Your golden sun will shine for me

I’m off to San Francisco for the afternoon, going to Yank Sing on Spear St., then wandering around, probably in the dreaded touristy party of town that all you city hep cats despise. Any tips on fun, low-key stuff to do? I’m sorry to say that I’ve gotten into the whole craft cocktail thing….any good places around there I should check out?

I’ll do a Bay Area Balloon-Juice get together when I’m back in May. Too much goddamn work to do this time.

78 replies
  1. 1
    Cervantes says:

    Greens in Fort Mason for dinner (415.771.6222).

    Anyhow, enjoy.

  2. 2
    dedc79 says:

    If you like dive bars with great a great choice of beers and a fantastic jukebox, go to Toronado. Not really a cocktail place though.

  3. 3
    browser says:

    National Corn Dog Day festival at SOMA Streat Food. Hipster infested? Probably. But a variety of corn dogs with a beer garden? Worth it.

  4. 4
    trollhattan says:

    It’s too crowded, nobody goes there anymore.

    At least I don’t, so no advice other than to be sure to mock any Applenauts you might encounter. Oh, and money. Lots and lots of money.

    Enjoy, it’s the middle of spring right now and the weather is faaaabulous.

  5. 5
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’ve been to San Francisco, but I’m even less familiar with it than you. And of course, being a teetotaler, I’m in no position to advise you on anything to do with the consumption of the demon drink.

    However, I did see this story. The Westboro Baptist Church member’s quoted reaction speaks volumes.

  6. 6
    Darkrose says:

    Sadly, the Giants are still in Scottsdale, or I’d say you should try to catch a game. Even if you’re not a massive baseball fan, AT&T Park is a fun experience.

    Please post about Yank Sing! I’m thinking of going when I’m in the city next week.

  7. 7
    gogol's wife says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    That is beautiful. It actually made me cry.

  8. 8
    Goblue72 says:

    These are all great:


    Smugglers Cove – 100+ rums. Tiki drink focus.

    Comstock Saloon – craft cocktails meets craft snacks

    Bar Agricole – ditto

    You pretty much can’t go into a bar in SF that isn’t a craft cocktail bar at this point.

  9. 9
    Matt says:

    Get a chorizo burrito at Taqueria Cancun. On Mission St, around 19th or so. Delicious!

    Unless that place has closed since I moved away 15 years ago. That was would be very, very sad.

  10. 10
    ruemara says:

    Hah. you’re visiting the week after my visit. Here’s a pro-tip: go to Yan’s Kitchen on Columbus. Total dive, but some of the best chinese food in SF. Yeah, I know so and so has 5 stars blahblah. Mr & Mrs. Yan cook great chinese, fresh, right in front of you. It’s like you’re in their kitchen. And I’ve been a regular since ’99, moved out of area and they still remember me. Go with a seasonal fave or try the mongolian sliced fish.

  11. 11
    DougJ says:


    Sounds great

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    À propos of nothing at all, I haven’t had a steak in years, and now I’ve suddenly got a craving for one. Should I resist temptation, or give in to it just this once?

  13. 13
    J.Ty says:

    Smuggler’s Cove seconded. Musee Mechanique is a good place to burn an afternoon if you’re by the wharf. Cafe Amsterdam has a good beer selection. Really depends what part of town you’ll be in.

  14. 14
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Amir Khalid: You should never resist temptation.

  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Darkrose: I’m not from SF, but Yank Sing is great; I try to get there every time I’m in the city. Go early, cause it gets packed, especially on the weekends.

  16. 16
    Long Tooth says:

    Have fun, but heed the advice Casey Stengel gave to the Yankees when they headed west to play the Giants in 1962 World Series (knowing locals would try to ply them with booze): “Don’t try to out drink San Francisco, because you’re outclassed”.

  17. 17
    BGinCHI says:

    For coffee and a pastry go to Cafe Trieste in North Beach. What a great place.

    For a drink try the Latin American Club (Mission on 22nd). Always a good bet.

    ETA: Shit, forgot about my favorite bar in the city. The Owl Tree in the Tenderloin (though just at the edge) at 601 Post St.

  18. 18
    boatboy_srq says:

    Of course I have to be different here ( ,-) ):

    Cha Am for dinner (Thai – try the Tom Kha Gai).

    Martuni’s for cocktails.

    Cartoon Museum, DeYoung Musem, and whatever’s on at SFMOMA for light decent entertainment.

  19. 19
    Amir Khalid says:

    Your favourite bands, Legolised!

  20. 20
    pzerzan says:

    The ultimate cocktail place is Bourbon and Branch. They take the whole 1920s style speakeasy very seriously. You need to say the password “books” to get in. If you can’t get in, the people who run B&B also run The Tradition less than a block away…

  21. 21
    allium says:

    If it’s your thing, there’s the Cartoon Art Museum about seven blocks down Mission from Yank Sing. And frankly, you could do worse than walking out to the piers on the other side of the Ferry Building (overpriced artisan ice cream is optional) and just watching the ships go by.

  22. 22
    PsiFighter37 says:

    If you like the soup dumplings at Yank Sing, you have to make your way out to the Richmond neighborhood and try Kingdom of Dumpling on Taraval Avenue. That place has the best soup dumplings in SF, IMO, and they have a ton of other delicious dumplings as well. Granted, if you are there for work and don’t have a car rental, getting yourself out to that part of SF is quite a tretk…

    I’m going to SF in a couple weeks; too bad for me, I have a race to run and will therefore be stuck eating bland carbs for most of the time.

    ETA: If you want some downright awesome homestyle Italian that leans towards the seafood side, go to Sotto Mare in North Beach. And if you are in the downtown area (i.e. Financial District, SoMa), go to Cocoa Bella if you have a hankering for some sweets.

  23. 23
    Barry says:

    ” Any tips on fun, low-key stuff to do?”

    Throw rocks at Google Buses?

  24. 24
    Goblue72 says:

    @Barry: you win the thread.

  25. 25
    gbear says:

    As a touristy tourist who hasn’t been there for a while, I’d recommend visiting Coit Tower and then walking to Chinatown.

  26. 26
    kbuttle says:

    Follow Matt’s tip to Cancun on Mission near 19th. But get the carne asada. You’ve never seen anything like it; the guy throws a flank steak on the grill and slices it up with a spatula, then spoons half an avocado onto the thing before wrapping it up and giving it a quick roll across the grill. It’ll change the way you think about burritos. Or if you pass a Gordo, get a boiled chicken burrito with cheese, guac, sour cream, and jalapeños.

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    A not very exciting match between the teams at the top and bottom, respectively, of the English Premier League table’s middle third is going exactly as one would expect. The only real surprise is that Manchester United, the EPL’s defending champion, is one of those teams.

  28. 28
    Eljai says:

    The Alchemist over by AT&T Park has some distinctive craft cocktails, but they don’t open until evening. If you want to walk or cab up to North Beach, then go to Park Tavern. Not far from Yank Sing, you can walk over to the Embarcadero and there’s a bar in the Epic Roasthouse – not craft cocktails as such, but tasty nonetheless — great bay view. Up on California and Drumm, there’s the Dennis Leary co-owned, Cafe Terminus, but they don’t open til 4:30 on Saturdays. They get crowded and the place is small — I think the building used to be a Body Shop.

  29. 29
    aimai says:

    @ruemara: I love Yan’s. I have his cookbook from back when I lived in Berkeley. But I love Yank Sing’s too, I used to go there with my great aunt (now turning 90). Can I also recommend a high end moroccan restaurant Aziza? I had an incredible meal there a couple of years ago and he seems to have opened a new restaurant.

  30. 30
    raven says:

    Take the ferry to Oakland

  31. 31
    divF says:

    For an old-school outing, Henry Chung’s Hunan on Sansome Street, followed by coffee at Cafe Trieste. Ideal to walk from Henry’s to North Beach, you invariably need to walk off dinner. Nightcap at Spec’s in an alley across from City Lights books (12 Saroyan Place, off Columbus and Broadway).

    Another old-school bonus, one time only. Bill Kirchen is playing at the 19 Broadway in Fairfax (Marin Co.) Sunday night, with two other alums from Commander Cody (Bruce Barlow on bass and Bobby Black on pedal steel) along with his long-time collaborator Austin de Lone on piano. I saw the show last night at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, and it was extraordinary. Kirchen can do practically anything with his Fender Telecaster, from dieselbilly to a hauntingly beautiful guitar-piano duet in Dylan’s “It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry”. Dr. Madame divF could see the effect of age on these guys with her geriatrician’s eye (all in their 60’s at least), but once they start playing the years melt away.

  32. 32
    raven says:

    @divF: Here come’s the warden, he’s gotta tommy-gun.

  33. 33
    Stagger Lee says:

    Hard Water on pier 3 has every whiskey on earth, seems like. Comstock Saloon is great, if you’re close to the Chinatown/North Beach frontier. The Burritt Room, Rickhouse, Swig and Clock Bar are all within a couple blocks of Union Square. Bourbon and Branch is amazing but you’ll need a reservation, probably.

  34. 34
    Thoughtcrime says:


    It’s been 12 years since I lived in San Francisco (Richmond District), but I do remember that Taraval Street is in the Sunset (outer Sunset for Kingdom of Dumpling). http://www.kingofchinesedumpli.....ontact.htm

  35. 35
    raven says:

    @divF: Ever read “Star Making Machinery“?

  36. 36
    Forkbeard says:

    For the love of all that’s good and holy, go to Bourbon and Branch if you’re in SF and looking for crafted cocktails. It’s great, a smallish bar that pretends to be a Prohibition era bar, to the point where you need to make a reservation to get a password so they’ll let you in.

    Also, the drinks are amazing, especially if you’re a fan of good hard alcohols. Highly recommend.

  37. 37
    the Conster says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Go for it – it’s the wisdom of the body sending you a message about protein or fat. I haven’t had beef or pork for 2 years and that kind of craving hasn’t happened yet, but if it did, I’d get the nicest piece of meat I could find, enjoy every bite and thank the animal while I ate it.

  38. 38
    divF says:

    @raven: Yeah, Kirchen and Blackie Farrell sang “Cell Block #9” last night swapping verses, with Bobby Black doing the siren on pedal steel.

    ETA: Yes, I own a copy of Starmaking Machinery.

  39. 39
    LauraPDX says:


    The first and best corn dog I ever ate was from San Francisco, purchased from a little cart in front of the old Cliff House sometime back in the 60s. They were made right on the spot – a hot dog dipped in corn batter and deep fried. My mom never bought street food, but the idea of the corn dog intrigued her so she bought one, let us try it and we enjoyed it so much that she bought one for each of us. The Musee Mechanique used to be in the Cliff House, so we toured that (it never gets old – I loved it as a kid and still enjoy it) and when we came out she bought each of us another corn dog. I’ve never had another one that ever came close to being as delicious.

    And now there’s a whole festival of corn dogs in San Francisco!

  40. 40
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Thoughtcrime: My bad…not from SF, but for some reason thought that Kingdom of Dumpling was a bit further north than it is on the map.

  41. 41
    Thoughtcrime says:

    If you like ice cream, you might want to try Mitchell’s

    They specialize in tropical flavors.

  42. 42
    Thoughtcrime says:


    Don’t apologize, I’ve never been to that restaurant, but will now have to try it!

  43. 43
    pamelabrown53 says:

    Doncha just love free advice? As a non San-Franciscan who loves to walk the streets, I think that in such a tight knit city that it’s hard to find non touristy places unless you’re a local…then the establishment may be harder and time consuming to find.

    I found an Italian restaurant on Columbus Avenue called “The Stinking Rose”; they served 40 garlic chicken. Memorable dinner.

  44. 44
    raven says:

    @divF: They are expensive!

  45. 45
    raven says:

    @LauraPDX: Best mescaline I ever had was the orange tabs I bought the day I got out of the Army, 9/3/69. Ate one and went to the Filmore to see some band called Santana.

  46. 46
    Thoughtcrime says:

    If you like crab, go to R&G Lounge in Chinatown for their salt & pepper crab, or there’s two Vietnamese restaurants owned by the same family, Thanh Long in the Sunset or Crustacean on Polk & California for their roasted garlic or drunken crab (and be sure to get the garlic noodles).

    If you like lobster, go south to Half Moon Bay to Sam’s Chowder House for the best lobster roll outside of New England. The rest of their menu is good, too.

  47. 47
    ruemara says:

    @aimai: Wrong Yan’s. This is Yan’s

  48. 48
    raven says:

    Any ya’ll been to the Koi Palace at Daly City? My buddy that lives in Oakland took us there and it was insanely good. It helped that his wife is Chinese-American when i came to ordering.

  49. 49
    srv says:

    Yeah Smuggler’s Cove if you’re into all that. Head over to Zeitgeist after if you want to feels the pulsating zeitgeist of the technohipsterati.

    You should watch the Commonwealth Club website, you don’t want to miss a chance to hang with Tom Perkins or Arriana Huff.

    It’s a nice day out, if you get run over by any cyclists, it wasn’t me.

    We must be at peak crawfish season, so I needs to find where the boil is this year.

  50. 50
    Thoughtcrime says:


    I’ve heard it’s really good, too. Tried to go one time, but the wait was too long.

  51. 51
    Thoughtcrime says:


    And look for the taco trucks.

  52. 52
    raven says:

    @Thoughtcrime: Yea, we were all out there for his 60th so he had it planned and it was still a zoo.

  53. 53
    J.Ty says:

    @Thoughtcrime: Ooh, yeah, SF has some of the best Vietnamese food in the world, second only to San Jose if the in-laws can be believed. If you want something hard to find elsewhere, the Northern-style pho at Turtle Tower is excellent.

  54. 54
    raven says:

    @J.Ty: And New Orleans.

  55. 55
    Cervantes says:

    @raven: Re dim sum … much less a zoo than Koi Palace, less expensive, closer, and equally yummy is S&T Hong Kong on Noriega.

    Yank Sing is probably the best dim sum, though.

  56. 56
    raven says:

    @Cervantes: Yea, I was at the mercy of folks who have lived there for 35 years so I went along!

    Eta Closer to what?

  57. 57
    srv says:

    @Cervantes: There are those who consider that the 71 line has magical properties wrt to these locations.

    I wonder if anyone has done a tourist app for A Day on Bus Line #X?

  58. 58

    What do yr google glasses say?

  59. 59

    If you want to wash your dim sum down with some stinky tofu, just about the only place I know to get it in San Francisco is Spices! / Spicy Girl / 辣妹子 at 294 8th St. in the Richmond. Its sister (ha!) restaurant is a couple blocks away at 291 6th avenue – they don’t have the stinky tofu, but they have a slightly more stylish interior and very tasty dry-fried intestines.

    (For really pungent stinky tofu, though, you have to head south – at least as far as Foster City.)

    If you find yourself in Chinatown looking for Sichuan food, I recommend Z+Y on Jackson, across from the Great Star Theater. This weekend, I believe, still has some events going on with the Asian-American Film Festival – you might check it out.

  60. 60
    Cervantes says:


    Closer to what?

    Chinatown. (I got the impression DougJ was walking.)

    Anyhow, Hong Kong Seafood offers classic Cantonese food. I mentioned it in case a less pricey option was useful. (Oh, and also because it’s usually less of a “zoo” than Koi Palace.)

    And yes, srv, buses are great, but walking is even better.

  61. 61
    David in NY says:

    Don’t really know about SF at all, but in one brief stay, ate at the Slanted Door (“Modern” Vietnamese, very busy), and it was really good.

  62. 62
    srv says:

    @Cervantes: People walk in the Sunset?

    I just take people up to Stockton St. exactly at noon and tell them to fend for themselves.

  63. 63
    raven says:

    @Cervantes: Got it.

  64. 64
    ruemara says:

    If you want great dim sum, head to Alameda. East Ocean Restaurant, to be precise. Fantastic dim sum. But it’s a touch late right now for dine in, but if you go, the whole quail is to die for.

  65. 65
    el_gallo says:

    The back room at Dalva. 16th street just off Valencia.

  66. 66

    I should bookmark this, most probably going to San Francisco later this summer.

  67. 67
    Bill D. says:

    Not relevant to the original inquiry, but if you’re in a group of four or more try Ebisu @9th and Irving in the Inner Sunset for great sushi and sashimi. By being in a group you get maybe two pieces of sushi per person, which means you get to try a lot of different items. Reservations may be advisable. They’re also in the international terminal at SFO.

  68. 68
    Long Tooth says:

    @Bill D.: I lived at 10th & Judah throughout-and-beyond the 1980’s, when a sold out eatery requiring a reservation in the neighborhood was unheard of. Of course, I also paid $600 a month when I first moved in, and had begun to feel crowded as my rent edged up into the $800-plus range by the time I moved out. That same studio/mousetrap nowadays commands a couple of grand-plus a month in rent. At least.

  69. 69
    stevie benson says:

    hang ah teahouse has some of the best dim sum outside shanhai.

  70. 70
    R Something says:

    As a 13 year resident of the city, I’d say Comstock is where you want to be for craft cocktails. There are hundreds of craft cocktail places now, but Comstock was among the first and all of their cocktails are made with nothing but alcohol; delicious, delicious alcohol.

    Go there and get a Cherry Bounce: bourbon, champagne, and cherry brandy perfectly shaken together. Mmmm, I think I need to walk down there right now myself.

  71. 71
    Randy P says:

    I agree with Raven @ #30. Only been to SF a few times, but you should take a day and cross the bay, explore Oakland and perhaps Berkeley. Total change of pace from all the tourist traps in SF.

    Not that I’m immune to all the tourist traps. I admit to having taken the cable cars and wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. And liked it.

    You probably don’t have time this trip but if you ever do, take the drive down 101 to San Jose and Monterey. Just amazingly beautiful, and Monterey’s a pretty cool place too. All I ever did in San Jose was visit the house of the weird lady who spent her life adding corridors and staircases to nowhere.

  72. 72
    Origuy says:

    My favorite ice cream place in SF is Humphry Slocombe in the Mission. Unusual flavors, but Secret Breakfast (bourbon ice cream with cornflakes) is always available. Down the street try Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. The tamales aren’t rolls as usual, but a mound of meat and corn meal.

  73. 73
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    Get the fuck out of town and hike the back trails at Muir woods.

  74. 74
    caune says:

    Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista really is as good as they say!

  75. 75
    Hal says:

    This is one of the most depressing threads I’ve read on this site. I hopped in my car and drove to San Francisco in 1997 and stayed there until 2010, when I moved back home to upstate NY to become the worlds oldest college student. I miss SF everyday. I used to work half a block from Yank Sing (my friend is no fan, she refers to it as Yank Stink) and used to eat chorizo burritos from Taqueria Cancun all the time. I lived a block from Irving on 16th and had a view of the ocean in my little studio apartment.

    San Francisco is unaffordable to me now, so even if I wanted to move back, until I get that degree it’s just not doable. Over the years I’ve had friends move away, people I’ve lost touch with, or forgotten about people I used to know, but I still remember that morning when I finally made it to SF and drove over the bay bridge for the first time.

  76. 76
    Central Planning says:

    It he Saloon is a small blues bar in SF. We go when out there for work. It’s near The Stinking Rose (if you like garlic)

  77. 77
    Birthmarker says:

    We enjoyed Muir Woods and Half Moon Bay. Also I liked Haight. Capitalism won!

    An interesting and offbeat walk is the Mosaic Steps. Be prepared for a steep climb. I believe it is near the Ocean Beach area. Pro tip- don’t eat a big meal first! You can see the Pacific and the GG Bridge peeks up too.

    We didn’t think FW or GS were that worth it. Chinatown is a trip!! Cow Hollow is a nice shopping area. Liked Golden Gate Park too.

  78. 78
    Long Tooth says:

    @Randy P: Take my word for it: no tourist to the San Francisco Bay Area should ever “explore” Oakland on a sightseeing whim. To paraphrase Bogart in Casablanca, “There are some areas of New York City I advise you not to invade”. Oakland is a lot like that.

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