes, and more donuts, please. And a Bloody.

  2. You are so right about Mexican food. the US is the only place I have ever eaten really good Mexican food. And when it is good, it really is very very tasty. And yes, cheap too.

    Bluebottle looks ace too, and is an example of another thing the US does well: coffee shops. Particularly ones that open in the evening and have drinks and music and food. I guess we have pubs over here in Blighty that fill that niche.

    • Tom

      bluebottle would be even more awesome if they did some cut down simple cocktails and brews in nice summer months which you can sip outside and enjjoy. But I guess that is probably more due to US liquor laws than anything else.

  3. I’ve only ever heard good things about San Fran.
    We tossed a coin and it came up New York (again) last week. Next time.

  4. Ben

    You sure hit up some smart food places while you were in the city by the bay. Love Delfina pizza. You’ve got to come back, though, and try some of our great ice cream spots.

    • Tom

      I just didn’t have enough time. Was truly sad not to get a bit more time to have a proper look. Have been thinking of how the hell I can work there for a few years!

  5. smakkers

    Nice post of my adopted hometown! Glad you enjoyed your trip to the city!
    Every time I go back to HK and see the sorry excuse for Mexican food there (not complete without the racial stereotypes and sombreros!) , I die a little inside.

  6. Who, ACTUALLY, are the Illuminati?

    If you search “illuminati” on YouTube, Amazon.com, Google, etc. you will find a vast number of books, articles and movies about them and you will quickly surmise that they are bad and nobody likes them.

    You find that the documentation references the leaders as heads of old rich families like the Rockefellers, Rothchilds, Bilderbegs, Hongs, etc, who have been amassing ownership of things for decade after decade after decade and using the public as disposable sheep for their wars, gains and factory support.

    But who does the desk-work for them? Who are the junior illuminati-in-training that do the manipulations of government and business to steer things to them? So, right below the family heads are Goldman Sachs and Deloitte senior partners. All the “Occupy This and That” movement have pretty well exposed the evil of the private banking system rigging.

    But the ones that do the day-to-day heavy lifting, that conspire on a networked hourly basis to control things are: Venture Capitalists, AKA The VC’s. Mainly around Boston, NY and Silicon Valley, these string pullers get together and decide who to kill (mostly killing their company) and who to own. They pick Stanford and Yale Skull/Bones insiders to be VC’s. They put Stanford or Yale Skull/Bones insiders on the board of each company to spy on it in case it gets out-of-line with Illuminati protocols. You can’t be a VC unless you came from an Illuminati family and went to an “ivy League, AKA Illuminati college and were in the right Illuminati Fraternity. (The right Sorority doesn’t matter, women are just cute breeding vats or Vc office poon/secretaries to the all male Illuminati boys club: See the recent Kleiner and Google sex abuse law suits by the female staff )

    They rarely use their own money. They use “institutional money”. They have kickback deals with banks, pension funds and other places where your money is. Tell your bank and your pension fund NOT to give any VC their money.

    So if you are a starry-eyed start-up wanna-be. Think twice before you head to Silicon Valley’s Sandhill Road to march to the Gates of Hell and sell your soul. Be ashamed to get funded by VC’s. Be ashamed to work at a “VC” company. Feel free to repost this.

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