The best day trips from San Francisco
Okay, there are so many magnificent things to do in San Francisco that leaving might seem strange, but stay with us here. Sometimes, a little excursion out of the city is just what the doctor ordered, and the best day trips from San Francisco are medicine for the soul. When you need a break from the bars, beaches, and restaurants of the Golden City (you might, you never know), hit the road and embrace all that Northern California has to offer. And what an offer it is. Everything from fascinating towns to incredible nature is just a short drive away. You might find your new favorite cafe or a love of wildflowers in the process. San Francisco is one of the world’s great cities, and its surroundings only accentuate the magic. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in the Bay Area
Things to do during Fleet Week SF
Fleet Week SF is upon us, which mean fighter jets streaking across the skies at 700mph, smartly dressed sailors strutting their stuff around town, and all the Top Gun references you can handle in seven days. Whether you fantasize about high-speed drug busts with the US Coast Guard or plan to catch the eye of a seafarer in uniform, we’ll tell you the best places to be and things to do this Fleet Week.
Listings and reviews (14)
Dong Hing Supermarket
A key feature of Chinatown is undoubtedly the fresh fruit and vegetable stores clustered around Stockton Street. These are famously packed on Saturday afternoons, with the prices reportedly dropping towards the end of the day to clear stock and avoid storing fresh produce overnight. Try Dong Hing, with its neat rows of exotic tropical fruit you might not spot elsewhere in the city, like longans and soft-spiked rambutans (both with soft translucent flesh, similar to lychee), jackfruit (an enormous knobbly green fruit, with honeyed yellow flesh) and purple mangosteen.
Chinese Historical Society of America
The museum of the Chinese Historical Society of America is a must-see for anyone wanting to fully understand the growth of the Golden State. With an excellent collection featuring personal testimonials, photographs, original documents and real bits of history (look out for a section of rail from the Central Pacific Railroad), the museum gives a compelling and absorbing account of the history of the Chinese in America - from early arrivals in the 1630s, to the 19th century migrations from the Pearl River Delta, the decades of discrimination faced by the community, and present-day life. Don’t miss the miniature dioramas of Chinatown interiors, designed by Frank Wong, a San Francisco native and later a Hollywood set designer. The museum is housed in a striking, ornate brick building with Chinese-inspired motifs, once occupied by the YWCA. Fun fact: Designer Julia Morgan was one of the first female civil engineering graduates from UC Berkeley, and the first woman to be accepted into the architecture programme at Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts.
House of Nanking
A Chinatown stalwart ever since a local newspaper review sent the masses baying at its doors, House of Nanking frequently has lines clogging the sidewalk in front of it. To set yourself apart, stay away from the mushu and potstickers on the menu. Instead, try the seasonal cold sesame noodles: al dente egg noodles tossed with crunchy fresh pea shoots in a sesame, garlic and dark vinegar sauce. Service is efficient, and if you time your visit during off-peak hours, ask the wait staff about off-menu items, like honey shrimp with sweet potato. Chef Peter Fang’s portrait still smiles down from the wall, though the chef himself is now installed at the upscale Fang in SoMa.
House of Xian Dumpling
If you can’t bear to wait in line for House of Nanking, House of Xian Dumpling next door ought to sort you out. With its decent selection of dim sum, hand-pulled noodle soups and the eponymous dumplings, this will be a quick, tasty, no-frills experience.
Mee Mee Bakery
The hunt for the best egg custard tart is somewhat passé, but there are other highly sought-after bakery items that deserve attention. Mee Mee’s is a family-run bakery at the less hectic end of Stockton Street, and "cow ear snackers" are the specialty here. Named for their gently undulating circular shape, these thin and crunchy cookies with a swirl of cocoa have an addictive sweet and salty hit. They run out by around 4pm, so make sure you’re there well ahead of closing time. As the number of remaining packs dwindles, the aunties in line become restive and tempers can flare.
Pang Kee Bargain Market
Everyone will have their preferred all-round grocery store, but Pang Kee is a good bet for a quick shop in a spot that’s less busy than the central stretch of Stockton Street. This is the place to come to for sauce bottles and spices, armed with your Fuchsia Dunlop cookbook. The shelves are stacked high with quite possibly everything you could be looking for—hoisin sauce, Shaoxing wine, light and dark soy sauces—as well as instant noodles, Japanese curry sauce mixes and herbal grass jelly drinks. There is also a good selection of the packaged snacks and sweets beloved by Asian teenagers, including preserved plums (licorice-flavored, and with a similar mouth-puckering effect to Super Lemon).
Char siu bao (steamed buns filled with sweet barbecued pork) is a favorite in Chinatown, and you can see the pillowy white buns sitting on bamboo steamers in many dim sum outlets. But Garden Bakery specialises in a slightly different offering, which is baked instead of steamed. The result is a fluffy glazed bun, filled with a parcel of sweet, juicy pork. Locals sit at tables with buns, tea and shopping bags, taking a break.
AA Bakery & Cafe
We lied when we said that egg custard tarts were passé. They’re still delicious, and the hunt for the best one in Chinatown is always on, with the results in constant flux. Golden Gate Bakery on Grant Avenue might get all the tourists, but we’d urge you to check out AA Bakery & Cafe. Their egg custard tarts are the right size, melt in your mouth and have the perfect balance of sweetness and egginess in a delicate, crumbly pastry.
Located in the popular Ross Alley (of Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory fame), 41 Ross is a community arts space, hosting exhibitions and talks on the visual and performing arts. Past events include local artists speaking about the creative process, a shadow puppetry workshop for children and an exhibition of black and white photographs by Ben Kwan, a local journalist who catalogued life in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1980s.
Portsmouth Square started life as the Spanish plaza on the then shores of the bay, when the city was still Yerba Buena. It’s famously where Commodore John Montgomery claimed San Francisco for the United States in 1846, during the Mexican-American War, and where local newspaperman Sam Brannan is apocryphally said to have leapt off a ferry in 1848, declaring the existence of gold in the American River. Today, the plaza is a casual meeting ground where Chinatown’s residents come to play card games and Chinese chess, sitting around cardboard boxes. The Square also plays host to a range of events around the year, from annual music festivals to outdoor ping pong tournaments.
Tin How Temple
Claimed as the oldest Chinese temple in the US, this is a shrine to Tien Hau (or Tin How), the Empress of Heaven and Goddess of the Seas. It was established by early settlers who, revering the Goddess as the guardian deity of seafarers, believed that she had guided their passage across the Pacific. Located on the fourth floor of a building tucked into Waverley Place, the small temple has a reverent hush, is engulfed in the scent of incense and is hung with hundreds of glass lanterns in front of the shrine, each with a red prayer card hanging from it. From the balcony, you can see the top half of the TransAmerica pyramid right in front of you, and the Coit Tower to the north. Photography is not allowed inside the temple, and you should ask a member of staff before entering.
This vibrant restaurant turns out Cantonese greatest hits. Diners are drawn primarily by the signature salt and pepper Dungeness crab: battered and deep-fried legs and claws with tender morsels of crab meat, seasoned with a secret salt and pepper sauce and served with the carapace for effect. To stay on the umami train, try the eggplant and salted fish clay pot, a dense stew of braised sliced eggplant in an unctuous stock, studded with savory dried salted fish. The atmosphere and vibe are characteristic of many traditional smart Cantonese restaurants around the world—suited wait staff, live seafood tanks, family gatherings and lively conversation.
New Year's Day hangover helpers
New Year’s Eve is likely to be the biggest party of the year. How do you make sure it isn’t also followed by the biggest headache of the year? Try our tips for foolproof hangover helpers on New Year’s Day. 1. Spit-fired meats Everyone knows that a bit of fat and fry go a long way the day after a night out. If you don’t want to bother with silverware and want something to hold onto (it’s okay, we know), grab a spit-fired lamb leg sandwich from Souvla. Go for it Greek-style, with chunky fries in the sandwich, and follow it up with a frozen Greek yogurt with sour cherry syrup—the tart pick-me-up will have you bouncing back in no time. 2. All-day brunch In short, you need brunch, and you’d like it all day, but many restaurants are closed for the holiday. Precita Park Cafe is open over the generous hours of 9am to 5pm, offering starchy fare like chicken and waffles, and poutine with braised beef. Namu Gaji is also open long enough to avoid stress (from 10:30am to 4pm), and you can pick up comfort there in the form of hangtown eggs benedict with fried oyster and bacon, or okonomiyaki in a sizzling pan with kewpie mayo and topped with an egg. 3. Fresh ocean air If the thought of food puts you off, some bracing ocean air ought to clear your head. Make a bee-line to Land’s End and stroll along the Coastal Trail among the cypresses and eucalyptus. 4. Hair of the dog Folk wisdom aside, there are many possible reasons to try this remedy; and Nihon Whisky Lounge has 500 of them. I